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Is Mass Effect 4 a prequel? Seven possible starting points in Mass Effect history

Where should BioWare take the franchise next?

BioWare has confirmed work on a brand new Mass Effect game, presumably for the next Xbox - but will it be Mass Effect 4 or a Mass Effect prequel, as the studio's Mike Gamble hinted to OXM earlier this year, and series producer Casey Hudson suggested only last night? Just in case, here are some key events from the Mass Effect timeline we'd like BioWare to focus on. Beware series-wide spoilers.

The secrets of Gagarin Station: 2160 CE
This remote outpost was the site of far-reaching, dangerous biotic experiments. It gave the galaxy Eliza, humanity's first sentient AI, along with Kaidan Alenko, potential Shepard bed partner and telekinetic superman. Kaidan was thrown out of the biotic training project after killing one of his instructors in self-defence, losing the love of his life in the process.

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The discovery of Sovereign: 2165 CE
The spin-off novel Mass Effect: Revelations details how the Reaper Sovereign was discovered, and the origin of Captain David Anderson's grudge against Saren Arterius. Everybody likes Anderson, and we think this tale of illegal AI research, Batarians and buried artefacts would make for a fine game.

The First Contact War: 2157 CE
Human-Turian relations got off to a fine start when the latter caught us activating a Mass Relay without the Citadel Council's say-so. The Turians retaliated by blowing up several Alliance ships, and the result was a short but ferocious war, culminating with the siege of the human colony Shanxi. The Alliance garrison eventually surrendered, but the Alliance's Second Fleet took the planet back a month later. Fortunately, the Council chose this moment to intervene, slapping the Turians down. There's evidence to suggest that the business magnate later known as the Illusive Man founded Earth supremacist group Cerberus in response to Shanxi's fall. A story worth telling, given the Illusive Man's role in Mass Effect 3. Perhaps he should be BioWare's next protagonist.

The Quarian Exodus: 1900 CE
The Quarians weren't always suited-up space tramps who can't so much as loosen their helmets without picking up a crippling case of the interstellar measles. Once upon a time, they had a homeworld of their own, a homeworld they lost when the robot Geth achieved sentience and rebelled against their creators, obliging the Quarians to take up permanent residence in vast colony ships. We'd love to reenact that tragedy, not least because we'd finally be able to see what Tali and her ilk look like beneath their helmets.

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The Krogan Rebellions: 700 CE
With the Rachni gone, the Krogans were at leisure to enjoy the perks of "culturally uplifted" status, freed of the hardships of their toxic home planet. This boiled down to rampant fornication, resulting in a population explosion and a few hundred years of aggressive expansion. The Krogan eventually came to blows with their patrons the Salarians and Asari, pitting their numbers against the Council's tactics and tech. Eventually, the Council races were obliged to call on the services of the Turians, but even their massive war machine wasn't up to the job. So the Salarians concocted a DNA-altering virus, the Genophage, to drastically reduce Krogan fertility. Unable to replenish their numbers, the Krogans were defeated, but the effects of the plague have cast a pall over species relations ever since. Imagine playing the part of a Sceptre tasked with bringing the plan to fruition.

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