The story of Mass Effect 4 will not relate to Shepard or the events of the previous three games, according to BioWare's Mac Walters.
In an interview with Complex, Walters - who was lead writer on Mass Effect 3 and is currently working on a 13-issue comic series entitled Mass Effect: Foundation - was asked how the studio plans to proceed after wrapping up Shepard's trilogy.
"Well, I can't get into details, but the idea is that we have agreed to tell a story that doesn't relate necessarily to any of the Shepard events at all, whatsoever," he replied.
"That's what we've been deciding for a while. But throughout it all, one of the key things is that it has to be Mass Effect. It can't just feel like a spin-off. It has to feel like a Mass Effect game at its heart, at its core. Just without the Shepard character or the Shepard specific companions."
Elsewhere in the interview, Walters reflected on the response to the divisive Mass Effect 3 ending and drew parallels with Breaking Bad, and the difference between controlling the fate of a character and simply watching it happen.
Warning: Breaking Bad spoilers
"I was watching Breaking Bad, and that deals with the main character dying. And in no way do I think that anybody was surprised that he died. It was set up, even from the get-go, that this was a character that was going to die. But the interesting difference there is that that's not a character that people had control of. They didn't have any say at any point at what would happen to Walter White. Period.Spoilers end
"And I think that's one of the things we really underestimated, which was how much ownership people would take over a character that they could do that. You know, you've been given free choice to make all these decisions with this character, with the fates of millions of people, and then, you don't get to choose your own fate.
"I'm not saying that our decision was wrong or right. I think we just underestimated the impact that would have on certain players. To be fair, I get people, especially at the Cons, who will say, "I loved it. It was heart-wrenching, but I felt it was right for my Shepard." And to me, that's why it was the right path. But because there was no choice, it was going to be right for some people, and for others, in the middle, and other people were obviously very upset about it. In hindsight, I don't think there was anything we would have changed about that, but it is a really good lesson learned."
BioWare Montreal has taken over development duties on Mass Effect after original developer BioWare Edmonton revealed that it's working on a brand new IP.
BioWare has confirmed Mass Effect 4 will share "core systems" with Dragon Age 3: Inquisition.