BioWare doesn’t want to get Mass Effect fans’ hopes up. The earlier release of a poster that mentions franchise hero Commander Shepard as being still alive was definitely a mistake, according to Mass Effect project director Michael Gamble.
"Yeah, that was a mistake," tweeted Gamble in response to the social media firestorm that quickly surrounded the poster (via Eurogamer).
Initially, the Mass Effect website’s description made it seem like Shepard was alive and well following the cataclysmic events of Mass Effect 3. "Shepard's final quest may have ended the threat of the Reapers but at great cost including Earth itself," read the description. "While Shepard and the survivors are left to pick up the pieces, fans are left wondering what's next."
The poster’s description was quickly changed, but by then it was too late. Fans, YouTubers, and websites such as our own latched onto the fleeting possibility that Shepard was still alive.
It turns out that the people running BioWare’s store just hadn’t played Mass Effect 3 to the end. "The original thing was written by the people who run the store and aren't familiar with the game," Gamble added in a later tweet.
In all but one of Mass Effect 3’s endings, Commander Shepard sacrifices themselves to save the galaxy. On the Destroy ending hints at the possibility of Shepard surviving the war against the Reapers, but even if he did, Mass Effect 5 is likely too far in the future for Shepard to still be the protagonist.
We know that the next Mass Effect game is in early development, but it definitely won’t appear before Dragon Age 4. A teaser trailer released last December gave us a few hints as to the overall story of Mass Effect 5, showing the wreckage of both a Reaper ship and a Mass Relay. Liara also rubbed some snow off a piece of N7 armor. The poster itself also provides some clues. The crater is shaped like a Geth, while the Krogan in the group could be either Grunt or Wrex (although Grunt seems far more likely).
Still, it's unlikely that Shepard survived at all, let alone into the far future when Mass Effect 5 is set. We'll be happy to be wrong of course if BioWare somehow finds a plausible reason for Commander Shepard's return. It wouldn’t be the first time Shepard has come back from the dead.
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