In between Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2, BioWare was considering developing a spin-off inspired by Star Wars‘ Han Solo and his journeys as a smuggler, filling the gap in a large part of Mass Effect’s lore that many players would love to explore.
In the Mass Effect trilogy, players get to explore and survey tons of planets, visit and coordinate with the ambassadors and leading scientists of alien species, and traverse the grounds of many capital cities around the Milky Way. But one end of the galaxy that the series misses out on are common pedestrian locations like bars, casinos, and citizen streets outside of the capital cities. Players don’t get to see the Mass Effect universe from the eyes of an average person, let alone someone who largely operates outside of the law.
But former BioWare development director Dorian Kieken tells TheGamer that the studio had some plans for a Mass Effect spin-off game from the perspective of a thief or a smugger, inspired by Star Wars‘ Han Solo, that would explore these corners of the galaxy. Kieken was BioWare’s fifth-ever employee and, before moving on to co-found Montreal startup AI Redefined, worked on level design, cinematic, and, most notably, Mass Effect 3‘s multiplayer.
According to Kieken, BioWare explored the concept of a Mass Effect game in a format similar to Star Control that would expand the universe by taking to the alleyways, nightlife districts, high-traffic civilian areas, and middle-of-nowhere pitstops in the Milky Way. Omega, a hub for criminals, informants, and malcontents thanks to the lack of a central government, is one of the only locations in Mass Effect that isn’t filled with those holding status, save for the crime lords.
Kieken and some other BioWare devs were keen on the idea of exploring a more morally ambiguous character rather than the classic lawful good hero. “It’s a bit like exploring the Star Wars universe without being a Jedi,” Kieken says, a theme only common in more recent franchise installments, such as those with Rey. “Think of the story freedom you have in TV series like The Mandalorian or Firefly thanks to mercenaries of smuggler character archetypes.”
Though other Mass Effect writers were interested in the idea as well, the project ultimately fell through due to being too much commitment at the time with Mass Effect 2 on the table. Still, Kieken hopes to see a game centered around someone like a hired gun at some point in the future.
Mass Effect: Legendary Edition releases on May 14 for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.