Just give me aliens, not a Synthesis space-future.
In my perfect world, the next Mass Effect game would be a prequel set during the Krogan Rebellions. The ‘male’ and ‘female’ main character choices would be between a salarian and an asari, since they’re the two species who made up the original Spectres. You would be playing the very first Spectre - it would be badass.
There would be actual exploration of alien culture and we’d get to see Tuchanka before the genophage and first contact with the turians and an extremely brutal war that brought together the STG and asari commandos into a scary black ops organization that were given full freedom by the two Councilors. The Rachni invasion would still be a fresh injury to the galaxy and quarians wouldn’t be in their suits.
Paragon and Renegade could still exist, despite the given outcome. The Rebellions were a conflict where asari set up entire asteroid belts with explosives and salarian viruses took out the krogan extranet and knocked out all contact, but that doesn’t mean all of the first Spectres were monsters (or does it?).
It could be a game that actually explores a lot of shades of grey too, because who exactly is right? Despite the fact that it was the salarians that raised up the krogan, asari colonies were the ones being invaded, their soldiers taken as prisoners of war. The krogan dropped WMDs on the turians as their opening offense. Then the salarians bioengineered a plague to sterilize the krogan race to almost a stopping point. No one comes out shining; there’s no hero.
Also, there could be a teenage Wrex cameo, because his krogan ass is actually that old.
The Asari As They
Standard disclaimer: I don’t have a degree in gender studies or linguistics. I’m just an androgyne who enjoys the Mass Effect universe and picked up bits and pieces over many, many playthroughs. A fair amount of this is headcanon and conjecture, supported by in-game references whenever possible. A mix of feminine and they singular/plural are used to reference the asari, with the discussion focusing on pronouns, sex and gender presentation, and some naming conventions. This also got way too long.
The first thing to remember about Mass Effect is that we aren’t just human beings playing Mass Effect. We are humans playing Mass Effect through a human perspective. In the single-player campaign, we never get to see through the eyes of a drell or a hanar, much less hear untranslated communication between any of the alien species. Everything that you - and Shepard - hear and say is translated through a complex and constantly updated program so the Commander doesn’t accidentally call the salarian Councilor a cloaca.
This is a pretty fascinating read. The writer is actually probably the main impetus behind my little foray into writing about Mass Effect within the last year, and especially getting me interested in writing about gender relations and the Asari. I like their take on the Asari especially, and if I decide to work on that paper again I’ll probably include some of this in my argument (with citations, of course).
I really need to get around to rewriting and submitting that Mass Effect paper, but I need to finish this behemoth on neutral pronouns first.