In June, Mass Effect: Legendary Edition project director Marc Walters told Business Insider that it was “not a matter of if, but when” Hollywood would adapt the popular sci-fi action RPG. Well, it looks like the when is now — at least, starting now. It’s been confirmed that Amazon is about to start development on a Mass Effect TV series.
The report comes from Deadline, though few details are mentioned. In fact, in spite of naming the series in the headline, it’s mentioned almost as an afterthought in a story focusing on other current and upcoming Amazon series like The Wheel of Time, Lord of the Rings, and The Boys. We learn only that the streamer is “nearing a deal” to develop Mass Effect.
Fans of the video game series are sure to have plenty of questions about the announcement; chief among them — will Commander Shepard appear in the series? The first three Mass Effect titles focus on Shepard’s quest to stop the ancient, malevolent A.I. villains known as the Reapers. However, the franchise has since branched out. In 2017 — ten years after the release of the original game — Mass Effect: Andromeda introduced a brand new group of heroes in a different story. There have also been mobile games that take place during the events of the original trilogy but focus on different and/or new characters like Mass Effect Galaxy and Mass Effect Infiltrator.
Still, the original trilogy remains the most well-received chunk of the franchise. Andromeda‘s Metacritic scores — ranging between 71 and 76 depending on the platform — are the lowest of the series. Not counting the mobile entries, Andromeda is the only game in the series to earn a Metacritic score lower than 85 — which the first Mass Effect scored for Playstation 3 and Mass Effect 3 earned on the Wii U. Otherwise, the games almost always score in the 90s or high 80s. Mass Effect 2 managed all 90s, regardless of platform.
If the series does involve Commander Shepard — even for a cameo or a recurring role — it brings up the question of whether the character will be a man or a woman. Each of the games allows players to choose the hero’s gender. So while plenty of fans think of the iconic commander as a him, plenty of others see Shepard as a her.
Regardless of how these questions are eventually answered, Amazon’s Mass Effect series won’t be the first time an attempt has been made to adapt the franchise. Kotaku notes that as early as 2010 — before the game trilogy was even complete — a movie was in development in partnership with Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros. The project’s cancellation wasn’t made official until this June when Marc Walters told Business Insider that it was determined a Mass Effect movie simply wouldn’t work. Walters recalled asking himself, “What story are we going to tell in 90 to 120 minutes? Are we going to do it justice?” That probably doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone who has played the games, whose tales encompass much more than a couple of hours’ worth of storytelling.
We also don’t know whether or not this news means a report from June should be dismissed. Rumors emerged that month that an animated Mass Effect series was in development at Netflix, and that it would be one of the streamer’s interactive series in which viewers could make choices about how the story unfolds. Considering the huge consequential decisions every Mass Effect player struggles with, that would make for a fitting adaptation. However, the report was never confirmed