"a lot of confusion" among fans thinking of it as a straight sequel.
The Commander Shepard trilogy is done with, affirmed Priestly, which is the only 'revealed detail' about the next title. It's about 'what happens next in the Mass Effect Universe', and not 'after Shephard'.
It's not known if BioWare will be setting the next game before or after the events with the Reapers and Shephard. Although the studio did ask what timeline fans would prefer.
"To call the next game Mass Effect 4 or ME4 is doing it a disservice and seems to cause a lot of confusion here. We have already said that the Commander Shepard trilogy is over and that the next game will not feature him/her. That is the only detail you have on the game," BioWare community manager Chris Priestly on the forums.
"I see people saying "well, they'll have to pick a canon ending". No, because the game does not have to come after. Or before. Or off to the side. Or with characters you know. Or yaddayaddayadda. Wherever, whenever, whoever, etc will all be revealed years down the road when we actually start talking about it."
He continued: "I do not call the game ME4 when I talk about it ever, bucause that makes people think of it more as "what happens after Mass Effect 3" rather than "what game happens next set in the Mass Effect Universe", which is far more accurate at this point." It's not known therefore if player decisions will be carried over - a staple of the series.
"Obviously fans are going to speculate content, character and story until we actually reveal details in the years or months to come as you have almost no actual details, just don't get bogged down in "well how are they going to continue ME3..."."
BioWare Edmonton is handling the development of the next Mass Effect, with studio head Yanick Roy echoing Chris Priestly's warning of jumping to narrative assumptions.
"What Chris is saying is that thinking of the next Mass Effect game as Mass Effect 4 would imply a certain linearity, a straight evolution of the gameplay and story of the first three games. But because we are switching to a new engine and need to rebuild a bunch of game systems, we have an opportunity to rethink how we want these systems to be going forward instead of just inheriting them from the previous games," Yanick Roy.
Much like Dragon Age 3, the next Mass Effect is ditching its old game engine for DICE's Frostbite tech.
"Story-wise, the arc of the first trilogy has also been concluded, and what we will do is tell a new story set in the Mass Effect universe. That doesn’t mean that events of the first three games and the choices you made won’t get recognized, but they likely won’t be what this new story will focus on."
"I apologize for being cryptic right now, but it’s early enough in development that we don’t have much to share – things still fluctuate quite a bit," added Roy.
"As I have posted on Twitter though, the overall feeling of what you are discussing and asking for is very much aligned with what the team intends on delivering, and that makes me feel very good about where we’re heading!"
Recent PR rumblings at BioWare tease another dose of significant singleplayer DLC for Mass Effect 3, which appear centred around the Citadel and hammer wielding Krogan. The most recent was Omega starring Aria T'Loak.