Though Commander Shepard’s role in the Mass Effect series has reached its conclusion, no one was surprised to hear that this didn’t herald the end for Bioware‘s popular RPG. A post made by Yanick Roy today on the Bioware blog, however, contained a bit of news that some may find surprising. Now that Shepard’s trilogy has concluded, development of the franchise has moved from Bioware’s Edmonton office, to the office in Montreal.

The folks in Quebec are far from strangers to the series: they worked on a large number of the cinematics and N7 missions in Mass Effect 2, as well as having a prominent hand in most of the game’s post-release content, (read: DLC). As far as Mass Effect 3 was concerned, the Montreal studio spear-headed the multiplayer side of things, though they did aid in the development of certain areas of the campaign, and the upcoming ‘Omega’ DLC was built entirely by them.

Now, though, the Montreal studio will be taking the helm of the series (nautical joke… ‘Cause Shepard was Commander of the Normandy. Get it?), and developing the next entry solo. Casey Hudson will maintain his role as the game’s Executive Producer, but will remain in Edmonton, instead feeding his instruction through a Project Director at the Montreal studio.

Details on the next game are, predictably, slim. So far, we know that the next entry in the series will be built around the Frostbite engine, and that it will be ‘enhanced by some of the systems the Dragon Age III team has already spent a lot of time building.’  This, depending on the quality of Dragon Age III, could be a good thing, or a bad thing.

The other thing to mention is that Bioware Montreal is most definitely moving the next Mass Effect game away from Commander Shepard:

“The other thing I can tell you is that, while it will be very respectful of the heritage built over the course of the first three games, with the original trilogy now concluded and the switch over to a new engine, we are exploring new directions, both on the gameplay and story fronts. You can still expect the pillars the franchise is known for to be fully intact though, including diverse alien races, a huge galaxy to explore, and of course rich, cinematic storytelling.”

Roy finished his post by stating that, while the Montreal team are excited to share more with us, it will probably be quite a while before we hear from them again. With Dragon Age III on the horizon for the company, this isn’t at all surprising, though it may be disappointing for fans of the series. We’ll just have to wait to see just what kind of ‘new directions’ Montreal will be taking the franchise in.

via [The Escapist, Bioware Blog]