Mass Effect 4 release date rumors haven't been too meaty. Sure, there was that tidbit wayyyyy back in October that said Mass Effect 4 wouldn't feature Commander Shepard. And then there was the news that Mass Effect 4 would run off of the Frostbite 2.0 engine developed by EA's DICE.

There were some rumblings in December that the Mass Effect 4 release date was coming in 2014, but those claims were refuted by EA. Other than that, fans looking for a Mass Effect 4 release date haven't had much to look forward to.

And they won't for quite a while, if a recent OXM interview with a team of BioWare execs is any indication.

While the Mass Effect 4 release date didn't come up in the conversation, BioWare developers Casey Hudson, Mac Walters, Dusty Everman, Mike Gamble and Preston Watamaniuk talked to OXM about what could come next for the franchise. It can best be summed up in one word: spin-off. According to Hudson and Everman, everyone's favorite Turian Spectre, Garrus Vakarian, would be a great character for a follow-up game set in the Mass Effect universe.

"It'd be cool to do something completely unrelated to the larger storyline, like a story about a private investigator on the Citadel. Or maybe something detailing Garrus' time in C-Sec," said Hudson.

Everman agrees.

"While being one of Shepard's most loyal friends, Garrus has also had some of the most driven personal goals. He's a hero in his own right, as Archangel and beyond. Who wouldn't want to see the further adventures of the bold, charming Garrus Valkarian (there's a lot of guns out there to calibrate)," said Everman.

The Mass Effect 4 release date looks like it'll be coming after a possible spin-off, and even the details of the spin-off are murky. While Everman and Hudson expressed an affinity for Garrus, other members of the BioWare team had their own thoughts about who, or what, could be the focus of an TBD Mass Effect spin-off.

"Aria. The Illusive Man. Kai Leng. Any henchman. The list goes on. I think most of them could have successful spin-offs of their own in some fashion," said Walters.

Although the content of a Mass Effect spin-off is still up for debate, one has to wonder if any effort will be enough to win back fans still angry about the controversial Mass Effect 3 ending. For anyone with a short attention span for fanboy rage, the hubbub around the ending was that it was virtually the same for all players no matter the choices they made. This was a big deal for gamers since the series had, until that point, been focused on the outcomes of player choices. Gamers and critics alike felt gypped by the cookie-cutter finale.

"The game's ending does not respect the player's investment in the universe or creative force in the game," wrote Kotaku's Sparky Clarkson. "Up until its last 15 minutes, Mass Effect 3 is excellent, a remarkable and moving culmination to an extended saga. The game's conclusion does not undo the excellent cooperative storymaking that went on in the previous 60-odd hours, or the player's investment in the universe. It does, however, disrespect them."

Whether or not fans will respect the decision to publish a spin-off set in the Mass Effect universe without a firm Mass Effect 4 release date in place remains to be seen.

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