BioWare held a panel discussion for Mass Effect 4 (or whatever it's called) during San Diego Comic-Con this past week. Though the event was only an hour, it contained some important information about the sci-fi RPG.

We still don't know many basic facts about the game, like its title, release date, or platforms. However, we did find out some crucial details about the gameplay and story. Here's the juiciest information from the panel.

The new Mako render
The Mako Is Back
In the first Mass Effect, players could explore the surface of select planets with an armored vehicle called the Mako. The Mako allowed them to find resources and other points of interest. It was also armed with heavy weaponry in case players ran into any hostiles.

This feature didn't return in Mass Effect 2 or 3. Instead, players simply scanned planets from orbit for resources or locations of note.

BioWare confirmed at San Diego Comic-Con, however, that the vehicle will be returning in a modified form. The new Mako is more agile than its ME1 predecessor. However, it won't have a cannon to deal with larger threats. Maybe that means we won't run into any thresher maws.

The panelists said that they brought back the Mako because of a new focus on planetary exploration in Mass Effect 4. They also mentioned that they noticed fans' frustration with the first game and those lessons have been used in ME4. Again, that probably means we won't run into thresher maws.
Heroes in N7 armor
The Main Character Is Human
BioWare has said over and over that Mass Effect 4 won't star Commander Shepard. The new hero will, however, be human again. Consider your fantasies of a Garrus-led game crushed.

During the panel discussion, the studio showed off renders of the character clad in N7 armor. N7 is an Alliance military designation for the most highly-trained special forces members. Shepard was N7 and so is, apparently, our hero.

The hero of Mass Effect 4 will have another thing in common with Shepard: they'll be designed by the player. They can choose the character's gender and presumably the rest of their appearance as well.

"It's ingrained in us to give players as much choice as possible," said producer Mike Gamble.
Old Characters May Return
BioWare's still being really coy about the timeline of Mass Effect 4. It's unclear whether the new game takes place before, during, or after the events of the original trilogy. However, it sounds like the time period of the new game isn't too far in the past or future.

The panelists suggested that some old characters could appear. This eliminates a lot of really exotic ideas for ME4, like a game centering on an earlier Reaper cycle. No one's been alive long enough to appear in the original trilogy and those games.

However, also keep in mind that certain races in ME have very long lifespans. The asari, for example, can live 1000 years. This makes cameos of the original trilogy's cast possible even if ME4 takes place centuries in the future.

The team didn't mention whether Shepard will be making a cameo. However, they were clear that he's not important to the story. Even if ME4 has some familiar aspects, the focus is on new characters and new places.
Mass Effect 3's co-op
Cooperative Multiplayer Will Probably Be Back
Mass Effect 3 introduced multiplayer to the series for the first time. Players teamed up in co-op, wave-based battles. They were able to make characters of different races and classes, using their unique abilities to help their squad survive.

While speaking about multiplayer, producer Mike Gamble said that "competition is critical but cooperation is bigger for us." That may indicate that they're planning competitive modes as well. Or perhaps the competition will be limited to leaderboards in co-op, as it was in ME3.

Either way, it sounds like the multiplayer from the previous game will be making a comeback. It's anyone's guess how BioWare will adapt it for the new generation of consoles, though.
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