BioWare wants to make clear that the next entry in the Mass Effect series should not be known as Mass Effect 4. Writing on the BioWare forums (via Eurogamer), community developer Chris Priestly explained that the only confirmed detail about the new game is that it will not feature Commander Shepard.
"To call the next game Mass Effect 4 or ME4 is doing it a disservice and seems to cause a lot of confusion here," Priestly said.
"We have already said that the Commander Shepard trilogy is over and that the next game will not feature him/her. 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."
Priestly added that a much more accurate way of thinking about the next Mass Effect game is "what happens next set in the Mass Effect universe." The developer said he expects fans to speculate as to content, character, and story, but nothing official will be announced for some time.
The next Mass Effect game was officially confirmed in November. It will run on the Frostbite game engine--the technology that powers DICE's Battlefield games, among others--and is said to be "very respectful" of the franchise's core pillars, though BioWare is pursuing new directions with regard to story and gameplay.