And that's associate editor Robert Ramsey crying into his early afternoon coffee. The self-diagnosed Mass Effect maniac has been mentioning for months that he hopes that the next entry in BioWare's space faring series doesn't leak while he's offline; sorry buddy, but your University student-style hours are coming to haunt you right about now.
That's because the developer's sent out a survey outlining Mass Effect 4, which is expected to release on the PlayStation 4 in the near future. Why should you believe this? You don't have to – we've tagged it as a rumour, after all – but Dragon Age: Inquisition leaked in exactly the same way, and this doesn't read like fan fiction to us.
"The next Mass Effect game takes place in the Helius Cluster (a cluster of 100s of solar systems in the Andromeda Galaxy), far removed by time and space from Commander Shepard's heroic acts," the blurb states. "You are a pathfinder, a combat trained but untested explorer leading an expedition into the Helius cluster to establish a new home for humanity."
According to the document, the "sprawling series of solar systems" will comprise four times more content than Mass Effect 3, and you'll be travelling between them, collecting resources, building colonies, and no doubt forming friendships with bizarre looking alien creatures that somehow have an impressive grasp on the English language.
"Along the way, you'll encounter the remains of a once powerful and mysterious alien race, the Remnant, whose forgotten technology holds the key to gaining power in this region of the galaxy," the survey continues. "As you uncover who the Remnant were, you're drawn into a violent race to find the source of their forgotten technology that will determine the fate of humanity."
During your adventure, you'll be scouring space for resources, which will allow you to craft new gear. This equipment will ultimately enable you to venture to new planets, where the loop will resume. You'll also recruit "seven distinct crew members to fight by your side". As in the other games, these will all have unique personalities, and strategic fighting styles.
And going out into the field with certain teammates will improve their loyalty, ultimately leading to new skill trees and dialogue options. The thing that sounds most intriguing to us, though, is that there'll be a colony management aspect, allowing you to send hired crews out on missions to collect resources while you're busy playing the main game.
The multiplayer mode will also return, but it sounds like it'll be better connected to the single player this time, earning you APEX funds which can be spent on new gear and weapons in the campaign. The developer's also promising that things will be much more seamless in general this time around; you'll be able to transition from the expanses of space to the surface of a planet without seeing a single loading screen.
And that's more or less the crux of it – assuming that it's all accurate. There's still a good chance that this could be fake, but it doesn't exactly read that way to us. You can peruse the entirety of the original survey through here and make up your own mind. Do you like what you're reading? Let us know if this is going to be the best game on the Citadel in the comments section below.