While the judge is still out on whether Playstation 3 will be blessed with the release of Mass Effect 2, or the original for that matter, I have spent my weekend with Mass Effect: Ascension. The second Mass Effect novel from Drew Karpyshyn (lead writer on both Mass Effect and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic - two of my all-time favorite games) takes place two weeks after the final events in the game, and delves deeper into the Cerberus organisation, the Quarians, human biotics and the lawless Terminus Systems.
It has been hinted that Ascension will set the stage for the next game in the proposed trilogy and if that is the case I thought I might contribute with some speculation. If you have an urge for science fiction pulp, like I do, then beware of the spoilers below if you have not had a chance to read Ascension yet (it's a month old already what are you waiting for!).
The main character of the book is Kahlee Sanders, who was also featured in the first novel Mass Effect: Revelation. She now works at an Alliance project dubbed Ascension that aims to help human biotics, more specifically young children exposed to zero element accidents while still in their mother's womb. The story revolves aroundthe Cerberus organisation, as they strive for human conquest of the galaxy by using a girl who is a part of the Ascension project.
There are a couple of "new" areas that the book lets us visit; the research station, Jon Grissom Academy in orbit above Elysium (a planet that was central in the first novel), the seedy comet turned into a city, Omega in the Terminus Systems and the Quarian Migrant Fleet. Personally I believe Omega may very well feature in Mass Effect 2. A lawless city with twisting and turning streets, all kinds of species and most definitively a lot of trouble. It also features most if not all of the species in the Mass Effect universe. We may see more of the Quarians in Mass Effect 2 as well, but if so I expect it will be a side story that may involve them finding a new home to settle in. But my guess is that Mass Effect 2 will feature "the Collectors", a new alien species only mentioned in passing in the novel and that we don't really get to know anything about. Maybe they are the next big threat to Galactic peace?
Batarians, featured in Mass Effect: Revelation and the downloadable content "Bring down the Sky", are not really featured that much in Ascension, but they do hate humans and because they are banned from Citadel space, there are many of them in the Terminus Systems.
Anyway, my guess is that we will visit the Terminus Systems and more specifically Omega in Mass Effect 2. I also believe the Collectors will be involved and they may very well be the main adversary in the game, if the hint that the Quarians might be looking for a Reaper is what the next game will be about. I have a feeling that there will be a new main character in Mass Effect 2 and that Commander Shepard might have a similar role to that of John Anderson in the first game, but there are no hints of that in the novel of course. I can hardly wait for the first solid details on Mass Effect 2...