The next Mass Effect game has been shrouded in mystery since its 2020 Game Awards reveal. November 7 is N7 Day, when BioWare and fans celebrate the science-fiction RPG series. But this year’s a little different. The studio gave us a couple teasers for the next game, at the same time as laid-off QA workers are picketing the company demanding severance.
The teasers finally give us some solid clues regarding what the next Mass Effect is going to be about. The December 2020 teaser suggested it would take place long after the original trilogy, with returning squadmate Liara T’Soni making an appearance but looking notably older than her youthful age of 109. BioWare developers also had hinted on social media that the next game would be a sequel to both the original trilogy and Mass Effect: Andromeda (see on Amazon), which took place over 600 years later in a different galaxy. These new teasers confirm that speculation.
The first teaser is five-seconds-long and was released after a countdown on Electronic Arts’ website. The related text reads:
////ACCESS CODE: EPSILON
/////ACCESS CODE ACCEPTED
/////SECONDARY ENCRYPTION DETECTED
/////ANDROMEDA DISTRESS SIGNAL DETECTED
/////YEAR SENT: [REDACTED]
/////AUDIO TRANSCRIPT: ALTHOUGH THEY SHOULD KNOW BY NOW NOT TO UNDERESTIMATE HUMAN [REDACTED]
The big reveal here is “Andromeda distress signal detected,” confirming that the interstellar migration movement from the fourth game will be part of the story BioWare tells next. Fans are speculating Liara and a crew might be responding to the distress call, as it was confirmed in Andromeda she was in contact with the Initiative after their departure from the Milky Way. What is the distress call? It’s not quite clear, but given that the Kett invasion was still happening at the end of Mass Effect: Andromeda, it’s not like that crew is lacking in danger.
The actual video doesn’t show much beyond someone, perhaps Liara, walking through what looks like a space station before it abruptly cuts to black. The audio transcript text on the teaser site was a quote attributed to Liara by Project Director Michael Gamble on N7 Day last year, so it would make sense if it were her in this trailer.
However, there is a second teaser that complicates things.
This is a continuation of the same clip, but we see the red N7 sleeve on their lab coat. What remains to be seen if this is maybe Liara paying tribute to Commander Shepard, or if BioWare is about to pull some fandom gimme coward shit and bring back the old face of the series, 600 years after the trilogy. Liara returning in a fifth game makes sense because Asari can live for several centuries. But Shepard returning, even after in a Mass Effect 3 ending where they survive, is just boring.
A third countdown is set to end at 4 p.m. Eastern. Please, for the love of god, don’t let it be Shepard at the end. As a long-time Mass Effect aficionado, my biggest curiosity is whether this game is going to canonize a certain decision at the end of Mass Effect 3.
Whatever your feelings about the conclusion of the trilogy, the choice Shepard makes at the end leaves the Milky Way in one of several very distinct states, which might seem difficult to write around in a way that pays tribute to every player’s original decision. I’m still vehemently against the idea, but I think with careful writing and decentering of the original trilogy’s conflict, it is entirely possible to write a fifth Mass Effect game that doesn’t step on everyone’s toes.
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