Yesterday marked the final N7 day before we travel to a new galaxy in Mass Effect: Andromeda. We were treated to not one, but two trailers, as well as a plethora of other media. The official cinematic trailer for Mass Effect Andromeda (click here to watch in full) was a fast-paced, heart pumping flurry of information, some of which you may have missed. Below, I will dwell on some of the details in the trailer that you may have been too excited to contemplate. Be warned, some of these musings may be a little far out for some.
What is the ship, and where is it going?
The answer to the second part of that question should be fairly obvious by now, but an additional detail was added. The eventual destination is the Helius cluster in the Andromeda galaxy. This mass space-exodus is code-named the Andromeda Initiative, “a civilian, multi-species project created to send scientists, explorers and colonists on a one-way trip to settle in the Andromeda Galaxy”. With “powerful benefactors lending their support, the program has grown substantially in scope since its inception”, according to the Mass Effect website. The ship in the trailer, named Hyperion, may have an additional role, as in a second trailer released today, the ship is referred to as an “ark”. The use of this word is rather significant, considering the galaxy-wide Reaper invasion in the first three games. The Andromeda Initiative was founded in 2176 – 7 years before Shephard’s discovery of the Prothean beacon on Eden Prime depicting the Reaper invasion. Perhaps settling in a new galaxy wasn’t the primary purpose of the Andromeda Initiative. Maybe these “powerful benefactors” were made aware of the imminent Reaper invasion, and so a non-government, non-council, “civilian” organization took it upon themselves to preserve the inhabitants of the Milky Way.
You may be wondering who owns the voice in both this trailer, and the Andromeda Initiative trailer from last week. It’s Alec Ryder. Father of the Ryder siblings that will become the main playable characters in Mass Effect Andromeda, both of whom will exist in the game world at the same time. He was “a member of Jon Grissom’s original task force which travelled through the Charon Mass Relay”. This Mass Relay is found at the edge of our Solar System. Alec Ryder is also a “Pathfinder” – a blend of elite soldiers, scientists, and navigators – who will lead Humanity on their voyage within Andromeda. The voyage seems to end prematurely, as we’re shown various scenes of destruction, and who we can assume to be Alec Ryder’s son falling through space in a very Commander Shephard-esque sequence. A female voice then states: “You’re the new Pathfinder” while focused on the son. It is not looking good for Alec at this point. We can either assume he died in the initial accident, or is missing. Perhaps it was not the best idea to send a man whose only previous experience in inter-species relations sparked what lead to the First Contact War with the Turians.
The trailer features a whole host of exotic creatures, some already known to us, and some entirely unknown. The Asari that we have seen splashed over a lot of the previous promotional material was featured again, with her signature Adam Ant stripe. There is also another voice, who declares they have a “bad feeling” about something. This voice, which has decidedly Batarian qualities, is never seen, and the origins of the voice remain a mystery. A stowaway maybe?
Now, the unknown. I think I have spotted two, potentially even three, new alien races in this trailer. Race number one is probably the most advanced, considering it is seen levitating, surrounded by advanced technology. Their skin is a dull, pale green, and they are clearly advanced enough to have mastered the English language within their short time around Humans. Race number two seems to be a variant of race one, perhaps a subservient drone. Their faces can be spotted blurred in few scenes, and show a grotesquely malformed appearance. One huge difference between race one and race two is the fleshy halo sprouting from the head. This is what has lead me to believe that they are distinct races, even though they share visual similarities in skin tone and armor.
The third race is shown very briefly – for a fraction of a second. They are seen boarding a vessel in unison, shrouded in darkness. It is difficult to determine the significance of this race from only a second of footage, but I’m going to take a massive leap here and say they have quite aquatic, squid-like features. Perhaps they are somehow related to the precursor race of Leviathans, who themselves created the Reapers. These Leviathans are also aquatic in nature, much like the third race shown in the trailer. It is known that the Reapers dwelt outside of the Milky Way Galaxy, maybe even originating in the Andromeda Galaxy? If we keep all this in mind, it could be the case that we have not seen the last of the Reapers in Mass Effect Andromeda, or at least the race that created them. Okay, I’ve gone too far, but let it be known I called it here first if it turns out to be true.
Dark energy as a main plot device
There are numerous scenes depicting the manipulation of gravity in the trailer. I think it is safe to say that gravity will be pivotal to Mass Effect Andromeda’s storyline, perhaps even appearing as a gameplay mechanic. The fact that we see one of the races levitating suggests that this race has mastery over gravity, or at least can channel element zero to produce dark energy and reduce the mass of their body in order to float [Author’s Note: if you have got this far and do not know what element zero is, read this, or play the games]. The hoop-headed alien says this at the end of the trailer: “now I know what makes you special” while speaking to the Ryder male. Perhaps Humans, and the other races of the Milky Way galaxy, can manipulate dark energy in ways these aliens cannot. Consider their utilization of biotics.
This is where things could potentially get very interesting. It has long been known that there could have been a different conclusion to the first Mass Effect trilogy. Drew Karpyshyn, ex-BioWare developer and lead writer of Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2, was quoted as saying there was a different ending that was not “super fleshed out”. The basis of the scrapped plot was that the Reapers repeatedly wiped out the inhabitants of the Milky Way because sentient life kept evolving to a point where they could create and manipulate dark energy. This manipulation of dark energy creates entropic effects that damage the fabric of space. The effects of gravity shown in the trailer seem pretty destructive, and perhaps the first new race I mentioned are trying to propagate this destruction. Could we be seeing a revival of this storyline in Mass Effect Andromeda?
There is also a planet which is heavily focused on. Now I do not want to start fires by talking crazy, but could this be Earth? The particular pieces of landmass shown on the planet look a little bit like where Alaska and Russia almost meet on our maps (go on, have a look). It is not exact, but it is close enough to spark wild theories. The planet is shrouded in the same blue-ish tinge that can be seen causing mayhem throughout the trailer, so we may be facing a headlong sprint back to our home-world in order to save it from this new threat. You may think this theory is the most far-fetched out of everything I have mentioned so far, but I do have a (little) logic behind it. We arrive to a new galaxy with a new crew, facing a new foe. It makes sense to include something of the familiar to make us care a little more about the story. Even if this planet is not Earth, it still suggests that the destruction we will be facing could be on a planetary scale in Mass Effect Andromeda.
You reap what you sow
I am just going to put the below image there and let you look it. Whatever you might think about what I have said in this wildly subjective article, in the end, it is incredibly entertaining to spin stories around what will undoubtedly be huge release early next year, and I, for one, will be theorizing right up until we reach Andromeda.