Top 5 This Week

Related Posts

Mass Effect’s N7 Day Teasers Say A Lot With Very Little

On November 7, BioWare released a series of teasers for the next Mass Effect game. When stitched together, the short clips show a character sporting an N7 trench coat walking out of a ship and onto an unknown planet. The video itself doesn’t say much, but the accompanying text and art seem to confirm the next game will involve fan-favorite squadmate Liara T’Soni answering a distress call in the Andromeda Galaxy. There are plenty of theories to spin from this, but even those details leave a lot of unanswered questions about the future of BioWare’s science fiction series. Join Kotaku’s resident Mass Effect nerds, Kenneth Shepard, Isaiah Colbert, and Alyssa Mercante as we try to untangle our feelings about what we saw.

Diablo IV – Bear Bender Build

Share SubtitlesOffEnglishShare this VideoFacebookTwitterEmailRedditLinkview videoThis Diablo IV Druid Build Is Like Playing An Avatar Earthbender

Kenneth Shepard, Staff Writer: Alyssa, Isaiah, I want to start this VG Chat with a big question: Does N7 Day make y’all’s blood pressure rise every year like it does mine?

Isaiah Colbert, Staff Writer: Not entirely. Admittedly, this is probably only the third time I’ve celebrated N7 Day because I was late to the Mass Effect party so I’ve managed to dodge dire heart palpitations for the most part. But I think it’s safe to say this year’s festivities were simultaneously the most detailed and the most vague N7 Day that we’ve had in a while.

Alyssa Mercante, Senior Editor: N7 day has been edging us for ages, even the “something substantial” just creates more questions that we’ll have to wait ages to answer. I get it, that’s how the marketing gods work, but boy do I just want a game announcement with a detail or two. I don’t even need a release window!


KS: To BioWare’s credit, I’ll say that even the vague nothingness we got this year was substantial enough to quell specific fears I’ve been having about the next Mass Effect. But I do think the vagueness and edging of the day once again is leaving so much up to interpretation that the uninspired speculation shows reveals a tendency some folks in the community have to retreat to some imagined safety. They want Shepard back, they want a canon Mass Effect 3 ending, they just want to see their faves again in the least imaginative way possible. But I think seasoned Mass Effect fans can probably say, based on what we’ve seen, that Shepard isn’t coming back. So I’d like to think we can stop having some of those conversations, but delusion finds a way.

So let’s talk about what we saw. How did y’all feel about BioWare’s drip feed rollout of its new teaser?

IC: I was so distracted! I couldn’t help but catastrophize who the mystery person was in the teaser video. My brain went from thinking it was Liara to dreading the person being some sort of Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey-style send-up of Shepard and her child. As a Tali guy, the latter being canon would’ve ended me. But alas, we just got a mysterious space dude in a sick Blade Runner-esque jacket. It was fun seeing fellow fans scrub through every minute detail and frame of the rollout.

So far, what I’ve gathered is that the upcoming Mass Effect game takes place some 633-odd years after Mass Effect 3 and Liara, with a Geth companion, is responding to a distress signal from the Andromeda galaxy. Somewhere along the line our new (?) hero gets involved.

KS: See, that’s what I’m talking about. It feels like the vagueness of these things sets people’s theory-crafting brains into overdrive. That can be a lot of fun, but the conviction with which people spout these world-breaking ideas and a willingness to just accept just about anything if it means they’re getting more of the thing they like is what gets under my skin every N7 Day. But yeah, like you mention, there are some concrete details in not necessarily the videos, but the accompanying text and art that’s been released. This confirms there’s an Andromeda distress signal that Liara has picked up on. That does mean, baseline, Shepard is fucking dead. Whether the Crucible killed them or they died of old age, RIP to the first human Spectre. But even so, BioWare keeps playing with known iconography, like the N7 stripe on this Blade Runner motherfucker’s jacket. But maybe the reveal that the person was decidedly not Shepard is meant to be the real reveal.

But getting beyond the theory crafting, there is some really interesting stuff in the margins. BioWare released a piece of art of our mystery N7 jacket wearer, and inside their silhouette there’s art of different aliens at what looks like a Chora’s Den-style establishment. But if you look at it, you can see there are Angara and clothes-wearing Geth. That, to me, raises so many questions about the state of the Mass Effect universe. Regardless of which ending you pick, the Angara and Geth have not met in the series yet, so how is it going to bridge that galaxy-spanning gap?

IC: I wonder if the series will explain away space relativity theory questions a la Interstellar with “mass effect transportation tech is really good now so you can Uber to new galaxies in a snap.”

My biggest hope with whatever BioWare is cooking here is that this game is a bit more on the rails with a linear story like Mass Effect 2 rather than being yet another bloated open-world game like Andromeda.

KS: Yeah, I imagine that in a post-Reaper War Milky Way they can come up with some way to explain that with “Oh, we repurposed Reaper tech and have been experimenting with it for 600 years,” and maybe Liara’s answering the distress call is like, a big testing moment similar to humanity’s first using the Mass Relays. If nothing else, us having some hard truths now allows us to speculate with a bit more precision. And I think that’s probably the most exciting thing for me: now that I’m reassured this is going to continue Andromeda’s story, I can maybe hope for some closure on that end.

I agree, I’d like to see BioWare return to the structures of the trilogy, but I imagine that will be more determined by what Dragon Age: Dreadwolf ends up being and how it’s received. Really I feel like Andromeda and Anthem should have been more than enough in terms of lessons learned to have BioWare go back to basics, but we’ve yet to see what the team’s really thinking right now. Sure, there have been reports about Dreadwolf’s live-service nonsense getting cut, but we still don’t know what the full game will look like. That’s the funny thing in all of this—we have all this new stuff to think about but let’s not forget this game is most likely still years away from even being shown.

IC: There’s also the nagging feeling that the BioWare team just isn’t the same studio fans came to love back in the day. Every studio experiences a kind of ship of Theseus phenomena as the years go by but BioWare’s recent layoffs coupled with its ongoing lawsuit leaves a weird taste in my mouth about the timing of this tease. This could just be my wariness with companies like Blizzard with Overwatch 2, but it’s almost as if the trailer is a kind of psyop to handwave away the hard feelings some hold and the corporate greed that the company has demonstrated itself capable of.

KS: That is definitely a factor. There were even QA workers picketing the company during N7 Day, and it’s just like, this was obviously planned long before the picket was because N7 Day is the same day every year, but it does feel like, somehow, sentiment around BioWare is at an all-time low, and that’s years after its big flops happened. I think it’s like, we’re finally seeing the “EA ruined BioWare” conspiracy theory come to fruition and the truth of the matter is that every big company, even the ones that make the things you love, is the same as any other. So yeah, part of me’s like, “Okay, now we can look at what BioWare’s doing with Mass Effect and make some informed guesses,” but also the company just laid off some of the people who made this series so beloved in the first place.

IC: Yeah, it sucks that the trailer feels like the company jingling keys in fans’ faces. Hopefully whatever BioWare ultimately makes with this game will be a step in the right direction and not another flop like Anthem. Deep down I feel like more Mass Effect is a good thing for fans but at the same time I’d hate to witness the series become a zombie of itself.

Basically, what I’m saying is having an Elcor squadmate would do the game some good.


KS: For whatever it’s worth, these teases and the specific things they mention, feel like BioWare does have a good understanding of the world integrity it needs to maintain. Setting it after Andromeda, still tying it to that in a substantial way instead of forgetting it, and hopefully not dragging Shepard out of the grave despite the weird fandom gimme desire to do that, all seem like reassuring decisions indicating that the studio isn’t simply making more Mass Effect to make more. There are still larger questions I have about whether or not this fifth game will canonize a Mass Effect 3 ending, but if Liara and a crew are heading to answer an Andromeda distress call, maybe they don’t even have to consider that. They can keep it referential dialogue and not have to reckon with how different the galaxy might be depending on what Shepard did.

I try to be emotionally detached and just examine this game but somehow I’m still holding out hope that it’s not going to shit all over the legacy of this series about player decision and expression. I need to put the fucking clown makeup on.

Popular Articles