Today is November 7, or as BioWare and the Mass Effect fan community might call it, N7 Day. Dubbed for the insignia Commander Shepard bears throughout their journey in the original trilogy, it’s usually a day of celebrating the series and some news about future projects.
While the amount of news has varied over the years, BioWare has a new Mass Effect in the oven. So naturally, the developer revealed an ARG trail today that led to some cryptic teasers. The good news, is they’re for the new Mass Effect. The less exciting news? They’re pretty slim.
After the first two trailers, code-named Epsilon and Oculon, were revealed showing a mysterious figure in an N7 jacket walking, the Nebula trailer gave us a full-on view of our enigmatic strider. It is… someone wearing a helmet.
Totaling 31 seconds up to that point, it seems to be the end of the ARG and N7 Day teases. So unless it’s confirmation that Daft Punk is starring in the next entry, we’re going to need to do some speculation.
Beneath the mask
An important thing to note, before talking any possibilities, is that it does seem like Andromeda is playing into this new Mass Effect. Text on the first “Epsilon” teaser page reads:
/////SECONDARY ENCRYPTION DETECTED
/////ANDROMEDA DISTRESS SIGNAL DETECTED
/////YEAR SENT: [REDACTED]
/////AUDIO TRANSCRIPT: ALTHOUGH THEY SHOULD KNOW BY NOW NOT TO UNDERESTIMATE HUMAN [REDACTED]
Couple that with previous teases, including both the Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies being shown in the Game Awards reveal trailer, hints that we’re bridging the trilogy and its not-quite-so-beloved cousin.
There are a few prevailing theories about who this character could be. Option A seems to line up best with the previous Game Awards teaser: that’s Liara. She could be donning the N7 insignia, an ode to her (likely) fallen commander, and jetting off to help the Andromeda system with its Kett problem.
Another, somewhat bewildering possibility, is whether this could be Commander Shepard. The timeline doesn’t really add up there; thanks to the long distance between the galaxies, the events of Mass Effect: Andromeda take place centuries after the trilogy. That would probably entail some heavy narrative lifting to justify, and also feel a little weak for those who chose endings in ME3 that didn’t guarantee the Commander’s survival.
Or, maybe this is Ryder, the Andromeda protagonist? Or maybe some new protagonist, now here from a Milky Way where the N7 symbol has become a Brand, a mark of heroics and courage, or spun off its own Spectre-like faction of space-faring problem solvers. “The Shepards” has a nice ring to it.
This is all completely idle speculation, but it’s really all we have to go off, with just a few pieces of concept art and a roughly 30-second teaser.
Other N7 Day happenings
Alongside the drip-feed of teasers, BioWare has been facing backlash. Per Polygon, all unionized testers at Keywords, a studio which does testing for BioWare, were laid off in late September after BioWare declined to continue its contract in August.
Game Developer reports those testers are set to picket today at the BioWare Edmonton offices. EA and BioWare reportedly appealed to the Alberta Labor Relations Board to block the protest, saying they were not entitled to protest outside BioWare as they were a remote workforce, but the board ruled in the union’s favor.
Additionally, BioWare was caught up in the wave of layoffs that’s swept the industry this year. The studio eliminated approximately 50 roles, to help BioWare be a “more agile and more focused studio.” Several developers have since sued the company, claiming it still owes them their due severance.
It’s easy to see, then, why this year’s N7 Day doesn’t feel quite the same. Short teases don’t offset the industry issues, and with Dragon Age: Dreadwolf still waiting to see the light of day, a new Mass Effect feels as distant as the Andromeda galaxy.