The final trailer shown at The Game Awards 2020 last night was a bit of a surprise. BioWare had already been in the show once, debuting a new look at the upcoming Dragon Age, but the studio had one more thing to show: a new teaser trailer for the next Mass Effect.
Opening with a shot of two galaxies, the camera zooms closer and closer in as audio plays in the background. Eventually it pans over a destroyed Mass Relay, with an interjected Reaper noise, before zooming further and landing on a ship that's approaching a planet.
There, we see a figure climbing the snowy peaks and what appears to be Reapers, before finding something in the snow: an N7 logo. They look up, revealing their face to be pretty clearly Dr. Liara T'Soni, one of the most central characters in the Shepard trilogy.
No more hard details were provided, aside from a screen saying "Mass Effect Will Continue." Project director Mike Gamble tweeted that this trailer has much to unpack, and to look and listen closely.
Over a few more tweets, Gamble confirmed or encouraged speculation in a few directions. In one, he confirms that yes, those were Reapers on the snowy planet. That, alongside Liara and the N7 logo, can be enough to confirm that Milky Way in some way.
More interestingly, Gamble comments on showing two galaxies at the beginning. After the story of Commander Shepard ended with Mass Effect 3, BioWare took a detour to the Andromeda galaxy with Mass Effect: Andromeda. It'd be easy to think that a Milky Way-centric follow-up might leave the idea behind, but Gamble says showing two galaxies at the beginning was "intentional."
"Who knows. Maybe not?" Gamble tweeted back at someone else about the new Mass Effect being a sequel to both the trilogy and Andromeda. "But we show both for a reason."
Oh boy, does this make things interesting. You might remember I made a case for Mass Effect: Andromeda getting another shot, but I didn't think they'd find a way to link the two. One of the larger side quests in Mass Effect: Andromeda eventually opens up a number of audio files commenting on 2186, the year that Mass Effect 3 takes place in, including a message sent to the Andromeda arks from Liara and transmissions from different militaries as they came under Reaper attack.
Even with the Mass Relays potentially damaged or destroyed, Reaper tech could open the possibility of looping in the goings-on of the Andromeda galaxy with any rebuilding efforts in the Milky Way. This could also be taking place some time after the events of the trilogy; Liara is Asari, and could be significantly older—even a matriarch—at this moment shown in the teaser.
Things gets messy when you're trying to ration out which ending of Mass Effect 3 could be canonized though, as each one has pretty radical effects on the galaxy. A new Mass Effect game canonizing one specific ending could also draw ire from folks, seeing as the series has always had player choices and outcomes as a key narrative pillar.
It's also a pretty brief look at the new game, for something that is likely still a ways off. The upcoming Dragon Age was first teased at the 2018 Game Awards, and last night's trailer didn't have any indication of a release date. Mass Effect: Legendary Edition, a remaster of the first three Mass Effect games, is also on its way for next year. The studio's pretty busy, and two higer-ups at the studio also recently departed.
When a new Mass Effect game could arrive, and what it could mean fo the conclusion of Commander Shepard's story and the continuation of the Andromeda arc, are all big questions without answers at the moment. Still, I can't deny that even this morning, rewatching the trailer, the Liara reveal put a smile on my face. The Shepard trilogy is a very memorable part of a console generation for its fans, and I'd be hard-pressed to say I'm not excited about jetting around the Milky Way again.