What’s hiding in that new Mass Effect poster?
Mass Effect will continue—it says as much in BioWare’s new N7 Day poster. The studio didn’t divulge much on its fifth entry to the series for the yearly celebration, but it did at least give us a new image to study while we patiently wait.
The next Mass Effect got its official reveal last year, during The Game Awards, with a Liara-focused trailer that seems to give a wink and a nudge to both the original trilogy and Andromeda. The footage is mostly limited to audio references from the First Contact War, Andromeda, and the three Shepard-focused games, but we do finally see an older Liara and a mysterious trio of squadmates behind her. There’s also an iced-over Reaper behind her and she stops to pick up a piece of N7 armor—cue the tears.
Now, there’s this new poster to take your magnifying glass to. It shows some of what we saw in the trailer, but there’s a few extra bits if you look closely. There’s nothing confirmed for now, but that prevents none of us from speculating on what random piles of snow mean or who that blob of colors represents.
What’s in the new Mass Effect N7 Day poster?
Well, for starters, that’s the outline of a Geth. A Geth in Mass Effect isn’t a super surprising revelation, but since the trailer’s release last year, fans have pointed to BioWare making the Destroy ending canon. Liara doesn’t seem to have the green eyes other survivors of the battle had in Synthesis, and if you picked Control then Shepard is just turned into space dust—no chance at even becoming bits of rubble as you see from the helmet piece.
Let’s just assume that Destroy is the canon choice now - it is, after all, the only ending that can lead to Shepard’s hinted survival - if you have enough war assets. That would mean Edi and the Geth are dead. Fans have spent years arguing about ways they could have lived, but Edi’s name is on the memorial wall at the end of Destroy, so she’s dead as far as Mass Effect 3 is concerned. If all of these ramblings wind up being the direction the next game takes, why is there a big ole Geth-shaped crater in this poster? I reckon it doesn’t have to mean there’s an in-universe explanation that suddenly brings back Edi and the Geth, but there’s surely something in the next entry that at least revisits those storylines.
Getting super in the weeds, the rubble also looks like it has a couple of bodies tucked away. I’m assuming that’s Geth, too. Especially the one that looks closest to the squad. There’s another just below the ‘eye’ of the Geth crater. That little area is one of the more-debated parts of the poster, the rocky mess makes it easy to make out shapes that are really there or just things you want to see. Kind of like cloud watching, but just in the grim ruins of a space war.
Then there’s the ship—it’s not the same ship you saw in the trailer. In 2020, BioWare’s N7 Day blog post shared an image of that same craft with the filename ‘Mud Skipper’. It’s got a big ‘XT8’ painted on the side, but the new poster ship says ‘SFX’ instead. Over on Twitter, Shinobi602 pointed out that was also the codename the first Mass Effect use back in 2003. Whatever the SFX is, it seems pretty tiny. This comparison graphic from Euderion is helpful; the SFX looks more like your small scout ship from Andromeda, the Tempest, instead of something like the Normandy. It’s also notably a different ship to the ‘Mud Skipper’ ship that Liara was seen next to in the game’s original teaser trailer. This might be the same crew of characters on another ship, then - or it could be a different crew entirely.
Speaking of that group of four characters - we’ve seen guesses naming off all of Shepard and Ryder’s squadmates. A safe assumption for the person in the front would be Liara, leaving the other three up for debate. In the trailer, Liara looks like she’s older and we know the Asari lifespan can take them to at least 1,000 years old. Since Liara is only 106 in the first game, I’d reckon hundreds of years have passed to age her. The original Mass Effect trilogy featured more limited character models, but in that first teaser Liara arguably looks older than the most senior Asari we meet in the original trilogy - her mother, Matriarch Benezia. If that’s the case, she’ll be upwards of 950 years old in this new game.
That doesn’t leave us with a lot of options. Beloved crewmates like Garrus and Tali would be long dead, but we could still meet up with Krogan and other Asari Shepard or Ryder knew. An obvious choice for that big figure on the left is a Krogan, so maybe Wrex or Grunt. Wrex is quite old in Mass Effect, even for a Krogan, so I lean more towards Grunt. Whoever it is, they’re wearing red—maybe BioWare doesn’t care if you let Ashley shoot Wrex in the first game.
The other two squadmates are more nebulous. The middle one kind of looks purple, perhaps they could be an Angara from the Andromeda galaxy. Last year’s trailer shows a silhouette that certainly makes that guess seem more likely. Perhaps the top-down view is actually showing a helmet and the color doesn’t matter, so the form could be a human, Quarian, or something similar and small. However, my gut reaction was another Asari since they have so many blueish hues. Give us Aria.
Looking at the furthest person to the right, the only option we have left from using trailer-related guesses is a Salarian. If this has any hefty time skip, it can’t be a Salarian you already know from the trilogy since they have such short lifespans. That leaves us with someone completely new, or perhaps someone not like Mordin. The colors are muted, so I could believe that’s a Geth. If Drell also didn’t have shorter lives, I’d get bolder and hope for Feron—the man helping Liara in the Shadow Broker DLC.
We’re mostly all guessing squadmates met before, but there’s no hard and fast rule that says it has to be anyone from the Normandy, Tempest, or even folks met along the way. I’m more eager to believe BioWare is taking the latter direction, so using characters who were less involved with Shepard or Ryder’s stories, but still important to the universe. Regardless, there’s still plenty of time to get your theories in - Mass Effect 5 doesn’t even have a release window just yet. For now, we can keep scouring this image until the next N7 day, I guess. See you next year...