November seventh is a big day for fans of the BioWare Action Role-Playing game Mass Effect. Fans of the series call it N7 Day, because the armour that Commander Shepard is often depicted wearing has an N7 emblem, a special rank for top military officers. Each year, fans across the world celebrate the day showcasing their love and appreciation for the series. In 2021, we got a teaser image for the newest game in the series but not much else. 2022 offered a bit more variety, as we got a new image depicting a broken Mass Effect relay. And if you’re a fan of The Sims 4, you got a new hat, 2 shirts, a beanie and a tattoo for your sim-self.
But what has BioWare got in store for 2023? Not a whole lot admittedly. Humble Bundle is offering 8 Mass Effect comics (along with 10 Dragon Age comics) where proceeds will go to support Child’s Play. The BioWare store dropped two new items, and Dark Horse has a new 1/6 scale statue of Female Shepard. The biggest news to come out of N7 Day, however, is a new teaser for the upcoming game. It was originally a countdown on EA’s website, but now reads:
/////ACCESS CODE: EPSILON
/////ACCESS CODE ACCEPTED
/////SECONDARY ENCRYPTION DETECTED
/////ANDROMEDA DISTRESS SIGNAL DETECTED
/////YEAR SENT: [REDACTED]
/////AUDIO TRANSCRIPT: ALTHOUGH THEY SHOULD KNOW BY NOW NOT TO UNDERESTIMATE HUMAN [REDACTED]
Along with the above code is a link to an unlisted five-second YouTube video of someone in classic red and black walking. There isn’t much else to it, but the text is interesting. “Andromeda Distress Signal Detected” is obviously about Mass Effect: Andromeda. Andromeda was the fourth game in the series that came out in 2017 to less than stellar reviews. Then, what was originally a second countdown webpage, now showcases more text similar to the above and a longer video. There isn’t a lot revealed, however, the person walking turns back around to the camera and watches before taking out a gun and walking into a green-lit world. Even with that, tonnes of fans are theorising about what this all could mean. Was that Commander Shepard (possibly Female Shepard?), or maybe Liara T’Soni?
And finally, there is a third webpage that has text and a video of the end 10 seconds of the above teaser trailer. This time, the text says to contact Systems Alliance, the in-universe representative body of Earth and humans. There seems to be a lot of discussions of what might be and what could be amongst fans.
Project director, Michael Gamble, has released a new image for the game, with a photo of the stranger we see in the video. Over the top of it is an image of the Mass Effect nightlife. There are Humans, Asari, Turians, the usuals you often see of the Mass Effect races. Except… fans can see one single Geth, a race of artificially intelligent beings. This begs the question, which ending is canon? And is this in the Andromeda galaxy or the Milky Way? As in Mass Effect: Andromeda, the Quarian ark, a ship that held Elcor, Quarians, Drell, Volus, Batarians and Hanar, was in trouble and never reached its destination.
With that said, while it’s great to hear more work is being done on the newest title in the sci-fi series, BioWare hasn’t had a great year. In August, BioWare laid off roughly 50 people, as general manager Gary McKay said they were “necessary”. A lot of the laid-off staff were prominent members like Mary Kirby who’s been at BioWare since 2006. But now the laid-off employees are suing BioWare for better severance pay as the company has “refused to negotiate better severance packages” as stated by the lawyer for some of the laid-off employees in a Kotaku article. Even fans are sending a message, as @N7SeverenceDay was created on Twitter including the hashtag #N7SeverenceDay. Former QA testers are picketing outside of BioWare.
It’s all pretty disappointing to see. Especially since N7 Day is something many people look forward to. It’s no wonder a lot of fans are worried about what will come of Dragon Age 4, especially since their lead producer and senior creative director departed from the Canadian company. While excited for the next Mass Effect game, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous about the future of the company.