Arks and Ryder | EA Play Trailer Breakdown


Hello everyone, my name is Ashe. At the EA Press Conference, Bioware revealed a new video covering Mass Effect Andromeda. Their plans for the game, the path they've taken in creating its story, and the new stills and video rendered in the Frostbite engine.

If you have not seen the trailer, I highly advise that you check out the link in the description and watch it before proceeding with this video.

In order to frame this breakdown properly, I will make three assumptions right at the start. 

  1. The woman at the end is our protagonist. (EDIT: THIS IS CONFIRMED.)
  2. The Tempest is our personal ship 
  3. The big ship is called the Ark. If you watched my trailer breakdown last year, you know that I believe in the Ark theory where humanity escaped on these massive ships from the Reapers. But in general, for the purposes of this video, I will merely call the ship the Ark.

Let's get started.

The first few shots are of real-life examples of space exploration. The first shot is from SpaceX's successful Falcon 9 launch. The latter is footage of the Aurora Borealis from NASA. It really sets up the idea that space exploration is in everyone's hands, not just the government but also the freethinkers who want to explore the galaxies on their own dime. But what produces from these journeys into space research? Enter the new ship, the Tempest. It looks so much like the Normandy in its shape, but based on what we will see later in this trailer, it definitely has an overhaul. Considering it took Cerberus approximately 2.5 trillion credits to replicate the Normandy, it's likely that this is a government-endorsed ship or possibly another joint project, just like the original Normandy was between the humans and Turians, but with another race or government.

The video shifts into more "dev diary" esque content, where we see BioWare hard at work on the game itself. One dev works on concept art depicting a humanoid character at the helm of the navigation system. Now, because of the concentration of this navigation system in lieu of the big galaxy map and a cocky space pilot at the helm, this looks to be less of a ship designated for aircraft and more fitted for reconnaissance. It doesn't need a hand at the helm, and is pretty much on auto-pilot, possibly through VI or AI. Although, there seems to be staff on board. The Salarian on the right, and the Krogan on the left. Possibly our companions or part of the crew.

Now in my opinion, this shot is the biggest piece of meta out of the entire trailer. On the surface, it's just a huge tornado on the left and a massive sandstorm on the right, where the Tempest cuts a swath through the center of it. But by definition, a Tempest is a storm. A gale. A violent disturbance. This specific shot seems to be a pivotal point - there are two different conflicts in Andromeda coming to a head, and then the Tempest, in other words humanity, cuts in with its own drama right at the center. In other words, while we may have our own troubles of our own, we're thrusting ourselves in the middle of two forces that are already at each other's throats. It may be too metaphoric, but you will notice the very forceful calls and vivid imagery on storms and lightning throughout this entire trailer. 

The next shot includes 4 panels of the same environment, with different tonalities. One is bright and cheerful, while the other looks like it's ravaged by a sandstorm. Throughout the trailer, it's more apparent that weather will have more impact on the environments players will see before their very own eyes. Just like the huge tornado and sandstorm from earlier. There's no clear indication that this will be dynamic weather, but may impose on gameplay, just like the hazard maps that were added to Mass Effect 3's multiplayer. The hazard rain that would burn and tear through your armor, the Reaper bees in the station, or the sandstorms that would reduce visibility to zero.

I don't know what's up with BioWare and their floating rocks, like this one floating in the sky or the ones in the Fade for Dragon Age, but they're always tied to some foreign, ancient technology or magical hoohah, so I'm inclined to believe that we will see artefacts on the go during our travels...throughout the game tied to these structures. Literally.

Notice anything pretty in this shot? Me either, because you can see the dirt and sand that's built up on the N7's armor. But also while we're at it, please keep track of the armor differences for this character and the next. We see a human, our human, all clad in white armor. But this is not N7 armor, as there's a G2 on the back and spoilers, and the letter A on multiple parts of the armor. Shoulders, helmet, etc. The gameplay seems to share the same animations and feel as its predecessors, especially with the ammo reloading animation, however notice that we're watching over the left shoulder than the right. It seems stance changes are possible now. 

As far as the enemy, honestly it looks like a cross between a gorilla and a Darkspawn, as we defend ourselves in the middle of a settlement. It is bulky and partially armored, especially around its arms and hands, and ridiculously sharp teeth. Now the reason I bring up Darkspawn, is because this enemy is so freaking alike to the Darkspawn genlock brutes. And later on in the trailer, you'll see one that looks way too close to the Pride demon. We always joke on how both games are actually within the same universe, like the Dragon armor in Mass 3 or the Krogan heads in the Orlesian chateaus. But it's starting to get really scary with the likeness.

Moving on, we see the first closeup of a character in Mass Effect. An Asari, who's definitely an important NPC. Reason why I say this is because Bioware has afforded by-hand facial animations for her character. Her skin is a very light blue at the top and purple for the rest, but she masks her eyes with a maroon paint. Now while there are Asari who have natural markings on their skin, which looks like what this Asari has with the blue lines that streak up her head, I'm inclined to believe that the red is her own doing. She goes from a seemingly genuine smile, despite her bloodshot green eyes, to a disheartened "Oh" face as a weapon is put to her head. Something I did and totally didn't want to draw attention to, however, is the orange background behind her that has a field of static electricity and a mist that is all too reminiscent to the Collector pods of Mass Effect 2. And hopefully, I'm wrong, because that means that something else is trying to consume genetic data for their own use. Moving on...

The location here is the same from the trailer at last year's E3, with the mysterious structures bursting out of the ground. These structures may be big indicators of even more massive buildings or perhaps civilizations that were built underground to avoid the sandstorms and hazardous weather.

Here, we see the protagonist that is still all clad in white armor from before. Not the N7 character with dark armor. It may be a bit strong, but the contrast of your character being the white knight and the N7 character being the dark knight is being pointed out very strongly. 

And shift into another landscape where the Tempest is actually touched down at some settlement within the desert. I think, personally, this is somewhere where we can actually call home. The settlement is protected by a surrounding gap, the Tempest can sit there no problem, and the character's helmet is off so the air is breatheable. In Dragon Age Inquisition, we had the ability to gain camps and strongholds by defeating enemies in the area. I think Bioware will continue that in Andromeda. A world where you have action over the environments, and can stake your claim. But instead ofa country like Ferelden or Orlais, we're talking this scale on different worlds.

A human and a Krogan in the wreckage of a freshly downed ship. I have something specific to say about this towards the end of this video, so keep this still in your mind.

The biotic punch to the ground. It looks like Bioware's busy to put new animations for different moves, including the re-implementation of Biotics and harnessing Dark Energy. Nothing seems changed otherwise to the appearance of Biotics - it's still a lot of purple. I think the main thing after seeing this move, however, is the hopeful opportunity to use biotics for other means. Like floating. Jetpacks are cool, too, and possibly grappling hooks if they borrow from Titanfall. But it looks like Bioware is adding much more maneuverability with exploration as they're making noticeable gameplay changes from Mass 3 to Andromeda.

Especially with the obvious re-implementation of driveable Makos. Which look super cool, by the way.

Now, the character on the right screen looks human, and you can visibly see their face through the helmet. But the cool part is that the Tempest is touched down in the distance. It only confirms the idea of an enclosed, somewhat open world space for us to explore. 

Here's the Dragon Age-like enemy I mentioned previously. Angry big guy with lots of teeth. This scene reminds me of the quicktime event to spam A when a husk jumps on top of you during the multiplayer for Mass Effect 3. I'm pretty convinced that the multiplayer has influenced actual gameplay greatly. The first being the hazard maps that would inflict damage on you, the burning rain and low visibility storms, and now the quick time events to kill the monster that grabs you. Not only was it implemented into Mass Effect 3's multiplayer, but briefly in Dragon Age Inquisition like the Descent DLC with ogres that picked you up. A point, however, is that if you look, the enemy has green essence floating out of its body. Other than the idea that it's part of the Fade, there may be something in the water that affects enemies. The difference in red body and green insides is a bit too strong to be normal.

And seriously. Pride demon. Come on.

When this first came out, I thought it was a Thresher Maw. But upon closer look, it definitely is a ship or floating object at the very least. Metal, stark edges. It specifically slows down as it reaches the top. 

The next, the protagonist who's DEFINITELY a woman in that armor, considering the smaller frame. The same G2 designation on the back, with the letter A visibly showing on the right shoulder and helmet. As well as a darker female agent running behind and a Krogan to the side. It's with this shot, as well as the other instances we've seen this character, that I have to say that our character is not an N7. At all. It's possible they may not even be part of the program, and likely an agent of an organization a la Miranda.

And a shift to a character being dropped off the cliff by a Krogan brute, with a human who has either spent time taunting or interrogating this other human. But if you pay attention to him falling, you can see there was facial animations deliberately given for this one, as he starts screaming upon release. Some may have seen this character before, and if you're interested, you can read more below in the description on who this guy allegedly is.

There's a mix of battlecruisers and civilian shuttles in space. But as the shuttles move away from Earth, or whatever oxygen-filled world this is, I want to take the time to point out an important detail. 

There is more than one ark. And in the N7 trailer, we only saw one make it whole to Andromeda. I will come back to this later, but there is one on the top left and one on the bottom right. Where are they? I'll bring it up very shortly.

Our protagonist. Allegedly. The environment she's in is pure dark and in low power, as made obvious by the red light. She makes a very audible hard breath, something so stupidly similar to the end of Shepard in Mass Effect 3's destroy ending, but she rises up to a room with other stasis pods. She's the first to wake up.

Looking hard into it, makeup is still applicable and she has a very simple garb on that isn't armor. It's definitely worn in, with dirt all over it. It's been a while since she went to sleep, or at least she was in battle before she laid down. And if you pay attention hard enough, her hair moves. The game uses either Nvidia's hairworks or, more likely considering past games, AMD's Tressfx, in order to make the hair move more dynamically. The angle here is very curious though, because of the Halo that is subtly outlined above her head. An iconic image that's affixed mainly to those holy within Christianity. If that was intentional, it could mean many things. She's a saint, a spearhead for the things to come, a martyr in the making, or all three. Or none of it.

"We made it."

Now that we've gone through everything, let's tie it all together with the script the narrator says. 

It's pretty straight forward to describing what Andromeda is all about. It's a human story, built on the idea that we are all pathfinders looking to keep our species alive. There are very strong key words and phrases here, like survival. "Build a new home for humanity." "Alien life and civilizations." "Whole new galaxy to explore."

The first two tie in with each other. Survival and building a new home for humanity. These two imply the idea that humanity has lost its original home, or Earth. 

"Alien life and civilizations." We are going to meet and communicate with new civilizations and new races. And this brings up many interesting points. Will they see our coming with positivity or will they be as threatened as the Turians were during the First Contact War? Are there hostile factions right off the bat? Can we make alliances in the game or will they be already be set? It can go either the standard way of how things were like in Mass Effect 2 to 3 where we chose between the Geth, the Quarians, or both...or perhaps even more intricate like a faction system, for example like Fallout New Vegas with the NCR, Caesar's Legion, or New Vegas.

"A whole new galaxy to explore"

Considering that the Tempest was able to land on different planets within this trailer, it appears that we will have something similar to Dragon Age: Inquisition. Not completely open-world, however we will have the ability to explore on foot or via the Mako for all these different environments and worlds. We will take the Tempest and the Ark to Andromeda to start anew. However, do you remember that shot of the three arks? In the N7 Day trailer, only one Ark made the trip to Andromeda. And with the last line that is said, "We made it", I imagine the projections of surviving the feat was not 100%. I'm inclined to believe that only a few, or more likely, one ark made it through the trip and the others will suffer consequences on migrating to Andromeda.

I think the main objective here is this:

The Ark spent so much energy transporting everyone on board from the Milky Way to the Andromeda galaxy. We will be in charge of finding new places to get citizens out of the Ark and into homes. However, we will also be living with the consequences of the other arks' failures, as well as the conflicts already in progress with other civilizations. We are human, but we are aliens. We once defended humanity from invasion, but now we are simply trying to make humanity survive by any means possible.

That is everything my mind can think up with the latest EA Play trailer for Mass Effect: Andromeda. 

What do you think? Is there anything I missed? Is there more you can add on or something that just doesn't add up? Let me know in the comment section below. Like if you like. If you don't, send your feedback in the comments as well!

In any case, I hope you enjoyed this breakdown. I'm done and spent, I'll see you next time. I'm Ashe, signing out.


The Dangling Man

In the video, I briefly mention a man who's dangling by his foot by a Krogan. In leaked footage released a couple months ago, this man was shown being gassed by a Krogan, likely the same Krogan, in a similar rainy setting. He is also wearing N7 gear. Because we know at this point that the protagonist is not an N7 character, it is possible that this unnamed N7 man is the same N7 from the original trailer.

Who is he? That's for us to find out in the months ahead. According to BioWare, we will not see new information until the Fall and possibly not until N7 Day, or November 7th. It's going to be a bit of a wait.