It's a spaceship
Another N7 day, another Mass Effect: Andromeda reveal.
When this spaceship was revealed in the Mass Effect: Andromeda E3 trailer earlier in the year, there was some debate about whether it was a spaceship or a space station—after all, it looks quite a lot like the Citadel.
Well, it's a spaceship. As I wrote at the time, I think the visual nods to both the Citadel and the Mass Relays is deliberate: given that the trans-galactic isn't possible for anybody other than reapers in the original trilogy, it follows that humanity would have to tap into some of that reaper tech to make the trip to Andromeda.
The Star Trek tumble
All is not well aboard, however, as flash cuts to some kind of on-board disaster are juxtaposed with relatively serene images of the mothership itself. We might come in peace, but it looks like humanity won't arrive in Andromeda peacefully.
A starship called Hype
Hyperion. It's actually called Hyperion. Hyperion is one of the titans of Greek mythology, associated with wisdom and careful observation. The civilian uniforms of the crew, along with the Andromeda Initiative insignia on their shoulders, implies that this isn't a military mission—at least not at first.
Bit of a confusing one, this. The cuts here implies that this character—soon to be revealed as the male lead—has fallen out of the Hyperion into space, but I doubt that's the case. This entire trailer uses flash-cuts liberally, and I imagine the scenes they show are highly disconnected from one another. BioWare are fond of doing this, as it makes it much harder to piece the story together and spoil it for yourself.
Which is apparently exactly what I'm trying to do.
In any case: note the floating rocks. You don't belong there, rocks! This will be important later.
A bit of all-Ryder
This is he, then. We saw the female Ryder in the E3 trailer, but this is our first look at the game's other potential protagonist, her brother.
Andromeda's nu-Normandy speeds towards what appears to be a distant crash site. Alien ruin or crashed human ship? Hard to say. The wreck of the Hyperion would make sense, presuming that it crashes.
Alright, so: we've got what I assume to be the new Mako, or at least one version of it. We've got the male Ryder, by the looks of things, and potentially the female Ryder too on the left. The last BioWare game to prominently feature siblings, Dragon Age II, included your brother or sister as a companion—might that be the case here?
The other companion is notable purely for the fact that he's wearing regular ol' trousers instead of a sleek, form-fitting spacesuit. I have decided to refer to him as 'Sergeant Trousers' from now on.
We're on some kind of desert moon, which you can tell because of the gas giant looming in the background. There's another moon in the foreground. If this was No Man's Sky, you could go there and discover more or less exactly these same three people, but green.
Your dad's in Mass Effect: Andromeda. Who knew?
Cut to somewhere cold and icy. Ryder is limping, which suggests that this might take place just after the crash depicted at the start of the trailer. It seems consistent with the first shot of Ryder getting up, at least.
The new Pathfinder
"You're the new Pathfinder", a voice says, as Ryder steps onto the bridge of what is—presumably—the Tempest. This is something we've seen a couple of times before, from the first trailer onwards. This is where the new galaxy map lives, and is as such the chillest place in Andromeda.
A nobbly floating alien ascends towards some kind of floating monolith as a voice says "this is incredible". We're getting our first glimpse at Andromeda's villain, here, although the voice isn't his.
There's not much to be gleaned from the plot, here, although it seems highly likely that it involves monoliths and ancient alien technology and dudes with strange bony faces. That's pretty much the plot of Mass Effect 1, after all.
A big hole
Both Ryders, Sergeant Trousers and That Asari From The Other Trailer look down a big alien hole in some kind of big alien complex. "It's acting like a gravity well", the Asari says.
Gravity (and the manipulation thereof) is a key theme in the Mass Effect universe—it's where the series gets its name, after all. Element Zero permits the distortion of gravitational fields, powering everything from biotic abilities to guns and spaceships. Andromeda very likely has just as much Element Zero as the Milky Way, if not more: but how and where it is found and how the races of Andromeda integrated it into their technology could be very different.
Another floating rock
Ryder tests the gravity well with a rock. It floats! Incredible! This is the second most surprising rock in the trailer so far.
Also note the blue energy field, which looks very biotic-power-ish. More evidence that Element Zero is to blame (or to thank, for this wonderful floating rock.)
Push the button
In a shot that recalls the end of the 4K tech trailer, Ryder accidentally activates the neon lens flare disco setting on this alien temple control panel. "I have a bad feeling" says a voice, presumably a companion—I think the one that said "this is incredible" earlier.
Remember, kids. If your friends aren't feeling good at an alien temple rave party, sit them down and make sure they drink plenty of water.
Shape of things to come
The party looks at a hologram that bears an eerie resemblance to the Sovereign hologram from Mass Effect 1: it even looks a bit like a reaper. I doubt that's the case: upright hovering alien devices are just a recurring theme of the series. Even so, I figure this is our McGuffin: the star map-equivalent that we'll be tracking down.
Note the series-staple exploding canister right next to the alien plinth. Why is it there? I do not know.
We're the aliens
Both Ryders (I think) support one another after some kind of disaster (or a very heavy lunch.) "We're the aliens" remarks male Ryder, which is a line that could very well work in context but comes off a little clunky here—particularly because Andromeda has you working with a crew comprised of loads of different races from the Milky Way.
Nonetheless, this is going to be a key theme of the game: your crew as outsiders entering territory that might not be welcoming to them. This mirrors the first Mass Effect game, where humanity were only just coming to terms with their place in the wider galactic community.
Guns are universal
If we're the aliens, then this—I suspect—is who lives in Andromeda. These craggy-skinned, bendy-knee'd gentlemen are a little bit Prothean, a little bit Collector, a little bit Turian. They also use guns and have lights on their backs, just like everybody else in the Mass Effect universe.
As such, their design doesn't necessarily stand out from other Mass Effect races—particularly given the vast distance covered to meet them. It'll be interesting to see how the game reconciles this. The original series implies that the reapers themselves are responsible for the homogeneity of life in the Milky Way: almost all advanced life is bipedal and carbon-based and uses similar technology because they wipe out most other alternatives. If Andromeda is peopled with races that we'd recognise, then perhaps the reapers have (or had) a presence there, too.
Or perhaps they're relaxing the fiction's sci-fi strictures. There's certainly precedent for that, too.
It wasn't a big lunch
It was the rocks! They're surprised by all of the floating rocks!
An alien (sorry, no, we're the aliens, let me start again...)
A local fella approaches a swirling gravity monolith thing, possibly related to the other gravity monolith thing that he floated towards earlier. I think we're looking at our Prothean beacon-equivalent, but with more floating rocks.
Somebody in N7 armour detonates bombs in a way that appears to be helpful to our heroes. An earlier rumour suggested that the N7-clad figure in the trailers was Ryder's father, but there's no way to tell that from what we see here.
The explosion sets off the closing montage of the trailer. There's a lot of disconnect between all of the following scenes. 'Space peril' is the linking theme, here.
Don't touch that
People in N7 armour reaching out towards glowing alien tech always ends well. Every time!
Seriously though: even though this almost certainly isn't Shepard, it's a very Shepard-ish moment. I'm guessing that Ryder's father has been in Andromeda longer and perhaps knows more than you do, which is how he's able to reach out and ring the giant alien doorbell we see here.
Hooded (or tentacled?) aliens proceed into stone archways in a cult-ish fashion. Really, your guess is as good as mine: but for some reasons I get a real Quarian/Geth vibe from the shape of their heads. That connection seems unlikely—odds are, they just share some of the same visual language—but if you'd told me that this was a picture of a Quarian-Geth hybrid, I'd agree with you. In any case, I think the vibe we're supposed to get is 'mystery plot-critical aliens.'
Don't fear the...
A vast alien cyclops machine with grasping tentacles erupts from the ground. This looks a lot like a reaper, right? Like, a lot? Either every galaxy has its own brand of massive robot lobster monster, or there's some kind of connection here.
Side note: when our mystery N7 operative shouts "take cover, take cover!" he really sounds like Mark Meer, who played male Shepard. There are all sorts of plot reasons why that's unlikely to be the case, but it certainly made me double-take.
The first true game footage in the trailer, by the looks of things. This arena encounter with an (admittedly less reaper-ish) robot serpent-thing reminds me a lot of the dragon battles in Dragon Age: Inquisition, crossed with the on-foot thresher maw encounter in Mass Effect 2. Those geometric rock faces recall Inquisition, too.
There's not a lot to be gleaned from the following series of images, but this shot shows Ryder wrestling free of an alien drone of some kind. Perhaps we'll see a bit more melee combat, and a bit less hiding behind small walls?
The unnamed Asari companion turns and fires in the same alien complex that we saw earlier. As we have established, guns are a universal language.
What looks like Ryder and a group of survivors—a few Salarians among them—flee from an unseen foe as the Tempest rushes to their rescue. I'm not going to lie to you: while I find it easy to fondly mock Mass Effect from time to time, moments like this are why I love it. Just keep throwing spaceships at me in the nick of time, BioWare.
Now I know what makes you special
Cut back to Glowyneck McBonehalo as the trailer reveals that he's speaking to our captured heroes, including Ryder and a now-helmetless Sergeant Trousers.
"Now I know what makes you special" he menaces, before grabbing Ryder by the throat. It's unclear whether he's referring to Ryder or humanity in general, but the latter might provide a bit of help grounding the plot. In Mass Effect 2 it's revealed that humanity is unusually genetically diverse by galactic standards: could that also be the case here? Humanity's relationship with Element Zero and biotics could also be the thing that makes us special.
Or perhaps he's referring to the friends we made along the way.
In any case, I get strong Saren vibes from this guy. That's a very good thing: arguably, Mass Effect 2 and 3 both suffered for a lack of a true antagonist. You had the Illusive Man, but he didn't become a full-fledged villain until much later. You had the reapers, but their power came from the threat they represented in abstract rather than their motivations or personal depth. It'd be great to see Mass Effect get a proper foil for the protagonist again, as Saren was.
...and that brings us to the end of the trailer. What did we learn? Bits and pieces—but not enough to really piece the plot together. Which I'm fine with, honestly.