A reveals the face of Alec Ryder, Pathfinder of our space ark and father to player character options Sarah and Scott. This is the first time I've seen his shiny face, painted-on stubble, and grey Silvio Dante hair—though BioWare has said that he's the guy in the 2015 E3 reveal trailer (opens in new tab).
Dad hasn't shown up with the team at all, though. I think I'd remember seeing him given that he looks like a young guy who transformed into the father of adult children after a radioactive aftershave spill. So where is he?
Here's what we know: At some point early on, our nepotist father leaves the pathfinding biz for reasons unknown and puts us in charge. That's him narrating the beginning of the N7 Day cinematic trailer (opens in new tab) and the most recent one (opens in new tab), so we know he's at least around long enough to record a diary. And then shit goes down. Maybe he retires. Maybe he’s injured and has to dad around a hospital for the duration of the game. Or maybe he dies.
I'm pretty sure he dies.
Dad death provides cheap protagonist motivation—gotta carry on the old man's legacy, but ah, I want to find my own path, as the new Pathfinder—and just imagine the alternative. You’re verbally sparring with your pilot, using wit and levity to belie your true feelings of mutual respect and solidarity, and then Dad pops in with an anecdote about Krogan architecture and how no one appreciates anything anymore. So much for repartee: Now he’s wondering what the insurance on a ship like this costs, whistling at the thought. God dammit, Dad.
And don’t think Dad doesn’t see you making eyes at every sexy asari who passes by, or that he doesn’t have a few things to say about that—at least after he’s done coating his jaw with another layer of silver model paint.
I'm afraid I don't have much evidence to back up my Dad death speculation. In the N7 Day trailer above, Scott Ryder—who I'm pretty sure was actually born in a vat of American Crew Molding Clay—wakes up after a disaster, when he's told that he's the Pathfinder now. There's no Dad narration after that, so it's plausible that he kicks the bucket then and there. And dads dying is just a thing that tends to happen in hero adventure stories.
But it's hardly confirmed, as the Andromeda Initiative video that introduces Alec (below) puts a dent in my hypothesis. At the end, we see our short-armed dad standing in front of our ship, the Tempest, as it takes off. It’s possible he becomes a mentor character, like Anderson, who we only check in with here and there between missions. And on his birthday.
Or, he could be dead. That’d be my preference, unless his backstory says anything about him being an AI researcher, which would—oh, dammit. Alec is an AI researcher, because of course he is, and he built an artificial intelligence. When you build an artificial intelligence and then die, chances are someone’s gonna say to the AI, “It’s like… he’s still alive... in you.”
The AI in Mass Effect: Andromeda, called S.A.M., is directly connected to each team member via neural implants, seeing and feeling what they see and feel. That detail gives me some hope, because if S.A.M. is your dad, that’s extremely gross. He could still be stored in a different computer, but if we're lucky the ghost in the machine is avoided altogether.
Here are all the ways I see the dad situation playing out, ranked from best to worst:
- Dad is dead.
- Dad isn’t dead but you only have to see him on holidays.
- Dad is captured by the villain.
- Dad is the villain!
- Dad is S.A.M. (gross)
Whatever happens, I hope none of this dad business restricts the age of my custom Ryder. I always imagined Shepard being in her late 30s, but the default Ryders look like they sipped a beer at a party once and grimaced because it was "too bubbly." They look like they should be modeling as celibate vampires for the cover of a YA novel. They look like what you'd get if a baby crawled into the machine from The Fly along with the entire Harvard Republican Club. They look young is what I'm saying.
Game Informer has seen more of Mass Effect: Andromeda than we have, and they don’t know whether or not Alec dies, but that not only can your chosen Ryder's face be customized, your sibling and your dad can also be customized. That suggests we can probably be older than the defaults, and that Dad is at least around for a little while. The best thing about it, though, is that you might be able to make yourself look older than your dad. I will definitely do that if I can.
The Young Dad is out March 21 in North America, and March 23 in Europe.