Almost buried under the outpouring of love for the Mass Effect Trilogy remaster was the announcement that "a veteran team has been hard at work envisioning the next chapter of the Mass Effect universe." Almost.
That announcement came with the above teaser image, titled 'mud-skipper.' Bioware's Casey Hudson did temper expectations by adding that "we are in early stages on the project and can’t say any more just yet," but of course the race was on to eke the tiniest squirt of meaning from this juicy fruit.
RPS reckoned that this was no less than confirmation of Andromeda 2. But perhaps it is worth pausing over just what 'early stages' might mean. As noticed by the sharp-eyed ggo65, two of the four silhouettes are flipped versions of characters from a Mass Effect 2 menu.
Fun fact: The Drell and Salarian silhouettes in the new artwork are just flipped versions of Thane and Mordin from the ME2 squad selection menu from r/masseffect
OK, now look at the silhouette on their left. That appears to be a version of this key art for Jaal, a Mass Effect Andromeda character, with some slight alterations. Jaal is an Angara which, interestingly enough, is a species unique to the Andromeda galaxy.
I'm not sure what the silhouette on the far left of the teaser is, apart from human, though I'm guessing it's also a silhouette that series fans might be able to identify. The question is why you'd announce a new game with art that incorporates old assets: it's not like Bioware won't already have a tonne of pre-production key art for this unnamed title. In fact Casey Hudson shared new concept art during last year's N7 day.
We have so many ideas for things we want to do in #MassEffect, so much concept art that hasn't yet been brought to life, and so many stories yet to tell. #N7Day pic.twitter.com/gDXbYComCCNovember 7, 2019
If you wanted to really read the tea leaves on the new teaser image's silhouettes, we could see them as a constructed code for what the team's going for: Many Mass Effect fans, myself included, would consider ME2 the trilogy's highpoint, while the nod to Andromeda and particularly Jaal feels like an endorsement of that game's space cowboy vibe. And Jaal was bloody great.
I should say: for all its flaws, I liked Mass Effect Andromeda.
The only final note is the name 'mud-skipper.' That likely refers to the ship in the picture, which also has the designation X-28. Also, this planet's surface looks a little muddy. But it could also be using mud-skipper to drive home the new game's dual nature, a continuation of Andromeda with the original trilogy's spirit: Mudskippers, after all, are amphibious fish that can live in the ocean and on land.
OK, I spent too long thinking about this image. If anyone needs me I'll be punching a journalist in the face for doing their job (by which I mean myself).