Who is the Mass Effect Andromeda Protagonist? (And 5 other Burning Questions)

Mass Effect: Andromeda is surrounded by secrecy, leaving fans with a lot of questions, and a lot of time to speculate what’s next for the franchise.

So far almost nothing is certain about BioWare’s newest game Mass Effect: Andromeda. Since the release of the announcement trailer at E3 earlier this year, fans have desperately speculated, theorized, and implored the creators all in search for more information.

The second (teaser) trailer gives nothing in regard to absolute answers either, but much can be gleaned from small clues with major implications. But so much is still a mystery, including the answer to the central question:

6) Who is the protagonist of Mass Effect: Andromeda?

Apple Watch has come a long way.

Apple Watch has come a long way.

BioWare comfirmed that the player will helm a human (male or female), just like in the original trilogy. Eagle-eyed fans noticed in the teaser a small dog tag resting in the ships cockpit. On close inspection a name can be seen on the tag: “Ryder”

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The trailer features a clip of the first American woman in space, Sally Ride, who fans speculate the protagonist is named after. This would follow a pattern in that Commander Shepard from the first games is named after Alan Shepard, the first American man in space.

F 334517 009 01/31/1971 Shepard During Suiting Up Activities Appolo 14 Mission Commander Alan Shepard Appears Relaxed During The Pre-Launch Suiting Activities. (Photo By Nasa/Getty Images)

Based, again, on the teaser trailer, it’s clear that as Ryder the player will be more of an explorer in Andromeda than the military leader Commander Shepard was in the original.

5) Will Ryder be the only human in the game?

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Since the game is focused on exploration outside the Milky Way, it is possible that we are the only human around. At least this was a theory until BioWare explained that the person seen in the original trailer was not the protagonist.

So we know that Ryder is not alone in their humanity on this mission. But more questions then arise: Are these the first humans in the Andromeda Galaxy? Are there other humans? Or is the limit two? (Insert Biblical Noah joke here.) Sadly these questions can’t be answered as easily through speculation.

4) How will Andromeda connect to the existing ME universe?

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BioWare initially explained that Andromeda would take place “long after” Mass Effect 3. This is, at least in part, clearly meant to distance the story from that of the original trilogy and emphasize the fact that the writers are crafting a new experience for the new game. As the teaser trailer says, “We are travelers constantly moving forward and looking back.” This amply drives home the idea that Andromeda will be a new take on the Mass Effect universe, but also implies, in “looking back” that the events of the original trilogy will likely fuel and inform the plot of the new game.

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Even though the games takes place after Mass Effect 3 one blogger suggests that the ship we see in the trailer may have started its journey before the final conflict of the original games. The ship would be a Generation ship containing a member of every race to continue on in the event the Reapers win the war. This would mean the characters of Andromeda might not know what catastrophic events concluded the original series. Whether this means a great deal of dramatic irony will be used to create tension in the game, or rather the characters eventually learn what happened and this fuels the plot is unknown. Either way, this theory creates a great amount of intrigue for the series.

Of course, the teaser trailer features an inspiring speech from Commander Shepard (specifically the fan-favorite female incarnation). Her speech works two fold, first and most obviously, passing the torch to the new hero Ryder to be the next important figure in the Mass Effect universe. But the speech also solidifies a connection between the events of the original games and the mission objectives of Andromeda.

And if the games are all connected…

3) How Will ME3’s notorious ending lead to the events of Andromeda?

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The teaser trailer’s speech is entirely about exploring and the wonders of the new frontier. Essentially, this paints Andromeda as the Star Trek in relation to Mass Effect 3’s Star Wars. The original trilogy was the extended military effort of organic life against the Reapers. Depending on the player’s choice the series ended in one of three ways, each as traumatic and catastrophic as the next.

It seems that no matter how one’s play through of the third game ended, the Andromeda mission will be an attempt to rectify some loss that occurred. In Shepard’s speech in the trailer she ends her imperative to explore new territory with the statement, “We have no choice but to try.” The implications are that Andromeda will directly deal with the fall out of Mass Effect 3 many years later, and likely a great deal removed from any tangible effect of the past events. Shepard’s actions in response to the reapers have made exploration a need, likely to continue life as we know it.

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In the game’s ending (and after the credits), an old man talks to (presumably) his grandson who asks questions about “The Shepherd.” The small scene implies that Commander Shepard has risen to a mythical status following the events of the game. This same feeling comes across in the Andromeda trailer during her speech. BioWare has made it clear that the Commander will not appear in Andromeda, but Shepard will likely be a figure in the minds of Ryder and their crew.

2) Who will our companions be?

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Since Andromeda is focused on exploration and discovery it is likely that Ryder’s team will not be made up of as many soldiers and warriors as Shepard’s was because Ryder’s goal isn’t violence. It is likely that Andromeda will feature a team of scientists, not unlike Mordin Solus from the original trilogy. This bodes very well for a unique and compelling story as Mordin was given an incredibly complex character arc and became a fan favorite.

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Ryder’s team will likely be comprised of distinctive characters with compelling perspectives on the explorative theme. BioWare writers have expressed that all the alien races fans are familiar with will return, but also that we will certainly meet new ones. Whether unknown beings will join Ryder’s team or not is unclear, but either way, BioWare has always been successful at creating beloved characters in both their Mass Effect and Dragon Age series.

1) Who do we see in the Announcement Trailer?

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If the person we see in the E3 announcement trailer is officially not the game’s protagonist then who are they? To be featured prominently in the games first trailer this character has to be important. So, if they are not the game’s hero, a logical jump to make would be that they are the villain.

The trailer establishes with certainty that this mystery figure is, indeed, an N7 soldier – the armor they wear gives that away. Similarly, the protagonist’s armor bears no evidence of the same military affiliation. It could be very possible that this military officer will clash with the more scientific pursuits of Ryder and their team.

Another year to go!

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The use of the song “Ghost Riders in the Sky” has all but confirmed to fans that “Ryder” is the absolute name of the game’s hero. The song also fits with the classic Western genre themes of new frontier America. But, as far as “Western” narrative goes, “Ghost Riders in the Sky” has an ominous and foreboding tone, implying that Andromeda’s explorative arc will not go quite as well as Ryder is likely hoping.

For now, little is truly known, but since Mass Effect: Andromeda is set to release in Holiday 2016, there is ample time for BioWare to release more information. Until then keep speculating!