Mass Effect 5 development “proceeding very well”, as BioWare issues fresh tease

BioWare has issued a small teaser and brief update on the status of its next Mass Effect game, in celebration of the franchise’s annual N7 Day today, 7th November.

A blog update from BioWare states that “pre-production development has been proceeding very well” as Mass Effect franchise veterans and newcomers work together to craft “characters and locations that you’ll love, as well as revisiting many that you’ll remember” .

That last line stuck out to me, as fan speculation continues on what to expect from this new entry into the franchise. From the off, in BioWare’s 2020 reveal trailer for the project, fans were greeted by an older version of Liara – apparently centuries older than she appeared in the series’ original trilogy. But that teaser also included hints we’d hear more about what’s been going on in Andromeda – the setting for the series’ most recent entry – as well.

BioWare’s Mass Effect 5 reveal trailer from 2020.
Today, BioWare also showed an eye-catching fresh piece of concept art for the game, which depicts the creation of a new Mass Relay – the devices used by the series’ starships to zip between different systems.

BioWare’s Mass Effect 5 teaser image for N7 Day 2022. Click to embiggen.

This image is an updated version of one that previously appeared in BioWare’s big 25th anniversary coffee table book that Eurogamer first reported on back in 2020 – though there’s a number of fresh details here which have been subsequently added.

The caption in the bottom-left of the image states the following:

“Vacuum-dock Relay Contruction Record / Monitoring Station Operated by Green Dagger Ltd. Property of Deepspace Dhow SAV / Ship Captain: Sub-Navarch Soa’Rhal Zhilian-Jones.

“For interior use only. SA —–313—– /////11_07_90_000_1000-201.37.23 — File Bat.”

A snazzy-looking spaceship with blue exhaust trails similar to the series’ Normandy and Tempest ships can be seen approaching the Relay from the bottom right. I’d put a lot of money on this being our hero’s new spaceship home away from home.

Above the partially-constructed Relay’s ring, large ships can be seen air-lifting fresh pieces into position. Now more than ever, it’s clear this image shows a wholly-new Mass Relay construction – rather than the repairs made to the existing Mass Relays directly after the Reaper war concludes at the end of Mass Effect 3.

So, why are new Relays being built? And more importantly, where do they lead – to new parts of the Milky Way, or to Andromeda?

As for that caption, I reckon Sub-Navarch Soa’Rhal Zhilian-Jones sounds like a quarian first name with a human surname. If so, it’s nice to know the quarians survived in the Mass Effect canon post ME3!

An animated version of this artwork has also been published via twitter featuring some mysterious-sounding audio. Fans will no doubt be kept busy deciphering the sound clues on offer here.

A filename for a downloadable version of this video reveals it to show the Satherium System. A quick check reveals this star system is new to the Mass Effect series, and appears to be named after the Latin genus of an extinct giant otter. (And now I really hope there’s a race of giant otters in the next Mass Effect game.) https://twitter.com/masseffect/status/1589656874416500739

Elsewhere, today’s blog features quotes from various senior team members working on the next Mass Effect. This includes Mary de Marle, who recently joined BioWare after working at Eidos Montreal on Deus Ex: Human Revolution and Guardians of the Galaxy.

“I spend my days dreaming up stories with a bunch of talented writers,” said de Marle, who now serves as Mass Effect’s senior narrative director. “Then I work closely with artists, gameplay and level design experts, audiophiles and programmers to turn those stories into immersive player-driven experiences.”

Mass Effect’s franchise creative director and BioWare veteran Parrish Ley added that he was working with the game’s team to “deliver the game’s emotional, narrative and tonal elements, ensuring that the next, big chapter in the Mass Effect saga stays true to the franchise’s roots” .

And that’s about it for this year’s N7 Day celebrations. A few crumbs, yes, but better than nothing. Here’s hoping next year finally sees the launch of Dragon Age Dreadwolf, and BioWare has a meatier update to offer at the end of 2023.

Last year, BioWare celebrated N7 Day 2021 with a clue-filled Mass Effect 5 teaser image which we dissected in minute detail. The artwork hinted at a return to Mass Effect’s fan-favorite robotic geth species, as well as zoomed-out views of some of its characters and new spaceship.

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