The "Andromeda" in Mass Effect: Andromeda isn't just a cool-sounding subtitle, it's a destination. This video makes it clearer that the role-playing series is pulling up its roots and heading 2.5 million light years away to the next closest galaxy to the Milky Way: the Andromeda Galaxy.
I've slowly been working through my needless disappointment that the Mass Effect series is moving further and further away from its original vision—but what are you going to do? If you're BioWare and you somehow have to follow up one of the brightest stars in the entire science-fiction canon, regardless of medium, what do you do? Well, you get the heck out of Dodge, I'm hearing. For years of development now, aside from taking place in the same universe (though not the same galaxy, haha), Mass Effect: Andromeda has fought to distance itself from Commander Shepard and crew. You'll see an N7 on this character's chest, and you'll see overcomplicated armor sets that look vaguely similar to Mass Effect armor, and maybe even a mothership hovering near the moon next to a barely recognizable jumpgate of some kind.
But any news is good news. It's been a couple months since the out-of-context tech demo we saw. You can join the "Andromeda Initiative," which, at least for the time being, looks like it's a fancy term that means "mailing list." But, parsing through the role-playing language, signing up might put you in the direct line of sight for "special training opportunities" (a public beta?), and for a "reward upon program completion" (a unique skin, a boost in space bucks, or a gun that's juiced up for early-game encounters, maybe?). Expect to hear more on November 7, which is, to Mass Effect fans, known as "N7 Day."
Mass Effect: Andromeda is looking at an early 2017 launch, but that's after we reported back in May that BioWare was pushing Andromeda out of a 2016 window and into 2017.