The new Mass Effect: Andromeda trailer is a mission statement. It opens with a bleak goal, shakes hands with an uncompromising enemy, establishes humanity's emigrant status, likewise affirms humanity's scrappy ingenuity, throws in the beginning of a love scene for good measure, and ends on a note of hopeful aspiration.
"Is that our Golden World?" the trailer begins. "That's Habitat 7," says the offscreen reply. "New Earth, if we're lucky. We're marooned. Twenty thousand souls adrift at sea. When the power runs out—and stays out—we need to know if that's safe harbor."
Yet this "New Earth" doesn't look very familiar. Not to a company of spacefarers that may be looking for skies of blue and clouds of white. There's something entirely alien happening in and around this particular planet, but it sounds like humanity and Commander Ryder don't have many choices left.
Enter Archon, who appropriately introduces himself with the line, "I am Archon. Surrender or burn." I can't help but think back to 1983's Archon. I played a ton of it on Commodore 64 because I'm old. Archon is similar to Chess, but a one-on-one battle ensues when one piece moves onto another piece, where you're running and gunning to win the round. Striking first doesn't guarantee victory. Not at all. The bad guy's name being Archon only affirms the spiritual connection, in my mind. If it's an unintentional reference back to this classic Chess-like game, so be it. But when Ryder says, "Sure we've been outplayed. The Archon is a master of his game. We're about to change the rules," I'm only more convinced of the connecting thread.
Ryder composes himself with much more of a Naughty Dog swagger than Commander Shepard ever had. Call it the Nolan North effect. Personally, I'm for it. It'll have been five years since Mass Effect wrapped up its original trilogy. Feels like it's been twice that long. And I think we can all relate, with a friendly pat on the back, when one of the Pathfinder team says, "Been waiting 600 years for this." It'll be great to see what BioWare pulls off, since this is the first front-to-back development of a Mass Effect game since the departure of founders Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk in 2012.
Mass Effect: Andromeda launches March 21 on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. Unless you pre-order the game via EA's Origin service and enjoy a five-day lead time ahead of everyone else.