The Next Mass Effect And What A Tale Of Two Galaxies Could Mean

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During The Game Awards, a Mass Effect trailer was shown that seemed to say a lot and very little at the same time. A lot of keen-eyed fans have offered their own theories, so I wanted to contribute my own - including how Andromeda and the Trilogy could collide. As someone that has over 30 playthroughs of the original trilogy, 7 playthroughs of Andromeda (despite its flaws), and has read all of the comics and novels several times over, I wanted to put some of that experience to good use with a good 'ol fashioned deep dive. So here we go! 

As a disclaimer, a disclaimer I put on any piece I write about Dragon Age or Mass Effect: I'm incredibly transparent with my love for this game. Does that mean I can't be critical of it or the studio culture around the BioWare name? Absolutely not, that's my job (and is evident by my previous critiques of Andromeda and Dragon Age 2 in the past, despite my personal enjoyment), but I like to be honest by letting readers know that I do have a personal connection to these stories for 100% transparency. 

Moving on, let's break the trailer seen at the top of the article down. 

In the opening sequence of the trailer (at which point we didn't even know this was tied to Mass Effect), we see the two galaxies that have dominated this franchise's lore: the Milky Way, which is seen in the front, and Andromeda, which is seen in the background. While many didn't seem to enjoy Andromeda due to its very different flavor and a wide variety of launch issues (faces were tired, you know the drill), others did relish in the younger and much dorkier Ryder tale. Much like the Geth weren't the true enemy in the first game of the trilogy, the Kett weren't the true enemy in Andromeda, a complexity that held so much potential for the expected sequel. Then launch happened and DLC plans were canceled, effectively killing any hope that the Quarians would make it safely and we'd get a resolution to the major epiphany revealed at Andromeda's end. That hope was killed until now, because the parallels seen in the beginning of the trailer paired with the implications of the ending scene could mean a crossover of epic proportions. 

The trailer then continues into the Milky Way that begins a journey through time itself with a voice from the Apollo 11 moon landing saying "Eagle, Houston. You're a go for landing, over." Being a journey, the trailer continues through time into an area where a cylindric structure can be seen. Some have speculated that it could be remnants of the Collector Base that was shot to hell in Mass Effect 2 (which I don't think so given the next sequence of events), while others think that this could be a structural graveyard seen in the wake of Reaper destruction from cycles past. It could also be the remnants of the battle with the Quarians on their way to Andromeda, which will be explored a little further down. Regardless, it is connected to the Omega Nebula, which has its own connection via a Mass Relay within the Mass Effect world. 

The next sequence seen is what makes me think it's not the Collector Base because the next shot directly references the First Contact War when humanity stumbled upon the Mass Relays and joined the wider galaxy only to jump into a vicious war against Turians that begun in 2157. This connection was fairly clear-cut with the voice that says "Arcturus Station, unknown vessel approaching, we need first contact protocols." For those that may not know, Arcturus is the headquarters for humanity's System Alliance that was established in 2156, a military and political power structure that is heavily prevalent in the trilogy and associated printed media. 

In Andromeda, fans were shocked to see that most races were represented in the move between galaxies, but some were missing. The Hanar, Elcor, Drell, and Quarians were the most notable, with the ending of the fourth Mass Effect game revealing that the Quarians' ark never made it safely, revealing an ominous distress call that was later explored through a spin-off novel (not DLC, as was reportedly planned). The trailer's sequence continues, saying "Ark 6 is away, godspeed," which is the Quarian ark Keelah Si'yah. The above broken cylindric structure could be related to the failed ark arrival, which could be the loophole needed with the time sequence given the passage of time that it takes to make it from the Milky Way to Andromeda (roughly 600 years). The reason that I think this could be related to the previous trailer sequence is that the ark launched from the Hephaestus Station, which is connected to the Omega Nebula within the Caleston Rift. 

During this next sequence is where I got chills because this is the first time we hear the Reaper's war call once more, the haunting boom that plagued the trilogy's third entry. As the video progresses into an abundant amount of wreckage within a broken Mass Relay, a distress call can be heard - only to be cut off by the Reaper's telltale sound - saying "Got to take down the dreadnought. Going critical. Abandon ship!"  

This wreckage was the reality for millions of lives. With every fleet desperately trying to beat back Reaper forces, a force so far advanced it seemed hopeless, countless lives were lost. Many battles were seemingly for nothing, and entire races were completely obliterated in previous cycles. We learned quite a bit about how other cycles worked with the "harvest" thanks to Mass Effect 3's inclusion of the last surviving Prothean: Javik. 

This hopelessness carried into the next sequence where a voice can be heard saying "Is anyone receiving this? We've lost contact." This part could take place at any time during Mass Effect 3 because many stations were lost with Mass Relay manipulation and Reaper obstruction, but if all contact was lost it's possible that this could be a post-ME3 moment when all of the Mass Relays were destroyed after Shepard's sacrifice. While the Control and Synthesis endings did eventually repair that damage, all endings resulted in that initial destruction. After the initial blast and Mass Relays shut down, the entire Milky Way was thrust into its own Dark Age pre-technologically-driven travel.

The trailer isn't done yet, the next step takes us into territory that I think could be easily dismissed as nothing, but keen-eyed fans know that BioWare is the king of hiding some of its most important details in plain sight. "Humanity is all that we have left" can be heard with a hybrid mashup of voices. Broken communication continues but it sounds like "the reason" can be heard at the very end. What that portends to is anyone's guess, but when looking at what happens next, it could be a much bigger clue than we realize. 

The video continues with the ship that we saw during N7 day with concept art make its landing on a planet rife with ice set with a tone of bleakness (it's not the earth, several moons can be seen). It's there that we see a shrouded figure make their way up an incline - a figure later revealed to be Liara (we're getting there, be patient). Many think this is a mountain, which definitely looks to be that way but to me? To me, I think this could be a derelict Reaper that she's scaling. A big reason for that is the previous frame directly references the Reaper's destruction and since this is a journey through time, the connection that the Reapers were once where this ship lands is definitely there. The fact that she bends down to pick up an N7 helmet, possibly Shepard's helmet, really lends to my thinking this is a fallen Reaper given the nature of the Commander's own fall (we're ignoring the breath of life seen at the end with the patched in the extended cut, you can @ me on Twitter if you want to know why, I have a very specific reason for doing so). 

Edit to this: BioWare's own Mike Gamble confirmed that it was a fallen Reaper Liara was climbing. Two points to Griffindor! 

Up until this point, we don't know who the shrouded figure is, but eventually, she looks up and towards the horizon and it's there that we can clearly see it is an Asari. The freckles, face shape, and that little smirk is obviously Liara (though some outlets reported that it was a Quarian in their initial coverage, I'm going to go ahead and chalk that up to them being rushed to get the news out during the Awards, which was a rapid-fire of new announcements that it was quite hard to keep up). That's Liara. Don't believe me? I confirmed it with two BioWare devs; that's Liara. 

The trailer then ends with her looking off into the distance where the ship that landed can be seen with the shapes of three figures in the background (would you look at that, the same number of companions you can bring with you into battle during the games!). One is obviously a Krogan with the far left being a Salarian. The middle person looks like a human, but could also easily be a Drell. My gut says human and since this is an opinion piece, I'm going to be frank and say that's where I'm personally leaning. 

But wait, does this mean Shepard is coming back? 

Obviously, I can't eschew anything officially because we all saw the same trailer, but I'm going to say no for a few reasons. The first being that Shepard was always canonically meant to be a trilogy. They were meant to be the martyr. Unless Miranda was back with another go at the Lazarus Project, I think it's best to start re-saying those goodbyes once more if that's what you're hoping for. 

The second reason is that it takes centuries to make it from the Milky Way to Andromeda. So how does that explain Liara? Easy! Asari have incredibly long lifespans. In the third game, Liara was just over 100 years old, which is basically considered a teenager in Asari culture. Asari can live to be over one thousand, so a 600-year jump wouldn't be an entire life cycle for her. The fact that her face can be seen with fine lines of a more mature Matriarch, the years lend themselves to my theory that we're going back to Andromeda but it will be more integrated with the trilogy than previously planned. 

TLDR: Andromeda hasn't abandoned the trilogy and the trilogy still has long-standing consequences to future life that we have yet to experience. I think the next step in the Mass Effect franchise will obviously take place hundreds of years post-ME3. I also think that this will make the Destroy ending canon, the ending that was highly sought after and incentivized throughout the progression of the third game. Since there is no evidence that Liara has been synthesized with that ending and there aren't any living Reapers seen, it looks like the Destroy ending will be paramount for the future of the games. Could Mass Effect pull a Dragon Age Keep where you can input your own choices of games past to dictate how the premise is set up for the new adventure? Absolutely a possibility, but that's not something we'll learn about until we are much closer to launch. 

At the end of the day, I'm excited. I touched on this with my previous piece talking about possible expansions of the Mass Effect universe, but there are so many unexplored stories left to tell. From the First Contact War to everything that happened in between the Trilogy and Andromeda, the narrative grounds are beyond fertile. 

If you're interested in learning more about the lore beyond the games, I can't recommend the books and comics enough. Even the movie Paragon's Lost, which dives into what happened to Vega pre-Shepard, offers unique perspectives into the games. From the moments in between the first Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2, to how Liara got ahold of Shepard's body to begin with; there is so much more to explore out there and every bit of it offers small pieces to a much larger puzzle that is the future of Mass Effect. 

AEW’s Aubrey Edwards On Her Journey Through Game Development, Pro Wrestling, And AEW Games

All Elite Wrestling’s Aubrey Edwards is one of the toughest and most popular referees in pro wrestling today. Her penchant for not taking any nonsense from stars like Chris Jericho has made her as beloved as the wrestlers themselves, but before she was laying down the law on AEW Dynamite every Wednesday on TNT, Aubrey Edwards (whose real name is Brittany Aubert) spent 10 years helping bring digital worlds to life in the game industry. 

During her time in the industry, she worked in a variety of roles for several studios, most notably as a producer for the Scribblenauts franchise. With the recent announcement of AEW’s first foray into video games, Aubert finds herself back in the world of game-making, combining her two dream jobs into one. I sat down with Aubert to talk about all things games, including how she fell in love with the medium and what she accomplished during her tenure. She also clarifies what AEW Games is and what her involvement entails. 

Game On

AEW fans who have paid attention may have heard Aubert express her love of gaming in interviews, but that side of her life is often a quick talking point in more wrestling-centric discussions. So what types of games does she enjoy? 

“I've actually been playing video games much longer than I've been watching wrestling,” says Aubert. “I started playing video games as early as I can remember. My house was always very much a video game household. There's pictures of my mom playing Duck Hunt pregnant with me. I played Sonic the Hedgehog with her when she was pregnant with my sister. I played NBA Jam with my dad, so it's like gaming's always been a big part of just my life in general. So when I was growing up I played Ocarina of Time in 1998 and was like ‘Oh man, there's people in an office somewhere who made this thing! That's something that I could do for a living.’ So from that moment on, I'm like ‘I'm going to make video games, and that's gonna be what I do with my life!’”

In her youth, Aubert adored JRPGs such as Final Fantasy VII, X, and Kingdom Hearts (“The original one, before the story got really wacky,” says Aubert) but her taste shifted as life got busier. In college she fell in love with the shorter indie experiences. Aubert cites Braid, for example, as one of her all-time favorites. “My favorite game in the last year that I've played is Untitled Goose Game just because it's only four hours and you get to be an a--hole goose. It’s fantastic.” 

Since the wrestling business requires constant travel, the Switch has been Aubert’s “savior” for satisfying her gaming fix. She considers herself a Nintendo kid and is a huge fan of The Legend of Zelda and Pikmin franchises in particular. It speaks to her general affinity for colorful games that emphasize lighthearted imagination over hardcore violence. “If it's cute, adorable, and has bright colors, I've probably played it,” she says. 

Scribblenauts And Other Ventures

Aubert chased her game-development dreams by attending DigiPen Institute of Technology in Redmond, WA, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science. Upon graduation, she spent the next decade working in a variety of studios in both development and producer roles. 

Her longest tenure at a studio came at 5th Cell, where she worked on the Scribblenauts franchise for more than six years. Given Aubert’s love of whimsical games, the studio seemed like a perfect fit. 

“I guess that's part of the reason that drew me to the franchise in the first place,” she says. “I was a Nintendo kid growing up, so hearing that 5th Cell was continuing to make Nintendo games and they were making something that was cool and unique and had never been done before, I was like, ‘Well, yeah, I know I'm going to apply here.’”

Photo Credit: Luis Yepez

Aubert served as a tool programmer for the first Scribblenauts, moved up to the role of producer for Super Scribblenauts, and, finally became a lead producer on Scribblenauts Unlimited, a launch title for the Wii U. Additionally, she oversaw development of the game’s iOS port. Helping bring Maxwell’s adventures to life for so long has penciled a permanent spot for the franchise in Aubert’s heart; she even has a Starite tattoo on her arm. 

After leaving 5th Cell, Aubert moved on to WG Cells (a division of Wargaming) to work on a few mobile games, but Wargaming shut down her branch before any of those projects saw the light of day. She moved on to City State Entertainment, a studio made up of Mythic Entertainment alumni, to help launch its West Coast studio. Aubert then moved on to Vreal, a now-defunct VR game-streaming platform. Despite helping to develop a functioning alpha build, the studio eventually ran out of funding and Aubert was laid off. 

Losing two jobs out of four began to sour Aubert on the industry, “I hadn't actually shipped a game since 2012 outside of a couple early alpha versions of things, so it kind of just wears on you a little bit.” says Aubert.  

Thankfully, an unexpected opportunity appeared in the form of pro wrestling. Not only did it provide a welcome change of scenery, but eventually served as a roundabout way back into game-making. 

Photo Credit: Scott Lesh

Finding Pro Wrestling And AEW Games

Aubert became a fan of wrestling in 2011, kicking off an obsession that led to Aubert learning how to referee in 2017. Though she still worked in games full time, Aubert refereed on the indie wrestling circuit as a hobby on weekends. Thankfully, as her love for the sport grew, so did the opportunities; Aubert even had a brief stint in WWE as one of the referees for the 2018 Mae Young Classic, a women’s wrestling tournament (she officiated the infamous bout in which Tegan Nox blew out her knee against Rhea Ripley). When All Elite Wrestling formed in 2019, the fledgling organization approached her with a full-time gig. 

“Eventually it ended up growing very large,” Aubert says. “It kind of just got to the point where I said, 'I can keep going with this games thing full-time, or I can chase this AEW thing.’ Because at that point it's early 2019, we've got Double or Nothing coming up, no one really knows what to expect. But they're talking about changing the world, and that always sounds like a really fun thing. So I took a risk, and I left games, and I joined AEW.” 

Photo Credit: James Musselwhite

When Aubert joined AEW, she quickly gained a following for not only being one of the few female referees in mainstream wrestling, but for her penchant for keeping the men in tights in line no matter how imposing they are. AEW has gained a passionate fanbase, and a video game was among the first things that diehards begged for once the company got rolling. Their wish came true and then some when the company unveiled AEW Games in November (via a satirical press conference) with three games in the works: a No Mercy-inspired console game and two mobile titles. 

Of course, given Aubert’s background, it was a given that she would be involved with AEW Games. 

“At some point or another, someone found out that I had a tech background,” Aubert explains. “And I sent my resume to various executives at our company and they're like, ‘Oh, you worked on games for a very long time.’ So when the conversation about AEW Games started to come about and [started] to actually develop games, it was kind of a no-brainer that I be involved with that.”

Aubert is primarily focused on overseeing AEW Elite General Manager, a mobile game that allows players to book shows and manage the roster. However, she has her hands full assisting production for all of AEW’s titles in a role that combines her experiences as a hands-on developer and producer.  

“It's almost like a hybrid role.” Aubert says. “I'm doing development things in the way that I'm working with art and making sure that all of our characters are represented properly, that our brand is represented properly. I'm working with the team to work on different features and follow the game design that we're building with this game. I'm currently writing some narrative stuff for tutorials and whatnot. So I'm doing a lot of random day-to-day development stuff, but at the same time kind of acting as that publisher role as well, working with marketing and trying to figure out what our timelines are there and working with budgets and all these different things.” 

We still don’t know much about AEW’s mysterious console game; right now, Aubert can only tell me she “can’t wait to talk about it.” Since Aubert became a wrestling fan much later in life, she didn’t grow up playing beloved classics such as WWF No Mercy. That’s why she’s made it a priority to dust off the N64 and study No Mercy to figure out what makes it click. “We really want to make sure that what we're making is what wrestling fans want. So as someone who makes games – and this has always been the case – if I'm building something and we're trying to hit a particular vibe or a particular market, it's my job to do the research to make sure we're achieving that.”

Photo Credit: Steve Yu

Wrestling and game development are two very large and often tumultuous animals. When I asked her to describe the differences, Aubert pointed to how adjusting to feedback is one of the biggest. 

“With games you're building something for potentially years, and then the fans get to play it when you're done with it.” she explains. “You get to see this amazing reaction to what it is that you made. With wrestling I get that multiple times every Wednesday. That we have a group of people that are telling a story and, 15-20 minutes later, we know exactly how that story was perceived, and even in the moment we get the fan reaction to something. Are they liking it, are they not liking it? And that's something that is completely unique to any other performance media.” 

By combining her passions into one, Brittany Aubert has proven that following your goals (especially if they involve interests you genuinely enjoy) can lead to dreams being realized in ways you often can’t predict. 

“I always wanted to announce a video game in development on a stage,” she says. “That had been one of my goals in games forever. So I only needed to leave games and join a wrestling company in order to pull that off.” 

You can watch Aubrey Edwards in action on AEW Dynamite every Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET on TNT and listen to her talk wrestling as the co-host of the AEW Unrestricted Podcast.

Dragon Ball FighterZ Roster Adds Super Baby 2

The Dragon Ball FighterZ roster isn't done growing quite yet and a recent V-Jump scan that leaked early confirms which arrival is coming next. The next FighterZ DLC fighter to arrive in the game soon is Super Baby 2, a character from Dragon Ball GT, and the recent scans give us a little clue as to what this means for the game. 

V-Jump is a Japanese publication and Twitter user @Dbshype just uploaded a few scans showing off the latest arrival: 

While not the full reveal (and no gameplay, due to this being a magazine), the scans do show off a little bit about what the latest addition brings to the table, including the following sets: 

  • Full Power Energy Wave
  • Great Ape 
  • Darkness Spring Shot
  • Z-Assist Revival 

The Darkness Spring Shot is perfect for super dedicated fans because this Ki blast is pretty epic in its own right. Not only is it powerful, it also returns back to the fighter if an enemy hit isn't landed. The meteor strike with the Revenge Death Ball is also an exciting move and should proof to be an interesting tool when going up against enemy characters. 

What's really interesting, however, is the Z-Assist Revival because there aren't any other characters on the current roster with the ability to bring back someone who has fallen in a match. This addition could be totally epic, or completely OP, but without gameplay it's a little too soon to judge.

What do you think about the arrival of Super Baby 2 to Dragon Ball FighterZ? What other characters do you think deserve some time in the spotlight? Sound off with your thoughts in the comment section below!

Patty Jenkins’ Star Wars: Rogue Squadron Movie Will Have an Original Story

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Cyberpunk 2077 Beginner Tips

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Which life path should you choose? Do you upgrade your weapons or buy new ones? How should you prioritize mainline missions versus the side quests? Cyberpunk 2077 is a massive open-world experience that can seem daunting when players are first booting up the game. As you traverse the prologue, not only are you tasked with creating an ideal cyberpunk from a massive menu of options, but you'll also have to pick from three different backstories and figure out how you want to invest your skill points. But fear not, that's where your friendly neighborhood Game Informer editors come in.

Join Andrew Reiner, Liana Ruppert, and Kim Wallace as they walk you through the tips and tricks that can ease your experience traversing Night City and help you excel where others who didn't watch this video will struggle. As someone who has yet to play the game myself, I found their guidance on life paths and skill points extremely helpful, so we hope you do too.

If you have questions we didn't answer in this video, be sure to leave them in the comment section below, and we'll try to get to them in future content.

If you can't get enough of Cyberpunk 2077, you're in the right place. Be sure to check out Reiner's thorough written review where he tells you if CD Projekt Red's new game is worth your time. Also, check out Liana's insightful look into how to play the game if you have epilepsy or are sensitive to flashing light, and Ben Reeves' hilarious ranking of the best Cyberpunk release dates.

After many years of waiting, Cyberpunk 2077 releases today on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, and Stadia. While you can play the game on Xbox Series X/S and PlayStation 5 through backward compatibility, you'll have to wait until 2021 to play the enhanced version of the game.

Here Are The Famous Faces You’ll See At The Game Awards 2020

Much like an entertaining Josef Fares rant or a “surprise” Hideo Kojima appearance, celebrity cameos have become a staple of The Game Awards. Host Geoff Keighly has spent the last week name dropping the big stars on Twitter that will be hosting the all-virtual awards show. 

The names range from Hollywood stars to game industry luminaries to sports commentators to even a Muppet. With the big show airing tomorrow night, we’ve compiled a list of every confirmed presenter and musical performer (at the time of writing).  

Presenters

  • Keanu Reeves
  • Christopher Nolan
  • Brie Larson
  • Tom Holland
  • Gal Gadot
  • John David Washington
  • Stephen A. Smith
  • Swedish Chef 
  • Jacksepticeye
  • Josef Fares
  • Nolan North
  • Reggie Fils-Aime
  • Troy Baker

For musical performances, look forward to jamming out to Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder and famed Japanese jazz singer Lyn Inaizumi. Lyn, who Persona fans know as a prominent vocalist for tracks in Persona 5, Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth, and the recently announced Persona 5 Strikers, will perform during the 30-minute pre-show (airing 3:30 pm PT/6:30 pm ET). Vedder will take the stage during the main show.   

You can check out some of the nominees here if you haven’t yet cast your vote. We already know a few things to expect from this year’s event, including the debut of a new Among Us map as well as a Dragon Age 4 update of some kind. While you try to deduce what else The Game Awards has in store, you can watch me and other GI editors predict the winners and big announcements. There's a free dinner on the line! 

Naomi: New DC Series in Development at The CW

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Vigilante win Epic Games, Unreal Grant for Model Library Creation

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Black Panther’s Disney+ Marvel Intro Remade to Honor Chadwick Boseman

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Control May Be Coming to Xbox Game Pass in December 2020

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