BioWare says Mass Effect 5 poster has "at least five surprises" - here's what they could be

Mass Effect 5 poster
(Image credit: BioWare)

The Mass Effect 5 teaser poster that dropped during last year's N7 day has "at least five surprises in it" that hint at the series' future, according to BioWare GM Gary McKay.

McKay drops this bombshell hint in a post on the BioWare blog entitled 'State of BioWare and Looking Ahead'. After praising the success of Mass Effect Legendary Edition and applauding BioWare employees for their work during the pandemic, McKay turns his attention to the future. There's the KOTOR Legacy of the Sith expansion coming February 15, Dragon Age 4, and Mass Effect 5 on the horizon, after all. 

According to McKay, the 'Mass Effect will continue' poster revealed on November 7, 2021 contains "a handful of hidden treats," that number "at least five" by his count. After the image was released, fans noticed that it was clearly referencing the return of the Geth, a synthetic alien civilization that acts as both friend and foe throughout the trilogy. So, perhaps we can consider that one of the "at least five" surprises. But what else can we glean from the poster?

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First, there's a four-person crew walking away from a ship parked near the giant, geth-shaped crater. One of those is clearly a krogan, while the other three figures are a bit more difficult to make out. Either this is meant to represent iconic crew members Joker, Garrus, Liara, and either Grunt or Wrex, or it's a nod to a potential four-person crew in the next Mass Effect game. Either way, the number is significant. 

Then there's the ship itself, which is not the Normandy. Emblazoned on either side of the ship is SFX, which follows similar naming conventions to both versions of the Normandy, which was the SR1 and SR2. The name on the ship is also a nod to Mass Effect's original name, which was called SFX at BioWare, short for Science Fiction X.

The third hint I can find is what looks to be a body of a dead geth, lying about halfway between the crater and the advancing crewmembers. Here's where the Mass Effect 3 endings come into play and potentially point us towards Mass Effect 5's plot. The destroyed geth could mean that BioWare had made the 'Destroy' ending of Mass Effect 3 canon, an idea further supported by what may be the fourth hint…

The crater in the center of the poster may be a destroyed mass relay. The shape definitely resembles one, and it would make sense if canonically Shepard chose the Destroy path. That's the fourth hint I can find, but what about the fifth?

There's another body lying very close to the crater, just below it, and I think it's Shepard. In the Mass Effect teaser trailer, Liara picks up what looks like a piece of Shepard's omni-tool buried in the snow on an unknown planet. And what's that surrounding the geth-shaped crater? Looks like snow to me…

In December 2020, I suggested that the next Mass Effect game would be a direct sequel to Mass Effect 3 and that it would make the hardest-to-achieve Destroy ending canon. In that ending, Shepard destroys the Reapers and all synthetic life including the Geth, but saves Earth, the Normandy… and herself.

In the same post that spawned this breakdown, BioWare called Dragon Age 4 a single-player game "built on choices that matter."

Alyssa Mercante

Alyssa Mercante is an editor and features writer at GamesRadar based out of Brooklyn, NY. Prior to entering the industry, she got her Masters's degree in Modern and Contemporary Literature at Newcastle University with a dissertation focusing on contemporary indie games. She spends most of her time playing competitive shooters and in-depth RPGs and was recently on a PAX Panel about the best bars in video games. In her spare time Alyssa rescues cats, practices her Italian, and plays soccer.