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Why a tiny reference to an alien race has Mass Effect Andromeda fans so excited

And what it might mean for the series' future.

Mass Effect Andromeda won't include all of the familiar races from the Milky Way - we've known that for quite some time. But BioWare has been coy about the role - if any - of the quarians, the most high-profile race not along for the ride.

Or, so fans thought. Dialogue in BioWare's final Andromeda Initiative video, published last night, has confirmed "quarian colonists" as among those making the trip. You can hear the reference at the 2:10 mark below.

It's safe to say, the Mass Effect reddit is quite excited. Proceed at your own caution.

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A quarian. Some Mass Effect fans like them quite a lot.

The masked quarian race is a fan-favourite, due in large part to your squadmate Tali - one of the few party members to join you across all three games of the Mass Effect trilogy.

From having played the game and talked with BioWare on the topic, it's clear quarians are still very much not in the game in any meaningful way. However, this fleeting reference has big implications for how BioWare may well introduce other Milky Way races in the future - by having them off-screen in the upcoming game but still part of the expedition to another galaxy.

It's an easy way for BioWare to pad out Andromeda's roster of aliens in the future - out of the thousands of colonists in cryo-sleep, just have quarians (or elcor, or any other race) be woken up in time for a sequel (or DLC).

"We have a plan, I can tell you that much," Mass Effect creative director Mac Walters told me last year in a wide-ranging interview on Andromeda's development.

"We have a whole backstory around how it is possible any major species you could have seen in the Milky Way could one day be a part of the Andromeda adventure. And that plan will be revealed when we ship the game [laughs]. As a small hint to that too, we have one of the novels giving some added backstory to that plan."

We asked about quarians specifically last month after going hands-on with Mass Effect Andromeda - and producer Fabrice Condominas refused to rule out the race making a cameo appearance:

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Reapers.

"You should look for them..." Condominas told me, "but I can't answer. If you're really interested to know what happened to the quarians - where they are - be careful of the choices you make and pay attention..."

Back to the Andromeda Initiative video, then, for one last lore snippet - as it also includes a veiled reference to the Reapers.

In some pretty deep lore even by BioWare standards, it has detailed how Milky Way residents first scanned the Andromeda region you'll soon be arriving in. Much of the data comes from geth scans of dark space, which it is heavily implied comes from their investigation into the Reapers (bear in mind Andromeda begins before the Reapers actually show up en masse in Mass Effect 3).

To be clear, Andromeda won't feature the Reapers at all - which is good - but it's nice to hear more of the connective tissue BioWare has built to bridge the gap between Andromeda and previous games.

BioWare is now showing off large portions of the game - take this recently-released gameplay video from the end of last week:

Mass Effect Andromeda will arrive in the UK on 23rd March, although EA/Origin Access subscribers can sample some of its campaign a week early, from the 16th.

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