The 6 biggest unanswered questions about Mass Effect: Andromeda's ending (SPOILER alert!)

Andromeda might not be the best game in the Mass Effect series, but it still weaves together some truly great moments, complete with great characters, a mysterious plot, and spectacular alien vistas.

As my time with Mass Effect: Andromeda drew to a close, I found myself crazed by some of the game's unanswered mysteries. Mass Effect: Andromeda has a relatively satisfying conclusion, but it's safe to say it leaves proceedings wide open for a sequel, or at least some DLC.

Here are five of the biggest unanswered questions from Mass Effect: Andromeda ... and their worrying implications.

WARNING: This post contains spoilers. Lots of them.

Trying to explain Mass Effect: Andromeda's ending

Much of Mass Effect: Andromeda is spent attempting to hunt down "golden worlds," which are essentially viable for human life for the explorers and colonists of the Andromeda Initiative. The Andromeda Initiative was set up by Jien Garson and the player's father, Alec Ryder, and it offered hundreds of thousands of Milky Way aliens — including humans, salarian, turian, asari, and quarian — the opportunity to traverse dark space and settle anew in Andromeda.

Upon arriving in the targeted Heleus Cluster, you discover that many of the planetary candidates are either dead or dying. A huge, system-spanning field of dark energy known as the Scourge penetrates the stars, warping the natural ecosystems therein. Each planet comes with its own set of hazards, and it's up to Ryder and his crew to reverse the atmospheric disasters.

You do this by hunting down Remnant vaults, which are (conveniently) a network of ancient terraforming platforms built by a hyper-advanced, unknown alien race. The vaults transform dead worlds into lush, verdant paradises, albeit over time.

Along the way, you encounter the kett race of aliens, which is an invasive species from elsewhere in Andromeda. The kett's local leader, the Archon, is obsessed with Remnant technology and sees it as a weapon.

The kett are discovered to reproduce by "exalting" a species. They use technology to strip out another race's desirable genes while injecting a genome of their own design. You discover that the kett is responsible for subjugating thousands upon thousands of angara, who are the local, generally-peaceful humanoid species in Heleus.

The Andromeda Initiative was designed specifically to help the Milky Way races escape the Reapers.

Ryder and his team race to Meridian, which is discovered to be the central control node for all the Remnant vaults in the area. After defeating the Archon, Ryder activates Meridian, and the stellar cluster begins healing more rapidly. All's well, right? Maybe not.

If you do the SAM Node memory unlocking quest chain, you discover that it wasn't the collision with the Scourge that killed the Initiative's founder, Jien Garson. She was, in fact, murdered, for reasons unknown. You also discover that the Andromeda Initiative wasn't set up simply to give thousands of people a chance at finding fortune and glory exploring a new galaxy. Instead, The Andromeda Initiative was designed specifically to help the Milky Way races escape the Reapers, who practically destroy the galaxy in Mass Effect 3.

What's more, you discover that the Andromeda Initiative was bankrolled by an anonymous "benefactor," who Jien Garson and Alec Ryder both became increasingly suspicious of. Alec notes that, while it was great that the benefactor helped them escape the Reapers, something is seriously off, considering the benefactor remains in the shadows, refusing to reveal their identity.

The Andromeda crew decide to put these mysteries to one side, as they had a galaxy to build. But it's clear that these questions will form the basis of future DLC — or even entirely new games.

There are dozens of unanswered questions in Mass Effect: Andromeda, but here are the most pertinent and perplexing.

1. What happened to the quarian ark?

At the start of Mass Effect: Andromeda, you discover that the human, salarian, turian, and asari arks were only part of a first wave of colonization vessels into Andromeda. The quarian ark (conveniently containing hanar, elcor, volus, and drell passengers) ran into technical problems, due to the vessel's strange combination of inhabitants.

At the end of the game, you discover a distress call from the quarian ark, except it's not signaling for help, it's telling the Andromeda Initiative to stay away, warning them about some potentially new threat.

Could the Reapers have followed the quarians to Andromeda? Did something malevolent hitch a ride across dark space? Or did the quarians run into an all-new threat, slated for a reveal in a subsequent DLC or sequel? For now, we can only speculate.

2. Jardaan vs. Scourge

At the end of Mass Effect: Andromeda, we gain some insights into the Remnant, otherwise known as the Jardaan. It seems the Jardaan were responsible for the creation of the angara, and the monolithic terraforming network that dominates much of the game's plot.

Not only that, but the Jardaan created a large spherical biosphere to serve as the central control hub, known in-game as Meridian.

As you traverse Meridian, it becomes apparent that the system-destroying dark energy field known as the Scourge was a weapon unleashed specifically to hunt down the Jardaan and their technology.

Still, there are so many unanswered questions. Who were the Jardaan? Who unleashed the Scourge, and why? Were the Jardaan a machine race, as hinted at by their constructs? Could the Reapers somehow be involved here, again? Were the Jardaan simply conducting vain scientific experiments, on a planetary scale? We may never know.

3. Who murdered Jien Garson, and why?

If you do the SAM Node memory unlocking quest chain, you discover some paranoia-inducing facts about Alec Ryder (your character's father), and the founder of the Andromeda Initiative, Jien Garson.

Before the Hyperion human ark arrived in Andromeda, the Initiative sent ahead thousands of construction workers to build the Nexus space station, to set it up as the seat of Andromeda's galactic government. However, the presence of the Scourge caused chaos when the Nexus emerged from faster-than-light travel, leading to the deaths of hundreds.

Along with various other senior members of staff, Andromeda Initiative founder Jien Garson was found dead in her apartment. It was presumed that the Scourge collision was to blame, and the case was closed and buried.

There's certainly more going on here.

Information gained from unlocking SAM's memory core, combined with a bit of Omni-tool detective work, reveals that Jien Garson was, in fact, murdered. A log in her apartment reveals that she knew her killer was coming but not the reason why.

It seems that the Andromeda Initiative's mysterious benefactor was behind the killing. But was it simply to hide all knowledge of the Reapers? Or did she know something else? And who was the killer? Presumably, he's still at large, doing the benefactors work, but to what end? There's certainly more going on here.

4. Who is the 'Benefactor?'

Perhaps the most perplexing mystery of the lot, who is the benefactor? Neither Jien or Alec knew the benefactor in person, but, they were more than happy to take his or her cash.

While the Andromeda Initiative had no prior knowledge of the Reapers or the events of Mass Effect 1, 2, or 3, it's revealed that the benefactor bankrolled the colonists, adding hundreds of thousands of additional personnel while also moving timetables forward in the process. Clearly, the benefactor knew that the Reapers were coming and that they were coming soon.

If the benefactor's motivations were ultimately altruistic, why did they feel the need to have Jien Garson murdered? And why conceal their identity? Who, in all of Mass Effect lore, could have enough cash to single-handedly fund something like the Andromeda Initiative? The Yahgian Shadow Broker? Perhaps the Illusive Man? Something doesn't add up here, and Alec Ryder agrees.

5. The kett

The kett serve as Andromeda's main antagonists, and while their involvement seems generally circumstantial, there are several unanswered questions about their true nature.

We know that the Archon was, effectively, acting against the whims of the kett empire, which sounds as though it is far larger than the encounters in Heleus would have us realize. We know that the kett arrived in the cluster several decades ago, and sought to, almost immediately, subjugate the angara, and decipher the Remnant technology. The Archon's arrogance leads to his downfall, but not before he reveals that he is the product of "thousands" of exalted species from across Andromeda.

The kett bear some striking resemblance to the Reapers, in the sense that they harvest genetic material from other organisms in order to reproduce. Kett "exaltation" gives them a near-endless army of assimilated angaran soldiers. Towards the end of the game, we saw how the kett had already begun the process of "exalting" a Krogan, granting it aspects of the kett exoskeleton and voracity.

Exaltation is nearly identical to the assimilation technology deployed by the Reapers, which saw various races transformed into hideous cybernetic mutants, giving the Reapers a huge army of throwaway foot soldiers.

The similarities could either be the product of BioWare running out of ideas, or perhaps there's a bigger conspiracy at play here. It seems pretty obvious that the kett would be extremely interested in how the Reapers achieve their goals.

6. Could the Reapers be involved?

The Reapers are known to have the capability to traverse dark space, and the closest galaxy to our own, is indeed, Andromeda. It could be that the Jardaan Remnant came into direct conflict with the Reapers, as both appear to be as ancient and technologically advanced as each other. Where the Reapers seek to control life by destroying it, the Jardaan appear to seed and create it, as shown by their genetic prowess and terraforming capabilities. They seem like two sides of the same coin.

As noted above, the kett race parallels the Reapers in a way that seems too close to be coincidental. They both subjugate entire species, and they both harvest genetic material in order to reproduce. The Reaper husks are essentially identical to exalted kett subordinates.

While there's very little evidence to support these ideas, the game calls back to the Reapers in a very strong way towards the end, signifying at least some form of overlap. It could be nothing, but it could also be everything.

Additional unanswered questions

These are my conspiracy theories for Mass Effect: Andromeda's ending. It remains to be seen whether EA and BioWare will issue some DLC for the game, or whether they simply plan to do a sequel in the future. Andromeda has no season pass, but neither did Dragon Age: Inquisition, which saw piles of high-quality DLC post-launch.

There are several other lesser questions that Andromeda doesn't answer, too. What happened to Reyes? (If you side against him, that is.) How will the Primus react with the Archon dead? And, man, what is the deal with that worm on Elaaden?

Mass Effect: Andromeda isn't perfect, but I'm already eager as all hell to find out what comes next for the franchise.

What are your biggest unanswered questions? Are there questions above that were answered that I somehow missed? Hit the comments!

Jez Corden
Co-Managing Editor

Jez Corden a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!

  • ***Spoilers***
    The Andromeda Initiative was not designed specifically to escape the Reapers, It just rushed it along. Jien Garson was running out of money (She was supposedly one of the richest humans), so the Benefactor came along.
    I was really hoping that the Remnant were Prothean, as the P.A.W. Rifle was practically exactly the same as the Particle Rifle I enjoyed from ME3. (If you look at the design of the ME3 Particle Rifle in ME3, its design and cyan-blue light is very reminiscent of Remnant Structures), as well as the fact that Protheans interacted via touch in a Electro sensitive manor, such as the consoles or even the Angara. Jardaan could be their true names (Prothean may be a Human word, similarities with Prometheus), or even a species that escaped the reapers before the Protheans (And the Protheans designed their Particle Rifles after their discoveries of Past Technologies). I have to say I really enjoyed this game, just finished it after clocking in 93 hours, including reading every single bloody Codex Article.
    Also the Remnant City looks a bit like an Arc, maybe it travelled across Clusters or even Galaxies (maybe not even Milky Way).
    Hopefully DLC and ME:A2 will reveal these secrets :D
  • Yeah maybe I mis-wrote, but basically the benefactors usurped the Andromeda Initiative for its own ends, to escape the Reapers, for whatever reason. Deadlines were introduced, and thousands of new colonists were added. Jardaan as Prothean seems a possibility, but wouldn't Javik have explained that? Maybe they were an offshoot... maybe they themselves fled to Andromeda to escape the Reapers. 0_0
  • Well considering the Protheans were not just a race but an empire with many different races that would either join them or "suddently become extinct" it could be that the Jardaan were so to speak either at some point part of the empire at some point then left, or just wanted to escape the protheans making them extinct, so they went to andromeda but they were chased by the protheans that created the "scourge" to kill them for whatever reasoning would fit depending on the exact situation, for example the Jardaan stole the tech from the empire and run away. Or even yet it could have been the reapers trying to kill them because them leaving would essentialy disrupt their cicle. And all that if we/bioware/whomever wants to link the Jardaan to the Protheans by considering the tech looks similar ish and it kinda does when i first saw gameplay footage before reading up on all that it looks alot like tech used by protheans/collectors in the style of it with differences easily explained by slight alterations when advancing the tech or by preference of the users. BUT this all is just one shot in the dark theory it could simply be another random race from a completely other random part of the universe would still work for the story if they dont want to link anything back :P
  • I highly doubt that Javik would've known, even with the knowledge that he had, he said himself he was just a soldier.  And even though the tech may share some similarities, I think both are more than different enough to be another race entire.  Which is the way I'd rather they go, because why make a new game in a new universe if they're just gonna circle around to the same race again? Though, if it were the Protheans, I think a bigger clue would be in the statue that you pick up for Avela.
  • Along with the many unanswered questions here, there is an Irish gentleman you meet in Meridian during the epilogue that says something about you finding a kid(he used a different word) but there is no mission to do so.   He also tells you about a vault that isn't activated on Meridian but you can't actually explore Meridian.     Just made me wonder if it will be part of a future DLC Or just an unfinished new quest line they didn't get to.  I am left with 2 unfinished tasks.  One due to a glitch (Task: Earn you badge- I accidentally spoke to Andraknor before completing the tasks and now he won't talk to me) & Path of a Hero because it feels wrong to cheat on Jaal after committing to him lol- with no option to back out- I just didn't finish it.   
  • I don't see why the reapers would return when they were defeated in the milky way 600 years before.
  • OR WERE THEY? dun dun dunnn
  • Well, it wouldn't really be a "return".  With 6 very large ships flying off into dark space before the invasion, there's no way that the Reapers didn't notice that.  I could easily see at least one reaper (if not several) following the path of the ships towards the Andromeda galaxy.
  • To be fair, you don't know if they were defeated. Mass Effect 3 had four different endings, so the writers could have chosen any of those as canon for the series.    And second, nothing is ever said that what we fought in ME3 was *all* of the Reapers. We thought we nipped it in the bud with Soverign, but that was nothing. Who's to say that the dumb ass star kid at the end of 3 wasn't just a single branch of the Reapers?   Think of it this way: If the Chinese fly off to fight an alien race but the alien race defeat the Chinese, they would think they just defeated all humans. But did they? Or do they now have Russia, Japan, Europe, United States, etc., to deal with as well?
  • The reason this games takes place in Andromeda is so that they dont have to choose a canon ending.
  • I want to know what happens to the ancient AI. If you take it with you, it is missing in the the SAM node room after the events of landing day. It really bugs me that the disappearance isn't even a topic you can bring up with SAM.
  • I thought for sure there was going to be a plot arc involving it if you took it with you, but nothing ever really materialized. I wonder if that was just something they ran out of time to expand upon with its own line of quests. It's certainly routine for these types of games to have a lot of planned content in terms of story and dialog branches (translated to quests) that gets pruned down as deadlines approach.  That said, good catch on it going missing at the end. I wonder if that was just an oversight or intentional. The fact that that plot line seemed to just terminate anyways upon bringing it back to the Nexus, suggests it was just an oversight in the station's game state by some designer. 
  • I noticed that too, might be a bug.
  • Bioware confirmed that it's a bug.  But they also said it should have an impact on any future DLC or game.
  • Hi Jez,  I liked your breakdown of unanswered questions. Also, what happens to mother Ryder? SAM says that she was kept in stasis because of a potential cure that could be found in Andromeda. At the end of the game, nothing is mentioned about her.  I feel like the game will definitely have DLC as the AVP points are locked at level 20 (there are 28 in total). That means 8 more cyro pods can be unlocked. It seems too strange to leave it at 20. 
  • I'm betting that it's a question that'll be answered in a future game.  I'm also bettign that your choice on what to do with the Eos outpost will have an impact on it.
  • Mither Ryder wasnt mentioned at the end of the game because finding out about her was part of an optional collecting quest that most probably didnt bother doing.
  • Goddammit EA you will again take all of my "gaming money" away, but... please do!
  • I was also wondering, if the Geth play any role in this? Remember Suvi telling you, that they used some sort of Geth mass relay thingy to scan Andromeda? I thought that maybe the Geth didn't want to use it only for scanning but maybe to transfer themselves? They are software and a channel to transport digital inormation could also transport them, right? Only problem would be the need for hardware on the other end of the line. So maybe they were seeking a way to flee the Milky Way. I mean they were the first species to find out about the Reapers back in Shepards cycle. I dunno...I just feel there could be more to it than giving some explanation on how we were able to do those Andromeda scans. The Geth probably had an important agenda building such a device.
  • maybe thats why the quarian ark was sending a warning, they did
  • that to prevent the geth from jumping onto any other ship that came in conntact with their ark  
  • Yeah, that's one possibility I also thought about. I think it's definitely not just the Kett bothering the arc. I expect them to do a DLC about the Quarian arc or well I hope they'll do. So, we hopefully get a new insight then :)
  • The best thing about this article is that you mention the Reapers being involved in some way. As I played the game, it became increasingly clear that they will SOMEHOW tie them back into this stories plot. A mass event like that can't just be ignored and there are far too many similarities to them to just never have them play a role again. The Reapers clearly state that they are programmed to only focus on the Milky Way BUT does that mean all of it's species? Maybe the Remnant and Reapers have met in dark space and the Remnant are in Andromeda trying to escape them? or MAYBE the Reapers were defeated but return again and the Remnant are the answer to actually defeating them, just cracking how is the answer. These are all puff theories, but I firmly believe in some way the Reapers will play a part down the road, even as an enemy again. They play too much of a role in the overall Mass Effect universe to be completely excluded in this new series. 
  • But the problem is, whether the Reapers are defeated or not depends on the choice you make at the end of ME3. So, I really can't see a way to bring the Reapers into the story of Andromeda unless they are going to make one choice cannon and dismiss the others. I personally hope that they won't do that. I can imagine though that the whole Reaper ordeal could cause some side effects which influence Andromeda. I think that would be doable without ignoring the gamers choices in ME series.
  • Actually, there is a way for the Reapers to return, regardless of the choice at the end of Mass Effect 3. Remember that the choices involve things like destroying all AI, or blending synthetic and organic life info one. When Andromeda first starts, you realize that you have BOTH organic lifeforms svc AI (SAM) still in existence, so it stands to reason that after they entered dark space and began their journey to the andromeda galaxy, they essentially safely removed themselves from, let's call it the "blast radius" from the star child on the citadel. Since they were far enough away, they weren't affected by it. That has to be a given since you still have distinctly artificial and organic life both still in existence. If this is the case, then any Reapers that may have followed the initiative would also have been spared any such fate as well. The Reapers have also existed for millions of years, so there is no telling where they could have branched out to. As far as the Jardaan bring Protheans, I doubt it. The Jardaan technology is far different. If they were Prothean, then it makes sense that this would be possible, as they would have had another 50000 years of advances in their own technology, but it wouldn't make sense for them to have a completely different language from the Protheans. It's all conjecture, but that's my view on it.
  • Along with the many unanswered questions here, there is an Irish gentleman you meet in Meridian during the epilogue that says something about you finding a kid(he used a different word) but there is no mission to do so. He also tells you about a vault that isn't activated on Meridian but you can't actually explore Meridian.     Just made me wonder if it will be part of a future DLC Or just an unfinished new quest line they didn't get to.  I am left with 2 unfinished tasks.  One due to a glitch (Task: Earn you badge- I accidentally spoke to Andraknor before completing the tasks and now he won't talk to me) & Path of a Hero because it feels wrong to cheat on Jaal after committing to him lol- with no option to back out- I just didn't finish it.   
  • That's very odd
  • Did most of you really played the first trilogy?
    - The benefactor is obviously the Illusive man leader of Cerberus. The motives are exactly the same and only him had the power and resources to make the initiative a real thing. Anyone else would be a big inconsistency.
    - Why are you talking about the reaper coming back? did you forget the 3 choices of ME3? : Destruction, control, symbiosis. Any of these ending make clearly a reaper come back impossible.
    - Staying in the Reaper, someone said the remnant and reaper might be the 2 side of the same coin.. not at all ! Leviathan DLC in ME3 clearly explain the Reapers origins: They were made by the Leviathans and Leviathans are clearly not Jardaan. end of the story.