BioWare veterans’ new hard sci-fi space RPG just teased a story that sounds way scarier than anything in Mass Effect

Exodus, the spacefaring new RPG from a studio of BioWare veterans, has been gently drip-feeding players information about its universe for a while now, but its latest drop is the furthest it’s strayed from its Mass Effect-shaped roots so far.

In the far future, an ailing humanity took to the stars to discover relics left behind by an ancient civilization, the Celestials. Those relics allowed humanity to jet around the galaxy, but, thanks to Exodus’ hard sci-fi approach to intergalactic travel, only a select few are prepared to undergo the time dilation that occurs when they travel at near-light speed – a mission might only take days or weeks for the player, but months or years might have passed on Earth.

A new short story, published today, makes it clear that while humanity has benefited from the Celestials, the mysterious race remains “the greatest threat to our survival.” It also, however, points to something that humanity discovered out among the stars that even the Celstials didn’t know about. Silicates are rare but seemingly inert items that quietly play host to a symbiotic life form, and only awaken at the touch of a human. For many, merging with a Silicate proves fatal, but a select few are permanently bonded with the life form, undergoing a massive transformation.

The resulting life form is known as a Daemon, and the short story suggests they’re so powerful that they can level humanity’s playing field against the Celestials. Granting peculiar translucent skin that’s almost impervious, as well as enhanced speed and strength, it seems clear that the Daemons are extremely powerful within this universe, and the implication is that they’re the one thing that the Celestials don’t understand – and therefore the one thing they fear.

Much like the powerful alien weapons and time dilation mechanics that Exodus developer Archetype Entertainment has teased in the past, it seems pretty unlikely that the Daemons won’t play a pretty major role in the RPG’s story. If Celestials are the big bad, and Daemons are the one thing they seem to fear, it does stand to reason that you might be coming into pretty close contact with a Silicate at some point during your adventures.

While there are some aspects of Exodus that do seem particularly reminiscent of Mass Effect – the massive FTL space stations the most obvious among them – the more I learn about the game, the more different it seems to become. An increasingly hard take on some traditional science fiction tropes might prove divisive for some, but I’m getting more and more excited.

Exodus promises multiple endings spanning “years, decades, and even centuries.”