THE VIEWS EXPRESSED IN THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE ARE NOT NECESSARILY REPRESENTATIVE OF THE WHOLE STAFF.
Mass Effect 3 is widely known for its fantastic story-telling and the freedom to have your Shepard do whatever (s)he wants. All your choices, big or small, can make an impact on the future of the galaxy and its inhabitants. The whole game, from the combat scenarios to siding with a C-Sec officer, was excellently geared toward the philosophy of endless possibility. I can honestly say that the choices we made gave us an emotional attachment to the series unlike many others before it. Tears were shed for the lost, laughs were shared when a character delivered a perfect one-liner, and respect was gained for BioWare’s incredible job for the most part. All this emotion just makes this situation that much more painful. A less-than-satisfactory ending for such an extraordinary game certainly feels alien to me.
*EVERYTHING BEYOND THIS POINT MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS. VIEW AT YOUR OWN RISK.*
To put it plainly, you can only choose two different endings, with a third for those who have a high-enough galactic readiness level from playing multiplayer. This could have worked if all three endings were meaningfully different, but this was not the case. All three look extremely similar to one another. The only discernible differences are the manner in which Shepard is killed by the Catalyst, and the color of the explosion your self-sacrificial effort gives off. The soldiers on Earth can also be killed depending upon the ending you chose, but nothing more.
Ultimately, little to no choices you make will vary the ending of the trilogy many have gotten excited for. I wasn’t sure what to feel after sitting through a near-30-hour game to have the Starchild laugh in my face and say it never mattered. Order was more important than Chaos, and nothing I could do would change that. I was brought to tears many times throughout this game, and the ending was no exception. My reason for almost letting my tear glands flow had nothing to do with pride in the game, but rather quite the opposite. It didn’t matter what happened at any other point in the game, because BioWare, inadvertently or not, made it out to be unimportant.
BioWare was already under scrutiny for their From Ashes DLC, a long-lasting controversy that has yet to be resolved in the public eye. This whole debacle makes me feel under appreciated by the company. I went into the game knowing full-well that Shepard would most likely perish in the fight. Never did I think he’d die in such a lackluster fashion, though. (S)He may be a “Legend” to the survivors (if there were any for you), but to the ones who were alongside him/her from Eden Prime, to the Collector Base, and, finally, Earth, almost no closure is to be had for the savior of humanity. The ending seemed butchered and half-assed by a company that has been held to a much higher standard than most of its competitors.
There are a lot of points in the ending that make no sense at all. A big one being the Normandy fleeing Earth during the BIGGEST BATTLE OF THE WAR. Shepard’s crew would NOT abandon him on Earth. They all knew what they signed up for when they stuck with him to retake Earth. Even if all seemed lost, how would the guys you picked to bring with you be able to get picked up by the Normandy? Keep in mind, their shuttle got shot up, so Joker would’ve had to 1) find a large enough area to allow for the Normandy to actually be able to pick up the squad, and 2) avoid THE WHOLE REAPER ARMADA in their way, just to save a few people from the massacre taking place.
I’ve seen many bad endings in my day. This isn’t the worst in terms of effort put into it, but it is most certainly the one that has had the most negative affect on me. Before the ending, I was thinking to myself just how much the game rocked. BioWare didn’t rely on past sales to make sure the game sold. Sure the Banshee’s annoyed the hell out of me, and I contemplated hurling my Xbox controller at the wall when I died for the tenth time fighting Kai Leng. This is all part of the challenge the game had to offer, which only made my experience much more memorable. These once-memorable triumphs have had dirt kicked in their faces by this atrocity BioWare produced. I found a quote, something that many could relate to: “I’m Commander Shepard, and this is the worst ending on the Citadel.” If I hadn’t already witnessed the tragic end to a magnificent trilogy, I’d have gone to war in BioWare’s defense. Now, I side with those who want change, or at least an official explanation.
Many of BioWare’s directors and managers have made statements about the ending, but few have been well-received. Casey Hudson has become a particular favorite by the community to be a scapegoat. “Victorious and uplifting” as the game may seem to him, he has to realize, for future sales’ sake, that simply talking about the ending is not going to improve the situation. The community wants evidence that their views are being seriously thought about, not just responded to and swept under the rug.
Like it or not, BioWare, you lost a lot of money with this action. Some of us are not going to purchase another game you produce because of this. It’s a sad outcome, but the damage is already done. And if you have another DLC we must pay for to unlock a better ending, you’ll make the problem grow, not shrink. Regardless of what is fair, From Ashes angered a lot of your customers. DLC to be purchased is not the answer, it’s fuel for the fire.
I hope that this is all just a sick joke we were part of. At least that means BioWare is aware of how bad the ending was, and wanted to see just how far we’d go to fight for your game. Trust me, the countless people who watched the countdown timer tick away would charge the Reapers head-on for you if it meant something better than what is currently on the table. The fan base BioWare has is unlike any other. We set the bar for this game pretty high, but only because we thought you’d blow away any standards we could set for it. At the start, it seemed like you were going to deliver on that promise. I remember thinking to myself, “This plot is so amazing, the ending must be as epic as they come.” Boy, was I let down.
A few movements by other people have even begun to form. One of the biggest, and most positive, being Retake Mass Effect. They have a charity going where people can donate money to Child’s Play through PayPal or other forms of e-cash. As of writing this arrticle, the $50,000 barrier has already been broken, and it shows no signs of stopping. If your fan base is willing to put that much into a cause, you’ve got good reason to believe that a lot of people are genuinely upset.
A lot of theories on the ending not being the final chapter of the story have been introduced. Some of these theories make a lot more sense than the ending as of now.
Please, BioWare, just admit you made a mistake. Show responsibility for your best franchise to date. I know it won’t make this animosity that has unintentionally formed between you and your fans. It will be a start to recovering some of the trust you shattered, though. We know you can do better, BioWare. Don’t make our last memories of your company be ones of hate and spite.
If you want to talk about the ending in the comments below, make sure potential spoilers are marked appropriately.