“As Mass Effect 3 is the end of a planned trilogy, the developers are not constrainted by the necessity of allowing the story diverge, yet also continue into the next chapter. This will result in a story that diverges into wildly different conclusions based on the player's actions in the first two chapters.” — Casey Hudson

There is a reason we hate the Mass Effect ending; it was poorly written. Mass Effect 3 and the trilogy as a whole was nearly perfect. While it may seem like a petty complaint, the ending is the most important part. I had several playthroughs ready, but the ending left me with a sour taste in my mouth. I simply can't bring myself to play it any more, knowing that there is no pay-off. In the end, it didn't feel like it was my Shepard.

“Once we ship the game out, It's our fan's just as much as It's ours. Their decisions and time spent with the game dictates how they play it. We may make the game, but our fans are what makes Mass Effect what it is.”

I remember BioWare once stating that Mass Effect belonged to the fans as well. Once they mess up however, they act as if we have no right to demand a change after being blatantly lied to. They love to use the "Artistic Integrity" defence, but I don't see how lying to your fans and going against your own work shows integrity.

The Problem

Plot Diagram
The ending is terrible. Critics know it. The players know it. We all know it. The only people who don't are the fine writers at BioWare. With what I've heard about the Extended Cut DLC, It seems evident that BioWare really doesn't know what went wrong with the ending they're so proud of. The EC DLC will only add clarification and closure. That's a start, but not the whole problem.

“Wheather you're happy or angrey at the ending, know this: BioWare will not do a "Lost" and leave fans with more questions than answers after finishing the game.” — Mike Gamble
  • There were entire parts of the plot-hole riddled ending that need to be removed. The worst crime would have to be the God-Child. Shoehorning an extremely important character in the last five minutes of the narrative is terrible idea. In this video, YouTube user MrBtongue explains how the ending lacked Narrative Coherence. The Reapers were once a terrifying enemy. Now they are a laughable one. Their motivation were never clear, but their intentions were. At the very end however, a random hologram destroys the mystery and allure of the Reapers with faulty logic. A god-like robot of nigh-infinite power should not be that stupid.

Yo Dawg
  • All things considered, they left more questions than answers. I would have been fine If I never knew the truth about the Reapers, being left to speculate their origins and motivations. Not telling us about the characters we love so much, or whether or not the entire galaxy was destroyed however, probably isn't a great idea either. So the mystery behind the central conflict of the game is this: The Reapers were created to destroy all Organics because Organics create Synthetics and apparantly the Synthetics are always fated to rebel and kill all Organic life. Thus, some random hologram of a kid created some Synthetics to destroy all Organics so they can't be destroyed by different Synthetics. Which totally makes sense. Wait...what was this whole series about again? YouTube user mattattack75 had this to say: "Sovereign says his purpose and motives are too complex and incomprehensible for Shepard to understand. Ghost child explains it in 4 sentences."

Is BioWare's writing team inept then? No, but you wouldn't know that from the ending. I honestly think any number of people with a basic grasp on storytelling could have written a better ending. I think that what troubles me the most is that the developer's previous work has been amazing. Even for most of Mass Effect 3, the writing was impeccable and emotionally engaging. For a team so devoted to interactive storytelling, not much of it seemed to pay off. Where is the fleet we spent the whole game assembling? What was the point in choosing to spare or destroy the last Rachni queen when the Rachni return no matter what? What's the point in saving the council when the new council is just a different turian, asari, and salarian? Weren't they all human? Don't say it would be difficult from a technical point of few. Dragon Age Origins had wildly diverse endings, made possible by a combination of cutscenes, dialogue options and a slideshow. Why then, do all players, regardless of any previous choices made, end up with the same ending cinematic?

The Tuchanka part of the game is a prime example of what they did right. Depending on past choices, Mordin and/or Wrex could be dead before the start of the game. Do you accept the salarian's offer to sabotage the cure for the greater good? Or do you give hope to the krogan people? But there are also previous choices that must be taken into account as well. Did you save Maelon? Did you destroy his data? You can feel the consequences and weight of your actions. When I chose to destroy the data, I knew it could be used for a cure, but I also knew that an increased krogan birth rate could be bad for the galaxy (it's hard to argue with Mordin.) I genuinely felt a pang of guilt when Eve died because of my actions. From a technical and storytelling perspective, that is phenomenal. If they could do that writing right, why couldn't they do it in the ending, which is the most important part of the trilogy? Was it not double-checked? How could more than one person ever come to the consensus that this was a good idea?

“Mass Effect 3 acts as a fitting conclusion to BioWare's expansive sci-fi trilogy.” — Colin Moriarty

I don't mean to nitpick, but I was hoping the last two words of the best trilogy ever written weren't going to be "downloadable content".

The Solution

“It's not even in any way like the traditional game endings, where you can say how many endings there are or whether you got ending A, B, or C.” — Casey Hudson

Lord of the Rings Choices
BioWare should be happy to know that in this day and age, they can fix nearly any mistake they make in their product through downloadable content and online patching. They should be taking advantage of this golden opportunity at consumer reconciliation. But instead, they decide to defend their team's "artistic integrity". I remember BioWare once stating that Mass Effect belongs to the fans. Once the fans speak up and demand what they were promised however, they are quickly hushed, and told they are whiny brats with no respect for art.

To me, this sounds like a convenient excuse to excuse poor writing. The "Extended Cut" DLC simply adds on to the currently broken ending.

That's like trying to fix a clogged pipeline by making the pipes longer.

Why not then, simply add more endings? Hell, I wouldn't mind if most of the current ending stayed, so long as I had the option to not be forced into that ending. But it's not like they ever promised that wouldn't hap...

“We wouldn't do it any other way. How could you go through all three campaigns playing as your Shepard and then be forced into a bespoke ending that everyone gets? But I can't say any more than that...” — Mike Gamble


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