It was quite possibly the most controversial ending to a video game ever, so much so that BioWare released additional content for the ending to their epic sci-fi trilogy, Mass Effect. But were these changes enough to justify the amount of media attention and fan outbursts about the last 20 minutes of a video game?
When I reviewed Mass Effect 3 back in March, I gave it a perfect score and praised it for the story BioWare crafted and concluded. My only true criticism: the feeling that your choices from the previous games may not have been as important in the end as they appeared to be then. Many others seemed to agree — specifically when discussing the game’s ending. If you haven’t completed Mass Effect 3 yet, firstly, why not? But more importantly, you may want to stop reading now. It might be three months old, but we’re still going to give you a fair warning.
Red, blue and green. Apart from a few, very minor differences in the grand scheme of things, the colour of the mysterious space magic that removes the Reapers from Earth one way or another, is the only thing many gamers will say changed through their choices in Mass Effect 3. And the colour was decided in the final section of the game where you still control Shepard. What followed were three endings that went very similarly: Shepard supposedly sacrifices his or herself, the Reapers are dealt with, the Citadel and Mass Relays appear to be destroyed and the Normandy with it’s crew crash land on a tropical planet.
This left a lot of people confused and angry, pointing out every plot hole they could. How did the Normandy crew get onto the ship after being on Earth? Why were they retreating? What about the fleets trapped in Earth’s orbit now that the Relays are gone? The general gaming community had more questions than answers and passionately voiced their opinions, going as far as leaving hateful and violent messages directed at the staff of BioWare. The usually adored developer addressed the issue and promised that some free DLC would answer many of fans’ questions.
Was this necessary? BioWare had created what they considered to be a fantastic ending to Shepard’s story, which became a legend in the Mass Effect universe and left plenty of room for personal interpretation. If you’ve played the Extended Cut DLC, you know that that amount of interpretation has been reduced severely. The epilogues of each choice are now fully narrated by one of the main characters, even the new Refusal ending, in which the Reaper cycle continues.
We always knew that this DLC wouldn’t necessarily change the ending to the game. It merely fills some of the gaps that, one would assume, were left there on purpose for the player to fill in. Given that we had the great Indoctrination Theory, the hilarious Marauder Shields meme and other interpretations of the original endings, you have to wonder: Was the change worth it?