WARNING!!! MASSIVE SPOILERS AHEAD!!!
If you haven’t finished Mass Effect 3, go do that now, because I’ll be talking about the endings (and also because it’s amazing).
With Drew’s fantastic review uploaded (Which you can check out over here), I thought this would be a great time to talk about ME3’s ending, and more specifically, the controversy surrounding it. In case you haven’t been keeping up with it, fans aren’t particularly happy with the ending to say the least. People have petitioned to change the ending, proposed to boycott BioWare’s games, and some have even tried to sue BioWare. [i]Retake Mass Effect[/i] is probably the biggest force, and by raising over $80,000 for Child’s Play (the charity, not the movie series), they’ve tried to garner BioWare’s attention in hopes of having the endings changed.
[Warning: Mass Effect 3 is rated M and this video contains scenes of the content earning it that rating
The “good, not great” ending
Many feel betrayed by this ending, others appreciate the risk BioWare took, but everyone seems to have taken a stance on the issue. Some see it as BioWare ending their series how they want to; after all, it’s their story, not ours. If they want to gamble on a risky ending that not everyone will like; that’s their choice, and we should respect that. But on the other hand, we’ve shaped the Mass Effect story as much as anyone else, or at least we feel like we did. Because even though every choice we’ve made in the series was written by BioWare, the combination of choices your Commander Shepard made is uniquely yours.
Other people have pointed out plot holes in the ending, but supporters of the ending have come forward trying to justify the ending by introducing the Indoctrination Theory. For the sake of brevity, I won’t explain the entire theory (read this if you'd like a more in-depth discussion). But the basic gist is that Shepard was hallucinating just about everything after going up the mysterious elevator in the crucible. There is plenty of evidence both for and against this theory; but if it is true, then it leaves me with one question. What is this, Super Mario Bros. 2?
Now that I have that comparison out of the way, I’d just like to say I actually like the Indoctrination Theory. In fact, I think it’s brilliant; it’s a great twist that makes you think. But assuming that it’s true, I have to ask, why isn’t it explained better? An ending is like a joke, if you have to explain it, then it’s not very good. If I have search the internet just to figure out an ending, then it shows poor writing.
To make all of this even more confusing than it already is, BioWare has yet to comment on how the ending should be interpreted. It’s entirely possible (though unlikely) that this theory has no merit and the ending should be interpreted in some other way. Until BioWare releases more content, we have no way of knowing what happened. No game should end on an ambiguous cliff-hanger; especially not a series as respected and beloved as Mass Effect.
And there’s just one other problem…BioWare exaggerated.
There are tons of other quotes I could use (here are some of them), but I think I’ve made my point. BioWare pulled a Peter Molyneux, and they need to fess up. Sure, games can change during development, but we expected (and given reason to expect) an ending similar to Mass Effect 1 or 2. An ending where our choices mattered, and where the “good” ending isn’t just a blue/green/red version of the bad ending.
However, I’m not convinced they need to completely change the ending. There are far worse endings out there, and even though this isn’t the best, kudos to BioWare for taking a risk. In a sea of predictable endings, BioWare did something completely unexpected, regardless of what some people would think of it.
But that’s not to say it’s perfect. The current ending lacks any closure, is overly complex, full of plot holes, and makes your choices irrelevant; none of which are okay. We’ve spent hours upon hours: doing these characters’ loyalty missions, listening to their every line of dialogue, and replaying the entire game with different squadmates just to hear those extra bits of dialogue (or maybe that was just me). We care about the Mass Effect universe; we want to know what happens next.
The best word to describe Mass Effect 3’s ending, is broken. There are some decent ideas interspersed throughout, but they’re all marred by their own set of issues. The Indoctrination Theory, while a neat idea, isn’t explained at all and may not even be true. An ending influenced by your Galactic Readiness level sounds great in theory, but it isn’t well implemented. And need I even mention the color-coded “Skittles” endings?
Skittles: taste the explosive rainbow
But the great thing about a broken ending in this day and age is that it can be fixed. Whether it’s fixed through an update that add in a bit more explanation and content, or through DLC, à la Fallout 3. The current ending isn’t complete, and that needs to be corrected. There’s no excuse anymore, BioWare is fully capable of fixing the ending.
Personally, I don’t care whether or not I have to pay $15 to play an epilogue, I just want more. And I’ll be honest, I have no idea what could happen after that last scene. But we, the fans, want more. BioWare made the characters too likeable for us not to care (except for Diana Allers, of course).
We aren’t entitled to a better ending or epilogue DLC, and we probably don’t deserve it either. As soon as we saw the ending, we acted as if BioWare stabbed us in the back. We wrote nasty things about them, bashed them, and decided it was our right to demand a better ending. So BioWare didn’t fulfill all of their statements, it’s not the first time a company has done this. We need to point this out to BioWare, but we should respect the time and effort they put into this ending, even if it’s not very good.
Time will tell how Mass Effect 3 will be remembered by the fans, and what BioWare does next could very well be the deciding factor. At the time of writing, BioWare has heard the fans criticisms and complaints, and is currently working on some form of additional content to tie up all of the loose ends. Mass Effect 3’s ending has already become one of the most memorable endings in recent history. But whether it’s remembered as the thought-provoking end to the spectacular trilogy, or the fantastic game whose ending “ruined” Mass Effect, is still undecided.
Your move BioWare.