It’s a widely known fact that Mass Effect 3 kicked up arguable the largest controversy among gamers in quite a while. Funnily enough, Bioware initially stood by their original endings, but as time went on, they couldn’t ignore the complaints much longer, and decided to meet the fans halfway by giving them clarification. They promised to expand on the endings, and even throw in some results of player choice, but they weren’t going to change the endings.
While fans who thought the ending was fundamentally wrong probably weren’t going to enjoy this, even from the very beginning (and Bioware admitted this), other fans are probably still curious about these expanded endings. Let’s face it though; they couldn’t get any worse than the original endings. Funnily enough, while I myself couldn’t bring myself to really even care about the original endings in the slightest, I feel like the new ones approach decency.
(Spoilers for the Extended Cut endings, by the way!)
We all know why the original endings failed. Not only were they very unsatisfying, but they were also full of plot holes, last minute exposition, and were generally copy paste endings. The God Child was very much hated by fans, as he came in five minutes before the end, dumped a bunch of information, threw you three choices, and forced you to pick one, whether you liked it or not. Meanwhile, you had various lingering questions like “How did your squadmates wind up on the Normandy?”, “Is everyone now stuck in the Solar System with no way of getting back?”, and “How did Joker know to get the hell out of there?” get brushed aside. They were very definition of messy.
So with that in mind, if you hated the very concept of these endings, then you might as well forget about liking the new endings, as the DLC won’t do anything to make you like the fundamentals more. Hell, you might even hate the endings more. However, for those of you who just wanted some clarification, maybe even an epilogue, and didn’t mind the concepts behind the ending (or even liked them), this’ll probably do it.
The first addition we see clarifies how your squadmates get back on the Normandy. While running towards the tractor beam, a flying vehicle injures them, so Shepard calls in the Normandy to evac them. You have a conversation with one of the two, though it’s possible this only happens if one of them was your LI. From then on, it’s mostly the same, Shepard and Anderson talk a bit more about winding up on the Citadel, which sort of clarifies how Anderson got ahead of Shepard. Once you meet the god child, you can actually hold a conversation with him this time, and find out his and the reaper’s origins. This back-story lasts about all of two minutes. You can also inquire as to the exact nature of each choice, though with the DLC now showing the results of that choice, it’s kind of redundant.
After you make your choice, you see Admiral Hackett announcing the build-up of energy in the Crucible, ordering everyone to evacuate. This explains how Joker knew to get the hell out of there. Additionally, the relays aren’t exactly destroyed, but just damaged, so everyone can go home, instead of being stuck in the solar system.
How do the endings themselves change? Well, after the Normandy’s crash landing scene, you get a very short cutscene that’s pretty unique to the ending you pick, and then you get a slideshow of images that are a result of how things play out in this game, with some ending-specific narration over them. This here’s the epilogue you’re looking for. The individual images shown are about the only choice-guided variation you’ll get, which is kind of underwhelming, considering what Bioware mentioned about the DLC, but hey, Bioware appears to be going for the bare minimum a lot as of late.
The general mood of the endings is quite a bit more positive than what the original endings would have you believe. The destroy ending has Admiral Hackett narrating, and stressing the importance of unity, and how they can do anything now that the reapers are gone. Never mind all the dead synthetics, they’ll just make more. In all three endings, the crew adds Shepard’s name to the Normany Memorial, but with enough EMS in the destroy ending (3100, to be exact, which means you don’t need multiplayer at all), the crew is hesitant on adding it.
The control ending has a new god Shepard talking about eternity, infinity, sacrifice, and having the absolute power to protect all life. Under Godpard, the Reapers are sort of buddy-buddy with all other forms of life. Interestingly enough, this is probably the most negative ending, as it has anxious music and we all know that old saying about absolute power.
In the last ending, EDI narrates the ending, talking about organic life and synthetic life, and how they have reached the pinnacle of evolution, and can freely do whatever they choose to do, without any limitations. The Reapers are buddy-buddy in this end, too. Not only are they helping to rebuild everything, but they’re sharing the records of every race they harvested. Pretty kickass museum idea, if I ever heard one. Also, everyone now has glowing green eyes and veins. I can’t claim to know how space magic can affect everyone like that, but rather than trust Bioware with explaining this, I’ll just assume everyone got augmented or something. Also, we finally see what a Quarian looks like under their masks, if only briefly. No, Tali’s stock photo earlier doesn’t count. Anyway, this is the happiest ending, and also the “best”, because they mention pinnacle of evolution and understanding, among other phrases.
Bioware lied about only just expanding the endings, as they added a fourth ending. Isn’t this a good thing? Not particularly. The ending consists of rejecting the god child’s offers, where Shepard makes a pretty good speech about freedom and fate, and stuff. However, at this point, the god child says, “So be it,” in a Harbinger-like voice, and basically kills off your cycle. Fortunately, Liara’s records give the next cycle everything they need to win the war against the Reapers. And it’s implied they do exactly that. What’s wrong with that? Because it seems like a giant “fuck you” from Bioware. By not sticking to their choices and wanting to make your own, it seems like Bioware is giving you the worst possible outcome. It also sounds suspiciously like a reaction to the fan outcry, in general. Joke’s on them though, as it still turns out well.
I believe that if these endings were the original endings, the outrage would have practically been nonexistent. The large, fundamental flaws are still there, such as last minute exposition, and synthesis space magic, but various other stupid things about the endings were fixed or removed. They show you what happens to your team, and to the galaxy you saved, and even give you some slight variances based on your choices. While not the best endings ever, I think at this point, it’s probably the best Bioware could do without dragging their name even further through the mud, without basically rewriting the whole thing.
Still, I couldn’t really find myself to care at this point. The damage was already done, and while it’s a decent good faith effort from Bioware, it’s not going to replace the utter disappointment many felt. While Bioware can finally close the chapter on this Mass Effect 3 outrage, it’s probably in their best interests to remember the lessons learned from this fiasco for their next project. Fans won’t be so receptive to them next time, no matter how much good will you throw at them.