It’s embarassing to heap glowing praise on a work of art one week and then declare your disappointment the next, but it is what it is. Mass Effect 3 has possibly one of the worst endings in video game history that I have ever played through. It’s certainly the most disappointing. My only consolation is that it isn’t just me who has a bitter taste in my mouth; several thousand fans feel the same way. And want Bioware to change.
I can’t really go much into why I hate the ending without spoilerizing you guys (we’ll save that for after the cut), but the ending reduces all the choices gamers and fans have made into so much homogeneous nonsense in the last 15 minutes that you can’t but feel let down. The ending alone reduces the ENTIRE mass effect trilogy from a 9.5/10 to a 6 (which means that the ending itself is probably like at least a -50 out of 10). It’s like the ending to lost (maybe worse). It’s like the ending to Battlestar Galactica. It’s like if the Avatar series was full of awesome and then had M Night Shyamalan step in to finish the last episode.
The trilogy is still a… decent game, but to have so much awesomeness throughout the whole series, only to crash and burn in the last bit. It’s a shame. A damn shame. Previously, I would yell at gamers who hadn’t played Mass Effect. They were missing out on so much. Now? I’m not sure if I can sell Mass Effect in good conscience any more.
In case you didn’t know, SPOILERS BELOW, sweetie.
Gamers went into Mass Effect 1, 2 and 3 with the belief that our choices WOULD MATTER. And it certainly felt that way through most of the trilogy, all the way into Mass Effect 3. Saving our very favourite Scientist Salarian in Mass Effect 2 (together with some other decisions) opens up options to curing the Genophage in 3. Upgrading Legion in 2 gives us options to have the Geth and Quarians live in harmony- HARMONY- in Mass Effect 3.
But all of this is for naught. No matter what you do, you’re still left with the same bizarre chat with the Catalyst-Reaper-God-Child, and he will give you the same 3 options in the last bit of Mass Effect 3. Kill the Reapers (and by extension all Synthetic and part-Synthetic life), control the Reapers (becoming Reaper Shepherd), or synthesizing all life into organo-techno beings. And all it boils down to is what colour of explosions you get when you’re destroying all the mass effect relays throughout the galaxy. All three endings have the SAME CUTSCENE. With marginally changed skins based on what option you choose.
I’m not asking for a happy ending. I would’ve been depressed at a sad ending, but I would’ve accepted it. What I am asking for is a coherent ending where my choices matter and that doesn’t fly in the face of my last 100hrs of game play over the 3 games. I honestly don’t know why I spent all that effort when I essentially doomed not just all of humanity but all of galactic civilization when the mass relays exploded. It is literally a ‘mass relay explodes, everyone dies’.
It is literally badly written enough that I am in the camp that also believes that this ‘final’ ending is little more than a way to set up a DLC ending, or to set the stage for Mass Effect 4. It would be the… pragmatic thing to do; milk us fanboys for all we’re worth. It would kill what’s left the goodwill that Bioware’s been bleeding, but it would net them more money. Which seems to be the way decisions are being made nowadays.
It’s sad that I would rather believe that Bioware is making a douche money grubbing move, because to think that they orchestrated the last 99% of the trilogy so wonderfully only to have a pratfall of such epic proportions is unthinkable. But it is what it is.
Hell, this sums it up better than I could. Sadly, this isn’t a joke. It is literally what happens in the last conversation.
And it’s not even that it would be a lot of effort writing a better ending than the philosophical drivel we were fed. I don’t need 10 different cutscenes about how my decisions affected every tiniest detail. All I need to know is that I didn’t doom humanity, and that we have a chance of fighting back the Reapers. Maybe just some text about how the affected races have started to rebuild. The Bioware team has written TONNES of fluff for random planet scans, a few more paragraphs shouldn’t hurt them! HELL, if you just close the game when you start bleeding out, THAT would have been a better ending than the thing we were handed.
I didn’t complain about the Day 1 DLC Fiasco. I trusted that Bioware to do the right thing. After that Mass Effect 3 ending, I’m not so sure anymore.
PS: If you’re interested in a decent ending, you could do a lot worse than checking out this fanfic.