Mass Effect 3′s ending was met with much fan hatred and outrage. The “complaints” prompted Bioware to release a free story DLC called Extended Cut. Extended Cut’s premise was to add “additional cinematic sequences and epilogue scenes, the Extended Cut will include deeper insight to Commander Shepard’s journey based on player choices during the war against the Reapers.” In English, clarifying the ending and the post war events.
Right from the get go, Bioware defended their artistic integrity by saying they would not change the ending. Many fans regretted their decision, but still held their breath. Others believed the DLC would confirm the “Indoctrination theory.” More on that later. What Extended Cut ultimately did, however, was, add a few new images and a speech.
Fans speculated very differently about EC’s content. The players who participated in the Retake and TurnMEon/off movements expected a fully playable mission set. Others expected a few cut scenes. After the 1.9GB file size announced, which is larger than most large packs like The Ballad of Gay Tony or Dawnguard, everyone expected something massive.
It was not. What we got was three extensions to current content, a new Refusal ending, a scene where Shepard’s sqaudmates leave Earth and a cust scene confirming Hackett’s knowledge of Shepard reaching the Citadel. No gameplay, no revelations. Just some cut scenes and Ghostboy’s dialogue.
But enough about the facts, the point of this article is: What did the Extended Cut actually achieve?
The most common fan complaint was how the endings didn’t reflect player choices, and how everyone got the same endings. With Extended Cut, this is still the same. Minus a few little things like Wrex or Wreav leading the Krogan, the endings still matched. Everyone got the same speech, and the same ending funeral, minus the love interest.
Did you save the Krogan or let the genophage continue? Did you give the base to Illusive Man or blow it up? Did you save the geth or Quarians? You know what? It didn’t matter then, and it doesn’t matter. The fact that Bioware didn’t address the biggest complaint is a fatal mistake. Sure, they fixed a few smaller things but this doesn’t really reflect the idea of the series the way it was intended.
They also failed to touch on half the plot holes. Anderson and the Illusive Man still appeared out of nowhere, the Ghostboy is still in there and they never explain why he uses a Reaper voice to say “So be it.” However, I theorised this is Leviathan’s voice but haven’t played ME3: Leviathan yet so maybe or maybe not this is true.
However, Extended Cut isn’t all bad. The speech given by EDI is the synthesis ending is exceptional. Seeing the new scenes on Thessia and Menae, and Shepard’s choice affect them, is cool enough. The memorial for Shepard is touching and really makes me miss the characters.
But the ending still sucks! My choices don’t matter, Ghostboy makes no sense and half the plot holes still remain.
Now, I mention the controversial Indoctrination Theory above. For those who haven’t heard about it, the theory states the sequence after Harbinger wounds Shepard is a last ditch attempt by the Reapers to occupy Shepard’s mind. They theorise that the child and the dreams are Reaper tricks to break Shepard’s mind. Regardless of whether or not you agree with this theory, it certainly covers the bases. The theorists covered every plot hole and oddity, saying TIM and Anderson’s strange entrances were little tricks created by Shepard’s weakened mind.
The IT was a smart solution and one that thought out every little detail. Other small things like the 1M1 written everywhere of the fact that the people on the Evac shuttle just ignored the kid as he boarded in the opening. They scrutinised over little things in an effort to patch the leaks in the ending, so to speak.
I often think that, even if some players disliked the ending, that this solution would not only fix most complaints, but completely revolutionise what ME3 players thought of the series. It would be a giant mind-fokk, and given the ending a wow-factor reputation instead of a fan-slamming.
The overall point of this article is not to slam EC, or Bioware, but to review whether or not Bioware succeeded in their goals. Their goal was simple: address fan complaints and try to repair a broken ending without changing their brilliant vision. Did they succeed? No. Your choices don’t matter, plot holes still exist and the whole finale makes no sense. While I don’t think that the ending is enough to ruin the series or the game itself for me (ME3 and Max Payne 3 are tied for my two favourite games ever), it certainly motivates me to bail on the game before the ending plays.
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