SPOILER ALERT! Mass Effect 3: What Makes a “Massively Effective” Ending?
Heads up readers, there will be a lot of SPOILERS in what will be my first (and probably least popular) post on NYMG as I’m going to try and convince you that the Mass Effect 3 endings weren’t as horrible as the gaming world seems to think and that changing them would be a waste of time and money.
Before I finished the game I heard from friends that there had been uproar over the ending to the series. I very specifically stayed away from all conversation of the ending so that I wouldn’t spoil it for myself, but I knew if people were angry something very disappointing had to have happened. I half convinced myself that the game must have concluded with Shepard dying, the Reapers winning, and there being no hope for humanity or the alien races I had come to love. That was the ending I was expecting, but it was not the ending that I got (thank god).
So, first things first: what ending did I choose? My first instinct told me to choose Synthesis. I went with this ending because after everything I had been through, the other two options seemed bleak. As soon as the Citadel child told me I would be forming a new DNA and that synthesis was the “final evolution of life” I was sold. It sounded hopeful and, in a bizarre way, beautiful. In the moment of gameplay and the rush of finishing the game, I watched the ending and was completely satisfied. The Normandy crashed, but my crew survived and turned into these magnificent humans with glowing circuit lines on their skin. Everything in the new world had the circuit lines and had been transformed by the “new DNA.” The crew looks out over the landscape of the new planet and I was overwhelmed with a sense of hope. We would rebuild and start new lives; Shepard gave her life so that forthcoming generations could build upon the prospect of having a future without the Reapers looming in the distance. Another bonus to this ending: EDI survived. As strange as it seemed at first, I rooted for Joker and EDI’s relationship from the beginning, so when I saw them survive together I was overjoyed.
I stayed away from the Control ending for the obvious reason; it was the Illusive Man’s choice. I fought the Illusive Man throughout the series, opposing his decisions as often as I could. Controlling the Reapers held no interest for me or my Shepard. I didn’t choose the Destruction ending because I had fought for the Geth and saw them transform into fully aware AI’s. Choosing to destroy them just because of the Reapers seemed too abrupt for all the work I had just put forth.
After carefully choosing my ending and watching what I believed to be a beautiful moment, I had to wonder: why is everyone so angry? After reading article upon article and video after video, I began to realize that articles/videos with the most views were the ones expressing the most nitpicky reasons for hating the ending. One in particular 10 Reasons We Hate Mass Effect 3’s Ending, voiced some reasonable concerns over a few plot holes that became evident through the endings, but in my opinion they do not warrant the out lash and hate that fans have been throwing at Bioware.
Another trend I noticed is that most people cannot even come up with what they think would be a good or legitimate ending to the game. Youtube reviewer JeremyJahns gives viewers his opinion on what a better ending would be in Mass Effect 3 Ending and Why We Hate It!, but offers an alternative ending where Shepard and Garrus are seen on a beach littered with Reaper ships in the distance discussing how they would rebuild Earth. If the game had ended like that I would have felt like Bioware thought the game was a joke. Yannick LeJacq, in an article for Wall Street Journal titled Why the Ending of Mass Effect 3 Started a Furor voiced very eloquently why there couldn’t be a happy “we save the world and everyone survived” ending like Jahns described: “In a war as extreme as the one fought in Mass Effect 3, death is a fact. To pretend otherwise, as I had in the last two games, was a bizarre and destructive form of self-denial.” I never once believed Shepard would survive. After everything she accomplished and the hard war she fought, she deserved a hero’s death, and I believe she got that.
One of the greatest things that upset me most is that if Bioware were to make a new ending for the game, I do not believe it would add anything rhetorically to the series as a whole. Giving players more detail would offer more depth to the story rather than just changing the original ending and making nitpicky gamers happy. I appreciate Bioware’s art, story, and ability to put out an impressive and comprehensive game. If this is they ending they want to give me, I accept it.