BioWare, explain Mass Effect 3′s ending, not change it

By on March 24, 2012

An otherwise decision on the developer’s part may send the gaming industry reeling back as a storytelling medium.

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Note: This article has major end-game spoilers. Do not read it until you have completed the game.

I have finally managed to complete Mass Effect 3, and I can say with full certainty that I have not wanted to complete a videogame as badly as I did this one. Between initiating the download on release day to my completion yesterday, something happened that shook the foundations of a developer that was respected as a master of videogame storytelling. The game’s ending sucked and everyone (and their grandmothers) hated it. I was very curious to find out if the Internet was right.

Having finished the game, I can say with enough confidence that Mass Effect 3’s ending was pure incompetence, unmatched by any piece of entertainment I have subjected myself to, be it a book, a movie, a TV show, or even a videogame.

If I could be a part of a group that supported sane arguments, less sailor-ish behavior and avoided using a goddamn charity, to bring about a reasoning from BioWare as to why the game’s climax took place the way it did, I would. It’s that bad.

BioWare threw a story curveball nobody expected. In fact, the curveball resulted in insidious narrative of the final moments, that it would seem that BioWare were left stumped as to how this story could be wrapped, and closed it the moment the most nonsensical narrative was suggested that allowed Shepard to become the “legend”, whose story would be told by grandfathers  who suspiciously sound like the Illusive Man.

The plot holes are massive. So massive, in fact, that there could be no good explanation why this even took off the table and made it to the final cut. The introduction of the God-like deity in the form of a child that Shepard saw being killed at the beginning of the game was completely off-the-charts. But that to an extent, was acceptable. I welcomed the twist and it intrigued me that moment up to the point where the ghostly child opened his mouth.

His explanation as to why the Reapers exists and do what they do is absolute crap. The child says that Reapers are his “solution” to a problem that will most certainly take place in every cycle of organic evolution. That they must be destroyed to avoid synthetics, created by organics, before they become self-aware, self-sustained, and “rebel against the creators”. So why doesn’t the Reaper government select the synthetics to be destroyed than just the organics? Why is the child so certain the synthetics will rebel, when as he speaks such synthetics are out there helping to save the organic universe?

Early on it is implied that the Reapers are both the destroyers and givers of life. That they hold the strings attached to each organic, and can control what they do, and more importantly, how quickly they explore technology. If that was the case, why do they let organics create synthetics in the first place? That would solve a major problem and save a shit ton of resources, right?

Also, who built the control, destroy and synthesis mechanisms on the Crucible, when the weapon of galactic destruction was thought of, amassed, piece together, by organics going back thousands of years, when not one of them knew that the Citadel would be the trigger that would power it? If the mechanisms were hosted on the Citadel, and the child IS the Citadel and controls everything that happens on it – why the f*ck did he build it? Why would he give a single person of questionable background in synthesis an important role in deciding the faith of not only the galaxy, but the Reaper themselves? Why didn’t the child tell Shepard to sod off rather than present him with three options to pick from in the end?

There are too many plot holes to list here, each when picked up and analyzed makes the story more and more ridiculous.

But this is criticism. It must be done. Unfortunately, this has been filtered into hatred, and somehow has given itself a voice of protest through petitions, social media empowered attacks and charity association that its now borderline absurd. None of that must be done. And none of that BioWare deserves.

I would like to give BioWare a chance. In fact, BioWare needs to give itself a chance. Rather than just giving in to a bunch of whine and noise, it should present itself to be in command. As dreadful as the narrative was, it seems too far-fetched, too out of the way, too crazy and too implausible for someone like BioWare to think this would be the right way to finish up a trilogy that is considered to be one of the pioneering efforts in storytelling in games.

One of the popular theories floating around is that the whole of climax is just an illusion fabricated by the mind of an indoctrinated Shepard. That this is a dream, a hallucination perhaps, in which he accepts everything without question, and places himself in the centre of everything like most dreams do.

I am not saying BioWare should suggest that this was what it was. But the theory does imply that there is more to the ending than meets the eye. Many events and little things in the game suggest that the ending was in fact a dream. For example, every word the child says is repeated by both the male and female voices of Shepard. Why would BioWare triple the voice work for that particular sequence for absolutely no reason?

BioWare now must pour into those plot holes and tell us what the hell went on in there. They must explain the game’s ending rather than change it, because from what I see the ending is far more incredible, that it only needs better perspective and understanding to perceive it right.

I would not want BioWare to alter the game in anyway. Simply because it would instill fear in videogame story writers that they forsake taking narrative risk that wouldn’t sit well with the game’s fans. Because once BioWare caves in, the consequence will be felt by every other studio there is. The next time a videogame features a less than stellar story, fans will just kick up a petition “demanding” developers to change it, and force them to dole out more work that will cost not only thousands of dollars but considerable amount of time as well.

Seriously, BioWare. Just give yourself a chance.


Mufaddal Fakhruddin is the Editor for IGN ME and thinks writing in third person about himself in an about me section is weird.

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  • Daniel

    Wow… this is by far the worst piece of writing I’ve come across in a very, very long time. Don’t you have editors to check through copy?

  • Timmmeahhhyy

    Continually this must be explained
    This an inaccurate representation, as video games usually are
    constructed threw a combined effort.  Additionally it seems to me that:
    1.  Publishers have been forcing developers to change endings for years.
    2.  Video games leave the realm of being purely artistic creations when they enter a market.  They are created for profit.
    3.  I believe most of these people behind this movement are not “Demanding”
    nor feel they are “entitled” to anything.  They are simply telling
    Bioware : Hey it would be really great if you guys did.

    Additionally if you have completed mass effect 3, I urge to watch this video, if you have the time. Spoilers.

    • CtrlAltDltBoom

      hmm these are actually good points

  • Justinashi

    Just noticed the caption by your name.  You do realize that the ending of portal was changed right?  The game was released then the ending was changed.

  • Crabapple

    Ill just leave this here…

  • Daniel

    Thank you. Good edit. That reads a lot better than the drivel that was posted up before.

    • Nic (dahlink)

       Cheers for reading it Daniel :)

  • Wesworld

    I loved Mass effect 3 the game was awesome, but even besides the ending there were things that you noticed.made it bad like the choices you had about 2 choices most of the game.  Also you barely and i Mean barely had paragon and renegade choices in the game. I think bioware has lost people who could acually tell a good story ,Idk if they should smoke more weed or just get better acid, but for fuck sake put some emotion in your story i mean i did like how each quest had a story behind it . The game graphic wise and shooting wise is fun story is just complete crap the ending really made me wonder why you had no choices . in the end with the star child whatever the fuck he is why is it you had no way to question him or had your paragon or renegade choices they do need to sweep this shit under the rug and make a new ending.

  • Zach

    I agree with most of what was said here, I too actually welcome the “bad ending”. Considering the potential life has given enough time to evolve, is it so crazy of an idea that some life that is trillions of years into its evolution is capable of doing?

    The main idea I take away from the Mass Effect and a lot of science fiction really is that it is becoming more than just a fantasy, some of these things we could actually do in the next 100 years. If only we spent our time figuring it out through science, instead we “waste” all of our greatest minds to lesser disputes.

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