It seems like only yesterday fans were taking BioWare to task for the rushed, disappointing epilogues in the blockbuster science fiction RPG Mass Effect 3. But, it has in fact been nearly five months since the protests, petitions, and Kickstarters demanding new endings for the final part of the videogame trilogy.
Forget the debates about who has the right to change a work of art. BioWare has released the promised, free Extended Endings DLC. Does it make amends or is it reopening old wounds?
The short answer is yes.
Unless anyone was worried about poor lil’ BioWare getting their feelings hurt by mean people on the internet, the game company still stands behind their original, terrible endings. And they should. It’s their product. They admitted mistakes, but to completely disown their work would be a slap in the face to the team of people who slaved over creating it for months. And Mass Effect 3 was largely a triumph until those last ten minutes.
So. Don’t expect drastically different endings here. The final three choices are the same, only more fleshed out to answer some particularly confounding questions. Were the mass relays irreparably destroyed? (No.) How did your squad on Earth end up back in the Normandy? Joker wouldn’t purposely abandon Shepard, would he? (Of course not.) Were the dextro-based species like Turians and Quarians doomed to starvation on carbon-based planets? (Garrus can’t die. Don’t you dare even suggest it.) What the hell is the Catalyst, really? (Still no clue. He/It’s a bit like The Architect in The Matrix movies. That’s about as promising as it sounds.)
In addition to logic, the new endings have a bit more emotion. You do get to see more of the effects Shepard’s ultimate choice has on the universe. There are some new cut scenes, but as with the original ending, there are only slight differences between them. Some new content isn’t even in cinematics, but more a slideshow of what looks almost like fan art. But, hey, it’s something. I also liked the inclusion of voiceover narration from key cast members that gives more weight to Shepard’s enormous achievement in unifying the galaxy for a common cause. BioWare even tweaked the final text message that appears after the game, turning it from a slap-in-the-face plea to get future (paid) DLC into a thank you to the fan community. Well played, BioWare.
There is a completely new ending, but it’s quite the downer. Shepard can refuse making a choice and the consequences are catastrophic and very unsatisfying. But, if you’re playing a really bad Renegade, I suppose you’d enjoy rage-quitting the galaxy:
You can watch all of the endings online, or if you really want to watch the new endings with your Shepard, I’d recommend switching the gameplay to Narrative mode so you can fly through the Cerberus Base and London final battles. Seriously, BioWare? You couldn’t give us a later save point?
Some fans will just complain about anything.
(For the record, I chose Synthesis and it seemed the “happiest” of the endings. Shepard dies, but everyone else, synthetic and organic, lives in peace.)
All in all, I like the new endings much more than the originals. Which I hated. So, it’s gentle praise. I think if we got these extended endings from the start, there would have been an almost equal amount of head-scratching but a whole lot less flat-out rage. The original endings really did lessen my overall enjoyment of the franchise and I haven’t replayed it since completing the game in April, but this DLC lessens the blow.
And there will be more traditional, standalone DLC coming soon, too. Mass Effect 3 producer Mike Gamble admitted as much on Twitter and files pulled from the Extended Cut hint that it could be about abandoned Reaper tech wreaking havoc. So no matter which choice you picked at the end, Commander Shepard will always live on in some form.
Theresa DeLucci is a regular contributor to Tor.com. She covers True Blood, Game of Thrones, and is also an avid gamer. She has also covered tech and TV for Geektress.com and Action Flick Chick and recently appeared on Wired.com’s Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast to profess her love of Michael Fassbender and Alien 3. Follower her on Twitter @tdelucci