BioWare Explains Mass Effect 3′s ‘Destroy’ Ending

Published 2 years ago by

BioWare Explains Destroy Ending Mass Effect 3

While the Extended Cut DLC has answered many (not all) of the questions gamers have been asking since concluding Mass Effect 3, there is one particular nagging issue that BioWare wants to put to rest. Rumors had been circulating for quite some time in regards to the games ‘Destroy’ ending, and now BioWare wants to set the record straight. But, in order to talk about it fully, a spoiler warning must be issued. So consider yourself warned.

In the ‘Destroy’ ending, which sees Commander Shepard choosing to eliminate the Reaper threat completely and not give in to the Stargazer’s wishes, there is a small scene tacked on to the ending that shows Commander Shepard’s seemingly lifeless body taking a breath. Now with the addition of the Extended Cut DLC for Mass Effect 3, that ending also features Commander Shepard’s love interest, whoever that may be, refusing to place his name amongst the list of those Normandy crew members who were lost across all three games.

Many curious gamers took these two scenes to mean that Shepard had in fact not died, but was alive amidst the Crucible wreckage. Some even took this additional scene as validation for the Indoctrination Theory, which states those final couple of scenes all took place within Shepard’s mind, and only the ‘Destroy’ option would allow him to live on.

But now, thanks to some comments from BioWare’s Tully Ackland on the game’s official forums, we know what really occurred: Shepard is alive.

  • You may notice that in the “Shepard lives” ending, the love interest hesitates to place Shepard’s name on the wall, and instead looks up as though deep in thought. This is meant to suggest that the love interest is not ready to believe Shepard is dead, and the final scene reveals they are correct. As the Normandy lifts off, there is hope that the love interest and Shepard will again be together.

Ackland also answers a couple other questions in regards to the game’s new endings, but we had already summed those up pretty nicely in our ‘Pros and Cons’ post regarding the new endings.

Gamers can finally end speculation that Shepard’s movement was his last breath, and can rest easy knowing the star-travelling war hero is alive. Unfortunately, the crew of the Normandy is stranded on a lush, forest-covered planet, and have no way of reaching him.

Additionally, if BioWare chose to use this as the canonical ending for Mass Effect 3, that would be the perfect jumping off point for more single player DLC. So far, aside from the Extended Cut, players have only seen the release of new content for the game’s multiplayer mode, but we expect more single player content is in the pipeline.

Though the debates over the Mass Effect 3 endings will continue for quite some time, at least we have yet another clarification regarding one of the questions left unanswered. Unfortunately, if it leads to more DLC and undermines the other endings to the game, that could upset even more fans.

Does it bring you any solace to know that Shepard did survive in the ‘Destroy’ ending? Will any DLC featuring Shepard undermine the ending players chose?

Source: BioWare Forums

TAGS: BioWare, Electronic Arts, Mass Effect, Mass Effect 3, PC, PS3, Xbox 360


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  1. i got to thinkin as a writer i like to make the people i write stories for wonder what happened to their characters well maybe bioware has a trick up their sleeve and they’re not tellin us something like maybe Shep is alive but plays a lesser role in me4

  2. You guys did good…I’m happy that he’s alive. Good job.

  3. Well. I would have created far better endings or at least endings that actually reflected on every choice a player made throughout the trilogy, but what’s done is done.
    I find it hard to understand how Sheppard lives on and EDI didn’t. I invested a lot of time and emotion in the trilogy and to see that the for EDI to live Sheppard has to die, was a hard blow.
    I’d really love if BioWare extended the story just a little bit more, a DLC that added a new option, something like “Freedom” were Sheppard, EDI, and the Geth lived survived the activation of the Crucible and created in a way the basis not only to give the well deserved clousure the fan deserve or if not clousure at least created the ground work, so Mass Effect 4 would somehow tie in, what the end of Mass Effect 3 left open.

  4. Well. While the endings were bad. At least I know choosing Sheppard over EDI or the Geth wasn’t completely in vain.
    Just wanted a more “Fairy’s Tale” ending. Not necessarily with the happy ever after, but at least with Shepard staying with his girlfriend, and only the Reaper destroyed.

  5. I did notice shepards breath in after he got pwned at the crucible. Im happy that hes alive but I always chose control ending I didnt want geth to die but seeing as how me4 is plannes for xbox one nothing from previous mass effects can affect ut as 369-1 different platforms storage nit lookinlinked

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