Whether or not it was the feeling of a majority of those who played through Mass Effect 3 and felt the ending was lacking in plenty of ways, BioWare felt that enough were upset to warrant some further development. Those solutions came in the form of Mass Effect 3‘s Extended Cut DLC, fleshing out Commander Shepard’s fate and granting several glimpses at how the player’s final decisions impacted the greater galaxy.
The release isn’t likely to bring those who felt the ending was a complete letdown and those who felt it was fine as it was together in a happy medium. But that doesn’t mean that the developers didn’t answer plenty of fan demands, and even show some of the inspired storytelling and greater fiction that fans initially fell in love with.
There may have been too many changes to notice them all, but it doesn’t seem right to let the good be overlooked altogether. Here are a few of the changes and nods brought with the Extended Cut DLC, along with a few questions we’d still like answered. BioWare may not have shown all of the cards we would like them to have, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be addressed at some point down the road. And if they’re thinking of what games in the Mass Effect universe to make next, we’ve got plenty of ideas already.
If there was one aspect of the original endings that felt completely out of place, it was the sudden backseat that most of the crew took to Shepard’s choice. While most of the last two games was spent recruiting talent from across the galaxy only to be disbanded, then… re-banded, Shepard ended up having to go into battle all alone. Even though Mass Effect 2‘s final boss battle went over like a lead balloon, the chance to take the entire squad into the final fight made all the time seem worthwhile.
Luckily, it seemed that BioWare realized an extended ending was an opportunity to show a bit more of how Shepard’s friends and loved ones stood beside him or her, even if they weren’t able to physically do so. Seeing a victorious Wrex, or Jack tending to her student soldiers depending on the decisions made showed that they weren’t completely forgotten. Shepard’s final assault may have been one that had to be taken alone, but discounting the existence of the surrounding characters didn’t make any sense.
Not that these moments were delivered in a cheesy, over-the-top manner, even if some parts of the concept art slideshow at the game’s conclusion seemed a bit cliché. It was the ones that showed the true nature of each character, like Joker refusing to leave the battle for Earth; refusing to leave Shepard stranded on the Crucible with no ride home that resonated. Even a moment as potentially on-the-nose as the assembled crew adding Shepard’s name to the Normandy’s memorial was delivered without any dialogue or drawn out message. Shepard meant something to them, and a moment of remembrance would absolutely take place.
It seems out of this same love for the various squad members, past and present, that also brought Normandy a brand new fate. The original ending had seen the crew (what was left of them) crashed on a mysterious world with no way home – an effective cliffhanger and ‘what if?’ moment, but also silently condemned them to a terrible end, regardless of how ‘successful’ the player’s campaign was. Thanks to the new ending, the crew that fought and won is awarded with victory, albeit tinged with the loss of their commanding officer.
Who knows, maybe the developers wanted to think that rag-tag band of spacefarers went on to enjoy all new adventures the whole time. At least now they aren’t destined to starve to death on some random planet. Seriously, how was that the original ending?
What We Hoped For:
All that fan service and justice being paid to the characters aside, we didn’t get to see all the character moments we had hoped for. Did Tali – provided she lived – actually succeed in building her home on Rannoch, with a special place for Shepard’s keepsake stone? Did Ashley or Kaidan assume command and take the crew on as their own? Did Liara return to her role as the Shadow Broker in a remote location, or continue to be among her human friends?
These are obviously questions that were going to haunt us regardless of the ending, and aren’t intended to be shots at the Extended Cut at all. If anything, it goes to show just how important all these characters were to the player when all was said or done. Hopefully ‘Admiral Alenko’ or ‘Matriarch Liara’ will reappear in the future.