Like it or not, the ending to Mass Effect 3 was seen as a massive disappointment to a large population of gamers. So much so that even an extended version of the endings couldn’t undo the damage BioWare had already done.
However, now that there is some distance between us and Mass Effect 3‘s ending(s), we can hopefully look at them objectively, or at least talk about them without sighing heavily. And that’s just what Mass Effect writer Drew Karpyshyn did in a recent interview. But what makes the interview interesting is Karpyshyn wasn’t involved with Mass Effect 3, so his perspective comes from that of an insider/outsider.
Karpyshyn, as some might know, actually left BioWare shortly before the release of Mass Effect 2 and was succeeded by Mac Walters. But even if he didn’t stay on for ME3‘s development, that doesn’t mean he wasn’t clued into the developer’s various ending possibilities. With Mass Effect already outlined as a trilogy, Karpyshyn had some inside knowledge about where BioWare was looking to go.
As it turns out, though, a lot of the ideas that the BioWare writers bounced around during Karpyshyn’s tenure never made it into Mass Effect 3. For example, there was talk of giving dark energy a major role in the final game’s narrative, with the Reapers hoping to stop the spread of the resource.
“Maybe the Reapers kept wiping out organic life because organics keep evolving to the state where they would use biotics and dark energy and that caused an entropic effect that would hasten the end of the universe. Being immortal beings, that’s something they wouldn’t want to see.”
The BioWare team also tossed around the idea of putting a Matrix-esque spin on things, with the Reapers constantly “restarting” the universe in the hopes of finding the perfect biotics.
“Then we thought, let’s take it to the next level. Maybe the Reapers are looking at a way to stop this. Maybe there’s an inevitable descent into the opposite of the Big Bang (the Big Crunch) and the Reapers realize that the only way they can stop it is by using biotics, but since they can’t use biotics they have to keep rebuilding society – as they try and find the perfect group to use biotics for this purpose. The Asari were close but they weren’t quite right, the Protheans were close as well.”
In fact, such a story thread was circulated around the net as a potential end game to Mass Effect 3‘s story, and fans were quick to latch onto its viability. Some fans even cited the hypothetical ending as a better option, a sentiment that Karpyshyn doesn’t agree with.
“I find it funny that fans end up hearing a couple things they like about it and in their minds they add in all the details they specifically want. It’s like vaporware – vaporware is always perfect, anytime someone talks about the new greatest game. It’s perfect until it comes out. I’m a little weary about going into too much detail because, whatever we came up with, it probably wouldn’t be what people want it to be.”
That might be true — fans did have certain expectations — but that shouldn’t take away from the potential impact of one ending versus another. However, neither of the proposed conclusions address some of the bigger problems gamers had with Mass Effect 3, specifically the game’s inability to factor in three game’s worth of decisions.
Now that Mass Effect 3 and all of its DLC expansions have come and gone, there isn’t much more to be said about the game. Writers like Karpyshyn may have had good ideas, but we’ll never know how those ideas would have been realized. The only thing gamers can hope for is that Mass Effect 4 will be better.
What do you think of Karpyshyn’s hypothetical Mass Effect 3 storylines? Would you have preferred the final game explore one of those ideas?