On the day before the release of Mass Effect 3‘s Extended Cut DLC it’s hard not to stop and think how far we’ve come. From the early days of the game’s release, when players were crying foul of BioWare’s promise to bring a satisfying conclusion to Commander Shepards’s trilogy, to now, where gamers are hopefully getting the closure they so badly desired.
While some saw Mass Effect 3‘s ending as lacking, there were a select few, like myself, who found it to be a perfect conclusion to a series they had loved. So, with the Extended Cut set to release tomorrow, I thought it only fitting to state my case for why Mass Effect 3 doesn’t need a new ending, because it already has a pretty damn great one.
On the surface, some might look at Mass Effect 3 in comparison to Mass Effect 2 and scoff at its idea of teamwork and companionship. In place of a suicide mission — one that put nearly every member of the Normandy’s crew in danger — Mass Effect 3 offered up a last stand on Earth that some felt failed to deliver a similar, or even grander, experience.
I beg to differ however, and I think it’s all a matter of perspective. While players argue that the squad mates the player chooses to take with them on the final mission should have been integral to the ending of the game, those people are completely missing the point. This isn’t about those squad mates anymore, they had their time.
Most experienced the missions in the exact same way, but that is because we as gamers are inherently perfectionists, and tried to keep everyone alive across all three games. But if a character did not survive the suicide mission, their loss was felt in several ways, and helped impact the story being told. It’s not BioWare’s fault that 90% of gamers didn’t have to choose between the Geth or the Quarians during the Legion/Tali mission.
For me, each mission in Mass Effect 3 was a character moment in and of itself — a chance for each character to go on one last mission with Shepard, some of which ended in tragedy. Each was built off events experienced in the previous games — Mordin curing the genophage, Miranda finally rescuing her sister — and each concluded in a wholly satisfying way. In essence, these were BioWare’s send-offs to the characters we all knew and loved, with a final mission meant to bid farewell to the most important character of them all: Commander Shepard.
That’s why the squad mates are inconsequential, and are inevitably tossed aside midway through the sequence, because that final was focused squarely on Shepard. It was not necessary to see, post-decision, where each former Normandy crew member ended up, because we had brought closure to their individual stories.
As far as Commander Shepard’s story goes, that needed to have a particularly strong pay-off, and I believe it did. For a game based around the idea of choices, and the impacts of those choices, Mass Effect delivered quite a doozy. With Commander Shepard on the brink of death, the player is forced to make a decision that is neither good nor bad. Each had their potential benefits, but all of them would come at a price.
In essence the trilogy, which had players at the outset decide which character they would like to be, was asking them to now decide the legacy that character would leave behind. And BioWare makes the player live with that decision, as outlined by Shepard slowly creeping his way towards any of the three colored ‘devices.’ I’m not going to lie; several times did I contemplate turning back from my path before ultimately realizing where I was headed was the right choice.
Some might look at the choices as arbitrary, but that’s only in light of the events that follow — the presumed lack of post-choice closure — elements that I argued were unnecessary. For all intents and purposes, Shepard’s story ended with that decision, and any scenes following that choice were just icing on the cake. Getting to see that my decision to unite the universe into a synthetic race turned both EDI and Joker into the same species was nice, but I felt satisfied knowing my Shepard made a sacrifice for the presumed betterment of the whole universe.
A bit abrupt? Maybe, but oftentimes the best endings don’t deal in lengthy prologues or special scenes devoted to each character. This was the ending I earned, through 90+ hours of gameplay, and I felt it was my own.
This is but one way to look at Mass Effect 3‘s ending, but it’s why I feel that the Extended Cut DLC is unnecessary. Not only did I get the closure needed for each of the secondary characters in the series, but also the way in which my Shepard’s story came full circle was perfect. I can’t say I don’t see where those disappointed with the ending are coming from, I do. It’s just that, for me, it all worked. And that’s why, while I will be playing the Extended Cut DLC to see what BioWare chose to add, I don’t think it’s necessary.
What do you think? Was the way BioWare chose to end the game satisfying for you? Does the Mass Effect 3 Extended Cut DLC feel unnecessary? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below, but realize this is only one way of viewing things.
Leave us your thoughts on the ending of Mass Effect 3, and be sure to read Andrew Dyce’s case for Why Mass Effect 3 Does Need A New Ending.
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