Despite impressive sales numbers and overwhelmingly positive reviews from critics (read our Mass Effect 3 review), BioWare's conclusion to the Commander Shepard trilogy has been marred by a myriad of fan complaints - most notably the game's underwhelming finale. Especially passionate fans have even called for BioWare to develop an entirely new set of Mass Effect 3 endings - endings that actually reflect the hours upon hours that gamers spent individualizing their Shepard's narrative.
To head-off this groundswell of fan outcry, Mass Effect 3 game director, Casey Hudson, recently opened up regarding how the designers at BioWare feel about the ending - as well as how the team is reacting to fan frustrations.
Hudson addressed the issue in an interview with Digital Trends, among a number of other topics - including the "From Ashes" DLC controversy (a topic Hudson previously addressed) as well as how the BioWare team implements fan feedback in DLC and future games (something the Mass Effect 3 director has also touched on before).
Usually Hudson is able to calm raging gamers who might disagree with a development choice; however, this time, the game director comes across as though he: a) doesn't entirely understand why fans are upset or b) doesn't want to paint himself into a corner - given that any updates to the ending (via DLC or otherwise) would require very careful planning by the studio.
Here's what Hudson had to say about BioWare's attempted goal with their Mass Effect 3 endings:
I didn’t want the game to be forgettable, and even right down to the sort of polarizing reaction that the ends have had with people—debating what the endings mean and what’s going to happen next, and what situation are the characters left in. That to me is part of what’s exciting about this story. There has always been a little bit of mystery there and a little bit of interpretation, and it’s a story that people can talk about after the fact.
Given the complicated and rich mythos, as well as overall quality of the Mass Effect series storytelling, it's hard to disagree with the interpretive idea that Hudson had in mind; however, some might argue that the actual endings aren't so much interpretive as flat-out incomplete. It's one thing to leave a reader, viewer, or in this case player, with some questions to ponder, such as "where do we go from here?" (we're looking at you Alan Wake) but the endings in Mass Effect 3 don't balance those questions out with much closure - and largely leave the fates of fan-favorite characters unresolved.
That said, even if the developers can't entirely make-up for initial frustrations, as pointed out by Hudson, the studio has a history of implementing fan feedback:
Oh, we pay very close attention to [fan feedback]. It’s very important to us and we will always listen to feedback, interpret it and try and do the right thing by our fans. That’s why if you look at Mass Effect 2 we knew that people wanted to spend more time with a character like Liara, and so we created an ongoing storyline with her as part of the comics and then built it into the DLC stuff, and we’re always listening to fans. We have some really great multiplayer content and some really great single-player content coming over the air, and their feedback will become part of how we design that.
BioWare has a large DLC strategy planned out for the game - and it's certainly possible that some of these questions will be addressed with add-on content; though, for many, that's hardly a solution - given the amount of people who won't be able to download or pay for future expansions.
That said, the most telling aspect of the interview is actually occurring in the comment section - where the one-time Mass Effect 3 faithful are directly calling out the game director:
"Really? this is the slap in the face response they give us after the huge ending controversy?"
"You lied, Casey. You lied to all of us, especially those who have been with you since the beginning. This is not the vision you gave us."
"So, reading between the lines I got, "DLC. DLC. DLC. SHUT UP AND BUY FUTURE DLC." I, for one, will not be purchasing any DLC. Didn't I just pay 60 bucks the the game!?"
While some readers might simply dismiss frustrated gamers as little more than Internet trolls, the overarching tone of the conversation is universally pretty tense - meaning that these aren't just a few isolated people that have been disappointed. There is a very large demographic of players who aren't just frustrated - they feel misled.
As mentioned, fans are calling on the development team to offer-up a more satisfying ending - and it'll be interesting to see how BioWare responds. Unfortunately, it's hard to imagine that the studio will just sink a couple million dollars into developing a free epilogue.
Mass Effect 3 is available now for PC, PS3, and Xbox 360.
Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for further updates.
Source: Digital Trends