Fan frustrations over the Mass Effect 3 endings appear to have calmed-down a bit - following the announcement of the Mass Effect 3 Extended Cut DLC add-on. However, BioWare hasn't been especially forthcoming about what players can expect when the free Extended Cut content is made available this summer - so it's hard to know whether or not fans will finally get the closure they'd been expecting.
New details suggest that response to the DLC could be mixed, depending on why frustrated players were let-down by the current endings, as the Extended Cut will reportedly focus on fleshing-out the endings with new "variations" - dependent on the player's choices over the course of the series. That said, the DLC will not include new gameplay sections or choices.
According to Kotaku, who was contacted by a spokesperson at BioWare, players will be able to access the new, and more individualized, ending content by loading-up a pre-end game save file - which will contain the necessary data for the updated game to present new ending "variations":
"[Players] should be able to grab a save file before the endgame and experience the new content from there [...] Much of the focus of the Extended Cut is to expand on the variety of consequences of player choices and degrees of success. So, with the new content, the player's choices should result in a much more varied experience."
News that the extended cut won't allow for decisions, and instead will simply deliver a more personalized conclusion, should satisfy the host of gamers who, after watching their respective Mass Effect 3 ending, still wondered about the fate of their favorite characters - as well as larger plot implications (such as the Mass Relays, etc). However, players who were hoping for an entirely retooled ending that actually allowed for more choices (such as the involved progression at the end of Mass Effect 2), could still be pretty underwhelmed with BioWare's Mass Effect 3 finale 2.0.
While the design process is still in flux, considering FemShep actress Jennifer Hale has yet to be contacted about doing further voice work, according to BioWare (as addressed by Dr. Ray Muzyka), the team still believes very strongly in the core ending - but understood why players might have felt like their respective endings weren't representative of their full franchise journey. As a result, the developer opted-out of completely altering the endings (either by way of new gameplay or dramatically changing the outcomes) and, instead, decided to focus on allowing for more of the player's prior choices to pay-off:
"BioWare strongly believes in the team's artistic vision for the end of this arc of the Mass Effect franchise. The extended cut DLC will expand on the existing endings, but no further ending DLC is planned."
According to the spokesperson, BioWare's post-launch DLC plans have been pushed-back in order to divert assets to the Extended Cut content but confirms that "several projects are underway and in various stages of development."
It'll certainly be interesting to see what comes of the Mass Effect 3: Extended Cut (not to mention further DLC offerings) - since it will be especially disastrous if the developer doesn't deliver in round two. It's a very delicate balance, considering that (as mentioned) gamers were frustrated by the endings for entirely different reasons. While the vocal minority of "outraged" fans who led personal attacks against BioWare employees, complained to the FTC, and freaked out online, may never be satisfied, most level-headed players (the ones who have genuinely focused on helping BioWare craft a more satisfying conclusion via constructive criticism), aren't likely to be broken-up about the lack of options in the DLC add-on - so long as they get closure on the personal relationships (as well as larger Mass Effect storyline).
In the meantime, frustrated gamers who are still underwhelmed by the game's ending should head over to our Mass Effect 3 Endings Explained? The ‘Indoctrination Theory’ Answer post - maybe they'll find some closure over there.
Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for further updates.
Mass Effect 3 is available now for PC, PS3, and Xbox 360.