When Mass Effect 3 came out, it was a great success for developer BioWare and publisher Electronic Arts. It became one of the best-selling gamesof the year, it successfully added multiplayer to the franchise and it received great reviews across the board. With all of that attention, it also became the most criticized game in the series in large part due to its ending.
All throughout development it was advertised and hyped up by key people at BioWare that Mass Effect 3 would complete and conclude the Commander Shepard story, but as anyone who’s finished the game knows, the ending is rather open-ended and players are not given a chance to see what the actual results of their actions are, at least not fully, nor are they able to see what happens to each of the characters they’ve grown attached to throughout the series.
For some fans this was totally cool, for others (especially supporters of the Indoctrination Theory), it didn’t meet their expectations and there began the community outcry for an alternate ending. The controversy sparked quite a bit of debate over the question of whether or not BioWare’s work of art should be able to stand on its own, or if they should change or add to their product simply because gamers demand it.
In the end, BioWare went with the plan of fleshing out the conclusion of the series through the upcoming Mass Effect 3: Extended Cut DLC, which releases next week for free. In talking about the DLC, ME3 lead writer Mac Walters described the new content in his own words while also giving his explanation for why the team decided to do the DLC in the first place.
In the words of Mac Walters, what exactly is the Extended Cut?
“The extended cut is content that players can download at no extra charge which expands the endings of Mass Effect 3 through some additional scenes and an epilogue sequence. So it provides a lot of the closure that players are looking for and it answers some of the questions that people have been asking. And it gives a sense of what the future holds as a result of your decisions throughout the series. Your final choice is just one part of how the story ends up, but then there’s the whole game and whole series worth of choices that results in story decisions and a lot of those now are going to be reflected.”
Why did BioWare make the Extended Cut?
“We didn’t do the extended cut because we were trying to make everyone happy or to make it perfect, we just saw an opportunity to expand on the things that we felt we could add value to the experience to those who might appreciate it.”
“I remember when Mass Effect 3 launched, the team was incredibly proud about what they had delivered and even though we were getting incredibly reviews there was some really tough criticism coming in that was pretty hard on us. And what happened over and over again in those days was that people from throughout the team would come in into my office with ideas for what they could do for players to address the feedback that we’re hearing. The thing is, we love this universe as much as the fans do, we’ve been putting our hearts and souls into this for over eight years and when it’s all over, we wanted to take a little more time to say goodbye to it. We wanted that as much as fans did so we were really happy to have the opportunity to work on the extended cut and it’s been a labor love to put these extra scenes in and show a little more about what’s going to happen with the Mass Effect universe after we say goodbye to it.”
In essence, it was fan feedback that gave birth to origins of the ME3 single-player DLC. The important takeaway from this however, is that there are many, many people who put countless hours of work into the game and they care as much or more than we do about how it plays out. Undoubtedly, some on the team weren’t entirely happen with the ending either and as evidenced above, had their own ideas for how to make the game even better than it already is.
As Casey Hudson put it best, video games are an interactive medium and with social media, social marketing, community interaction, relationships form between developers and fans that are stronger than ever before and with that comes a certain responsibility. The Mass Effect 3: Extended Cut DLC, like it or not, sets an interesting precedent for the industry and we can’t fault the talent behind the game for doing the best they can to enhance the experience.
To prepare for the DLC, be sure to get online tonight for the N7 Bounty Weekend. This one’s called Operation Savage and requires that the community take out 7,000,000 enemy grunt forces.
Don’t forget to read our Mass Effect 3 review for more.
Mass Effect 3: Extended Cut releases June 26, 2012 for PC, PS3 and Xbox 360.
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