The day jilted fans of Mass Effect 3 have been hoping for has finally arrived, bringing new ending scenes and details for each possible choice Commander Shepard can make. There’s not a chance that every fan will now be satisfied and put the past behind them, but that doesn’t mean BioWare hasn’t held to their promise of giving the community what they felt entitled to.
With four total endings having been tweaked or overhauled in the name of variety and meaningful impacts, the more skeptical crowd may not wish to sit through videos of each conclusion, and certainly not play through Mass Effect 3‘s final moments all over again. So allow us to explain what each of the endings – Control, Synthesis, Destruction, and Refusal – has changed from the original. While most introduce new details and explanations that fans will no doubt appreciate, a few glaring questions still remain.
Extended Cut – Control Ending
Like most of the endings, the actual cutscenes leading up to Shepard’s integration into the Reaper consciousness remain unchanged. Unlike before, Joker aboard the Normandy is now shown taking part in the battle in Earth’s orbit, refusing to retreat as the Crucible begins to fire. Eventually he acquiesces, and the ship jumps out of the system.
From there, the same cinematic cutscene of the battle on Earth is shown, with the blue-lighting-storm bathing humans, Reapers, and their soldiers. The Reapers again immediately leave the surface of the planet, but a new scene shows a pair of soldiers being attacked by Reaper Husks. Once the blue wave of what seems to be Shepard’s new influence reaches them, the Husks cower in fear and flee the scene.
The blue energy is again charged by Sol’s Mass Relay, before firing off to the next in the chain. Addressing the questions raised by fans, the Mass Relay no longer experiences a series of explosion upon firing. In the Arrival DLC for Mass Effect 2, the destruction of a Mass Relay was shown to eradicate its entire system, which the fans pointed to as yet another case of the developers betraying their own fiction. Fan outrage or not, the previously included shot of the Relay was an inconsistency, and is now replaced by the orbiting rings of the Relay itself falling apart.
From there, the developers add shots of events similar to those that occurred on Earth taking place on the Asari and Krogan planets as well. Both armies rally as the now-blue Reapers pull their forces back, and the crew aboard the Normandy are shown still hard at work, Commander or no.
From there, the first drastic changes to the actual events of the ending occur. The Normandy had originally been shown fleeing the collapse of the Mass Relays, suffering explosions and loss of integrity as Joker tried to keep ahead of the blue energy wave. Now, no explosions or immediate danger is shown, simply the energy catching up to the ship. When the Normandy is shown downed on the jungle world, it is similarly intact, displaying none of the charred hull or wreckage of the original ending.
Thus ends the tweaking of the original elements, and the beginning of BioWare’s major additions. Shepard now returns to narrate the exact circumstance of his integration with the Reapers, no longer “the man he was,” but a new entity born of the merger. As the guiding will of the Reapers, having replaced whatever drove them to genocide in the name of “order,” Shepard has put them to work rebuilding the Mass Relays. Regardless of personal feelings, the actual results we demanded on behalf of displeased fans are shown, and in great detail.
A slideshow of familiar faces – Jacob in his new role of authority, Jack with her students, Samara relaxing with her daughter, Falere – shows that not only has Krogan society begun to rebuild, but that they are now forming families and bearing children. Shepard confirms that he has successfully “harnessed the strengths of his enemy” to wield the Reapers as guardians of all sentient life.
The crew of the Normandy adds Shepard’s name to the memorial on the ship, and takes off – together and in good condition – from the jungle world they had previously seemed stranded upon. The “stargazer” scene again caps off the conclusion, promising yet another story of “The Shepard.” Once a man, now a force for good in the galaxy, the fairy tale theme certainly fits.