Mass Effect 3 ending: Have the fans really won?

OPINION: Not quite, says Tim Clark, who outlines what kind of DLC we're going to get...

Happy now? Mass Effect's militant fans have been promised a range of new "game content initiatives" by Bioware's Dr Ray Muzyka, "that will help answer the questions, providing more clarity for those seeking further closure to their journey."

It looks like a victory for the gamers who signed the petition (and, to be fair, raised a lot of money for charidee) asking for the ending of Mass Effect 3 to be retconned (just me, or did anyone else picture the fans running out into the streets and firing their imaginary Phaeston rifles into the air?)


In my previous piece about this I was at pains to point out that I don't think this is a case of gamers being self-entitled. The reaction is a natural extension of something a lot of people feel passionate about coming to an end, and the inevitability of that ending not being able to satisfy all of a vast community of users.

For me, it was no surprise that a lot of people were very annoyed. The surprise was quite how many people felt so strongly about it, and for that Bioware rightly takes some blame. Not because I think they can't end their trilogy however they damn well please, but because all the alternatives in that suite of possible final cut-scenes feel rushed and clunkily edited.

And, yes, there are nagging plot holes, although I don't buy the idea that the catalytic starchild is exactly a deus ex machina device. If that were the case, the spooky kid would just solve everything. But he doesn't, he presents you with an unenviable choice, which is entirely in keeping with the rest of the series.

So I haven't changed my mind about the ending. I still found it a satisfying conclusion to my 120 hour experience, and as Olly Moss tweeted: "Surely the whole game is the ending, not the 5 minute sequence at the end?" However, it's clear there is an issue with clarity - and let's face it, getting more Mass Effect means getting more Mass Effect. This is a good thing.

But what exactly will we get? There seems to be a groundswell of support for the 'indoctrination ending', that would enable Bioware to effectively write off several chunks of narrative as hallucination. Or, in other words, Bobby is still alive and it was all just a dream.


I doubt that will wash though. For starters there's the question of how it's delivered. If it's paid DLC, then gamers are effectively given the chance to opt in or out of the new indoctrination content. But the flipside is they're being asked to paid extra to get the 'complete' ending. And we've already had to shell out for the Johnny Four-Eyes content, which couldn't have felt more like an integral part of the game cynically removed and re-sold.

Conversely, if it's a free update it will seem like the new material is canonical and being imposed on everyone. The risk Bioware would then run would be alienating and annoying those fans, which you have to imagine are the silent majority given the number of sales, who had no problem with the original endings and don't see what the fuss is about. Cue new petition.

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