BioWare May Already Be Retconning Mass Effect 3′s Ending

WARNING! SPOILERS! Just get the hell out of here if you don’t want the Mass Effect 3 ending spoiled because I’m about to annihilate your ability to experience it fresh in three…two…

Sorry about that headline, everybody, but I couldn’t very well write “BioWare says maybe the mass relays weren’t destroyed!” on account of people crying about spoilers and so on. But then again, if you haven’t finished Mass Effect 3 by now and you mean to, I’m not sure what your problem is. Hopefully you’re off helping starving children somewhere and that’s why you’re not playing video games.

Anyway, it appears that BioWare may already be helping players along in their reinterpretations of the events of Mass Effect 3′s ending. After weeks of relative silence, BioWare Executive Producer Mike Gamble responded to a question on Twitter, suggesting that the mass relays that are shown blowing up in the end of the game may not have, in fact, been annihilated — at least in one ending.

Gamble notes that the relays in the “Control,” or blue, ending were “disabled,” though not necessarily destroyed. In fact, he makes that distinction himself. That’s an interesting notion, given that the holographic Catalyst entity at the end of the game said that any action by the Crucible would destroy the mass relays. So are they not destroyed?

Since YouTube is just littered with video evidence of the ME3 ending, I went to the source. After some due diligence, I discovered this video, comparing all three endings and their variations side by side. And while all three endings use the same assets, Gamble is technically correct: You see the relays explode outright in two of the endings — the green “Synthesis” and the red “Destroy” — but in the blue ending, the video cuts away just before the relay is blown all the way apart.

But there’s also this video that reminds us of all the various rules set forth by the Catalyst before the ending choice, where he explicitly states that the relays would be destroyed. Apparently, it seems, that kid was not to be trusted — maybe Shepard shouldn’t just blindly believe whatever a random glowing mechanoid space deity says after all. (Skip to about 4:00 to see the exact line.)

So judge for yourself. Is Gamble retconning the story ahead of the Extended Edition DLC coming this summer? Does the video show something largely overlooked? Or is it just kind of annoying to see all three color-coded endings play right next to each other?

Thanks to Twitter pal @delta_vee for bringing this to my attention.

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11 Comments on BioWare May Already Be Retconning Mass Effect 3′s Ending


On April 10, 2012 at 9:05 pm

Yes, no, and yes.


On April 10, 2012 at 9:36 pm

Oh boy. one of the endings where Shepard dies may -possibly- have the Mass relays survive…. how joyous.


On April 10, 2012 at 11:04 pm

This is seems like the weakest possible evidence.


On April 11, 2012 at 12:51 am

This is just great avangarde writing. It’s Star Trek for 149 hours and 40 minutes and Lost for the remaining 20 minutes.

Hey folk out there, thats how you make blockbusters. Take note.

Jonathan Bihr

On April 11, 2012 at 5:49 am

Nice article! I hadn’t noticed that detail about the Control Ending but going back through the video the Mass Relay still “breaks up” even if it didn’t explode. I probably missed it since I have never compared the endings that closely before but on initial viewing one would assume (based on what the catalyst said) that the relay was exploding.

I really liked the video showing all the endings side by side. It was a really nice way to show the subtle differences between each of them but I feel like if you have to compare all three endings frame by frame to figure out the differences then you really didn’t get a different ending… :)

dONALD Blood

On April 11, 2012 at 6:42 am

It’s really nice that they show the three different endings side by side. This way anyone can see that THERE IS NO F*CKIN’ DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE ENDINGS WHATSOEVER EXCEPT THE BLOODY COLOUR!
Nice Job!


On April 11, 2012 at 7:58 am

Nice try Gamble, but I don’t buy it. Just admit that you’re changing it to try and make sense of things, even though we all know you will fail miserably because so much of the ending is broken. Retaining any piece of the existing ending will ultimately result in a longer version of an ending that still makes no sense.


On April 11, 2012 at 10:53 am

I hate them all.
Really?! Changing your own rules? “Well, that’s not what they REALLY said/happened/occurred…”
A cheap, dirty tactic to cover their asses against their own shoddy writing.


On April 11, 2012 at 2:37 pm

No matter what they say a crappy ending is still a crappy ending.

An old Gamer

On April 29, 2012 at 4:15 pm

Look, this is very simple. The ending makes no sense whatsoever. There are tons of very good explanations all over the Internet as to why this is true. And it has become pretty clear that two people at BW took it upon themselves to deliver the ending of 5 years and a ton of money and a lot of time into the trashcan. Sure there are people out there who just think we are all nuts and that “it’s all about art!” but that is just total crap. An RPG is not art; it’s an environment that gamers play in and we get to direct, to a large extent, the “story”. It’s not art !!! This is going to go down in gaming history as either the biggest failure of a major franchise ever, or one of the greatest masterpieces of all time. Depends on what they change…

And let me say this one last time for all the fans; a longer cut scene to replace the gibberish they gave us will NOT work !! For this to enter the pantheon of Star Wars and the like, they have to ax everything from Citadel (last 15 minutes) and totally re-write it with the entire BW team involved and send Mr. Hudson to Vegas for a couple of weeks so they can get it done right. They need a ton of conversation circles and cut scenes and a bit of voice over work from the cast. Nothing else is going to fix this. Otherwise, the fan base is going to in spades one last time and then move on. But BW/EA needs to know two very important things if they screw this up:

1) They will have missed the opportunity to have created a true masterpiece (oh so close…)
2) The fan base will never trust them again and many will never buy again regardless of how good a game they may make… They will be too angry… The BW name will be forever trashed by the core gaming community.

In closing, I just have to ask ; how in the world did BW think this was a good idea? It just boggles the mind after creating such a wonderful world and 2.95 great games. How did you not see that this was so awful… Anyway, we’re waiting for summer. Awesome or even more crap… Your choice BW/EA…


On August 2, 2012 at 6:44 am

I think it’s sad Bioware feels the need to change. The big pressure from “fans” who don’t get it shouldn’t be reason enough to change. Yes, people, not everything is consistent, not everything makes sense, and there may be fundamentally only one way things end. Too hard to swallow? Try real life and get off games for a while, that will help you adapt.

Great game, great endings.