Comment of the Week: Mass Effect 3′s Ending Isn’t BAD — It’s WRONG

Not to beat a dead horse, but Mass Effect 3′s ending has stirred up a maelstrom of controversy, with fans and reviewers duking it out over whether gamers have a right to demand a different conclusion to a series that has captivated hundreds of thousands.

Game Front’s Phil Hornshaw and Ross Lincoln have been staunch defenders of the fans, and Phil recently discussed how changing the Mass Effect 3 ending could have empowered game writing. Commenter The Doctor posted an insightful and thought-provoking theory:


Here’s my problem with the whole issue: it’s not that the ending is BAD. It’s just that the ending is so WRONG. In The Arrival, we saw how destroying a Mass Effect gate destroyed the whole system it was next to, killing over 300K people. In this, no matter which ending is chosen, all Mass Effect gates are destroyed, and presumably, all of the systems nearby go with them.


Throughout the entire game, you are presented with all of these wonderful pithy ideas about what constitutes life, what does sentience mean, how can we coexist, and all of this, and you work toward aligning everyone to tolerance and acceptance of one another and then you destroy all of the synthetics you just supported and even befriended throughout the game. Not to mention all the synthetics that biotics have implanted – they all die, too, presumably, including Shepard.

BUT: what if there really IS a plan here? As wrong as that is, it would be fun to think about this, and I haven’t really seen too many people bringing forth the idea. It’s pretty obvious to me that Liara/Shepard is the preferred pairing: no other relationship receives so much screen time, no other has such depth. At the end, if Liara was the love interest (whether through all three games or even just in ME3), Liara offers Shepard a final gift.

For me, this was one of the most touching, moving experiences I have ever seen in any game. That blissful moment of pause, of peace, while all the world was going to hell, and what might be their final goodbye… it was literally breathtaking. The light breaking over the horizon as the stars fill in around the pair while they are embracing, kissing… it was so beautiful it brought tears to my eyes (what weary soldier, knowing s/he is probably going to his/her death, would not love such a moment of rest in the midst of all that chaos?). But I can extrapolate one step further:

My Liara survived the ending, even though she was my active squadmate. Was Liara’s “gift” really just that beautiful moment? Or did she take that opportunity to record Shepard’s DNA, despite not being even close to her Matron days? Did she really mean to give Shepard a child?

Look at how ferociously she worked to retrieve Shepard’s body, because she couldn’t let Shepard go. Look at how she loves Shepard, stands with Shepard, no matter what. Maybe, Liara just can’t bear to let Shepard go and leave her with nothing left at all. Maybe Liara has Shepard’s little blue baby, and we go to ME 4 with her.

Actually kind of cool, if that’s where it’s headed.

Ross Lincoln believes this theory, while a reach, is just as plausible as the indoctrination theory — BioWare left so many gaping holes that fans feel the need to write the ending for them.

Farfetched or not, it certainly is a more emotionally rewarding ending. Kudos, The Doctor.

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10 Comments on Comment of the Week: Mass Effect 3′s Ending Isn’t BAD — It’s WRONG


On April 27, 2012 at 3:26 pm

The acceptance of this “theory” would imply that all of the other available love interests were somehow the “wrong” choice, or, at the very least, not “canon.” Cynic that I am, I honestly can’t bring myself to accept that Bioware would choose one LI as the “accepted” LI going forward, let alone have their child become the protagonist of the next game in the Mass Effect universe. Doing this would further alienate those who didn’t choose Liara as their LI. As for the assertion that no other relationship has as much screen time, most of Liara’s scenes are available to Shepard regardless of which relationship the player chose, with very little variation thrown in if they chose her as Shepard’s LI (except for a few key scenes). It seems much more likely that Bioware would make another entry set at an indeterminate point in the future with an entirely new cast of characters in which Shepard & co.’s involvement would be limited to vague references of Shepard and his crew as historic hero figures. Wherever Bioware decides to go next with the franchise, they have their work cut out for them fixing the ending to Mass Effect 3. Time will tell whether or not they can pull it off and finally give the trilogy the conclusion it so richly deserves.


On April 27, 2012 at 3:35 pm

I like you guys a lot, but yes, you are beating a dead horse with this stuff. It’s one thing if it’s newsworthy, but… there doesn’t seem like there’s much of a story here to me.


On April 27, 2012 at 3:47 pm

That is a pretty interesting theory if you had Liara as your LI. But even if you don’t have a love relationship with Liara, she still presents you this “final gift”. So if this theory were true and, as in my case, she was NOT a LI but was a squad member (which means she survived in that absurd fashion we all got tired of hearing about), that would mean she took my DNA without being in a relationship and even without my consent for that matter. That leads to some funny implications (granted we didn’t kiss and all that, but the whole nervous sync thing happened, and if I’m not mistaken, THAT is the actual reprodution procedure for Asaris, the rest is pure affection).

But on a different note, I totally agree with The Doctor, I already had a LI with Miranda in ME2 and didn’t wanted to cheat, but I came this close to. What IS it with that Asari that just pulls you in? (Apart from the singularity)


On April 27, 2012 at 3:53 pm

Also, sorry for this double post, but I just had to add this, and Gamefront lacks a edit button. I liked that part that said ME4 may feature an alien shepard as a main character. ME4 absolutely HAVE to include different races for Shepard, they absolutely MUST. ( I always dreamt of a Turian Shepard, that would’ve been awesome, I’m a big Garrus fan)


On April 27, 2012 at 4:12 pm

mmm… interesting. I thought that too, and at any case that moment happens romance or not, back in ME1 liara said that asari reproduction may or may not involve sex since a single touch is enough; if liara is not romanced she could think that the galaxy always will need a shepard or the most close to one at he very least, remenber how liara talk with shepard about the war and how long it would extend and how she being so young (108) she is able to watch the whole process unlike shepard since humas have short life span and the highprobability of diying during the battle.

And if she romanced, then yess she may wanted a piece of shepard in the worst escenario and she survive.

She always looks the most strategist of the team, for me at least. In any case i still want my happy ending with liara ¬_¬

Roberto Zahluth

On April 27, 2012 at 5:17 pm

“It’s pretty obvious to me that Liara/Shepard is the preferred pairing: no other relationship receives so much screen time, no other has such depth. At the end, if Liara was the love interest (whether through all three games or even just in ME3), Liara offers Shepard a final gift.”

There’s no connection between this scene and the love interest take by player. It’s happens anyway

I agree that couple Liara/Shepard is the preferred, but for the writers. If you play with the maleshep and choose another romantic interest (in my case, Tali), the game plays all the time in his face how wrong it is, because you should stick with Liara.

Tali has its moments with Shepard, but the insistence of the narrative on show for you which Liara is the right choice is a very, very irritating thing. The biggest proof is that the scene quoted (the gift of Liara) happens regardless of whether you have a romance with Liara or with any other romance options. And at the end, at the time of “death”, Shepard thinks about three people: Joker, Anderson, and no surprise, Liara, even though his romantic interest is another character.

I can understand your point, but i don’t like some chains imposed by script, more specifically the romantic interest related.

P.S.: Sorry for my bad english.

Mr Glassback

On April 28, 2012 at 5:05 am

I never had Liara as a romantic interest but can understand what you mean about a touching experience.
Just before the final “mission”, I almost walked past the communications room where you get to say goodbye to everyone who is not on Earth with you ( I don’t know if I actually could of actually missed it or if I would have had to do it before continuing). I thought this was an unbelievably effective way of bringing closure to some of the relationships and was extremely sad. It made me ready to die to protect them.
Which made the ending all the more senseless.


On April 28, 2012 at 9:53 pm

Same here. Liara didn’t seem to like Johnny Shepard all that much, which was understandable since he was kind of a d**k. But she still gave him that final gift and even seemed weirdly flirtatious, which seemed odd. I guess she could have stolen his DNA during the encounter, which would somewhat explain why she did it.


On April 29, 2012 at 9:31 am

Liara may carry a child, but I think they deliberately left the gift vague and ambiguous.

The closest thing to it would be the scene between Spock and McCoy in the ending of “The Wrath of Khan”. When they shot the scene, it wasn’t in the screenplay. Nimoy had only accepted to star in the movie (after his bad experience with Star Trek: The Motion Picture) is his character would die.
Then, Nimoy started to have second thoughts about his decision, the producer agreed and had the idea to add an apparently pointless scene in which Spock and McCoy having the mind meld before Spock’s sacrifice.
When the movie was completed, Nimoy had been convinced to stay in the franchise, as he was even allowed to direct the third movie. That’s why they kept the scene and even added the final shot with the coffin that suggested he wasn’t THAT dead.

So, the screenwriters had to invent for The Search for Spock some hitherto unreferenced Vulcanian concept that allowed Spock to stock his soul in somebody else (so he could resurrect), the Katra.

Substitute the Vulcanians with the Asaris, and you can understand why BioWare could prefer to leave the door open for a possible (second) resurrection of Shepard, just in case.


On April 29, 2012 at 1:22 pm

The ending as wished by Doctor goes against everything the imbecils at Bioware have worked toward. That smacks of some sort of continuity, albeit a very insignificant one at this point. Why should Bioware do that? Given Bioware that is. Bioware played a cruel game on ME players. That is how they designed it, and how they implemented it. Let’s call it the “developer’s revenge”. If I were in any position of power, I would black list every developer, associated with Bioware, from doing any software work on any project that has to do with the well being of citizenry in any way imaginable. Stop thinking and writing about ME. Remember only Bioware. That should do for cycles to come.