Mass Effect 3 Ending-Hatred: 5 Reasons The Fans Are Right
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1) Player Choice Is Completely Discarded
Finally, it’s tempting to claim that fans are simply suffering from a letdown caused by unrealistic expectations. Call it the Obama excuse — players simply got their hopes up and expected more than anyone could deliver, and ultimately, their anger isn’t at what BioWare created, but that they ascribed qualities to Mass Effect 3 of their own devising. BioWare failed to live up to the fantasy players concocted, and once those players get over that kind of childishness, they’ll realize how awesome the ending actually is. There’s only one problem with this assertion: BioWare’s long history of public statements about Mass Effect 3.
From the beginning, and especially as work progressed on Mass Effect 3, BioWare has made a lot of very specific promises about what players could expect. The vast majority of those promises concerned the very personal journey each player could expect; in short, the choices they made over the course of three very long games would have enormous impact over how their story ended. As recently as January, Casey Hudson was telling Game Informer that “This story arc is coming to an end with this game. That means the endings can be a lot more different. At this point we’re taking into account so many decisions that you’ve made as a player and reflecting a lot of that stuff.” Even today, the official Mass Effect Site bears this message along the top of the page:
“EXPERIENCE THE BEGINNING, MIDDLE, AND END OF AN EMOTIONAL STORY UNLIKE ANY OTHER, WHERE THE DECISIONS YOU MAKE COMPLETELY SHAPE YOUR EXPERIENCE AND OUTCOME.”
As good as Mass Effect 3 is — and it really is an exceptional game in many important ways — the product BioWare ultimately delivered literally broke that promise, and that, more than anything else, is why fans are so angry.
It’s been said more than once that the “multiple” endings of Mass Effect 3 are too similar, but if you have played it, and you’re honest about it, you have to admit that similar doesn’t even begin to describe it. They are all functionally identical. Once players reach the Citadel, they are taken along a low-interaction pathway, engage in conversation with the Illusive Man that can only end with him dead if you wish to proceed further, and then have a conversation — with a very limited set of responses — with the AI child. This experience is the same regardless of your Shepard’s moral alignment, and regardless of the decisions you made to get to this point. The AI does not alter his dialogue if you kill the Geth, he doesn’t offer different justifications if you spared the Collector Base; he does nothing different.
And then, you are given the same three choices, choices that you must accept even though none of them fit with anything Shepard would ever have done at any previous moment in the entire series. Whether the choices succeed or fail depends solely on your Effective Military Strength score, and nothing else. And once made, the only difference between them is a slightly different cutscene, and a different-colored explosion. And that’s it. The game ends at this point, and aside from the Normandy crash-landing, and the weird old man talking about “The Shepard” — and don’t forget the crass DLC pitch — the player never once gets to see how any of the choices they made affected the galaxy, or how the lives of people they touched continue, or don’t, after the war.
In short, players are provided with nothing remotely close to the unique, personal experience they were promised.
We know, we know. BioWare doesn’t ‘owe’ anything. It’s their game, after all and presumably they released the product they thought should be released. But BioWare has always had a strong relationship with its fans. Casey Hudson even said 2 weeks ago that fans helped write the game. That’s part of the reason this push for a new ending even exists. If the company cares at all about the legacy of their otherwise beautiful series, or about their relationship with the player community – and we think they do – they ought to at least acknowledge that fans are not happy with things as they are, and why. And as of this posting, they have not offered any kind of statement on the matter
The fans don’t want to scrap the bleakness for some kind of enforced happy ending. They don’t want to replace one linear experience with another. What they want is the chance to experience the game BioWare explicitly advertised and for which they paid a substantial sum of money. They want to see how their unique experience plays out to the very end, and if they choose, to start over and make a completely different set of decisions just to see what happens that time. Ultimately, it’s BioWare’s call, but it couldn’t hurt for them to very carefully listen to what that community is saying, and seriously consider working on some calibrations.
I should go.
RELATED: Game Front’s Official Mass Effect 3 Video Walkthroughs
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Mass Effect 3 Walkthrough Playlist (w/ Mitch – FemShep Paragon)