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:


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.

Ross Lincoln on Twitter. Also Follow Phil Hornshaw (Who cowrote this monster).

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1,238 Comments on Mass Effect 3 Ending-Hatred: 5 Reasons The Fans Are Right


On March 13, 2012 at 6:40 pm

I really wish more websites and other forms media would look at this article. it is very well written, thank you for giving the fans a chance and also showing the majority of our REAL concerns. not just the, “we want it to be happier” nonsense everyone else is focusing on. We’re fighting the REAPERS, we know its not going to be all rainbows and ponies.


On March 13, 2012 at 6:53 pm

kudos sir, I’m glad someone in the mainstream press has finally hit the nail on the head with the fans outrage over this. you make the points that alot if not most of us are upset about, without resorting to name calling and other infantile tactics. thank you.


On March 13, 2012 at 6:57 pm


Matthew L Burt

On March 13, 2012 at 6:58 pm

Extremely well-written article. This brings up all the problems I have with the ending in an eloquent and lean fashion. I really hope someone at Bioware looks at this instead of spouting the same “We want to polarize people!” bull. I am not polarized. I am deflated. I am not angry at Bioware, I feel empty of Bioware, and I have no earthly desire to purchase any more of their product. This isn’t grand-standing. The same thing happened with Square Enix and their Final Fantasy series after FFXIII. Unless there is a solution to this presented, soon, I don’t really foresee myself purchasing Bioware product in the future.


On March 13, 2012 at 7:00 pm

Bravo. So far, this is the most comprehensive and honest evaluation of fan complaints on the web. This should be required reading for certain people over at IGN and the other EA shills who have decided that the entire group of unhappy fans (over 40,000 of us and climbing, fast) is composed of spoiled, whiny malcontents.

Malcontents who, so far, have primarily expressed their unhappiness by donating over $10,000 dollars OF THEIR OWN MONEY to a charity for hospitalized children.

BioWare has a real problem on their hands, and it’s only getting worse.


On March 13, 2012 at 7:01 pm

I tip my hat to you good sir. This is exactly what I have been trying to tell people. Thank you for wording it so much better than I probably could of!


On March 13, 2012 at 7:03 pm

It’s articles like this that make me love Gamefront.


On March 13, 2012 at 7:09 pm

Very nice article! You know you have dedicated fans when they raise $10,000 in protest to the ending and give it to charity (Childs Play).



On March 13, 2012 at 7:14 pm

The ending actually isn’t the ending but the beginning of the end…. watch the video you’ll understand…

Ren Tyrell

On March 13, 2012 at 7:22 pm

Every single word written here is fact. Not only are the only three endings completely depressing and unsatisfying- it doesn’t. Make. Sense. If Bioware really does care for it’s fans, they will take some serious action about this! They damn well better for their sake.

Phil Hornshaw

On March 13, 2012 at 7:29 pm


I agree, that theory is extremely fascinating (we’ll hopefully be writing something about it soon). If that’s what BioWare is doing…wow. That’d be incredible. It would also be the ballsiest play ever, given the fan reaction so far. And if that was the BioWare plan, then they must have anticipated this reaction — so how long until they let us know what’s really going on?


On March 13, 2012 at 7:29 pm

Thanks for this article. It sums up the issues with the ending very well. I’m so tired of seeing other gaming sites just write it off the valid criticism as “gamer whining” and “entitlement” or “immature and wanting a happy ending”.


On March 13, 2012 at 7:33 pm

I especially love how Shepard, who is basically the ultimate idealist in this entire universe, the one guy who’s gung ho when everyone’s given up, the one guy who’s powerful/inspiring enough to end centuries old conflicts, create/destroy civilizations, conquer planets, etc. says like 2 or 3 things to this ing AI kid and basically says “Oh so I can do one of these 3 things? OK sounds good.” And then to top it all off you have no idea what’s become of characters that you not only watched develop for the last 5 years but actually had a part in how they were shaped. Oh but I guess to find that out you have to pay the 10 bucks for DLC.

This article perfectly sums up the rest of my gripes.


On March 13, 2012 at 7:36 pm

Great article, describes the situation very very well, good job !



On March 13, 2012 at 7:40 pm

Thank you for a very indept article of why most of us just hate the ending!

The game itself is brilliant and loved every second of it, till the last part, heh
As stated, over the course of the 3 games we have spend building our characters towards the end, good&bad, but after hours of cut scenes trough the 3 releases depending our choices, we only get:

shoot TIM befor he shoots anderson
shoot TIM after he shoots anderson
decide wich color people will hate for the next 1 million years after destroying half the galaxy as you have no option
Joker running away faster then he could make a joke
picture of a planet with some old fart saying that there was a shepard

oh yea, a nice popup saying your an hero and dumped back on the normandy befor attacking TIM`s base, wtf?!

I just wished there was an option to tell the AI kid “sod off & kill them all, this is to depressing…” with a nice movie with the reapers in battle with your “war assets” and winning.
Heck, even taking the normandy to ilos to use the mini relay to enter the citadel would have been a nice twist in the story as it was never destroyed :)

If this was some clever ploy for an “indoctrination” attempt so we would buy the REAL end as dlc, wich is not how the game was advertised, it would sure endup in game history as an epic example of fail.

Some think we want an happy ending, some think we want the entire end rewitten, wrong!
Wouldn`t care if my shepard will live or die, but a simple stupid dialog with 1 outcome and 1 choice with a static background 15sec story, are they mad?


On March 13, 2012 at 7:41 pm

Ross Lincoln you are my hero. Do you have a twitter handle I can follow or anything?


On March 13, 2012 at 7:45 pm

“followed by a nonsensical epilogue featuring a Grandfather and his grandson that almost seems to smugly imply that the gamers themselves were nothing but children who couldn’t fully understand these events. ”

And they’d be right. Look up Indoctrination Theory. Or better yet, just play the Destroy Ending and ask yourself if the “breathing” scene makes any sense.

Instead of just taking things at face value, and believing that the writing theme that had handled things so well suddenly forgot everything about the Mass Effect series to end it with space magic, ASK YOURSELF QUESTIONS!


On March 13, 2012 at 7:45 pm

Well said, and you’ve touched on many of the things that anger me about the ending we were delivered.

Jason Carter

On March 13, 2012 at 7:47 pm

You hit every single theme we are fighting for.

Bravo Ross Lincoln and bravo Gamefront!


On March 13, 2012 at 7:49 pm

This article times a BILLION.


On March 13, 2012 at 7:52 pm

Excellent story. It summed it up perfectly

Ross Lincoln

On March 13, 2012 at 7:53 pm

Hahah, thanks Ken. I’ve updated the page.!/Rossalincoln


On March 13, 2012 at 7:55 pm

Posted by Raven Snow on the BW forum, sums it up brilliantly in a vid :P


On March 13, 2012 at 8:01 pm

Thanks for this article. You’ve managed to sum up and express exactly what’s been bugging the fans about the ending better than anybody else. Much appreciated.


On March 13, 2012 at 8:03 pm

Good article! Thanks for writing!


On March 13, 2012 at 8:03 pm

Thank you Ross & Phil. A long read, but exactly right. I’m very glad to see this finally get some accurate coverage on a major gaming site. More power to you.


On March 13, 2012 at 8:04 pm

This article hits the nail on the head! Thank you!


On March 13, 2012 at 8:07 pm

Outstanding article. The people at IGN really could learn a few things from you.


On March 13, 2012 at 8:08 pm

THANK YOU!!!! Finally someone gets it! I’m tired of seeing all these other sites full of “gaming experts” completely brush off the issue we the fans have with the ending. This one article alone has put GameFront on the map for me. Consider me a member from here on out. :)

Will G

On March 13, 2012 at 8:10 pm

You hit the nail on the head. I can’t thank you enough for getting across what’s really being said by the fans.


On March 13, 2012 at 8:10 pm

Great job! I hope this article gets a lot of notice. It certainly summed up my feelings on the issue. I’m skeptical of this indoctrination theory..but it it’s true.. I owe the writers a nice card with bunnies, rainbows, hamsters, and generic happiness/warm fuzzies all over it.


On March 13, 2012 at 8:11 pm

Oh and another gripe, anyone notice that whether you’re shooting a giant tank, putting your hands on some wierd rods or jumping into a freaking beam, the energy gets dispersed in the same god damn formation (energy build up at the tip, lights going off on the wings, energy being released in a sphere? I mean how lazy can they be?

Oh and if you choose the destroy ending, you can see Shepard literally walking right towards the exploding tanks.


On March 13, 2012 at 8:13 pm

A happy ending is not automatically childish. A sad ending is not automatically mature. Being vague doesn’t make you profound, and if the first thing out of a developer or journalist’s mouth is that anyone who gets too involved in video games is a manchild, they probably are one themselves.


On March 13, 2012 at 8:14 pm

Just chiming in to say – that it’s refreshing to see such a well put together article on this issue. It encapsulates the major concerns of bioware’s customer base perfectly. Critical and Impartial games journalism! Bravo!


On March 13, 2012 at 8:15 pm

Imagine the mass relays, through use of Reaper tech, being reconstructed hundreds of years after the events of ME3. The Shepherd is worshiped as a galaxy-saving deity. Races throughout the galaxy have been endowed with new abilities through the Synthesis.

The story can begin with the first Mass Relay being tested between Earth and the utopian planet that the Normandy crash landed on, now populated and well developed by the varying species that rallied to the Liberation of Earth. Through the Synthesis, powerful eezo manipulation and hyperevolved biotics are commonplace, giving your new protagonist lightning fast movements, and gravity altering abilities on gargantuan scales.

The conflict could come from anywhere, but I think the best enemy always comes from the Lovecraftian “outside”. Perhaps a synthetic empire in nearby Andromeda took note of the Reaper cycle failing, and are alarmed by the prospect of a union between synthetic and organic life…

Aforementioned synthetic race could be the ones who created the AI that controls the Reapers. Their motive being to prevent the evolution of another synthetic race that could oppose them, thus solidifying their dominance for eternity. Wiping out ‘primitive’ organics before they can create such competition is the perfect plan. And now that the Milky Way’s inhabitants are part AI, they are able to combat this Andromeda race (I prefer the idea of them having created their own planet/station/ship in deep space from which they harvest all other near by galaxies).

That would explain the plot holes at the end of ME3 beautifully and reinstates the whole ‘bigger picture’ thing, which was lessened somewhat once we knew what the Reapers actually were. The Reapers are revealed to be the vanguard of the Synthetic fleet, which adds a whole new level of ‘epic’ and recreates that sense of insignificance that Shep had in ME1 when you find out that a rogue Spectre is the least of your worries.

Some people want a prequel from when Humans joined council space, I do not like the idea of First Contact War, I know some people want a smaller story this time but that simply isn’t mass effect, it needs scope. Plus aren’t we are all WAY to fond of Garrus and his Turian friends to start killing them? MMO/RTS/FPS are all terrible ideas, I honestly believe the only way for the series to go (And to keep the legend of commander Shepard alive) is the far future, thus the player really feels their actions in ME1/2/3 made a difference on a scale that they never could have predicted. They will see thousands of years worth of history laying out as a direct result of thier actions as Shepard.


On March 13, 2012 at 8:17 pm

Thank you! It’s so unfair the way most media has been covering Mass Effect 3 and the fans reactions. We were even flat out insulted by one of the editors from IGN! Oh sure they can post a notice that it’s his own personal opinion but they allowed him to host that video on their site. Bioware needs to read this article, if they don’t understand why we are upset this will clarify everything!

Evan Carden

On March 13, 2012 at 8:18 pm


Thank you.


On March 13, 2012 at 8:18 pm

This is EXACTLY how I feel. It isn’t the fact that the endings are sad that makes me want them to change it, heck I had a suion that Shepard would die in the end.

It’s all the reasons that you have stated here that results in the ending leaving a bitter taste in my mouth.

More people need to read this, I’m spreading it around.


On March 13, 2012 at 8:22 pm

This is an amazingly well-written and obviously thoughtfully considered article. You addressed all the main problems with the ending calmly and intelligently. More people need to see this. Bioware cannot gracefully ignore all this feedback.

You did good, son.


On March 13, 2012 at 8:24 pm

Thank you for this article. I really needed to see someone was listening to how people feel and compiling it into a intelligent opinion piece. I have been looking for this article for days.

Travis R

On March 13, 2012 at 8:25 pm

you sir hit the nails on the head , thank you


On March 13, 2012 at 8:25 pm

Some have noted this is the begining of the end, which yes I agree evidence is pointing this way (although not holding breath just in case…no more disapointment for me thanks…id rather be pleasantly surprised this time), there is a problem with the theory though……..they sold a game without the “real” ending…….and a lot of people don’t seem to have a problem with this if they did -_-. Bigger issue is it paid dlc or free????? if its paid then whats going on now is only the tip of a VERY big storm heading towards bioware and it will get very ugly if they ask fans to pay up for the ending…….


On March 13, 2012 at 8:26 pm

Wow, great article man, you nailed it :) , you just won a supporter for your site.

Sorry about my english.

mike vrona

On March 13, 2012 at 8:27 pm

You are correct that the ending is way too short and much to ambiguous, but you fail to understand that the whole final part is a dream of shepard. If you finish the game by choosing to destroy the reapers and you had had over 4000 assetst then you see shepard wake up in rumble where the laser beam nearly killed him. Thus the whole end part was a dream and that is why it made so little sense. It was really a mental battle for shepard avoiding indoctrination. They should have made this more obvious, but once you understand the whole ending was taking part in shepard’s unconscious you understand much of the problems you raised such as the boy, anderson, and the illusive man appearing. It is also why they say no one made it to the beam. No one really did.


On March 13, 2012 at 8:28 pm

Also to add to what i said…what about those that bout it that don’t have internet connection? Clearly some would buy this if they didn’t have the net because its mainly a sngle player experience whilst good multiplayer isnt the main feature, at least 2 of my friends would be some of those that got it for this reason what about them if they need to find a way to download the dlc to get the real ending????? Shafted isnt really the word id use……………


On March 13, 2012 at 8:29 pm

*pokes BioWare*

You listening? This is exactly what we’re trying to tell you! Great article!


On March 13, 2012 at 8:30 pm

This is a great article – a very well put together comprehensive list of issues expressed in a calm manner. I would only add form myself that one of the biggest things I expected form the end of the trilogy was a 3-in-1 plaything, to see all the story with all it’s different endings which is ultimately pointless now, and that just managed to destroy the whole ME experience completely.


On March 13, 2012 at 8:31 pm

Yep, you hit on every single thing that has upset people. Bravo.


On March 13, 2012 at 8:31 pm

Excellent article thank you.

Tim McFadden

On March 13, 2012 at 8:32 pm

Thank you! after reading on game site blog after another calling me and the VAST majority of the BioWare / Mass Effect fanbase whining little spoiled s, someone finally listened to what the fans where actually saying and stood by us. You have no idea how much this article means to me, Knowing that someone actually listen and understands fans is a massive boost to my low moral right now. thank you again!



On March 13, 2012 at 8:33 pm

If you bring your love interest in the final battle, you assume they die by the beam on earth and yet they magically appear with joker at the end …cmon

Lazy writing.

Also I think if they are going to mirror the Illusive Man to Saren(Indoctrinated /Killing himeself at the end) They should at least do it all the way and make him a final boss. Just an idea.. Make him fuse with the human reaper and you have shoot either the brain/heart to kill him (depending on if you saved/destroyed the collector base) you know so that choice in ME2 actually affected something…


On March 13, 2012 at 8:40 pm

Thank you for writing such an well informed and intelligent article on the outrage over the Mass Effect 3 endings. I absolutely agree on all the points you made and hope that bioware and ea will take notice and rectify the situation.


On March 13, 2012 at 8:44 pm

Sums it all up perfectly in a completely sane and calm manner. It just shocks me that this somehow got by a number of people who must make lots of money at their job to presumably stop things like this from happening. The errors, poor plot holes, and general confusing last minute drastic character trait changes must have been deliberate because you couldn’t mess up this bad and not have intended it to be on purpose.

Maybe this ending was made to set up future dlc/games/movies so they shoehorned things in just to make things fit for something else. But if that is the case its another slap in the face of people that spent hard earned money on a game that potentially could tell you that you need to spend even more money to get a satisfactory conclusion to. No, I can’t believe that, if games could start getting away with charging you extra just to let you see the true ending then the gaming industry is doomed. I have to believe that the ending was intended as is, with no secret plan to reveal more in the future. They messed up big time and the only reason they are staying quiet is because their gamble didn’t work and they are hoping that they can pull in a few extra million in sales before the house of cards collapses.

Halo 3 knew how to end a game on a sour note but still keep it enough in line with the rest of the game that you still felt ok with the ending. Even then it still allowed you to get that extra ending if you beat the game on Legendary and you find out that everything is alright in the world after all. If this game let you do that even if it meant beating it on the highest level with almost all of the war assets unlocked then people would have been forgiving. I don’t need a happy colorful ending, just one that gives me closure instead of confusion.

Now that I’m thinking of it I have a feeling the writer must have watched the end of “Inception” right before he wrote the end to this game and thought he could manage an equally ambiguous outcome and get away with it… sorry sir, you did not. In one we are questioning if its a dream and that question is intriguing. In the other we are hoping that its a dream because it would be an insult if it was anything other than that.

Toni Pop

On March 13, 2012 at 8:46 pm

I just can’t…God, every time i start thinking about this i feel so depressed.

Everything that’s been said here is entirely correct. I cannot understand why Bioware devs would be so oblivious to well written articles that point out the many obvious flaws in the ending, while promoting articles poorly written written by journalists that try to “excuse” and “explain” the ending.

As if that’s what our real problem is, that we just need a little more explaining until we finally “get it”. NO. We got it and it’s bad.

I feel offended and ignored, just like Shepard must have felt in that dreadful ending that literally raped his very being. I cannot bring myself to touch another ME game again, that’s how bad the ending was to me.

I guess the old saying is true – the taller you are the harder you fall.

There’s also been this awful a discussion about our “entitlement” to make demands on gaming companies, but really now, are gaming companies “entitled” to make a mockery of our emotional investment in their work???

There are people who have been devastated not only by the bad ending, but by the complete lack of reaction from Bioware devs. Just tell us something! Tell us that we’re wasting our time and the ending will never be changed. Tell us that you’re working on a DLC. Give us something to go on so we can get our closure with this series, good or bad.


On March 13, 2012 at 8:51 pm

You, sirs, have written a fantastic, well thought out argument. The only defense I can give to BioWare at this point is that they were required to put the game out on a certain release date, and they couldn’t finish the ending in time. Honestly it would be the scummiest move in a good while if they force you to pay more money for a DLC ending, but I would do it. The series is that good.

Final note that I haven’t noticed anywhere: I noticed in the credits that “Stargazer”, the grandpa talking in the final scene to the child, is voiced by Buzz Aldrin. Kind of cool.


On March 13, 2012 at 8:51 pm

This. Someone turn this into a letter and send it to Bioware!


On March 13, 2012 at 8:52 pm

honestly the games ending was bittersweet but after reading this you guys really helped me realize how we were robbed of an amazing experience we need a satisfactory ending ASAP or bioware is done my fellow gamers


On March 13, 2012 at 8:52 pm

This is great! One thing though, Mass Effect came out in Nov, 2007…


On March 13, 2012 at 8:53 pm

“What are your thoughts on the reaction to the game’s endings?

I didn’t want the game to be forgettable, and even right down to the sort of polarizing reaction that the ends have had with people–debating what the endings mean and what’s going to happen next, and what situation are the characters left in. That to me is part of what’s exciting about this story. There has always been a little bit of mystery there and a little bit of interpretation, and it’s a story that people can talk about after the fact.”

Well, sure won`t be forgettable and think there is enough debating about the end about what has happend with BW

Wish the interviewer asked what stuff she smokes, think we could use some aswell…


On March 13, 2012 at 8:54 pm

A well written article.

However I’m not entirely sure that people are wrong or ‘childish’ to actually want a happy ending.

As you yourselves wrote, these endings should be MUCH more unique than the three copy pasted clone endings, and I feel that if you’ve worked your butt off unifying the galaxy to fight this ultimate enemy, that you should be entitled to a little happiness at the end of it if you wish, as was the case at the end of the 1994 Spiderman series, but I digress.

In the issue of having a ‘rainbows and bunnies’ ending and a ‘doom and gloom’ ending (as arbitrary examples), I don’t think having one devalues the other, for I personally feel they should both be there. And as a person with multiple playthroughs, I for one, speaking for myself, DO want a rainbows and bunnies ending too.

I feel that it is a bit arrogant to assume aloud that all the players out here ONLY want an ending which makes sense, reguardless of the ultimate outcome with Shepherd as a character, when I think it is obvious that you haven’t read too many of the comments on Bioware poll pages, fan groups dedicated to Bioware giving an extra ending about just what they want out of it.

These issues aside, I still side with your post reguardless and hope it moves Bioware that little bit faster to serving the fans.


On March 13, 2012 at 8:54 pm

Thank you for actually having an idea what’s going on. Every other writer just dismiss our claims as whining.


On March 13, 2012 at 8:57 pm

Thank you for finding the words that I couldn’t. This is a very well crafted article that captures the essence of my(our) heartbreak over the game we’ve come to love.


On March 13, 2012 at 8:58 pm

I wish others would read this… in depth… the only possible OMG saving ‘I NEVER SAW THAT!!!’ kind of thing I’ve seen that could prove to be somewhat redeeming (should bioware glom onto it) is the theory that the ending choices are all in the midst of Shepard being indoctrinated.

Were this possible (albeit fan theoried) series of endings to be true I could see some minuscule redemption to the end of the game itself but again I don’t feel that Bioware/EA are that smart or considerate enough at this point beyond multiplayer given the holes in ME3 that you could drive the entire crew of twisted metal through.

Regardless again if nothing else, even if it’s just some fans trying to make the best possible situation up in their heads with what Bioware/EA has given us all in ME3 I’ll take it. –

Video Explaining the Endings which could lead to DLC fix —


On March 13, 2012 at 9:08 pm

This article hits every ing nail on the head perfectly. I liked the ending, to an extent. Did the ending make sense in one case? Sure, not all of the plot holes, but the END itself; mass relays destroyed, organics surviving with Shepard dead, sure. This is possible as one ending, but what about the other 15 endings?

@WASuggs, sure, we shouldn’t see a crap ton of super dooper ponies flying with everyone on the beach using the reapers as slides for the peach, endings. No, this would make me mad, but we deserve at LEAST one of these endings. You get 6k total war assets, you help the geth and quarians come to a compromise and save the Krogan and Turians from eventually killing each other, then we should get to see our shep with our LI doing what they always wanted.

It’s not even a matter of the endings anymore, it’s the fact that Bioware slapped us in the face with their own lies and they don’t seem to care enough to say “Hey, we ed up”


On March 13, 2012 at 9:10 pm

And I’ll go a little bit further to your statements. After reuniting the galaxy I was hoping to see the in action. How many geth did you see on Earth fighting alongside you? How many Armatures did you see attacking the reapers? How many Rachni warrioirs did you see fighting as well? How many mercs did you see? Do you remember the fact that it was repeated 3 or 4 times that Eclipse help would be invaluable… It was supposed that their mechs were going to poup on the reapers, and the vorchas killing mchines were excellent assests?… What about zaeed and his expert armies? What about Balak and his batarian army? I didnt see any of them neither in space nor in London. What the heck happened with my forces? When launching the final assault on Earth I got the same cutsecenes (with 10000 fleets) than a person with 5000+. I reunited everyone… Had you seen the specters fighting on Earth? What about the commandos or special forces you collected around the whole galaxy?. I was only able to see in space a fleet composed mainly by Turians and Quarians, the destiny ascension and a few asari ships. Where were for example my geth ships? I just saw a geth sitting in a pick? Dont know that happened with the rest (volus, hanar, drells?). When the fleets reported in… i only saw Turians, humans, quarians and a single geth reporting in. ????. Back on Earth, i only saw alliance soldiers, and a cutscene with a turian throwing a grenade, and a brief scene with a combine commando being wiped out. Not a single any other race… a lot but a lot of humans.. what was the point of reuniting the gañxy if you would never see the fleets or troops in action. They did excellent trailers but failed to show different cutscenes in game. Apart from everything you said i would add this. Since the attack on Cerberus nothing felt right. How in the hell could Cerberus recover teh damned human reaper when I killed it and blew to the sky high the collectors base???. Not possible, however i got a human reaper inside cerberus base. Not a replica… they said it clear, the left-over recovered from the base.. which base????. Many inconsitencies in the game from that mission and on.


On March 13, 2012 at 9:10 pm

Spot on article. I hated it when I read some G4 article that basically said the fans were “whiney” for demanding a new ending, especially when the writer admitted to not having finished the game. Even if you give us that nonsensical ending, at least give us some Dragon Age style epilogue of some kind. I mean what is the point of deciding to cure the genophage or not, or choosing between Geth and Quarians (or uniting them) if you don’t see any results of those choices? Even a paragraph of text about the aftermath would have helped, but they were too lazy even for that. Completing the ending felt like a slap in the face after 5 years of loving the franchise.


On March 13, 2012 at 9:12 pm

Excellent, well written article. It’s good to see that, along with the Forbes writers, real journalists exist in the gaming industry.


On March 13, 2012 at 9:13 pm

Thank you


On March 13, 2012 at 9:15 pm

Bioware seemed to forget in the last 5 mins of the game that they are writing an epic story. In the ending Shepard compromises and ultimately sacrifices the vast majority of the universe so a small minority can survive on the reapers terms,that is not a heroic sacrifice.

Xion Sempai

On March 13, 2012 at 9:15 pm

You are completely right with your post. Basically, the same things that i feel when i finish the game, are the thing that you wrote in your post. Biowere!! please, bring a new and full ending for ME3.
PD: Im mexican and i can barely speak spanish xD, and my english is very poor.


On March 13, 2012 at 9:18 pm

Extremely well said – the author has done the most complete job of summarizing the criticism’s of gamers like myself who have invested time and money in this most amazing story that we the player help shape. If only the rest of the so-called “gaming journalists” bothered to actually look at the issue they’d arrive at the same conclusions.

Mass Effect 3 was well on its way to being the most satisfying gaming experience of my life, and I’ve been around since Pong. But the last ten minutes completely unraveled it all and like so many I’ve lost some faith in Bioware……at least until they admit that everything after the blast was either hallucination or an attempt at indoctrination by the Reapers and we get some real closure.


On March 13, 2012 at 9:19 pm

This is an excellent article. It speaks to everything I think we, as fans, have issues with. BioWare, despite not having made any comment on the matter, has to know about the fan outrage to these endings. I’d like to see them step up and respond to this. I think this article is the best advocate I’ve seen for our case.


On March 13, 2012 at 9:21 pm

I don’t know what to say, really. Do I want a better ending? Yes. Do I want to pay 10 bucks for a better ending?


You nailed everything, but it just makes me feel worse. I can only say that the best ending I have for Shepard is the one where everyone dies in Mass Effect 2′s suicide mission. That’s it.


On March 13, 2012 at 9:23 pm

Thank you so much for writing this article in defense of those of us who feel this ending was a slap in the face.

Certainly there are those complaining who are being rude, unreasonable, etc. but most of us have very legitimate complaints about a product that we’ve invested a fair amount of money and a large amount of time and energy in.

Meanwhile, most responses to the fan outcry has ranged from blatant insults (calling fans whiny or stupid etc) to poorly hidden condescension (suggesting that fans are just so attached to the series that any ending would’ve made them unhappy).

Mass Effect is a story-based game. Choice and plot are what the focus of the game is. If an action game comes out and the last level the controls don’t work, fans would be in an outrage too (I’m told Force Unleashed sparked such outrage). We play Bioware games for story crafting; it’s what makes older, slower paced games like KOTOR still playable…because the plot/characters/choices we make are what matter. Majorly failing to deliver in the primary feature of the game is a huge issues.

Thanks again for the article!


On March 13, 2012 at 9:23 pm

THIS is what we fans have been saying, exactly. And this article so poignantly and wonderfully summed up the argument, better than any of us could have done. Thank you for this article. I shall spread this article.


On March 13, 2012 at 9:23 pm

Bless you for writing this article. It’s so nice to see someone in the gaming media write a respectful, articulate piece on the ending and the fans’ reaction to it. Bravo!

Phil Hornshaw

On March 13, 2012 at 9:24 pm


On happy endings: You’re right, wanting a happy ending isn’t, itself, childish. What we’re getting at is more that we don’t think that fans, by and large, want to alter what is BioWare’s creative vision of the game — and that may well be to have a down ending. Part of the problem with the arguments about the whole issue are that they’re being simplified down to a group of people merely unhappy that the ending wasn’t upbeat — and if a person can’t see the merit of a story ending sad, even if they’d prefer it was happy, that could be considered childish. Either way, where we’re aiming at is to dispel the idea that it’s the emotional response driving the outcry against the ending, because there are really a lot more things wrong here than the ending just not being happy enough.

So noted, we didn’t mean to call anybody’s feelings about the story childish, definitely.

Walther von Stolzing

On March 13, 2012 at 9:26 pm

A note about the ‘inevitable’ destruction of Mass Relays:

‘Developing along predetermined paths’ vs. ‘making one’s own path’—-that’s a recurrent theme of the series, and not just about the reapers. Practically every civilization in the galaxy believes it alone really knows what’s best for everyone else: they try to ‘engineer’ entire species in what they think is the ‘right direction’ (the genophage; even the Protheans ‘teaching’ the Asari); or they try to suppress the slightest claim to self-determination that they don’t know how to deal with (Quarians-the Geth).

You could say that the relationship between Miranda and her father is just a variation on this theme. (The name ‘Miranda’ can’t be arbitrary, by the way; it’s from Shakespeare’s ‘the Tempest’, where you have her father Prospero the ‘magician’ creating a dreamlike world for his daughter, so that she grows up ‘in the right way’)

Yet the mass relays, and the Citadel open up unlimited possibilities for the civilizations of the galaxy—-I really don’t see why m. relay-travel should ‘constrain’ a civilization to a strictly pre-determined path, turning it into a puppet of the reapers. The Protheans use the technology for conquest, and imperial ‘unity’; in ‘our cycle’, at least the Paragon Shepard goes to show that inter-species understanding, and peace is possible.

And why shouldn’t we master the technology of the relays, and make it our own? Are the present-day French puppets of the Romans, and should they forget their language and adopt whatever celtic dialects were spoken in the region before the ‘romanization’, if they want to be ‘free’?

There’s nothing emancipatory about blowing up the entire network; but that’s really a minor detail, compared to even greater plot holes that this leads to……


On March 13, 2012 at 9:27 pm

Its not just their ‘GAME’…… it belongs to everyone who plays it.just because they made it does not mean they own the “mass effect universe” think of it this way……your country…you might not be in a position to make executable decisions about it,but that does not mean its any less yours as it is to someone who does.


On March 13, 2012 at 9:27 pm

Thank you for the well written article. When I finished the game yesterday afternoon, I can attest that almost every single one of the points you brought up ran through my head during the credit roll.

If expecting a game billed as a conclusion to the trilogy actually contain a conclusion and if expecting a game that was based on player choice and morality being relevant throughout the series to continue that trend through to the VERY end is being “entitled”, then I guess I am. Because what we got out of the ending was completely out of character with the first two games and 99% of the third, made no sense, created more holes than any other story arc in all three games, failed to deliver the overarching premise of the franchise, and was completely unsatisfying.

When I finished ME1, I immediately went into a second playthrough. Ditto for ME2. I ended up playing ME1 six times and ME2 four times. I can’t even bring myself to play a new game+ on ME3 beyond the initial Earth sequence. I don’t even want to play multiplayer right now.


On March 13, 2012 at 9:27 pm

This is a great article. Thanks for representing the fans accurately and not trying to make us look like little kids.


On March 13, 2012 at 9:28 pm

Thank you, you summed up my feeling’s exactly with everything I felt was wrong with ME3′s ending.
IGn’s video on the subject was complete and utter bs just some nobody with an elitist complex who raced through the game, I’ve been with ign since it started and a prime member for many of it’s years but consider me the newest permanent member of GameFront be nice to join a place with bloggers like you.

Jenny V.

On March 13, 2012 at 9:30 pm

Mister Lincoln, thank you for writing this. This series meant so much to me for so long, espousing virtues of hope against hopelessness, freedom against mindlessness, standing together rather than standing apart..and the ending gave me nothing resembling any of that. It simply gave me a mild case of soul-sickness from which I’m still trying to recover.

You’ve beautifully elucidated the reasons for my emotions, which weren’t entirely clear even to me until I saw this post. Live or die, I wanted my Shepard to feel good about the ending, but in that last moment, I walked away from the game with no intention of ever playing any of the Mass Effect series again.

I’m reminded of a conversation my Shepard had with the Prothean Jarvik on the Normandy. In that conversation, Jarvik spoke of his Memory Stone, telling Shepard that it enabled him to relive all of the love and beauty of his past, but it also held all of the pain and depravity that followed. He then asked Shepard if she would use such a stone, experiencing the beauty if it meant experiencing the pain. I told him yes, of course I would; the beauty was worth the pain. I made a liar of myself.


On March 13, 2012 at 9:32 pm

I am going to be so p*ssed if we find out that this was some joke by the writers at bioware and that they either make a DLC with a new or expanded ending or just a patch.


On March 13, 2012 at 9:33 pm

Since the beginning I have been very fond of the ME universe, the relationships I have built with my team, and the Shepard that i have customized into my own. I have never been so exited for a game in my life. I have shed tears for the artistic moment in all three games.
When i beat ME3, I was overcome with a feeling of massive disappointment. I felt like the writing for the ending had been very rushed, and slapped together with no one to say it was no good. Not just plot holes, but the overall lack of accomplishment I felt was depressing. ME1 and ME2 truly made me feel as though I had beaten the odds and deserved a pat on the back. ME3′s ending left me with questions, and disappointment.
I think the majority of gamers aren’t asking for the traditional “happy ending”. We are just asking for some closure. I wont list all the questions being raised, but I believe Bioware is better than this, they know they are better than this, and I know the fans deserve better than this.

Jeremy Cooper

On March 13, 2012 at 9:35 pm

Nicely put my good man. I think everyone here would understand if Shepard had to die i mean come on he is the hero of the galaxy. Heros are normaly considered heros because they made that ultimate sacrifice that few would make. I just want it to make sense i want to understand how and why things happened the way they did. Is that honestly to much to ask of a game ive been playing over the course of 7 years? Especially one that IMO is one of the best if not the best trilogy ever.


On March 13, 2012 at 9:36 pm

This is a very thorough, well thought out, funny article. I need some humor after the ending of Mass Effect 3.

For me, the most disappointing element of the ending is the lack of closure. I’m fine with there being no “perfect” ending where everyone lives happily ever after – I get that that isn’t plausible. I just want to see some of what happens AFTER these galaxy shaking events.

Does Earth ever truly recover? Can we see Wrex with his kids? If we chose Synthesis, do Joker and EDI have babies? How do all these fleets get home or do they at all? Does the galaxy build new Mass Relays? WHAT THE HECK HAPPENS!? I feel no sense of closure in a game that was supposed to conclude a trilogy.


On March 13, 2012 at 9:39 pm

Great article that sums it all in easily readable (better than reading thousands of forum posts) and understandable form for even those who havent played games even though I don’t know how many of them will bother reading it. Good journalism better than few that have mostly just insulted fans without even trying to understand what this is about.

You could have touched hallucination theory too. I don’t really belive in it, but it is pretty interesting. And problem with it, if ending was just an hallucination where is our real ending? Did we just buy book that misses last pages that are crucial to the plot. And when do we get those pages and do we have to pay for them, if we do is that really right way to do bussiness? Sell book that should end trilogy and later say “oh by the way if you really want to read how it ends you need to buy this too.” I will pay for dlc if it changes the endings, but that still I think it should be free.

I have over 10 bioware games. Till now I have trusted them to make entertaiment that I enjoy. Now that trust, brand loyalty is at stake. I know that bioware probably wont make statement yet because they are still trying to sell the game and making it would be admitting that there is something wrong with it.. and bioware usually does not give information if it may change in future so they are still probably discussing their options, but they have to make it pretty soon longer it takes more fans they lose.

Funny how pretty much best ending in the game is letting TIM shoot you before the talk with the starchild and final choice.


On March 13, 2012 at 9:41 pm

People have invested hours into playing this game. They should at least be rewarded with an ending that is equal to the time spent.

So when will the, “True and Justified” ending patch be coming out?


On March 13, 2012 at 9:43 pm

Yes, yes, yes. Thank you. Someone in the dedicated games press finally listens to the fans instead of misrepresenting and mocking their complaints. You’ve earned new readers today.


On March 13, 2012 at 9:44 pm

Such a well written article that not only lists the reasons the ending was so flawed but why. I was loving the game right until I was hit with the beam. From that point on I was thinking how depressing the game just got, especially when I got onto the Citadel and realized everyone was probably killed that didn’t escape before the arms closed. All those people I thought I had been helping all of sudden slaughtered. Then the Catalyst and its very lacking reasons for doing what it does. Finally ending with me being able to pick from 3 terrible choices that all end with the relays destroyed. I really hope that the indoctrination theory going around comes to be true. Otherwise it really kills any motivation of wanting to play ME3 or the ones before it ever again. Oh and not seeing most of the war assets in the final battle at all was very disappointing as well.

John C

On March 13, 2012 at 9:55 pm

Thank you thank you thank you.

Exactly right. Thank you.


On March 13, 2012 at 10:02 pm

Thank you! Finally! A reviewer who 1) actually finished the game and 2) understands our main complaint. I cannot even begin to describe my frustration with journalists who bag on the fans because they dislike the ending. They say “Well, I haven’t finished the game but [insert Bioware ass-kissing here].

I had 10 Shepards ready to go because I was promised that not only would my choices matter, but they would impact the end of the story. I felt lied to and betrayed. I don’t want nor was I expecting a happily-ever-after ending. What I wanted, and what they failed to deliver, was closure.

I loved the rest of the game. This ending that they thought was bloody brilliant and memorable killed it for me. I don’t even want to go back and play ME1 or ME2 because it all feels pointless.

Jim P

On March 13, 2012 at 10:04 pm

Outstanding article, sir! For me, the response from the other type of internet contrarian, that it’s just “sour grapes” over not getting a “happily ever after” is insult to injury. It’s nice to read something from an author that has an understanding of the franchise, what was promised, expected and not delivered. I have said elsewhere that playing Mass Effect 3 feels like playing an extremely long game of chess, getting your opponent in-check and having that opponent flip the board over on you. You said it far more eloquently. Thank you.

James S

On March 13, 2012 at 10:08 pm



On March 13, 2012 at 10:09 pm

Bravo gentlemen. A well written article that sums this entire fiasco up perfectly.

Taylan E

On March 13, 2012 at 10:14 pm

All I can say is THANK GOD someone in the media can actually understand our frustration and sadness over the ending.

I wish more people would look at this article and understand , we do not whine for a Happy-ever-after ending. We want the endings we worked for and decided for ourselves.

Ignoring this problem won’t make it go away…instead it will cost Bioware their loyal customers like me. I bought all 3 games , last 2 being Deluxe editions. I also have SWTOR , Jade Empire , KOTOR 1 , Dragon Age : Origins , DA2 and their DLCs….

But after this let down… I can’t bring myself to buy any Bioware game again. My trust and enjoyment of their games came to a halt….If they can mess up such a great trilogy in the end in 5-10 mins… I shudder to think what they will do in their future games…


On March 13, 2012 at 10:20 pm

YES! Finally someone that can see past all the bs


On March 13, 2012 at 10:24 pm

Excellent article that (for once) perfectly sums up the nonsense that BioWare has given us. As someone said in a forum thread “We’ve been given a sandwich and we get to choose what kind of bread it’s on”. Even that’s a bit generous in my opinion.

It’s really been amazing how the media (generally) have reported this whole thing. I suspect that most of the unfavorable articles or blog posts were written by people who either hadn’t finished the game or just never bothered to pick it up at all. Idiots.

Walther von Stolzing

On March 13, 2012 at 10:25 pm

This article, and this video are the best articulations of the problem at hand:

Please forward/’tweet’/whatever these links; every interested party (who can read and write) should see them.


On March 13, 2012 at 10:25 pm

More people need to see this fantastically written article which elegantly fleshes out my frustrations which I would never have taken the time to reflect on and write a well written article.


On March 13, 2012 at 10:30 pm

At last, someone who doesn’t see the complaints as “we want a shiny happy ending”. The majority of us don’t. It’s that we want an ending to Mass Effect 3 instead of the ending to some completely different game, with a Mass Effect skin thrown over it (now available in red, green or blue).


On March 13, 2012 at 10:37 pm

Thank you for this awesome article. It succinctly describes my primary issues with ME3. Until the ending, I was walking around like a little Bioware salesperson shouting about how awesome the game was because it so closely understood my personal thought processes. Not only did Joker work in a subtle little Hunt for Red October reference, but Liara verbatim quoted me when she stated that archaeologists do not study dinosaurs, “that’s paleontology” (I am an archaeologist, not just some whiny fan girl). Due to the ending, my affect so drastically shifted that even my non-geek co-workers noticed and were shocked by the fluctuation. Having been duped previously by Bioware in the form of KOTOR 2 and a non-existent ending, I feel like a moron for even attempting the Mass Effect franchise. However, I hold out hope that Bioware employees will read articles like this and recognize that they have participated in audience assassination of the acutest kind. Upon that realization, perhaps they will redeem their reputation by making good on their promises.


On March 13, 2012 at 10:39 pm

Very nice. An excelent resume of what went wrong with that game.


On March 13, 2012 at 10:40 pm

Can somebody get Douchebag Hipster Moriarty from IGN to come here and take a look? Or are the reasons discussed here too mature for his


On March 13, 2012 at 10:44 pm

All of my Yes for this Article. This is EXACTLY why I didn’t like the ending of Mass Effect 3.


On March 13, 2012 at 10:45 pm

This is an awesome and professional article that address all the issues that we as fans have been stating. It is extremely satisfying that our displeasure is catching the attention of and being voiced by major channels and not just confined to the BSN forums or the occasional random video on youtube. Bravo.


On March 13, 2012 at 10:47 pm

Thanks, Man

I couldn’t agree more. I’m frustrated with the entitlement bull-crap the other media sites have been writing. Again, thank you so much for voicing our concerns and feelings regarding the ME3 endings,


On March 13, 2012 at 10:50 pm

Really impressive article, and I don’t doubt you took the words out of many fans’ mouths. As much as I’d like to see a different ending (Little Blue Babies FTW), Bioware doesn’t HAVE to follow through. It was a good ending, just not for a series based completely on different outcomes and attaching the player to the characters and universe in general. I guess we’ll see.


On March 13, 2012 at 10:53 pm

This was an astute and well-written summation of several significant flaws in the Mass Effect 3 ending. I admire your eloquence.

I was personally shocked and then appalled at the incomprehensibility of several plot points, particularly the fate of the Normandy and the ultimate explanation for the reapers. The introduction of technophobia as the axis on which the reaper cycle turns was philosophically jarring after all of Shepard’s encounters with EDI, Legion, and the rest of the non-heretic Geth. And having that viewpoint, which I disagree with, forced upon me in the 11th hour was frustrating, to put it mildly.

The shackles strapped onto Shepard by the godchild are contrary to the spirit of player choice and player determination that epitomize the 2.95 games worth of Mass Effect that I had played through before that incongruous final moment.

I feel that the ending is a non sequitur, and as such, not a well-designed ending for Mass Effect. So I hope that Bioware decides to expand upon the ending with an alternative scenario and/or outcome that makes actual sense and doesn’t fly in the face of the story they had been telling for the preceding 100+ hours.

Kitty Mills

On March 13, 2012 at 10:54 pm

Thank you SO MUCH for this excellent article. I’m tired of being told to just suck it up & that bioware doesnt owe us anything… I honestly feel like they have let themselves down with this end to the franchise.

The Mass Effect universe is AMAZING. I have loved all the games with a passion – I ADORED ME3… right up until the last 10 minutes. I’m not even a gamer, play no other games, but I just loved being part of an interactive story. Kind of a ‘choose your own adventure’ book that I used to love as a kid.

The ending left me with so many questions and no closure at all. I know that BioWare really wanted a game that would get people talking & that people would remember for a long time after they played it, but the whole thing has left a sour taste in my mouth. I was all set for multiple play-thrus with multiple Shepards for hours more enjoyment… now, what would be the point? I barely even want to look at my game, only that I already miss my characters.

Noah Mullette-Gillman

On March 13, 2012 at 11:01 pm

Thank you! Point #2 was what really bothered me. The moral of the game, all the way through was that people of different races, sexes, sexualities, could all live together and respect their differences.

When we reconciled the Geth and the Quarians we PROVED that organics and synthetics could live together.

So what’s the moral? If you have 2 different groups, one must either destroy, enslave, or join. There can be no respect for the diversity of other cultures. Crappity crappity crap!

Ryan K.

On March 13, 2012 at 11:13 pm

Extremely interesting read–easily the best case for “the ending sucked” I have read. You had me, except for #2: the one about tossing themes out the window. I agree that it does seem to sideline those themes, but I also think that’s an extremely effective narrative move. Through 100+ hours over 3 games, we’re made to think our choices matter. The implications of our power as Shepard get grander and grander over time–first stalling the reapers, last uniting every race in the conflict-ridden galaxy against them. We think there’s nothing an individual with enough motivation and “leadership potential” can do.

And then we learn something very different.

We can affect seemingly everything–interpersonal relations, interplanetary relations, the role of government, the galaxy’s definition of life, the existences of entire civilizations. We can even delay our own demise against all odds. But, we cannot prevent it.

The Catalyst uses “synthetic v. organic” as the reason it implemented its “solution,” but that also resonates well in alternative form: creation v. creator. That conflict arises from an increasingly self-aware creation, and one that learns the nature of its creator. It would seem proof that one was “created” by another makes one resent their creator as evidence against their own free will. That’s why we aren’t harvested until we reach a “pinnacle” of intellect. Before we discover the nature of the Catalyst, it has to kill us. That has implications in the real world, especially regarding spirituality. Think about humanity and divinity.

So, I’m with you in that I want answers to the Joker and crew question. But, I think the real “problem” with the ending is that it represents an outrageously abrupt shift in philosophy from humanism to fatalism–and that could easily make a lot of people really uncomfortable.


On March 13, 2012 at 11:15 pm

This really is an example of the “Rocks fall from the roof, everybody dies” style of ending a story. If another ending doesn’t make itself known there are going to be a lot of pissed off Bioware fans refusing to buy future games.

Kyle W

On March 13, 2012 at 11:18 pm

Thank as all the others have said. Thank you *especially* for making ‘Player Choice’ your #1 reason. Since the day the game came out I’ve been arguing that the ending violated what we had been promised again & again, that this game was where our choices mattered more than ever before. We were told that we would have “Wildly Divergent” endings that would provide closure. That is SO far off the mark of what happened it makes it almost difficult to believe that the Hallucination/Indoctrination theory isn’t true.


On March 13, 2012 at 11:18 pm

This, this, a THOUSAND times THIS. You’ve summed up my problems with the ending perfectly, problems that no amount of empty platitudes or rationalizations can banish from my mind. Thank you!

I fought HARD for unity, for peace, for cooperation, and instead I got a railroaded forced choice that forced me to do something grotesquely out of character… in exchange for an absurdly ambiguous video clip that raised more questions than it answered? And I’m supposed to just forget the Geth and EDI and all of that, forget that the Reapers have been held up as the greatest evil ever, forget that anything that controls something that evil is probably lying to me anyway, and accept that none of those obvious concerns matter because the series is suddenly an “epic”? Forget important concerns like internal consistency?

This isn’t what I paid for. This isn’t what I was promised.

This wasn’t a victory, it was a shell game. I feel cheated, and it HURTS.

Hold the line, people!

Jason Ericson

On March 13, 2012 at 11:25 pm

Incredible, triumphant article. Beautifully sums up every problem that I think anyone has had with these endings. Bravo.

One point I will play devil’s advocate on: it’s possible that, when Casey Hudson was talking about “the ending”, he was referring to the entire third game as a whole. And it’s true that the game varies wildly depending on the choices you’ve made in the first two. Up until the *very* end of course, when it all falls apart.


On March 13, 2012 at 11:29 pm

This is the best-articulated and well-written explanation of what is wrong with ME3′s ending. Thank you!


On March 13, 2012 at 11:35 pm

I agree with just about everything stated here, lack of context, lack of consistency, etc etc. Except for the arguments about the Synthesis ending, in that I found it to be the culmination of what Shepard tries to do in uniting the galaxy together, bringing them together with something they share then just the prevailing Reaper threat or Shepard’s charisma, while still retaining their own uniqueness and individuality.

Dr Apehs

On March 13, 2012 at 11:38 pm

Thank you Mr. Lincoln! Very well put. And how is ME3′s ending any different from Deus Ex: Human Revolution?


On March 13, 2012 at 11:43 pm

Thank you for writing this article. I wish that Bioware would read this and see the time and effort you put into it and have it inspire them to rectify what they have given to the gaming community.


On March 13, 2012 at 11:44 pm

Exactly! All that… EXACTLY!


On March 13, 2012 at 11:57 pm

This is exactly what I am feeling. In every bit of my thoughts after finishing the game. I felt robbed and you conveyed all the reasons I had for feeling that way. In the end it didn’t feel like Shepard. He was half dead but still it didn’t feel like him.


On March 13, 2012 at 11:58 pm


ME3 former fan

On March 14, 2012 at 12:13 am

Finally a GOOD game reviewer points these errors out!!! honestly, if your going to make a game as expansive as Mass Effect (series) and end it, DON’T LEAVE PLOT GAPS… I cannot stresss how annoying it is to be left on a cliff hanger… is there any hope for the Protheans? Where are the Turians? What the hell happens to Javik (if he survived to the complete illogical endings)? Geth if you side with them? Quarians and Geth? if you find peace? Asari empire what happened?! Romance? What the hell was it all about? (more fan complaint) WTF WAS TALI’S FACE LIKE!!!!!

GameFront thank you for providing a good summary of the core issues I felt about this pathetic game


On March 14, 2012 at 12:16 am

This is the greatest piece of writing on the subject I think you will see. It hits the nail on the head with all the issues of the ending and why fans are so dissapointed with bioware.

Mass Effect 3 is an amazing game up until the last 10min, the ending really does not make any sense and i’m not talking about who lives or dies or if the crew of the normandy all live happly ever after stuck on that planet and the other massive plot holes all through the end. (I still would like to know the answer to these questions but thats up to bioware I guess.)

The biggest issue I have with the ending is that it just don’t make sense in the grand scheme of things in the whole mass effect universe.
Bioware in the last 5 years has realised one of the most complete and amazing fictional sci-fi universes, along with the science, races, and govenments that make people belive in the characters and narrative. Why would they end it like this and effectively kill off huge chunks of any future stories games books etc after this date. (In game date that is)

For example the relays are what this entire franchise is based on, races using them to travel round the galaxy. There is no replacing them in the distance future so unless the next mass effect story is based 50000 in the future from the end of mass effect 3 when maybe they have been rebuilt the galaxy will be a very boring place compared to now.
I just cant understand why bioware would limit and destroy the universe that they have built. Forget the art in it or making a point or just to piss off the fans. Unless they plan to retire the whole franchise as it stands or limit it to prequels which lets face it are rubbish compared to the original work they can’t improve or build on the galaxy that they have created as they have just removed one of the key elements within this galaxy and lets face it effect almost every other plot point of interest.

I reckon there is still lots more to come from mass effect 3. (I HOPE) The only shame is EA will make us pay through the nose for it all.


On March 14, 2012 at 12:19 am

Thank you for this well written article. It covers all of my major concerns for the player choice, closure, last minute paradoxical philosophy and seemingly lack of effort to differentiate endings.

Just hope someone in Bioware can “calibrate” it.


On March 14, 2012 at 12:22 am

They should look Fallout 3 and new vegas how to display the results of your choices. And totally revamp the ending to something sensible.


On March 14, 2012 at 12:24 am

Good article. I’m glad you put in the time and effort to really do the research on what fans were concerned about, and then to present it fully over five pages. Bravo.


On March 14, 2012 at 12:31 am

Alot of people think those of us upset with the ‘ending’ are upset because we had expectations that were not met, or we wanted a ‘happy’ ending.

The honest truth is this: We wanted an ENDING.

What we got is someone reaching over our shoulder and hitting the power button when there’s still more of the ‘movie’ to watch.

The ‘good’ ending is everything the poster/article writer sayd, but with a ‘bonus’ 4 second shot of what is beleived to be Sheaperd laying ontop of rubble suddenly takeing a deep breath… then it ends.

Black screen and your greeted with that “Dont forget to buy DLC” message.

Thats not an ‘ending’, thats a cheep and underhanded sales-pitch / money-grab to get us to believe that we’ll now have to BUY the rest of the ending after already purchasing not 1, but 3 games.

It could have ended with a sceen of Sheapards love-interest/friends finding his chared corps ontop of the rubble, then some other cutsceen shoing every civilization looking around at suddenly dead reapers and the wreckage of mass relays falling from the sky / floating threw space. It could have had some sort of short movie like is at the end of ME2 were you see people beginning to rebuild and most of us would have been happy. Atleast that would have shown ‘something’ of what happend after your final choice.

But that dosnt happen, there is no ‘ending’, the story simply stops as if someone ripped the last 10 pages out of the final book of “The Wheel of Time” book series.

That is what we are upset about.

Do we like the ending?…….. what ending?


On March 14, 2012 at 12:34 am

Great article.
However, I don’t really see why people think the indoctrination/hallucination theory makes the ending any better. Even if Bioware were to release ending DLC (free, or they can go to hell), that wouldn’t make them “brave” or “great writers”. It would make them lazy for rushing this product and not giving us a good ending in the first place.

Plus I highly doubt that these indoctrination/hallucination endings are true. People are desperately holding onto straws. For example, people think that the bad textures of the piles of bodies on the Citadel were done on purpose as a reference that it’s all a dream.
No, those are just bad textures by Bioware. Similar to the running animation they gave to Anderson and Shepard.

If Bioware releases free DLC with the true ending within a week, then I would have to give them some credit for trying out something new. Any longer then that and they could’ve decided that going with the hallucination/indoctrination theory was their best chance of fixing this mess and they can simply pretend it was their idea all along.

But stop calling Bioware ballsy and great writers based on some theory that hasn’t been proven and even if it turns out to be true, it would only mean that Bioware is lazy and ME3 was rushed. Plus the ending of ME3 should’ve been planned before ME1 was even released and not during the development of ME3.

Google the “Dark Energy” ending. That ending was created during ME2 and makes a lot more sense than the current ending.

Nicolas Jones

On March 14, 2012 at 12:38 am

After reading several “journalists” (Kotaku, IGN, others) sling insults at very calm, rational, passionate fans who want a better ending, this analytical breakdown of the myriad of problems the ending (singular) has is quite refreshing.

Here’s hoping Bioware is listening, because count me in as one of those less than satisfied.

Matthew M Brown

On March 14, 2012 at 12:45 am

My two points:

1. You’re amazing in all of this (but quick change the first date from 2005 to 2007)
2. I would really drive home that we see nothing of our other beloved characters. Have a big battle and show them all die for all I care, but we should see our damn war assets that we worked so hard to build up!


On March 14, 2012 at 12:46 am

A few points Bioware should have developed and my personal ideas…

1.- Reaper’s raison d’etre was to wipe out the most powerful organic races every 50k years… ¿To prevent them from building sinthetic life that will ultimately destroy organic life? I think that deserved at least 5 mins of conversation and a kick-ass monologue of it. Something like organic life is condemmned to destroy itself because they’re arrogant, ruthless, selfish, xenophobic and incapable of preserving its own homeworld. That Reapers once were like the geth and cooperated with them and seen countless of organic civilizations killing each other (and other sinthetic), destroying planets, stars and even whole systems; and at some point, organics were so powerful that they colonized more than 1% of the galaxy and waged war against them and nearly lose it. And that’s the reason they changed, evolved their preservation protocol to wipe out organics. And at some point, lost their purpose to exist because they couldn’t learn from organic lifeform like EDI. But now, every race in galaxy organic or not can co-exist (example: council races, they need each other to survive) and can find its own balance that reapers helped to that purpose (after countless “cycles”) but now they dont have any reason to exist anymore and be destroyed (or co-exist -add more ending posibilities here-).

2.- “Sinthetic will always kill its creators” with that premise you can have several ending posibilities and plot twist depending on your choices too. Like: “Well, all sinthetics must die. It was nice while it lasted, good bye EDI”. Or other where crucible only affects reapers depending if you choose to save quarians and geth, or kill geth if you doomed the quarians. So many possibilities…

3.- Joker should land on earth, but hell, theres no more reapers.

4.- Relays destroyed or not. That could be affected if you saved collectors base, moral standing, friends alive… lot of things. Making other races: a.- Return to their homeworld; b.- Be destroyed in the battle leaving earth to humanity; c.- Fight themselves for earth; d.- Wander in space for a planet to colonize; d.- Make a new interracial “Flotilla”… LOT of possibilities. Personally, watching turians, krogans, asari, geth, quarians, and even batarians and whatever race you allied killing each other for survival on earth… EPIC

5.- Sheppard should’ve impregnated a love interest that you carried from ME1.

Its 2:44 AM and have to sleep… Hope they change/add something to the finale… we dont deserve this… the greatest trilogy humanity has ever seen deserve it.


On March 14, 2012 at 12:47 am



On March 14, 2012 at 12:57 am

Thank you for genuinely listening to what the the fanbase’s concerns are and not just blithely dismissing us as “entitled brats”. Great article.


On March 14, 2012 at 1:03 am

I would like to thank you for not being a deable cretin to upset fans over this. Your article was very well written and comprehensive in illustrating why there is frustration with the ending of Mass Effect 3. Good work, and again, thanks for not treating players like garbage for having “entitlement issues.”


On March 14, 2012 at 1:05 am

@Gareth: Yes, the Mass Effect relays are prominent in the game, but some seem to forget that there is a smaller, fully functioning relay inside the Citadel itself. With some of the brightest minds in the galaxy stranded on Earth, it is not unfeasible that its secrets could be discovered and replicated.

The Protheans are cast as the most technologically advanced race outside of the Reapers, and yet humanity managed to build the Crucible off their version of the plans that had been passed to them (a monstrous structure that is portrayed in game as the most complex device humanity has ever constructed).

Aside from that, while I understand why people are upset about the endings, I cannot understand the level of rage it has brought. Additionally, some things that are being pointed out as plot holes just…aren’t. Yes, the ‘destruction’ option is shaded the color of Renegade but…really…the Reapers are telling you one of the options is to totally destroy them. Of course they would portray that option as a ‘bad’ option.

Or the fact that the assembled fleets are now stranded in the Sol system. So? Yes, they will all likely die, but assuming you played The Arrival DLC for Mass Effect 2, it wouldn’t be the first time Shepard has condemned hundreds upon thousands of people to death in an effort to ensure the Reapers are defeated. Stopping the Reapers was repeatedly shown, throughout the entire series, as a ‘whatever it takes’ proposition.


On March 14, 2012 at 1:08 am

Same endings are a FULL SHAME, the only difference is that in control the Citadel is not destroyed but only closes, all Mass Relays explode, even with the non super nova effect make all the help earth got is payed with YOU and Stay HERE FOR EVER, Uber insult.

Also the Catapyst should not call himself like that, that was the name Proteans call it as the IA that control the citadel and reapers, An end thatw ill shepard do will be say YOU 3 choices, Manage to get Joker on the comm and tell him to go pick him up and then put a tmer bomb on the conduit to asure the explosion of the conduit will make all explode and he and the rest of the fleet be far away at their proper system. then blow up the conduit and ashre all mass relays are gone but no one got left stranded.

Why make 3 ends in all of them all explode and shepar id dead? even the destroy (red) ends if you end perfet game you see the body of shepard breath like is alive iven if his implants are gone but HOW AND WHERE? the citadel explode, where is hi alive to burn again entering to earth atmosphere?

One end should be all destro and he dies, ok! i got that, another end should be he became himself and A.I. and take the role of the guardian and stop the reapers as he controles them, and just do not blow up any mass relay and just become the new guardian. Even mby take later a full synt body.

and ofc and end in the syntesis is done, all life become part synthetic so no fully synthetic life is on and all live in peace.


On March 14, 2012 at 1:09 am

Thank you for writing this. You succinctly outline everything I felt was wrong about Mass Effect 3′s ending and put it into a presentable form. The thematic contradictions, the plot holes, the lack of choice, and the bizarre presentation. You nailed all of it. Even the part about the Reaper’s Selfishness that few other people picked up on. (I love how it contrasts with Legion’s sacrifice and Edi’s willingness to sacrifice herself).

“The third principle of sentient life is the capacity for self-sacrifice” – Babylon 5.


On March 14, 2012 at 1:13 am

Well written article. Kudos to you.


On March 14, 2012 at 1:26 am



Askar Biggins

On March 14, 2012 at 1:32 am

Potential Spoilers:

I watched my girlfriend cry at the end of Mass Effect 3. The rest of the game leading up to the finale was extremely well-crafted and, in most ways, the best of the series. Then she hit the end and her emotions shattered. Those choices made no sense. That space boy made no sense. That ending made no sense. The crying commenced.

My girlfriend’s FemShep had forgot to question her choices as she had questioned nearly everything she had been told leading up to that point. We were mad. We discussed that ending and examined it and, most of all, hated it. Then something happened. I read a forum post on the Bioware forums stating that the ending is perfect. And they were right. We now think that this was one of the greatest endinsg to any type of media, ever.

Simply put, the player and Commander Shepard are being indoctrinated. The Reapers, knowing they will lose to their opposition, attempt to indoctrinate Shepard in one final attempt to win the war. This is why the ending doesn’t make sense – it is the Reapers feeding Shepard, and the player, lies.

The player is presented three options – yet only one of these options will bring about the destruction of the Reapers (and notice that this option is presented as the least favourable by the space boy). This is also the only ending that can see Commander Shepard breathing in the rubble in the secret ending.

Why is destroying synthetic life (the option that is represented by Shepard’s mentor, Anderson, by the way) the red “Renegade” option and attempting to control the Reapers (the option represented by The Illusive Man) is the blue “Paragon” option? It seems backwards. Almost as though Commander Shepard is being lied to and the player is being challenged to question their decisions instead of blinding picking red or blue.

The whole red and blue theme pops up many times throughout the game, most notably on the Citadel. Go check out the bar, which is called “Purgatory”. There are two arrows on the floor, a blue broken arrow that points in toward Purgatory and a red arrow that points to the way out.

Hey, how about those dream sequences? That kid (who, check it out… nobody else besides Shepard ever even sees) keeps popping up in them, huh? And then in the last dream Shepard watches himself burn with the child. That’s almost like a warning, huh? And the music in those dreams is the same theme as the music scoring the finale. Because the finale, in a way, is also a dream.

It is likely that the indoctrination process is taking place throughout the game, not just at the end. Shepard has had tremendous amounts of contact with Reaper technology, so far as possibly having a bit of it in his brain, if I remember correctly (thinking that information was on one of TIM’s data files toward the end). Remember on Rannoch when Shepard takes down the Reaper and then has a conversation with it? What does it tell him? “We are closer than you can imagine,” or something along those lines. They are inside Shepard’s head, that’s how close they are. Because I would think that if Tali walked up to see Shepard talking with a Reaper, she might want to comment on that. Yet she doesn’t. Nor does anyone else.

I challenge anyone who is disappointed with the ending to go back and play through the game with the thought that the Reapers, at some point, are trying to indoctrinate Shepard. Watch for clues – they are there.

As for a theory on why Bioware would end their saga in such a way – well, the script did get leaked, didn’t it? And all it takes is for one gamer to beat the game with the “perfect” ending, which is what many people shoot for in a ME game, and then post how they did it online, spoiling the organic experience of the choices for subsequent players. That’s why they tacked on that message about the DLC.

There is plenty more info out there about the Indoctrination ending theory. All signs on our second playthrough seem to confirm this theory and it has turned our bitter disappointment into respect for one of the best endings we’ve ever witnessed.


On March 14, 2012 at 1:34 am

Thank you, this is every issue I had with the ending, well thought out and precisely written.


On March 14, 2012 at 1:34 am

Bravo, Gamefront. Amazing article. Thanks for smartly articulating the actual criticisms that seem to be going ignored by the vast majority of the games press.


On March 14, 2012 at 1:46 am

One simple law of physics was introduced to the ME universe, the travel between relays is instantaneous (or almost so), and they show normandy taking some time to do a simple jump.
And it would be more logical for the reapers to kill the synthetics, and protect the organics.


On March 14, 2012 at 1:55 am

@Swift, Why do you think if all mass relays in the galaxy are destroyed the citadel relay would be spared. Also it took resources of a galaxy to build the crucible could they really replicate it using what was contained in the sol system. I think from what you are describing is the very problem with the ending, there are far to many questions posed to call it an ending and people just have to come up with massive assumptions to try and explain away all the odd plot points raised in the endings.


On March 14, 2012 at 2:18 am

@ Askar Biggins…

Did you even read this article? Son, you are being indoctrinated by BioWare right now…

What you doing has been done before, countless of times by people who were hoping for a better product (movie, game, book) but did not get it so… they defend what they have in the fit of blind fanboyism all while imagining things, because the truth itself is too painful to process. It should not be your job to excuse and provide closure, that is up to the developer and it has demonstrated abysmal failure in that regard.

If the indoctrination process was taking place (as you suggest) then Shepard is lost and cannot resist it as the dialog options does not allow him to do so.
And once again we are back to square one of not making any difference in the end… furthermore in said situation Normandy crashing as well as grandfather talking to the kid are very, very out of place.
What exactly should they represent in your idea?

Before you go on imagining some grand ideas of BioWare mind screwing with the player base, you need to learn to consider track record of the developer (known for ruining great stories with their sequels) and you need to learn to comprehend (I know you can read, you got this far) what people are complaining about. They are asking for closure and asking for choice that makes some sort of difference after such long commitment to the game. Choice that could have been given even IF Shepard was being indoctrinated…

It matters not if Shepard is being brainwashed, indoctrinated, or just happens to be dead again, because the ending itself and arguments about its extremely poor execution are not about the content of the ending but about the choices presented to you in light of your commitment to the game. The problem here is honouring your commitment, empowering your decisions and providing closure… you may feel like you do not need those (in which case I pity you) but others do.

What you are saying is that in the end Frodo’s journey to Mt. Doom, all the pains, the challenges, the sorrows he managed were nothing more than a test by Sauron (or the ring) to see if he can be corrupted and not Frodo actually doing what he did… and that my friend is a toilet paper material…


On March 14, 2012 at 2:30 am

Well I really liked the ending. As with life… you don’t get to choose how life ends or what is afterwards, you get to choose in what way you get there. All these whinning about “I didn’t get the ending I wanted” is pretty immature. Sovereign told you already 5 years ago… you are fighting against inevitability.
Yes, we all would have liked to have every single decission matter and get a custom made perfect ending for our Sheppard, but that is not the way things work.


On March 14, 2012 at 2:34 am

Three part trilogy? Really? This trilogy has three parts? That’s incredible. If only they could think of a name for things that come in three parts to make it a little shorter to type… I can’t think of anything.

Excuse me I have to enter my PIN number into this ATM machine now, brb.


On March 14, 2012 at 2:36 am

Thank you for writing this.


On March 14, 2012 at 2:39 am

I don’t know if someone already said this .The a big problem about the endings is that i don’t want to play the game again . I played mass effect 1 and 2 with 3 characters. I have no intention on replay the game now with my other chars… Never again.


On March 14, 2012 at 2:54 am

Not just the ending, whole game is bad. What is that Tali’s face? Not being able to live the story with squad mates WE choose, not even the most important choices we make in me2 effect anything.(collecter base) And the ending, of course. What the HELL was that thing. Oh and GREAT article.


On March 14, 2012 at 3:06 am

I want to thank you for writing this article. It is very well written. And your reasons are basically what sums up our cause. Thank you again for writing this, and I’m sure it will be passed on to various feeds so hopefully, BW can see it and notice. (Though, we all know they’re noticing all of this, they’re just… Being awfully quiet.)


-Ziajin, Captain of the SSV Helix, American Fleet.


On March 14, 2012 at 3:09 am

i support this fully, everything is so true. everything boiling down to the same ending is not cool. and no epilogue leaves us with so very many questions.


On March 14, 2012 at 3:09 am

I can sum up the series best like a three course meal.
Mass effect 1 is like a salad, crisp new, its got a lot of crunch to it and its refreshingly new, and dressed to perfection.
Mass effect 2 is your appetizer, its a good long interlude, its complex enough to stand by itself but compliments the earlier salad, but it makes you hunger for the main course.
Mass effect 3 is your meal, its the meat and the mashed potatos you have been waiting for since you sat down, you gorge yourself knowing you aren’t going to get desert…however as you you take your last bite the cook stops by the table, to see how the meal is. He quietly hands you the bill and tells you he killed your younger sister and used their body to make your dinner and walks away…leaving you with such a burning bileous rage, you can’t bare to look at the table anymore and need to excuse yourself to be sick. All the while other patrons and the cook can be heard saying “its perfect you whiney brat.”

Thank you lincoln for understanding why we are mortified at the ending.


On March 14, 2012 at 3:12 am

This article times infinity. This article has manage to encapsulate every single issue that I have with the ending. Finally someone in the game media has said what every fan is thinking, rather then just brushing us aside.


On March 14, 2012 at 3:18 am

Got to agree with this article. The ending ruins the game, it makes you wonder what the hell happened and in effect it makes you wonder how far this was influenced by EA’s demands for multiplayer and day 1 DLC, I mean that DLC was better thought out than the ending. I mean from the minute harbinger shoots the game goes terrible. As I raced toward the conduit, a scene reminiscent of ME1′s ending I thought I knew what was coming, an epic battle through the citadel defeat of the Illusive man (who was surely picked to be the reapers avatar) I’d assumed the entity that controlled the reapers would be saved for other games and that depending on my choices and the strength of my force this would either end in triumphant victory or tragic victory with only shepherd left standing. Instead we get this.


On March 14, 2012 at 3:24 am

Thank you for a balanced article – one of the few I’ve found that doesn’t immediately assume that those who think the ending is disappointing are “entitled whiners”. I was surprised to find that Forbes also has balanced articles on the subject.

If, as some are saying, that everything past the point where Shepard is hit by Harbingers laser is a halucination/dream/result of indoctrination and there is an actual ending after that, assuming you chose the “Destroy” ending, then why didn’t Bioware ship that in the release? If nothing else, this would only inflame/reignite the controversy over Day One DLC. Who wants to buy a game, only to find out that to get the real ending, you have to pay extra for it?


On March 14, 2012 at 3:24 am

I found myself nodding and saying “yes, exactly!” out loud while reading this article. Hopefully people will share this, tweet it, email, facebook, etc. to get enough exposure for Bioware to take it seriously. Then perhaps they will release a DLC pack of alternate endings (which they will probably charge money for).


On March 14, 2012 at 3:25 am

I am even more depressed now after reading such an eloquent article. I was kind of -eh- after my ending, but this piece has made me realise just how cheated I feel. Bioware won’t get another cent from me until they make this right.


On March 14, 2012 at 3:29 am


Then I bet they get a game of the year medal and all that man this game made me lose faith in bioware >.> I loved mass effect but to see the ending to come to a close in this manner just dosent bring any kind of catharsis or relief to me. Even if they do come out with like a press release saying it was all indoctrination or some turd poop like that, just makes me feel like a herring and that I should go play it again for the ONE right ending instead of making a decision I actually wanted, but no I have to go back and get the right answer because I failed the test >.>


On March 14, 2012 at 3:30 am

I created many Shepards to see what each conclusion would be in ME3, and after my first playthrough with my very first Shepard, I don’t even want to start the others because I already know my choices throughout the games don’t play a part. Thank you for this article, for it touched on everything we as fans are questioning as far as what Bioware was thinking when they put together the disappointing ending to this fantastic game. Don’t get the fans wrong, most of us, myself included, think ME3 was off the charts great, but the way it ended, it was a huge let down for most of us. Bioware dropped the ball on not only the game but the fans as well.


On March 14, 2012 at 3:34 am

Mass Effect 3 defied it’s own internal logic, the logic of an intelligent galaxy, upon which ME was based and it defies the imagination of the massive fanbase that have invested time and energy to have an entertaining respite from the daily ignorance of the human beings we must contend with, who jerk us around because it’s improper form to shoot each other in the face.

Steaming pile of crap. I’m traumatized again, just like the Matrix movies.
I can’t play any of the ME games anymore. None of them. I refuse. I didn’t bother to finish ME3 after being FORCED to choose eihter Geth or Quarian. There’s no point. The destruction of the Geth was cruel and superficial. It’s as if there was an agenda in this game. The Quarians have to die if the Geth are free? There is no choice in ME3. Who wrote the story. the CIA? the KGB? BioWare should curl up and die.


On March 14, 2012 at 3:43 am

Although I loved the game and even the finality of the ending – there are many under developed areas in the story along the way.

Apart from the odd reasoning of the machines mentioned here in this well written article – how about the reasoning of the Illusive Man?

He was always one step ahead and he knew he needed the Crusible to control the reapers.
He made all these experiments to be able to control the Reapers and had all the resources necessary – but he never thought about doing anything about the most vital component himself? Why did he not build it?

Even worse, since he knew he needed the Citaldel and the Crusible to control the Reapers, why did he tip of the Reapers so they could move the Citadel and guard it heavily? It does not make sense.

Another thing that does not make sense is why the Reapers even bothered to move the Citadel when the Illusive Man informed them that it was the Catalyst. It is clear a few minutes later in the story that the Reapers knew that the Catalyst was apart of the Citadel all along.

Mass Effect is truly a great achievement and one of the best games I have ever played. But with more attention to detail and consistency in the story, it could have been a masterpiece!


On March 14, 2012 at 3:54 am

Thanks for a great article. You really did hit the nail on the head with this. I’m afraid EA and Bioware have lost a great deal of business if they don’t offer their customers some alternate endings. They can call me a whiner if they wish and yes it is their game, but this 44 year old father of 6 (all of which are gamers) does not have to support EA or Bioware in the future nor will he.

Phil Hornshaw

On March 14, 2012 at 3:55 am


Spoiler: It’s possible to save both the geth and the quarians.


On March 14, 2012 at 3:59 am

I mostly agree, but some points are a bit unfair:
- I didn’t receive the scene with the child to “smugly imply that the gamers themselves were nothing but children who couldn’t fully understand these events”. If the gamers are anywhere to be found in the final scene it’s as the old guy, not the child. Here you are just trying to be offended.
-“And adding insult to the injury, they receive a message urging them to purchase DLC.” So there is post-campaign play, whose main reason to exist is to enable DLC playing. Just like in both Dragon Age titles and to some extend in ME2. The mere mention of DLC here is somehow a slap in the face? Sorry, can’t see that.
-If you try to put the Catalyst’s motivation in meme form, of course it sounds ridiculously stupid. But “killing all advanced organic life every 50.000 years so that their inevitable synthetic creations don’t destroy all organic life once and for all” isn’t half as stupid. It’s like cutting a tree back so that it doesn’t die. It’s gruesome, alien and Shepard can proof it wrong before, but it is as good of a motivation as there can be for the reapers.
-The Mass Relay destructions are NOT the same as in Arrival. In Arrival the asteroid rammed in the thing, releasing it’s energy, causing a supernova, which is clearly seen. In ME3, the relays use their energy to spred the crucible’s signal, which is not harmful. Then they collapse with a small, conventional explosion. ME3 is your car breaking down because of a critical electronics failure, Arrival is shooting your car with a rocket launcher.
- The Quarians had their Life Ships with them (because they just put really big guns on them), which could be enough to support them and the Turians. The Reapers concentrated on the cities. As their work would have taken years, i can’t imagine them systematically destroying all food and farmland on earth. The situation is very hard, but i don’t think it is nearly as grim as you imply here.
- The Mass Relay destruction is indeed a massive setback for the galactic civilization, but the Protheans were able to reproduce them, and the Asari were at least close enough to think about it. The galaxie’s best scientist gathered to create the crucible. If i recall correctly quantum entanglement communicators don’t require the Mass Relays, so an effort to recreate some of the Network could be made. And if not, ME1 implied that the Mass Relays were put there to discourage the search for alternatives. It might take a long time, but the galaxy will be united again. Until then, we have a galactic civilisation of the smaller scale in the local cluster.
Otherwise, i agree for the most part.


On March 14, 2012 at 4:08 am

Were it not for events past Anderson’s “You did good, child.”, the game would deliver everything it ever promissed. The whole Mass Effect 3 sees events from Mass Effect 1 and 2 unfold and resolve, old friendships and even just casual moments flare up. Have you managed to save Geth AND Quarians? Then proceed to see how Geth ships save Quarrian ones in the opening phase of battle for Earth. London mission shows allies, friends, everything revolve around us, pieces fall into place and show us what we have created, former enemies now unlikely allies to wage war against the greatest threat the galaxy has ever faced.

Ultimately, it wouldn’t matter if we didn’t learn about what Reapers are, who made them and for what purpose. They were always supposed to be this mysterious godlike force that threatens everything and just defeating them would have been enough. If the price would have been scorched Earth, so be it. Even if the price was the death of billions (including shepard) in order to end the cycle, it would still be worth it.

Unfortunately, the price isn’t millions, billions, or shepard, but the logic of the game and the series itself. It’s simply mindbogling how it’s possible that after everything Mass Effect 3 is, the writers would fail so very much. I must admit, I find the indoctrination theory plausible precisely because one cannot possibly make such a disastrous move in one hit after a series of brilliant moves preceeding it. Can one?


On March 14, 2012 at 4:27 am

Everything in this article sums up the reasons people are so angry. Very well written; thank you for taking the time to do it.


On March 14, 2012 at 4:37 am

Fantastic article – pretty much sums up everything I felt about the ending as well.


On March 14, 2012 at 4:57 am

I think they changed the writer.

They also broke the 5 books – the fourth one is so bad there is a petition to rewrite it :) .

I fail to see the point of dlcs past playing the ending! Once you know it, what’s the point?

Good article: you could add IT IS TOO SHORT ! , we had a lot of people in part 2 and a handfull in 3? I finished the game in two days …


On March 14, 2012 at 4:58 am

It’s not quite as simple as “Synthetics wipe out organics to prevent synthetics wiping out organics”.

I know it’s not very well explained but the Reapers actually preserve the races they supposedly “wipe out” by harvesting them (like a reaper, clever eh?). They effectively pluck them from the galaxy before they can reach a point where they ensure their own destruction.

The alternative is that sooner or later these species reach a point where they create AI powerful enough to destroy them and after the AI is done wiping out its creators, in then goes on to wipe out all organic life (even the less developed kind which the Reapers ignore.)

It’s meant to be thought of in terms of harvesting rather than annihilating, for me that makes sense.

Otherwise very well researched.


On March 14, 2012 at 4:59 am

Fantastic article and spot on. Ultimately you could boil it down to the sort of ending we’ve come to love in the Fallout series where you see the results of your actions and choices. In some cases you win some, and others you lose some – same as life, but at least it gives you a sense of accomplishment that ME3 robs you of. It really was a slap in the face. It was like they were out of time and money and just had to wrap it up immediately. All in all Bioware has been greatly dimished since its acquisition as the focus is too much on sales. It’s going to kill them sooner than later.

Michael Florian

On March 14, 2012 at 5:06 am

Exceptional article. Now make the people at Kotaku read it.

David [UK]

On March 14, 2012 at 5:16 am

As others have noted (and the article notes) the problem with the endings is not whether they are “sad”, “unhappy” and so on.

Rather, the problem with the ME3 ending sequences is that they fail to live up to the high standards set by ME2.

ME2 featured a brilliantly conceived ending sequence that was *profoundly* affected by the player’s actions up until that point. It was an excellent example of game design being linked to final presentation.

Unfortunately, ME3 features — after Shepard “ascends on a platform” to meet the Citadel’s child-like (and largely annoying) AI avatar — some horribly clunky exposition followed by one of three *wholly pre-packed* endings. All of these pre-packed endings are *massively incongruous*, poorly explained, short and cheap-looking. (The “secret” “4th” ending is a slight alteration on one of the options, and adds little apart from further confusion.)

This is a great disappointment, given that the game is outstanding until this point. I have to speculate that the poor conclusion to the game is a result of time or budget constraints. In that case, there is an argument to be made that a more robust request for extra time (or resources) should have been made in order to properly conclude the game. Such a request could have been financially reasoned on the basis of better consumer reception and better long-term sales (of the main game itself, and of any prospective DLC).


On March 14, 2012 at 5:18 am

Excellent article, very well reasoned. The ending left me so disappointed and bewildered I could never go back and play another second of any of the ME games again. What a waste of $150.


On March 14, 2012 at 5:20 am

Thanks for a brilliant contribution. You sumarised the issues perfectly, and your suggestions to Bioware are totally valid. You just raised the bar in this debate.

Jim The Fish

On March 14, 2012 at 5:23 am

You are the man, Sir. This is everything that is wrong with the ending. I finished the game yesterday, and I am still so shocked by how awful the ending was.

The worst thing for me is that everything I did, all the choices I made, all the people I saved, all the races I united, has been for nothing. The ending negates everything I ever did in this game and the previous games. I still have five characters ready to go, but why should I play any ME game again? In the end nothing matters anymore, since the ending doesn’t evolve from my choices, but is forced upon me.

Shame on you, Bioware.


On March 14, 2012 at 5:23 am

Wow, excellent well written article, I thank you for it since I use this article to voice my displeasement on multiple gamingsites and -forums. Instead of starting a flame war and discuss untill the end of time, I present them your masterpiece. If we are Geth, you sir are Legion :D


On March 14, 2012 at 5:34 am

Very good article, but why weren’t these issues hinted at in the review?

Instead the review written by Phil Hornshaw(“who cowrote this monster”) has the following to say concerning the story: “Never before have I encountered … really any work of fiction that so thoroughly satisfied its story requirements. Every loose end is tied; every character gets his or her moment.”

I don’t mean any speicific spoilers but maybe a warning that the ending could be considered underwhelming and unsatisfying? In my opinion the conclusion of the third act of a trilogy is very important and is thus a story requirement.

Now this article (while very well written) seems to me a bit like jumping on the bandwagon.

Devil Dan

On March 14, 2012 at 5:41 am

Extremely poorly written article.


On March 14, 2012 at 5:52 am

Just want to say you sum up pretty much exactly what I feel with this post. Bravo good sir, bravo.

Also, if the indoctrination theory is true, and it may be, I will be very, VERY, annoyed that the ‘true’ ending will be dlc. Having day 1 dlc has never really bothered me since I generally buy the CE’s of Bioware games, so I get the dlc as part of the package, but having a dlc ending would be unforgivable.


On March 14, 2012 at 5:54 am

I enjoyed the article.

I did not need a happy ending. I would have been happy(ish) with a possible ending where reapers won and then, instead of the grandfather and child, they showed a clip set ten thousand years later where a new alien race found one of Liara’s time capsules. That would have been fine. And have none of the plot holes of the current endings.

And giving you the option of returning to the game or return to main menu (Like ME2) would have been much better than watching Shepard die and 5 seconds later being back on the normandy like nothing happened.


On March 14, 2012 at 6:06 am

This is an extremely well made article that hits every single issue with the ending right on its deformed mutant cranium. Good job. It is a shame that most of the mainstream gaming press have turned into Turian Ambassadors and dismissed the very valid qualms manu fans have with the endings. But unfortunately, it seems that many outlets have some form of stake on ME3 shining stellarly no matter what the fans or consumers might say, and that is truly a shame considering we (used to) look to that press for valid an unbiased review of a product we might put some hard earned cash into.


On March 14, 2012 at 6:16 am

Great Article!
Also the Citadel was destroyed while hovering over the Earth. Guess where the Parts are going to land? And with that size of Junk it would be the same as a very big asteroid that lands on Earth resulting in a complete DEAD Planet. SO we saved NOTHING at the end. NOTHING!

Askar Biggins

On March 14, 2012 at 6:27 am

@ “Daniel”

Firstly, I’m not your son, bro. Secondly, angry much, son?

I read the article. Did you read my post? You did, but you weren’t clever enough to understand (see, I can make assumptions about people over the internet, too, Daniel). I’ll put it in terms even you can understand:

“What you doing”, Daniel, has been “done countless of times before”: Blindly hating something which you do not understand. Shepard can resist; the answer is staring you in your face-butt. The correct choice is to destroy the Reapers, as that has been Shepard’s goal throughout this series, no? I wonder which choice does that. Shepard can resist indoctrination with only one option, and you’ve got three to pick from. Oh geez, I wonder which it could be?

The ending seems out of place, as you have so pointed out (thus unwittingly helping to confirm the theory you are so adamantly denying), because it is not happening, except in Shepard’s head.

I am not going to try to convert your view, as I can tell from your belligerent post that it’d be impossible to do such. But I am now especially looking forward to all of the pieces falling into place (as Bioware themselves have hinted will happen for patient gamers) so that you will be revealed as the dullard you are, Daniel.


On March 14, 2012 at 6:35 am

Thank you so much for this article, finally someone that gets it. It’s never about happy or sad ending, the fact is that the ending is just terrible, whether it’s happy or sad. Especially the plot holes. This article explains our frustration straight down to the T. To top it all off, Mass Effect 3 is supposed to be all about the ending. Fans spends hours playing this game, at the end, we want to feel like we achieve something even if we die in the process. If everything is going to end badly anyway, of course the thing that comes to our mind is “What’s the point?” All those hours just for the same ending is just… I can’t even describe it.

Mass Effect 3 is a very good game overall, the gameplay has gotten immensely better, I had a lot of fun along the way, making choices even when my former squadmates died, I was really “into” the game, so to speak. I guess Mass Effect 3 is more about the last moments fight, than the actual aftermath.

Of course the other factor could be because the writer changed (If I’m not mistaken) but whatever, the fact is the Ending really brought what was supposed to be this huge Game of The Year, the most awaited game, and such, down.

Thank you for writing this, I hope lots of people will read it because they need to know what we think is wrong. Instead of just chalking it all up to “They just want a happy ever after fairytale ending.”


On March 14, 2012 at 6:39 am

@Askar Biggins
Du you even BELIEVE the crap you are writing there?
What the hell is wrong with you?

J. Morales

On March 14, 2012 at 6:42 am

What a great article, thank you for posting it. I don’t understand why so many other game sites have taken the company’s side and not just that, but proceeded to basically call everyone who didn’t like the ending a whiny fanboy. I appreciate your reasonable look at this issue and you really hit all the nails on the head over why people are upset. If some of them were a little overheated in their rhetoric, ultimately they were still right. Thanks again.

Optimus J

On March 14, 2012 at 6:42 am

The best article to date. I was very glad as Ross stressed as much as possible about how much ME3 stood faithful to the franchise premise until the end.

And that’s that. 10 minutes that ruin the game.

How hard is to fix 10 minutes when Bioware have more than 15 hours in ME3 alone, not counting the near 50 hours of the previous games to backup this.

The disadvantage is colossal. If they don’t grab the chance that will stain their reputation FOREVER. As the company that chickened when everything was on their hands.

John Mahon

On March 14, 2012 at 6:43 am

Brilliant article!

It’s already mentioned in these comments, but look up the indoctrination theory. A lot of the things in the article line up with it perfectly, such as the plot holes that only start after being knocked out by Harbinger’s attack.

Mike Wathen

On March 14, 2012 at 6:52 am

Great article, well said. Exactly what were all thinking.


On March 14, 2012 at 6:55 am

Very well written! Good job. I’ll be sure to spread word about this article :)


On March 14, 2012 at 7:01 am

good summation.

my favorite analogy for the ending choices is that it is like having walked through the desert for twenty miles to a lemonade stand and instead of lemonade got to choose between a hand grenade, a frisby and an old shoe.

Sir Diggler

On March 14, 2012 at 7:01 am

To evacuate is to have an enema.

-Things we learned in the Wire

Sir Diggler

On March 14, 2012 at 7:04 am


On March 14, 2012 at 7:08 am

Wow. Really thoughtful and well written. Thank you for saying exactly what I was feeling.


On March 14, 2012 at 7:09 am

The best article I’ve seen on this topic.
Well done, you really nailed it

Henrik L

On March 14, 2012 at 7:12 am

Absolutly brilliant article that clearly defines why so many (over 90% according to a poll) are extremly upset with the ending (and in most cases JUST the ending to an otherwise great game). It also destroyes replay value for most people when you realise that despite all you do, the same thing always happens, even though bioware time and again promised this wouldn’t be the case.

Thanks for a good article and here’s to hoping bioware reads it.


On March 14, 2012 at 7:21 am

iv never played ninga gaiden but im considering getting it this week


On March 14, 2012 at 7:27 am

This article explains exactly why I can’t accept the ending of the story. The fact that they neglected to take my choices in consideration actually makes it impossible for me to ever play this series again, for i will always know that it won’t matter what i choose. It won’t make sense and the galaxy will die. This ending is practically everything I don’t want it to be.


On March 14, 2012 at 7:35 am

Yes. Clear and eloquent, thank you. ^_^


On March 14, 2012 at 7:44 am

This article perfectly sums up everything I am feeling and thinking after finishing Mass Effect 3. I feel that none of the options at the end really justified all the time I put into the game, carefully weighing each decision to make sure I had a chance at saving Earth and the rest of the galaxy. All of the effort I put into this game feels wasted, knowing that nothing really ends up working out anyway. I would’ve appreciated one great ending, even if it required more than one playthrough to achieve. The fact that there isn’t anything like that bothers me. I don’t want to have to spend $5-10 on a good ending if I shouldn’t have to. If they decide to release alternate endings I am not sure if I would buy it just to get a brief feeling of satisfaction when it should’ve been made available in the first place.
Oh well, ranting done.


On March 14, 2012 at 7:51 am

What I don’t understand, maybe I’m just nitpicking, but wasn’t shepard standing on top of the citadel in the end? In the vacuum of space??? Did anybody else catch this? Did the citadel grow an atmosphere in the time it was stationed at earth? Mass Effect has always been pretty thorough about it’s lore in physics. Just curios if anyone else picked this up?

Payne by name

On March 14, 2012 at 7:55 am

I posted this observation 9 months on the Bioware forums and it’s intriguing to see that my fears were born out.

[i]“I must confess that I’m seeing much at E3 that is convincing me that the direction taken in ME2 is relentlessly continuing in ME3.

To see Casey Hudson attempting to hoodwink players by once again saying the importance of your decisions will come into play is embarrassing. I was sold this line when getting ME1, we all made those huge decisions and then we all saw how in ME2 they didn’t have the dramatic consequences we’d been promised.

“All those decisions will have a meaning, tailoring the game and story to your individual play through”. Okay maybe doing this would have required a huge game with multiple branching but they were the ones that there were selling this dream, re-inforced I might add by the fact that the 2nd game would come on two discs..

Don’t promote a vision, don’t promise a whole new world and then when you can’t deliver it, say well you should have realised that we couldn’t have given you what we were saying that we could.

In ME2 we witnessed how a decision that we’d given thought to for all that time was effectively covered off in maybe two lines of dialogue. From this we identified that the impact of any new decisions in ME2 regarding the collector bases would ultimately have little impact because we’d witnessed how other decisions had been given such scant treatment.

And finally we saw how in the intervening years we were drip fed stories that should have been in the original game (yes, the one that spanned two discs) but were held back to raise a little more cash. Do people really not think that they won’t play the same trick for ME3? That a writer won’t have a great idea to bring drama to the story and someone will suggest ‘save that for the post game DLC’.

It’s so disappointing because ME1 had the greatest and most unrealised promise of any franchise that I’ve played yet it really has turned into a shadow of what it could have been.” [/i]

Where once I’d been duped from ME1 to ME2, I’ve been reluctant to let the same thing happen again. Hence reading your excellent piece, along with other alarming pointers that I hear, points to why I don’t think I’ll be playing through ME3.

To me, and this is something missing from many recent reviews, I don’t care how the game PLAYS, it’s how I FEEL because the game was initially sold to me and hooked me with emotional connection and resonance. Discarding all the things you’ve worked towards and throwing away all the parameters and boundaries that you’ve established within the universe, will just leave me feeling empty and disillusioned, which is how I ultimately felt after ME2.

I’m afraid that how a game plays isn’t really what resonates in the memory, it’s how you felt. If before going in I know that I’ll be disappointed then I am the punter that Bioware lost when it released ME2 and moved the franchise away from the amazing direction that I thought it was heading.


On March 14, 2012 at 7:56 am

Excellent article, and sums up quite nicely everything that’s wrong with the abomination of an ending Mass Effect 3 received. The game deserves better than it got, if not for the fans, then out of respect for the story.

I only hope that more outspoken people like yourself will look on our opinions as those of dedicated gamers who love our hobby and appreciate it as art, and not that of “entitled whiners”. *cough* Kotaku *cough*


On March 14, 2012 at 8:00 am

I agree completely with this.

What’s amazingly to me, is that after all the flak Deus Ex human Revolution got for it’s push button receive ending, which disregarded everything the player chose though out the game, Bioware does the same exact thing.

All those choices we made over the last two games were meaningless. It didn’t matter if you were a paragon of hope, or a rebel of destruction. It didn’t matter who you saved, who you loved, or what your priorities were. All that mattered was what button you pressed in the last choice of the game.

They may have, indeed, killed their franchise in the last 15 minutes of the finale. I don’t think anyone would be looking forward or hyping up any future Mass Effect games after this one.


On March 14, 2012 at 8:07 am

Bravo. A vid critic that understands the heart and soul of Mass Effect, and how it was ripped out via the ending: how the ending transformed our magnificent Mass Effect into a Massive Fool’s Errand.


On March 14, 2012 at 8:08 am


Indoctrination seems like a good explanation to the ending, maybe the only logical one, but yet, this indoctrination explanation is not affected by the choices we made throughout the 3 games, and that is what makes the ending a bad one. They could have elaborated on this so much more, made it a much richer experience, worked more on the ending because it is a KEY part in any story, and it just feels like they dropped the ball on this…

I wish I would have seen completely different endings, depending on my choices. I wish I would have seen more of the assets I recruited on the final battle. I wish I would have seen more about my romantic companion. I was expecting something similar to ME2 ending, where it really felt like the choices you made, mattered.

This ending has just caused me to tell EVERYONE I know that wants to play ME3 to


On March 14, 2012 at 8:08 am

“Can you tell me another story about The Shepard?”
“Can I have ten more dollars?”
“But I don’t have any more money grandpa.”
“Then go to bed.”


On March 14, 2012 at 8:21 am

That is a wonderfully written article, you’ve captured all the feelings and emotions that I was trying to express in words, you reasons are very sound, and backed up with very good and detailed descriptions.


On March 14, 2012 at 8:32 am

I can’t help it but the Babylon 5 main arc ending comes to my mind when thinking about the ME3 ending. Babylon 5 is very similar to ME in many aspects so I would assume that the ME writers must have known it. I mean, Reapers and Shadows, a big station and humans uniting the sentinent races to stop the cycle. Okay, the solution is a different one, but I can’t fight the feeling the ending had to be different because otherwise it would be too similar to that of Babylon 5?


On March 14, 2012 at 8:36 am

This is without doubt the best “mainstream” media article that actually try to understand what ME3 fans are going through.

Good read, well written and nails the point across.


On March 14, 2012 at 8:37 am

This is without a doubt the most well-written summary of the issues fans have with the endings. Kudos to the author.

Kaeley Ryan (@Locolobo_2)

On March 14, 2012 at 8:42 am

Thank God someone finally completely explained our worries correctly and thoroughly… Thank you so much. And the fact that you did it without any real hostility… Just plain old straight up fact.. Written in black and white. Thanks again. This article made me sign up for Game Front. I think my game media loyalty just may change in your guys’ favor. Great job.


On March 14, 2012 at 8:44 am

Great article! Exactly this is how I feel…

El Coro

On March 14, 2012 at 8:47 am

Dont you see? The old man is Joker! He ran away had a child with EDI and is telling them about the story of “The Shepard”. This is what EA wanted BioWare to do for the ending. I can see clearly now the rain is gone. (Well intergalactic solar rain anyway.)

Mark H

On March 14, 2012 at 8:49 am

I am so glad somebody in Gaming journalism has managed to capture the primary reasons this ending was a huge letdown.

Not only that, but put it across in a clear and non “Angry Whiner” way.

Thank you!

Mass Effect 3 was one of the greatest games I have ever plated, it made me laugh, cry, cheer and think. But those last ten minutes, and for the reasons displayed here, ruined that.

Fantastic article.


On March 14, 2012 at 8:56 am

As a fan of the series i feel as though the real problem was a lack of time. When the game got delayed the first time i was actually happy. The time it took between MA1 and MA2 helped to evolve the game so that it still had great storytelling and awesome gameplay.(Wasn’t a fan of the dumbed leveling up or guns taking clips but thats for another time.)And i forgave bioware for not carrying over to much of the first game in favor of reaching out to new players with the promise of having all ME1 and ME2 choices coming to closure in ME3 in some shape form or way. ME3 did a great job of building momentum and closing out alot of your renegade and paragon choices through the first two games. But when it came to the ending I feel as though they felt a bit too overwhelmed with the possible choices presented to them by the ways the playes could carry out their story of commander shepard.With time running out and EA breathing down thier necks, i’m sure, to get the game out for a strong first quarter profit, they may have chose the generic ass ending thinking they were leaving things open enough to fix them later without ticking too many people off. Bioware may have underestimated its fanbase on this one. While the ” new dna ending” would have been a sweet ending option it should have been just that. An awesome ending to a possibility of more than three mostly similar endings. My true belief right now is that bioware is still working on the actually ending structure that was meant to be implemented from the get go as either paid for or free DLC. With enough asking, pleading, begging, ing, and good ol’ fashioned whining we may get it for free.Otherwise get ready to shell out 1200 MS point or more. Either way i’ll forgive them if they at least do that. If not. Bioware is going to have to go back to fixing KOTOR or else i’ll be pretty scorned. I’m not saying i won’t ever play a bioware game again i’m just saying i’ll be a little bit more hesitant.


On March 14, 2012 at 9:01 am

Even just a narrated ending with Joker explaining things… ala’ Fallout would have been better, at least then you could reflect on all your choices and relationships.


On March 14, 2012 at 9:03 am

After EA picked up Bioware, all of their games are going like this. Simpler and simpler, rushed ending… look at DA:2 and how it bombed too.


On March 14, 2012 at 9:05 am

Wonderfully written article. Well thought out. I hope many more get to read it and Bioware takes note.


On March 14, 2012 at 9:05 am

I would love DLC to continue the story, as for me Mass Effect has been one of the most compelling stories I have had the pleasure of gazing upon. I think the DLC has to continue the story and that this was Bioware’s plan all along ( I hope I’m right). Mainly because why release DLC that includes extra missions or characters when it will have little to no impact to the story’s ending whatsoever.

It was different for mass effect 2 as all DLC could impact your Shapards story in 3. This is also a guaranteed money maker for Bioware and EA and lets face it, this is nothing new.

I also think DLC that includes an alternate ending was or should have been planned, as with an epic series such as Mass Effect there is very little room for failure. By releasing the game ( with say part 1 to the ending) the creators of the series now have or should have a rough idea how most fans would like to see Shepard’s story end. This also makes room for spin offs.


On March 14, 2012 at 9:07 am

Thank you so much for this article. You hit the nail on the head. Oh, and Bioware, if this ending is part of a marketing scheme to kick off the “DLC money pinata” in order to get us to buy a “true ending”, then shame on you.


On March 14, 2012 at 9:08 am

Mr Lincoln. You have written the finest game-related article I’ve ever read. Your logical arguments are solid and you present them in such a way as to almost inarguable. It is refreshing to see that someone in the gaming press is not cow-tied to advertising dollars and unafraid to speak the truth. I enjoyed the read and will watch for more of your work.


On March 14, 2012 at 9:11 am

This reminds me of what happened in Dragon Age 2. Everyone knew there was going to be a second one but EA rushed Bioware just because the first was a hit. This totally ruined the second game and I hated the demo so much I didn’t buy it. When this happened I feared the worst for ME3. I guess I wasn’t so off.

I don’t mind Shepard dieing, I actually expected it, but they could’ve had some closure. Maybe like at the end of Dragon Age. The only thing that bugged me is I worked hard fit my relationship with Garrus and now there won’t be a wedding. Joking aside, I know I wouldn’t have stranded all the aliens that came to help earth by destroying the mass relays. I’m sure they won’t have enough food to make it back home, if they can manage. I’m sure many of them expected to die there, not be stranded.

I suspect this was one of those cases where Bioware might’ve been stuck between a rock and a hard place. Wanting to have the end fans wanted but take the time with it and risk losing their jobs because EA wanted it out by a certain time frame, or lose their fan base that won’t just mindlessly buy anything with the Bioware name on it, but make money off of it. This can also be me being way too understanding of other possible


On March 14, 2012 at 9:13 am

simply PERFECT


On March 14, 2012 at 9:14 am

Brilliantly explained. I tried being this articulate, but fell flat on my face.

It really would benefit all the fans and critics to read this article and see exactly why so many (including me) are absolutely disgusted with Bioware (so much so that I cancelled my SW:TOR subscription).


On March 14, 2012 at 9:14 am

But that’s the thing though. Why would anyone purchase the DLC “Ending” and support a company who by the DLC message, intentionally are reserving the rest of the story for more cash? It screams of them doing all this on purpose just so they can have flocks of people buy future dlc. I dunno, just seems very hypocritical of everyone.


On March 14, 2012 at 9:16 am

Edit: I hit submit on my phone by accident before finishing. I was going to say that I may be to understanding of the fact that there might’ve been other outside deciding factors when it came to the end. Almost like 95% of the game was written by the same writers and right at the end someone said the wrong thing to the wrong person and was replaced with someone who would do a rush job just to make sure the fame made it out in time.


On March 14, 2012 at 9:17 am

I never disagreed fully with EA and Bioware teaming up at first just because i knew things like this was bound to happen in our young entertainment medium. But my biggest fear is coming true with this team up. Its not the day one DLC or being able to purchacse recruit or veteran packs with money. It’s the rushing and replanning of truly good games to meet stockholder demands. To me it just keeps sucking the art out of our form of media and further turning it into an “industry” which i know has long sinced happed.


On March 14, 2012 at 9:30 am

commander shepard, im sorry to tell you this, but you have aids


On March 14, 2012 at 9:41 am

very nice article, you put in writing what many of us are thinking, and regarding to the endings I don’t care anymore from now on I’m taking these as the real ending


On March 14, 2012 at 9:43 am

@Payne by name:
“I’m afraid that how a game plays isn’t really what resonates in the memory, it’s how you felt.”

I agree with you, 100%. That is why, to this day, when discussing Final Fantasy 7 I have very fond memories of the character development, of the gameplay and its function in exposition, how I felt when characters reached tragic events or untimely ends. Yet when someone asks how I feel about the end of the game, the same words leave my mouth EVERY time: “It sucked.”

ME3 pulled the same crap on a larger scale. Instead of “500 years later” and Red XIII, we get Grandpa telling us everything happened “very long ago”. Both games had amazing story lines UP UNTIL their respective endings. In fifteen years, if there’s no further resolution to the endings, I can see my discussion of Mass Effect being the same as my Final Fantasy 7 discussions now: “Do you remember Mass Effect? [Insert comments about great plot arcs, great characters, good gameplay]. But man, the ending really sucked.”


On March 14, 2012 at 9:45 am

THIS. Spot ON.


On March 14, 2012 at 9:45 am

As Shephard stumbles towards the lightbeam which brings symbiosis of organic and synthetic life, he mumbles: “You know, you don’t have to be so obvious about it.” “What do you mean?” asks the AI. Says Shephard: “Well, if you wanna have sex with me, you just need ask.” (…) “That was a joke.” And as Shephard turns to identify another voice, he finds the AI transformed into ED-I. “Ah. You change shape. I knew I couldn’t trust you.” To which the AI responds by turning into Miranda, who says “No promises.” And as Shephard passes out and falls back into the beam, we hear his last thought, delivered in voice-over: “Miranda”

ED-I actually gives off a big smile, as she follows Joker out of the Normandy. Arm in arm ED-I lays her head on Joker’s shoulder and together they witness a truly new dawn.
[This last part really happened.]


On March 14, 2012 at 9:47 am

This article expresses my feelings exactly. No reason for me to elaborate further. I feel like one of my prize lego constructions was stomped on by the makers of lego because they felt like it.

I feel angry and betrayed.


On March 14, 2012 at 9:51 am

Agreed completely however you forgot to mention That on top of the ending sucking to the 9th degree they’re also a complete ripoff of Deus EX. Except you know Deus EX endings made sense.


On March 14, 2012 at 9:54 am

FYI the VA for the old man at the end is Buzz Aldrin. Think again about calling him weird.


On March 14, 2012 at 9:57 am

I (personally) agree with this theory going around that he was indoctrinated or it was a dream. Mainly because 1. Even in this article they point out that, up until he gets blown to bits, it all makes sense and then it’s a confusing mess. and 2. The dream sequences with the child had to be more important than just chasing this kid in slow-mo. And now the catalyst is the kid?! Too convenient. Plus the doors are open for DLC now.

Think of the Sci-Fi anime Neon Genesis Evangelion. Its final episode literally made NO SENSE. It was all in the kids head, with weird dream sequences. Then they released a movie showing you what REALLY happened. The same might happen here. DLC of Sheppard waking up and stopping the reapers in a full on, grand scale way. Not sure if I approve of yet another money grab but I can see it happening.


On March 14, 2012 at 10:01 am

The best written article I read on the subject, that conveys everything I felt after finishing the game with clarity, reason and subtlety.
No bashing, no whining, just 5 very good reasons why so many people who love the ME universe hate how it ended.


On March 14, 2012 at 10:06 am

I am also “saddened” that I didn’t get to see how my choices affected the people I interacted with, or the fate of all the races that I built up, defended, or condemned. The plot hole about Joker trying to escape the explosion in the relay, with crew members that were clearly on Earth, bugs me the most.

That being said, during the whole game I was telling myself that if this whole war ended in a “happily ever after”, I would be sorely disappointed. Having my Shepard die is an acceptable outcome.

However, my reason for posting is to comment on some of the “supposed” plot holes.

1) Anderson says that he “followed” Shepard into the beam, yet somehow ends up ahead of Shepard. What the story doesn’t clarify is how long Shepard was out after being hit by the Reaper weapon. It is not implausible to assume that after the first wave, Anderson rallied the troops and sent one more, or several more waves, of which he was one of them. Anderson would not have known Shepard was knocked down, so when he got the the Citadel, he assumed he got there after Shepard, when in fact he got there first.

Even if Anderson did in fact get there after Shepard, Anderson was not injured (or not as injured as Shepard) and could move faster. Also, Anderson makes a comment about the cavern with the shifting walls, which becomes a valid explanation about how Anderson passed Shepard to arrive at the console without actually crossing paths. In other words, Anderson arrived in a different chamber and the Citadel re-arranged itself to spit both Anderson and Shepard out at the same entrance to the console room.

2) The Illusive Man (TIM). When Shepard and the 5th fleet attacked TIM’s base to find the Prothean VI, and just before fighting Kai Leng, the Prothean VI clearly informs Shepard that TIM discovered the Citadel was the Catalyst. The VI informs Shepard that TIM had already travelled to the Citadel as well as informing the Reapers of the knowledge. There was also a video recording during that mission that shows TIM submitting himself to an operation to “enhance” himself with the technology developped at the Sanctuary.

So when I got to the Citadel, I was already looking for and expecting TIM, and assumed it would be a boss fight. Turns out the operation was TIM self indoctrinated himself just enough to retain his sense of self, but enough to become controlled by the Reapers (an unintended effect). Anyway, the fact that TIM was near the controls that opened the Citadel is not a mystery or a plot hole by any means.


On March 14, 2012 at 10:07 am

Outstanding article. Hit every point right on target. There’s nothing more to add, other than I hope this isn’t as far as it goes and we as ME fans aren’t forced to simply ‘live with it’. Kudos!


On March 14, 2012 at 10:07 am

Amazing, this is what i want to explain for every dumb people out there! Hello… are you read this article? Now used your head to thinking twice. After experienced and judging many option from ME1, ME2, and ME3 is that ending is MAKE ANY SENSE??
We don’t really need rainbow and bunnies ending (but i will not turn up if they will make that), after all someone must sacrifice themself for anyone sake if they want to be a hero. What we need now is a logical ending that make a sense!


On March 14, 2012 at 10:11 am

THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!


On March 14, 2012 at 10:24 am

I agree wholeheartedly with the vast majority of what you’ve written here. The only correction I would make is that I doubt the Quarians face extinction. It is specifically stated that all Quarian ships are armed, most with dreadnaught equivalent weapons, if lacking in armor. It can then be inferred that the whole of the Quarian fleet is present to protect the Crucible. As the migrant fleet has existed for 300 years without a planet, it can only be assumed that they have food production facilities on their ships. Using the limited FTL of the ME universe, the migrant fleet would, eventually, get back to Rannoch.


On March 14, 2012 at 10:28 am

I can understand why some (most?) people are outraged at the ending—the reasons listed here, in addition to “space magic” being the explanation for everything.

That being said, the “indoctrination theory” basically negates most of the complaints in this article. You could still complain about brevity and EA pushing DLC, but the “indoctrination theory” means the ending is not confusing, nor full of lore errors and plot holes, etc. Player choice is not discarded.

The evidence to support the “indoctrination theory” is pretty solid. When I initially played the ending that’s what I thought was happening, and it wasn’t until I saw people complaining about “space magic” that I realized most people didn’t interpret it that way.

Just look at some of the smaller clues:

1. Shepard is wearing her armor when she “wakes up” after being downed in London, but moments later when she’s on The Citadel she’s no longer wearing her armor.

2. On the Citadel The Illusive Man manipulates Shepard into shooting Anderson in the abdomen. Later, after Anderson has died (either by TIM’s hand or by bleeding out sitting next to Shepard) you see that it’s Shepard that has the wounded abdomen—but Shepard was never shot in the abdomen.

3. If you look at the wide shot of where The Citadel connects to The Crucible, you can see that it’s not enclosed. The platform where Shepard is standing while talking to “the ghost kid” is exposed to space. It’s not possible to stand there in-person and talk, breathe, be alive, etc.

4. Here is a part of the “indoctrination” entry from the in-game codex: “Organics undergoing indoctrination may complain of headaches and buzzing or ringing in their ears. As time passes, they have feelings of ‘being watched’ and hallucinations of ‘ghostly’ presences. Ultimately, the Reaper gains the ability to use the victim’s body to amplify its signals, manifesting as ‘alien’ voices in the mind.”

Hallucinations? Ghostly presences? “Alien” voices in the mind?

I don’t know about you but that sounds like the entire ending sequence to me. The Reapers and Harbinger finally felt threatened by Shepard and in order to avoid destruction their last attempt at stopping Shepard was indoctrination. They had to make her believe that destroying them was a bad choice.

That’s just a few clues; there’s more evidence to support the theory as well. Just take it to Google.


On March 14, 2012 at 10:30 am

“Commander Shepard, mind telling me what you’re doing on that ship?”
“Sir. Finishing this fight.”


On March 14, 2012 at 10:30 am

I agree with Mike above. The ending gave me the same feeling of Neon Genesis so I’m holding out on a “alternate interpretation” of ME3′s ending…

Let’s see in a few months if I’m not hoping too much.

But this article is the best I’ve seen yet explaining the problems us fans have with the ending. (Esp. about the series’ themes). Thank you for writing this.


On March 14, 2012 at 10:34 am

i dont think its the real ending, choosing reaper annihilation with 5000points results in a scene where shepard takes a breath at the end, on the catalyst he is without armor later with so i think he did not kill the reapers with the “kill reaper” choice he freed himself from the indoctrinatrion he suffered and the brief scene where you see him take a breath actually is shortly after harbingers laser beam attack on earth (also dont forget the dreams of the burning child and later shepard and child burning without armor! etc ). he has yet to kill the reapers

I support this explanation

sry my english aint that good


On March 14, 2012 at 10:36 am

Great article.
I have looked at some of the the videos and comments explaining the indoctrination theory and it does make sense to a good degree of detail (catalyst flickering and dying or staying based on choice, not being noticed by anyone at start of game) but it still means at least 10/15 minutes of the game is simply missing.
I grew concerned about the story at a few points during the game the first being when the plans for a weapon were found on Mars. But the way you spend the game trying to build the crucible and how ambiguous its use was convinced me it was not an emergency exit for the plot. One of my friends thought it was a means to travel through time to discover/stop the reapers origins. We ended up thinking that Sheperd would send some scientists or Edi back in time to stop this and they would end up wiping out organic life to stop the reapers coming into existence-ultimately becoming the threat they were trying to stop (space magic I know).
The big ending at the end would have the Reapers recognising their origin and trying to kill themselves before they are sent back in time (with some tough paragon renegade decisions). We got so psyched up about this ending (and another where the reapers choose one exceptional individual to be a reaper brain every cycle-final renegade choice BECOME A FRICKING REAPER) that this ending was even more of a letdown.
I honestly believe that both these endings are much better than what Bioware cooked up and they get paid for this stuff.
P.S I actually really liked the section at the end where Sheperd is injured as well as the TIM conversation until tried to get a different ending and realised how stupid it actually is.

Drew B

On March 14, 2012 at 10:38 am


Please take note bioware writers & employee’s. This guy nails all the problems with the game ON THE HEAD.


On March 14, 2012 at 10:38 am

as shepard himself would put it :
“I’m commander shepard and this is my favorite article on the internet”
on a much serious note though – F*CK OFF BIOWARE AND F*CK OFF EA.YOU GUYS RUINED THE ENTIRE mass effect TRILOGY


On March 14, 2012 at 10:39 am

Well done, sir. Well done. You hit absolutely everything directly on the head with perfect clarity. This ending is an absolute mess to an otherwise perfect series.


On March 14, 2012 at 11:07 am

@ The Indoctrination Conspiracy Theorists…

I have to admit, the theory to which you’ve currently subscribed is one to which I clung for several days after completing the game. It was the only option that made any sense and there was certainly ‘proof’ (that term is used loosely) throughout the game, if one chose to look closely enough. While I didn’t consider it the storytelling masterpiece that many seem to believe it is, I did think it was an interesting plot device that had some promising potential.

However, I have since begun to question, and eventually was forced to abandon, the hope that the Indoctrination Theory was anything more than desperate, loyal fans seeking closure. The two biggest sticking points for me are as follows:

1) The backlash has been fairly significant and yet Bioware remains conuously silent. I could understand letting the tumult continue if good things were being said, or even if fans were merely insane with curiosity, but this is bad press. As the days pass and we don’t get a single word in either direction from the company whose games we’ve devoted hundreds of hours to, people grow more furious and dejected. I for one have already decided that Bioware is no longer a ‘pre-order’ software company, but one whose future titles have been firmly relocated to the ‘wait and see’ pile and dependent on the outcome of everything currently happening, perhaps even ‘never again’. They’ve betrayed the trust of their fan base and they’ve given us no actual confirmation that resolution to this conflict is on the way, despite the wild speculation of doggedly devoted fans. You think they’d say something. And honestly, at this point, even if they were to reply that this was in fact their plan all along, I’d have to wonder if they weren’t just latching on to the easiest out presented to them.

2) Was indoctrination ‘the end’? If so, all points being presented are still valid. If not, they released the game without a proper ending and we essentially, unknowingly purchased an unfinished product. How are we going to be provided the conclusion? DLC? Are we going to have to pay for it? Would you purchase a book at regular price with the last twenty pages ripped out and then pay the publisher again for something that was already promised and you thought you’d already purchased? It certainly sets a bad precedent.

I wanted to believe that this was planned as much as the next person, but I think we’re just going to have to accept the fact that Bioware made a huge mistake.


On March 14, 2012 at 11:07 am

Thank you, Ross Lincoln, for expressing the concerns of a fan base of more than 40,000. Although I am not personally a fan of the indoctrination theory, if that’s the avenue that bioware wants to use to rectify their mistake with some sort of patch or dlc, I will gladly accept it

Joseph Gealy

On March 14, 2012 at 11:08 am

Kudos to you dude. You hit the mark on this article. The game itself was fantastic and I don’t see why people need to hate on the game. It was a great game. But what alot of critics like IGN forget to mention (besides the points mentioned above) is the Mass Effect series was supposed to be an experiance.

Think about Mario, any FPS or any other RPG. You may level the character up, but they are not really you or your personality. You could affored to treat someone poorley and still get a good ending as long as you were not completely renegade. Speaking of those other games, look at their respective endings. Only a few of those are as short and none as incoherent as ME3′s ending. One IGN reporter used the ending to Resistance 3 as an example. The Resistance 3 ending is comparitively way more complete than the ME3 ending.

While no one wants to see an hour long cutscene (MGS series, I am looking in your general direction), the end cutscene does have way more flexability than a normal cutscene in you can get away with explaining what happened to all of the characters. Or in Mass Effect, all of the remaining characters.

It is not so much about a happy ending as it is about an ending people could respect. We all knew this was supposed to be Commander Shepard’s last game, but the ending even ruined that. There was no sad end where his/her love interest is morning and vows to carry on the work set before them. In turn there is no happy end with the universe being rebuilt, Shepard raising a family, and dying of old age.

Consider if you will the Lord of The Rings movies. Let say it ended at Mordor being destroyed and nothing else. How would people have responded to no definitive ending for Frodo and Sam or if Arwin survived and married Aragorn? We would be infuriated. In a way this was the Sopranos ending for a consistently great video game series.

These endings were even sub par for other Mass Effect games. Look at the endings for both one and two. While not particularly long, both were still fairly complete for that leg in the series. Mass Effect 3′s ending just completely ignores the choices made.For the whole emphasis on Galactic Readiness, we dont really see an impact besides minor parts to the end. How about the team surviving or getting killed off, ala Mass Effect 2, where if you did not get a particular upgrade for the Normandy, a crew member got killed off. Or the other side of the coin, A good readiness rating making the strike against the Citidal/ London easier and more effective.

Given what has been provided in the endings (all three/ one ending) the next time anyone will be making FTL jumps, it will be the Far Future of the year 40,000.

I have to go too. Keep up the good work.


On March 14, 2012 at 11:10 am

I can’t help BUT subscribe to the indoctrination theory. So many of the antagonists throughout the series were organics corrupted and controlled by the Reapers through indoctrination, it seems very unlikely that Bioware would not subject the player to the possibility that his character is falling under Reaper influence.

In addition, the Mass Effect series has always been one grounded in science. Bioware have put so much effort into the explaining background, the technology, the biotics, the universe, it seems implausible that they would abandon this approach in favour of “miraculous space magic” in the last five minutes of the game, especially when you’re talking about the end of one of the best game series of this generation. The endings simply cannot be taken at face value. There’s more to it than meets the eye, there HAS to be.

We’ve been told time and time again over the last three games how insidious the Reapers influence is, how their thralls don’t even suspect what is happening to them. There’s a detailed codex entry on indoctrination which gives you an insight into the process – ghosts, visions, whispering voices, a sense of unease and being watched, nightmares all feature prominently… and throughout ME3, Shepard suffers these symptoms and more. There are visual and audible clues littered EVERYWHERE.

And why would Shepard be immune to Reaper indoctrination? Why, when a Turian Spectre, the Illusive Man and countless other organics have unwittingly and unknowingly fallen under their control, would Shepard be any different? the derelict Reaper in ME2 managed to indoctrinate the research team that boarded it, and it was barely a shell! Shepard has probably had more contact with Reapers and Reaper technology than any other human bar the Illusive Man himself. Shepard has

- been in direct contact with Sovereign
- been in direct contact with Harbinger
- boarded the Collector vessel
- boarded the derelict Reaper, stripped it’s IFF and installed in the Normandy
- boarded the Collector Base and been in contact with the embryonic Human Reaper
- been psychically attacked by Object Rho in the events of Arrival
- actually been augmented with synthetics based on Reaper technology (like TIM and Saren before him..)

Then you’ve got the discrepancies in the final scenes themselves. The limitless ammo. Your squadmates vanishing into thin air. Anderson arriving at the Crucible ahead of you, TIM appearing out of nowhere. The Catalyst taking on the form of Vent Boy is telling – it takes on a form that Shepard associates and recognises with guilt. It can read his thoughts and mind!

And the three choices presented to you, oh the choices…

“Control” is what the Illusive Man was always after. A means or method of using the Reapers for his own ends. After fighting the Illusive Man and Cerberus throughout the game, are we suddenly to take on his role? TIM was indoctrinated! He was influenced by the Reapers! How can this be the “right” choice?

Similarly, “Synthesis” is what Saren was after – it is almost word for word what Saren strove for in the first Mass Effect: “I represent the future – fusion of organic and synthetic life. The strengths of both, the weaknesses of neither!” Are we suddenly to believe Saren was right all along? He was indoctrinated! Influenced by the Reapers!

So that leaves “Destroy”. Finding a way to defeat the Reapers, to end the cycles of extinction have been the goal of the player throughout the trilogy. This is the option that Anderson – your ally from the start – favours, the option that the Catalyst tries to persuade to is the wrong choice. It’s also the only choice (provided you have done enough work uniting and preparing the galaxy against the Reaper threat) where Shepard actually LIVES.

And finally, the odd little epilogue, with the Stargazer telling the child “OK. One more story.” – a clue that it’s not over? That there’s more left to tell?

Too many clues, too many coincidences. The story isn’t quite over yet.

Deb Bishop

On March 14, 2012 at 11:12 am

As a gamer who teethed on early text-based and console games (Yes, Pong was so
gnarly-uber-cutting edge!), I have to say that the ending to this trilogy was, by far, the
worst I have ever played. Bioware has given a whiplash-inducing slap to the face of
every gamer who bought into (emotionally and financally) the premise that all of the
decisions we agonized making through the series, along with the idea that such a
divergent group of sentients could come together save (if good or bad enough) the
universe from complete and utter destruction. I had hope, playing the 1st two games
multiple times anticipating that moment of victory, that it would end with a final
thought that our differences matter less than our simularities. Thank you.

J. Morales

On March 14, 2012 at 11:12 am

I have to say for those pushing the indoctrination theory, that I like a lot about it. It would have been a great twist for them to throw in. However, it is not a good idea or good business to throw a poorly explained twist at your loyal customers and then say, “Now pay us $9.99 to see the real ending! Oh boy did we fool you or what? HaHa!” If they had thrown a twist like this into the actual game and then had more content beyond that then I think people would have had their minds blown. However, fooling your customers and then charging them for the “real deal” is just stupid and bad business. Now, I’m assuming they’ll release DLC and they’ll charge for it. If they don’t release DLC they’re fools. If they release DLC and it’s free, I think most will forgive them. Still a stupid idea though because their game will go down in history as “that game where you had better download the real ending DLC or you’ll hate it”.

Plus, to be perfectly honest, this is the internet age. A week after the game is released and how many people, players or not know how the game ends? If they release “real ending” DLC and charge for it, why should I bother to buy it? If I give it a week or two it’ll just end up on wikipedia or some other place on the internet. Bioware/EA needs to treat us like loyal fans, not cash cows.

Cloud W Omega

On March 14, 2012 at 11:13 am

“BioWare doesn’t ‘owe’ anything. It’s their game”

yes they do we paid for each game. ultimatly thats what matters.


On March 14, 2012 at 11:15 am

Thank you, finally someone that understand why we’re so upset about ME’s ending…really u got a new follower from now on. =]


On March 14, 2012 at 11:20 am

Very good article. Agree completly with every word.


On March 14, 2012 at 11:26 am

people, i guess there’s gonna be a mass effect 4 i with shepard, thats why they didn’t gave any more info about what happened at the end, and i would be damn happy to play another game with my good old shep.


On March 14, 2012 at 11:27 am

Perfect article. Thank you, sincerely, for writing this.


On March 14, 2012 at 11:29 am

personally, this ending sucks because 1/ final team appears on the Normandy, 2/ if there were the Catalyst, how can no one knows, i.e. have they never tried to get into the Citadel system? 3/ Synthetics choice, Shepard is human, then how can others such as Asari, Turian, Quarian …, become synthetics with genre of human? 3/ unable to save once on the Citadel, so if one wants to go back and see the other 2 endings, they have to go back when they were on Earth after getting shot. the game overall is pretty damn fun but the end is BS. i can understand that the Catalyst appears to be a child merely, imo, Shepard lost a lot of blood, therefore, he/she has a hallucination of the child back on Earth, who has been in his/her dream for a while. in conclusion, this game is a success but the ending drags it down to negative infinity. just my opinion tho.

Adam Caverhill

On March 14, 2012 at 11:36 am

Some inaccuracies. It can be assumed the mass relays didn’t go arrival on our ass because in arrival an asteroid did it releasing the energy in a wave of death whereas the crucible in 3 converted that energy into destroy control synthesis wave.

Right on other points. This ending was just bad, not sad bad, but bad dumb.


On March 14, 2012 at 11:43 am

Hello all,

I havnt actually got to the ending yet but do know how it ends. It would seem to me that the game was advertised falsely. Certainly in the sense of the endings where what you do has an effect because it didnt. We were told it would do. And all endings seem to be, well pretty much the same, False advertising I believe is a criminal offense, correct? Doesnt seem like this would be to hard to prove either.

David Davies

On March 14, 2012 at 11:46 am

Perfect article. It nails how dismal the endings were perfectly for the 3rd game. granted i enjoyed the story till the endings then it just flat out faliled for those last few minutes.


On March 14, 2012 at 11:48 am

I’m a Bioware loyalist. I’ve bought every game since KOTOR, and I own both the 360 and PC versions (typically the CE editions) of DAO, ME, ME2, & ME3, along with all the DLC on both platforms for those games. I’ve always trusted them to write a game that, while it may not be perfect, is at least entertaining and, most importantly, engaging.

They’ve broken that trust, pure and simple.

This is a great article, very well written, and it touches on exactly what’s wrong with these endings. But I think you missed a point that speaks to the “rainbows and puppies” crowd. Part of the message of ME has always been that you can make a difference. That you can overcome overwhelming odds to make the galaxy better. It shouldn’t be easy, and it should reflect the sacrifices that you’ve had to make to get there. But it should at least be possible. The world is a bleak enough place as it is. Games are supposed to be an escape. Without the reward, what is the point of playing? If I wanted to be reminded that ultimately we are all powerless to control the events around us, and that, despite all the Hallmark platitudes, one person very rarely makes a difference on any significant scale, I’ll turn on the news. Or worse, go follow what’s happening in politics. So yes, I absolutely want the possibility of earning the rainbows and puppies ending.


On March 14, 2012 at 11:53 am

A really great article and captures exactly how I felt. I’m making peace with the ending (because I really don’t expect Bioware to address this), but this echoes everything I felt while playing those final moments. Very well thought-out and civil. Good job.

Monster Doom

On March 14, 2012 at 11:54 am

I’m not sure if someone already said this since I didn’t read all the comments, but your party members aren’t blasted by Harbinger. They never follow you towards the beam. If you turn around they’re at they’re where you started unmoving.


On March 14, 2012 at 12:07 pm

Absolutely MIND BLOWING article.I utterly agree with everything said,and could not have said it better myself.


On March 14, 2012 at 12:13 pm

this is Bioware’s “death and return of Superman” moment. They ended a fantastic idea on a hollow note and it threatens to crush their profitability, just like when resurrecting Superman destroyed sales of Action Comics and obliterated the importance of death in comic books. Fixing it won’t erase the embarrassment of this moment but it stands to make fans think better of Bioware, that they show the capacity to listen to popular input and give fans what they want.
Of course this is assuming that a mere 28,000 angry fans represent the majority of the other 862,000 people that bought ME 3 on day 1. And the others that came after that nobody tracks.


On March 14, 2012 at 12:22 pm

I created an account here just to reply to this article.
You are absolutely correct and Bioware should be paying attention.
Thank you.


On March 14, 2012 at 12:28 pm

Definitely the most thorough article regarding the controversy. Thanks, Ross.

Although I haven’t been involved in the Retake movement in any way, I find it incredibly off-putting how critics are quick to write them off as whiny and self-entitled, especially when that opinion is voiced by someone who hasn’t even finished the game. It does absolutely nothing to further discussion and only bolsters the idea that there’s something inherently wrong about wanting to preserve a beloved franchise by heightening it to its collective ideal. Creative integrity is definitely important, but it has no context when you consider how disjointed the ending is compared to 95 percent of the rest of the game.

Randy the Ram

On March 14, 2012 at 12:31 pm

Great article, takes a lot of balls to agree with the fans. Sorry but this is the problem with entertainment, they care so much about what a select group of people think of the product, they ruin their key word “their” art. The promblem is that movies have been doing this and now we’re stuck with unoriginal fan service, I dont want this to happen to video games, keep the art alive, let the artist keep his art the way he wanted it to be seen, if you disagree you are obviously a nazi


On March 14, 2012 at 12:35 pm

Thank you for this article.
Its a really good summary of what went wrong, why, and what needs fixing.
I felt like bioware just screwed me over with that ending…
Heres just my 2 Cents about a few things left out in the article:

Not only did they cut important scenes in the “ending” (lets call it that for now)
like this one here:

but if you believe the rumors going around, this was not even the ending Drew Karpyshyn devised for ME3.
Which fits, i mean he quit right after the release…

And then there’s Mr. Hudson, who even after 83% on the bioware forums voted “ending sucks” and only 3% voting they liked the ending,
has the balls to say this in an interview:

“I didn’t want the game to be forgettable, and even right down to the sort of polarizing reaction that the ends have had with people–debating what the endings mean and what’s going to happen next, and what situation are the characters left in. That to me is part of what’s exciting about this story. There has always been a little bit of mystery there and a little bit of interpretation, and it’s a story that people can talk about after the fact.”


On March 14, 2012 at 12:45 pm

“The fans don’t want to scrap the bleakness for some kind of enforced happy ending”…why? what is wrong with the choice of a happy ending? i want a happy ending!!!… shudnt i be given the option for one???


On March 14, 2012 at 12:46 pm

Well Nice to see a gaggle of es find a Queen in the epic life style of ing and moaning about every little thing that people dont like in a great game and a not too shabby ending because for what? Ive Played mass effect since game 1 did every side mission loyaty mission DLC and the only thing i didnt like was Mass Effect 1 sniper rifle Zoom.Christ i swear the ending could have all the things commented on this article addressed and I bet $34,000 that a Good handful of Net trollers will find yet more things to complain about.Yeah good luck with that $34k being taken seriously im sure bioware will spend the money on the voice talent and retake of a game that took awhile to come out for what some Mall Employee takes home in a year if theyre lucky….ill Donate $10K just so the complainers can buy Bulk In tampons to cure their obvious bleeding vags over a great game because they didnt get exsactly what they wanted in the end..and NO lets not nit pick and go “its not the point the ending blah blah blah” that what it all boils down to is the Kid on Christmas wanting MW3 for his xbox and instead he gets it for his Wii that he used only Once in his miserable life…if the ending is “That crazy man I dont get it” for you then thats your problem..


On March 14, 2012 at 12:47 pm

One of the most precise, concise, and well written articles regarding any topic that I have ever read.


On March 14, 2012 at 1:00 pm

I enjoyed whole trilogy of ME universe right up to the point when i see fleeing Normandy and that “super lucky crash landing”.

The ending could be improved by 90% simply by cutting those 2 scenes. It’s time to grieve/accept/say your goodbyes to Shepard and not to think “How? Why? When? … Joker you traitor. I thought we are in this together”.

Instead just add more content on high EMS (depending on your Par/Ren score)

For example: {Blue / Green / Red options}

Blue: while… “passing away” transmit audio signal through all reapers.

Par – “This is com Shepard. Reapers are/were created for… So don’t fight/wage war, prove them wrong. ……….. _____, I love you.”

Ren – “This is com Shepard. Reapers are/were created for… I manage to take control… But if you will start fighting again they will return and this time… So stop…. That’s an order. Shepard oouuuutttt…” {… – means my English and poetry is not very good}

(or something like that and I’m pretty sure that many plp would be drinking their own snot out of the cup). {Those who finished playing week ago won’t be thinking that now}

Green: just add dialog where Liara/Javik will say that he/she can sense “him” in everything. And when ask about the Relays – we’ll figure something out but for now…

Red: add that inhalation scene if some requirements are met.
(high Par + some previous action/decision or high Ren. + some other previous action/decision) {maybe the status of collector base}

All above is for very high EMS.

…BTW I just realized. Keep the Normandy scene while having low EMS since we won’t see who survived anyway.

P.S. Made that up in 2 days,sorry for my English, “Red” could be improved, didn’t steal those ideas, ME1 and 2 decisions mainly about getting high EMS (not complaining about that).


On March 14, 2012 at 1:01 pm

I actually had most of that speech during my first playthough, except the part about kids that was deffinatly cut out.

Totally agree with this article and the whole issue with the ME3 endings. They aren’t really bad its just really really disappointing that this is what we got at the end of the journey.


On March 14, 2012 at 1:01 pm

Great article!!!!!!


On March 14, 2012 at 1:05 pm

Ok im back and i believe i was wrong ……. the indoctrination theory has to be correct. come on people bioware is better than this. At least in the story department. we can complain about the little things all day but if we remember it was always mentioned that the game would support plenty of DLC compared to ME1 and ME2. How would you plausibly do this if your supposed to be closing out the trilogy. Add more content to help with the final battle? lame. Bioware did that with me1 and me2 to help add to replay value and to give later new players a longer campaign for thier first play through. plus correct me if i’m wrong but i’m pretty sure awhile back they made mention of the dlc for me3 being a little different this go around. outside of the obvious MP map packs and possible different game modes being different from the first two ME’s my guess is they were planning more after game DLC. thier structure for dlc in the past for ME was mostly quests that could be completed during the main quest this may be the first time they focus on what happens after the credits rolled. you can pick on us fan boys for holding on to this hope but in a way it ties into the game itself. and i’m willing to bet money that this is where they are going with the DLC for ME3. we will get our proper ending but its going to be dlc. will it be paid for. lets hope not.but dont hold your breath. do i think this is fair ……. i’m holding out for the dlc to make that decision. they still have a chance to save this. if the DLC is epic i believe there will be alot of forgiveness. if its just sub par bioware will have small storm. and if its awful…….. well we all saw what happened to the matrix. oh and as for bioware not giving us a proper comment sooner look at all of this free publicity. if we want the dlc sooner stop talking about the ending and freak them to all of those who appreciate the mass effect universe the fanboys the gamers the bandwagon jumpers and those who were just in for a pretty decent story calm down take a chill pill and just give it a minute. we may not support this whole dlc idea but thats mainly cause the industry is still trying to figure it out. my new conclusion to all of this is well this …… EA wanted good first quarter profits so ME3 came out in march. bioware needed more time for the ending. proposed idea was this new indoctrination ending to give more time to tie up proper endings for most players. planned as DLC for later. how much later i can’t say but i hope its soon. anyways there you go. bioware has effed up before but i strongly (at this moment) want to believe that they are just messing with us right now. if so bravo. if not ……… goodbye


On March 14, 2012 at 1:14 pm

Another plot hole that got me:

Why did the reapers make their portal from Earth to the Citadel lead directly to where Shepard could defeat them.

And on that same note, why were there no reaper forces guarding that area of the Citadel?


On March 14, 2012 at 1:19 pm

Just an interesting addendum to this phenomenon. Something I’m sure IGN and other ‘industry’ outlets that rely on advertising will miss.

I’m reading reports. some alarmed, some full of gleeful schadenfreude, so far scattered and anecdotal, that Gamestop is getting piles of ME 3 returns, with the used price dropping nearly 20 dollars from new.


On March 14, 2012 at 1:24 pm

Now THIS article cannot be dismissed as “gamer rage” or “the ravings of geek-kind”. Thank you for that. I believe you’ve touched on all of the points of concern and disappointment for Mass Effect fans, myself included.

If this had been a series of three books and the authors ended it in this manner I would have chucked in the corner to gather dust.

If this had been a trilogy of feature films and it ended like this, some movie-goers would have demanded their money back and critics would have had a field day.

But this is just a game, right? No need to get upset, hey simmer down there Poindexter, you’ll pop those veins throbbing out of your temples. Lols.


Yes it’s EA/Biowares games, they make up any ending the want.
I do think they vastly underestimated players reaction to the endings. We’re talking Grand Canyon vast. Thanks again.


On March 14, 2012 at 1:27 pm

Hey, name the fan who helped develop that damn story. I’m sure most fans would like to have a polite talk about that ending with him.

I just want to add @Ross Lincoln:

Ok I agree with you in all points BUT, that ending feels like something comming from a premature launch. I have to believe that BioWare was not able to finish it in time, that’s why the Prothean voices and everything else was already in the disk.

So what BioWare did was to let greed take control – they must’ve got indocrinated -, cutted the game in half, and made players pay for their mistakes – project delays – via DLCs.

That’s how I see it.


On March 14, 2012 at 1:29 pm

Thank you. Just thank you. This article is a shining beacon to what fans are rallying behind.


On March 14, 2012 at 1:35 pm

Thank you so much for this! It’s the perfect write-up about the problems with the endings.

Finally, someone out there realizes this isn’t ALL about “happily ever after” endings (I personally feel Shep and his two squadmates should die) and is mostly about an ending that would make one lick of sense and stay true to the spirit of the series, or at the VERY least have a prologue of some sort.

The worst thing is when people claim the ending(s) is “open to interpretation” and “controversial”… there’s nothing to interpret, except wtf was BW thinking? We’re shown a climax (three nearly identical ones), and then shown puzzle pieces that are the wrong size, shape, color, and material to fit with anything else in the entire series. It’s insulting to anyone who loved the series, and my soul hurts.

It’s right that, as gamers, we’re not entitled to anything. It’s also right that BW, as the architect of all this, is free to use it’s creator-vision to say “that’s the way we see it, so that’s the way it is”… but it’s completely acceptable, and should be expected, that we cry out for something that is the least bit coherent and spiritually appropriate.


On March 14, 2012 at 1:37 pm

Spot on, this pretty much sums it up. I don’t care about the DLC issue and this keeps getting mixed up with the utter disappointment with the choose your colour explosion ending.


On March 14, 2012 at 1:40 pm

The indoctrination idea is the only possible way. Any other way is completely nonsense.

And this article is describing exactly what I feel now.


On March 14, 2012 at 1:40 pm

This website is now bookmarked :)
You sir/sirs just hit the nail on the head, spot on.


On March 14, 2012 at 1:42 pm

Agree 100% … i want a different in choices in the final stage.

steve alarid

On March 14, 2012 at 1:48 pm

wow man you hit it right this game to me was going to make the mass effect story finally fit together like some bad ass puzzle i been working on for ever to find that they sold it to me with out all the pieces bioware has lost a lot of respect from me and obviously the fans.

Im not mad when a game ends bad or realistic but the endings provided in this was just ed up it made no sense to the rest of the games and i feel that the last couple mins of ME3 are just a waste i will make my own ending up because bioware seriously ed this up it was supposed to end it not piss everyone off and leave fans bickering


On March 14, 2012 at 1:58 pm

Really Great article. I am a Bioware fan and have been for a long time. I really hope they take this article seriously, or that it gets the light it needs to get the point across. This game needs a new/additional ending.


On March 14, 2012 at 2:03 pm

i absoluty loved how you wrote all this! i totaly just have to agree! i had to show this to a friend of mine who is a great bioware fan and thinks the endings are perfect as they are…and thinks we the ones who dont like them whinners and want the rainbows an puppies ending…though secretly i would like that…..but i dont need it. i seriously dont get him…

anyway!! even though i only played mass effect since.. 2/3 years ago i just knew this just wassnt…..bioware standard quality of writing it just diddnt make sense at all! nologic! it kept gnawning my brain and thanks to that i found out about the indoctrination theorie and MOST of it in my eyes just seems correct with what happens at the moment you ALMOST get hit by harbingers lazer to the end of the game.

today i also got this picture a friend of mine gave me. this picture about apperantly a free dlc in april/may with the true endings for free!
yes its from 4chan but….atleast i got something to hope for and not go into blind rage in how much i hated the endings and will never play again :T


On March 14, 2012 at 2:04 pm

Like all my gamers comrade, i want to thank you for not bashing us like the majority of the gaming press has done until now.


On March 14, 2012 at 2:07 pm

The Quarians and the geth by the end of the game have been getting along literally for like, 5 minutes. Hardly long enough to say, okay, the geth will never come into conflict with anyone else.

Hell, you even get an email from a Quarian saying that they are keeping the Quarian and geth workers apart because this is a shaky new relationship.

And with the Geth now being individuals, like any other relationship with people, conflict will eventually happen. There is no relationship that doesn’t have conflict eventually, and if say the geth got it in their heads some us versus them mentality, chances are they’d destroy any organics.

I mean hell, Legion had no problem having the Quarians get wiped out if it meant furthering his people with the reaper code. So the whole, Legion is proof that everyone can get along idea doesn’t stand, he was willing to commit genocide.


On March 14, 2012 at 2:09 pm

You can thank me later.


On March 14, 2012 at 2:14 pm

Well written, I loved your explanation! I think Mass Effect 3 is an absolutely great game and the only thing that would make it better is closure. That’s all I want…


On March 14, 2012 at 2:15 pm

Thank-you for the article. I was personally focusing on how little the endings connecting with the rest of the game. I didn’t need some happy lovey dovey ending. I’m fine with Shepard dieing at the end. In fact I kind of expected it. But it would nice to know what kind of impact my decisions. Did curing the genophage lead to a second Krogan Rebellion? Did the Rachnii simply disappear from the universe after the final battle? Did the whole Geth/Quarian sharing a planet thing work out? To me everything that happened after you got beamed onto the Citiadel just felt so phoned in. Not at all like the proper culmination of over 100 hours gameplay.


On March 14, 2012 at 2:30 pm

NO NO AND NO! You have got it all wrong and since you can’t be rational and see the whole picture, you get stuck in a loophole! How Illusive man ended up in isn’t that crucial, plus he kind of tip the reapers and EDI says that the illusive man already made departure for the citadel, hence ha might’ve already got to the citadel before the reapers move the citadel. Why the reapers kill organics is totally more complicated than any of you up to this day may comprehend! They kill civilisations and synthetics becasue organics make synthetics wich later will erase every organic life form. Then the reapers think that by whiping out almost all life, and set the universe back, they delay TOTAL extinction of organics and by doing so, they give organic life new chances to live. Since organic wither and die, they may only see it as that they kill a couple of thrillions to make possibly for billions of thrillions organic life forms to live later on! All sub events like synthetic vs organic, krogan vs salarian & turian, that’s only problems to solve during the way so that all may coexist in peace, and all the love interests are there so you can choose to enter as you may see fit! But eventually, all soldiers live happy lives at home, presuming that all soldiers during history lived happily lives at home, did all this “sub mission” but eventually some had to do great sacryfices! Mass Effect 3 fully gives you that one story! You get love, you get to be the guy who mediates, you can be the personality YOU think might save the universe! But saving the universe comes at a price, and this time, as sheppard, was by sacrificing himself. And you CAN’T complain about that, many stories in ancient greece mytholgy, the heroes made tremendous sacrifices but did it for a greater good! Then for the relay problem? Well, tough luck, everybody knew that if they would fail to stop the reapers, they would ALL DIE! Now at least, some organic life forms and synthetic, might rebuild a great future and in time, MUST get the intelectual capability do redo mass relays though that already has happened! Plus that with their technology, I can presume that the surviving fleets near earth would think up of a great solution, you don’t have to be a genius how to solve that problem! And at last, I can agree that giving three identical endings but with subtle changes was a setback and they could’ve done something more than just that! But overall the ending is really good, and by showing that the civilisations live on by letting the story then be told by a older person to a kid is just remarkably good! This shows that organics and perhaps synthetics have beens able to live on many thousands of years and Sheppard have become such a legend that the story about him is greater than the stories we hear at history class today! What more could you ever want from a game?

mad boy

On March 14, 2012 at 2:35 pm

i actully liked th ending i t was cool if you picked the last option


On March 14, 2012 at 2:36 pm

the ftl in mass effect universe is fast enough to take you to a nearby starsystem and back in an afternoon – or less. but that’s just one of the smaller plot holes.

the game is somewhat consistent up untill the “end”, which begins with the attack on the cerberus base. after that it’s just one shoot-ride with plotholes and flawed explanations to the end. and a ninja.

could a writing team that did all the other things really come up with it? yes – easily. what’s worse it’s even probable the fully rendered phases were done already ages ago. maybe they didn’t even care anymore, there’s couple of well written phases in me3 but it seriously couldn’t stand on it’s own, there’s very little interaction with anyone in the world, you only visit citadel as a visitable place, but on first play that doesn’t bother you too much since you don’t know when it’s going to end – and when the end comes abruptly and seems out of place with it’s pre-rendered scenes and it’s totally out of place system for deciding which endings you even get… it’s as if the writers were told to add an element which would make the multiplayer portion worthwhile(it’s quite hard to get enough war assets if your readiness rating is at 50% and you started with a new character, but if you have an online pass it’s very easy).

btw player choice has _very_ little gameplay effect to the game(me3). storywise you have some effect, but the cutscenes will be mostly just the same and what you’re rewarded with is just couple of conversations if some guy is alive or dead. all the action/play parts will be the same, you’ll have the same items, run into the same cutscenes at the same places etc.

oh and legion/geth didn’t start the genocide. legion/geth isn’t the side that decides that by using the reaper enhancements to their code they will kill quarians, the reason they need the reaper enhancements is so that they can be more personal, more unpredictable – more human – the quarians could back out and leave but they’re so out for blood that they ignore the warnings. nobody forced the quarians to attack. in fact the quarians started the attack against galactic treaties and in secret and the quarians are portrayed as the warmongerers and downright crazy, militant faction keen on committing genocide on their creations. that’s the drama in the whole geth-quarians situation anyways, role reversal dramaturgical trick.

it’s not just what the endings are, it’s how they’re told too. and without the story the game is just a cheap gun’n'run that’s not very good at that.

Shep Hard

On March 14, 2012 at 3:07 pm

First article to nail it. So many key points, too, which are easily overlooked. For example, I was totally in love with Mass Effect before playing ME3 and hooked even more just before the end. I simply don’t want any more Mass Effect after how awful things ended up. That’s their loss. That’s MY loss. I thought I had my new franchise to follow.


On March 14, 2012 at 3:13 pm

It had to be me; someone else might have gotten it wrong.


On March 14, 2012 at 3:15 pm

Thanks, for a well written article, that sums everything up. You have my respect.


On March 14, 2012 at 3:41 pm

Great article summing up what I feel to be most peoples reasons for discontent with the ending. The part that disturbed me the most that not too many are mentioning now is how the Effective Military Strength is governed by online play. How does this make any sense? A character who makes all the same choices as I did throughout the game but logs in a few hours of online play somehow has twice as much military power. Wait, I thought we had the same number of total assets. Even more than the way only EMS determines what of the 3 choices we get, and how it disregards the many choices we have made throughout the game, I despised this online integration and how it magically increases your EMS. Completely ruined the ending for me even more than the glaring plot holes and thematic inconsistencies.

Mr Workaday

On March 14, 2012 at 3:43 pm

I’m a huge Mass Effect fan, but I haven’t played ME3 and I wont do so now. I might play it one day, as a curio, but the issue with how aggressively Bioware have overstated the amount of player agency and the impact of your past decisions just renders the issue moot. I actually am not particularly fussed about whether endings are ‘happy’ or ‘sad’ – what matters is that the ending you get is defined by the choices you’ve made in your own private narrative sequence.

I wouldn’t mind ending up in an inescapable, frustrating lose-lose situation or suffering a Pyhrric victory, if these outcomes were the logical extension of the decisions I’ve made. I’d welcome this! If, for instance, I found that my decision to destroy the Reaper tech at the end of ME2 crippled my ability to defend the galaxy against their army-of-robo-Nazis, I would have enourmous respect from the story, because it in turn would be respecting the character-choices I made.

Can I be bothered to spend 15 hours playing through a game that will rob me of my agency in its dying moments? If the three endings do not relate in any way to my demeanour, approach, relationships, values and priorities as Shepherd, then even if you have choice, it is not meaningful choice. It robs you of participation, it makes you a passive content consumer – effectively no different to if I went on Youtube right now and picked between three videos, each showing one of the endings. There would be no difference, because each ending would remain disconnected from the reality of my playthroughs.

I say this without reference to quality of the endings themselves – I haven’t seen them. By which I mean, this would still be outrageous even if the ‘choice of three’ were all outstandingly satisfying conclusions, delivered with verve and panache. By divorcing this content from the interactivity that the ending should be predicated on, it is rendered meaningless quite aside from any issues of integrity or consistency. (That said, without having spoilered myself too heavily, the content of these endings themselves do appear to be weak as balls.)


On March 14, 2012 at 3:46 pm

I love this article.
I was so sad about the ending, I never got to see what happened after the fact of all the things I did in all three of the ME games. I mean what did it all come to?… What was it all for? if not to save the galaxy.

My heart was ripped out of my chest at the ending. I didn’t mind if my shepard died if knowing that the choices I made in all three games meant something. It just made me feel empty, and so you made some really really! good points in this article on so many things I’m very happy to come across this article. I think to myself of whats the point of playing this game again, if all I do or all I will do as far as choice, and knowing all the things you pointed out that the endings are basically the same… that all you’ve done, is for not… that you really didn’t save the galaxy at all!.

I love all three ME games with the storyline just pulling me right in from the very start as I’m sure it was for a lot of people. I know for some people, they need a happy ending, and for others not so much, but those options should have been given at the ending. I now think to myself about the DLC that’s coming… what’s it going to be about… what will it mean. Will be about the aftermath of ME3? or will it be some stupid mission before ME3′s ending who knows, but what I do know is after all I’ve done… after all the choices I’ve made… after all what Bioware has put me through, it was all…………for nothing… thank you again for this article, and good comments btw.


On March 14, 2012 at 3:56 pm

Great article, and I agree wholeheartedly.

I’m just wondering…

Can we file a class action lawsuit again bioware/EA for *false advertising*?


On March 14, 2012 at 3:56 pm

And this is why a lot of people hate Jennifer Hepler. Not because we’re “bullying her because she has a vagina”. It’s because she’s an egostical, self-centred, untalented, unintelligent “woman” with a superiority complex who looks down on video games and gamers as if they are vermin. AND SHE JUST HAPPENS TO BE THE HEAD WRITER of BIOWARE.

She shouldn’t even be classified as a woman because all of the she causes. Really, she calls J. R. R. Tolkien an “old white guy” , and thinks she can write better than him because she can write something that “appeals to all demographics.” Please, stop smoking whatever you are smoking Jennifer, and learn to be humble for once and act like an actual lady.


On March 14, 2012 at 3:58 pm

The way I see it, a game reaches a conclusion when the player ‘wins’ it. You can’t win ME3. You can only choose to which degree you miserably fail. I don’t want a ‘happy’ ending, but I’d like victory to be possible…

I really don’t see how any of the endings are better than letting the reapers do their thing. If only stupid Ashley didn’t walk up to the beacon on Eden Prime all those years ago, Shephard would have saved a helluva lot of time and effort.


On March 14, 2012 at 4:01 pm

As far as the DLC being about the aftermath… I can deal with that… at least it would be one, but if not, whats the point in getting it… it’s not like shepard is going to be in it anyway unless it takes place before the ending.


On March 14, 2012 at 4:05 pm

Although I agree with 99.999999% of this article. The bit about the Cataclysts explanation is a bit off.

He actually states that only the advanced civilisations are ascended/killed. This means that the reaper purpose is actually as follows:

Kill Advanced civillisations (probably a small fraction of TOTAL life in the galaxy) to save the rest of the civillisations. Because if they didn’t, the ultimate synthetics that we eventually create would kill ALL life in the galaxy. Not just the advanced.


On March 14, 2012 at 4:06 pm

I came across this article by accident look for solace on the internet after my play-through of ME3. Huge thanks to Ross Lincoln and Phil Hornshaw for giving all of my confusion and unsettled feelings a voice. THANK YOU!


On March 14, 2012 at 4:08 pm

Check here to learn about the cause:

Give your opinion on the ending and whether or not you think we should get a new one here:

Donate to Child’s Play here:

amanda "putowtin"

On March 14, 2012 at 4:13 pm

Tip of the hat, an article that sums up what most people want to say.
Thank you Ross Lincoln and Phil Hornshaw, thank you.


On March 14, 2012 at 4:15 pm

This is a perfect compilation of every reason that I could think of to be annoyed about this ending. It didn’t need to lower itself to the normal taunts and nerd-rage that normally infests the internet. I just have to say thank you, and here is to hoping that Bioware and Mr. Hudson make good on their promises in some DLC.


On March 14, 2012 at 4:18 pm

I understand what your saying Adam, and I really hope that’s the case for the DLC, but what bothers me, is if we have to pay for what should have been in the main game in the first place


On March 14, 2012 at 4:32 pm

I literally laughed out loud at the image with Xzibit.


On March 14, 2012 at 4:33 pm

Im not sure this will be read after all the other comments, but i Hope someone sees it…

The Article is Absolutly right about how the game ends. It also has the potential to be absolutly wrong because it implies one important assumption. That this is now the end of the story Arch.

Leaving things off as described in the article would be outside of Bioware’s character. What would be in their character, would be for them to pull a “Throne of Bhaa” on the Mass effect Series. Did I Lose you?

Baldur’s gate was the first game I ever played from Bioware many years ago, and it became a series. There are many of the Hallmarks we find in the Mass Effect series that existed even back then. A riveting story, beleivable and memorable characters. Romance options later.

Put there was a precident they set as well in how they market and distribute their content:

Baldurs’s gate had an expansion called Tales of the Sword Coast. It expanded the original, and can be considered the 6th disc of content of the original 5 disc dame. The original Game Sleve even had an empy spot where the 6th disk could slide in. it Allowed you to level your character further as well.

When the sequal came out, Baldur’s gate 2, they featured it as a continuation. You could even import your BG 1 Character into BG 2, and keep along several items, including one known as the Golden Pantaloons(if you found and kept them) that seemed to have no purpose at the time. You also got to keep the extra level you earned from Tales of the Sword Coast, making Optional addon content now a requirement for completness fanatics like myself.

There was a problem with BG2 though. It was lacking an Ending. Until….They released Baldurs Gate: Throne of Bhaal. Literally the Final chapter of the game. But there is more.

In BG 2 you could find and keep an item know as Silver Pantaloons.

Finally in Throne of Bhall, you could find the Bronze Pantalettes and slove what is known to this day as the Pantaloons Enigma.

What this reveals about Bioware, is that they didnt just produce one game, followed by another when it was successful, but they actually had it in them to Plan a whole series to be released over time. and it rewarded people who bought into the whole franchise.

At this point, I am willing to theorize that what we have seen as an ending, isnt the true end. It would absolutly be in character for Bioware to have planned it all along, and to even INTEND for us all to get so Polarized, as to spread the word accross the world and do for them what they couldnt ever do themselves. Market their product through a rather ingenious, if risky marketing strategy. it also serves as a means to get people to buy their product to have the complete experience, and even subtly fight Piracy with DLC.

Im sure everyone is familiar with how much people will about a negative customer experience, and how comparitively little they will praise the positive. Its always the negative that sticks out in our minds.

So, while i COMPLETELY understand the emotional state of the fan base, am not convinced bioware done writing the final chapter.

I myself, while agreeing with how people feel (i didnt like them selling Throne of Bhaal on its own, making BG2 “incomplete) I am going to choose to trust Bioware in this. Authors of Book series do the same thing really. Harry Potter for example wasnt written and released all at once. it was spready out over years, keeping people salivating for the next.


On March 14, 2012 at 4:36 pm

Every keeps going on about the “secret ending” and it just being indoctrination and in Shepard’s head etc, and he actually takes a breath at the end!!

Which means that nothing has actually happened, he still hasn’t gone through the beam, the reapers are still alive, and there is zero closure.

And that’s the “BEST” possible outcome of the three identical/reskinned endings. That nothing happens at all. That you’re still laying on the ground. That’s not an ending.

Bunch of people have already pointed out that this may segue into DLC that we’ll have to pay for just to get an ending, which is garbage.

And if Bioware is going to say that the ending stands as is, then it’s also garage and completely lazy.


On March 14, 2012 at 4:44 pm

I agree with you Sloth. I dont like it. I understand why the do it, but It feels wrong to sell something this way, but its not new. Comic books too are released in this way. TV series are sold episode by episode to keep people tuned in week after week. the importance of “First Runs” can not be underscored because the ratings indicate how many people in the audience are also being exposed to commericals.

Its nothing new, Bioware did this years ago. It works. And in the end, I like the product enough to buy it.


On March 14, 2012 at 4:46 pm

Thank you so much for this intelligent article. It so accurately describes why we Mass Effect fans are feeling like we’ve have been dumped at the prom after spending five years making our dresses.

I am so astonished by the wrongness of the ending that I hypothesized to a friend that ME3 felt like the introduction of New Coke so many years ago: they have released a game with a terrible ending to guarantee the sales of the upcoming “fix.” No, I don’t honestly believe that, but I felt betrayed enough to think it for a few minutes.


On March 14, 2012 at 4:51 pm

Thank you for writing this, now I can just link this to people when I try to explain why I hated how the game ends. It was just so awful.

I was prepared for a sad, perhaps downer ending – I went in knowing Shepard was going to die at the end, and I had heard that the ending was bad. For some god forsaken reason I disregarded all of that and went into it. The first 30~ hours were amazing, and I was wondering why anyone could have hated the game. Then I was shot by Harbinger’s laser thing, and it all went downhill from there.

What a massively disappointing ending to one of my favorite franchises. It doesn’t just ruin the game, it’s destroys the entire franchise, I can’t even look at the first two games without thinking about how disgustingly bad the end of this game was. Just… What’s the point in playing the others, when the end to the entire thing makes everything so pointless?


On March 14, 2012 at 5:01 pm

Great stuff and very well reasoned and argued. This is how most of us disappointed ME fans feel, I think. I am not calling for BioWare or EA’s head, I just want them to understand why this ending did not fit at all and, most of all, is a poor ending for one of the most ground breaking game series of all time. Well done.


On March 14, 2012 at 5:09 pm

Great article, very well written.
This neatly shows up all the things that are so seriously wrong with the ending (yes, no plural, as it’s essentially always the same, just with differently coloured explosions).

After they spent so much effort, creating three very complex games, they throw it all away: no choices, no consequences to whatever you did for the ending, no morality, no unity and harmony, no sense, no whatever.

With this abysmal quick hackjob of an ending, they’re essentially showing a big “F*** you” finger to everyone.

The ending is probably one of the biggest and nasties trollings in gaming history. Oh, and did you know that after the ending, after it pesters you “go buy the download content or else”, there’s another video that goes like this:


On March 14, 2012 at 5:23 pm

Well said. The sheer abruptness and the fact that ‘my Shepherd’ would never have accepted any of those choices made the ending hard to swallow. The reasons you’ve listed simply add insult to injury to fans like me who were really invested in the lore and canon of the series. Here’s to hoping Bioware listens.


On March 14, 2012 at 5:34 pm

The difference between episodic mediums like sitcoms or comic books and Mass Effect, is then comics or shows aren’t constrained by any type of paradigms. They are episodic in nature and continue as such.

Mass Effect 3 was promised to be the end of a series, and as a bunch of people have already stated and quoted from the Director of the Game itself, would conclude the game and answer all questions.

It didn’t do either of those things.


On March 14, 2012 at 5:44 pm

“It’s more than safe to assume no one, not the Quarians, not the Turians, not the krogan, Asari or Salarians, no one is going see home again.”

I don’t know how long some of these aliens live, but the Asari for one, live for hundreds of years, some hit a thousand, so they could get home.

And if this game, which as you say “pushes tolerance” above all else, left a bunch of aliens to live in the same solar system together, wouldn’t that be the ultimate realization of where the game was pushing all along?

John Shepard

On March 14, 2012 at 5:56 pm

Great article! I look forward to more from Mr. Lincoln.

As many have already pointed out this is one damn well written article. I really hope Hudson gets a chance to read this because it sums everything up.

I think Bioware missed that, for those of us playing since ME1, we made our Sheps from the ground up, we built him, created a person who we aligned ourselves with; and in the end, were left with a conclusion that none of our Shep’s would have been ok with.


On March 14, 2012 at 6:11 pm

Thank you for this article. It was fantastic. All my feelings black on white.

Adam Ward

On March 14, 2012 at 6:13 pm

This article pretty much covers everything that I didn’t like about the ending and even raises points I missed when writing down my own thoughts on the matter.

I almost cried when the game ended. I was confused and upset that all my efforts seemed to be for nought.

BioWare made more than just video-games when they made the Mass Effect series; they went beyond that and yet undid all their (and our!) hard-work at the climax was…I can’t even come up with a word that is suitable.

I never expected that the ending would be a happy one but is too much to ask that I know what all that effort was for? Was I right to unite the Quarians and the Geth? Did my curing the genophage bring about a new era of co-operation and lasting harmony or condemn the rest of the galaxy to The Krogan-Rebellions: Part 2?

That’s all I ask for…closure. Is that too much to ask?


On March 14, 2012 at 6:31 pm

Good to see that there is still critical and independent gaming journalism. The majority of the mainstream sites are not much more than glorified fanzines fearing for their ad revenue and publisher goodwill.


On March 14, 2012 at 6:38 pm


The major problems are actually that Earth couldn’t sustain all of them (two species can’t eat the same food as humans, for example) when there are millions of them trapped in a single system with only one habitable planet, which has recently been devastated by the Reapers.

In addition, it’s doubtful that the krogan forces brought any females with them. So that leaves us with two groups of aliens who will definitely start starving when their supplies run out, one group of famously violent and aggressive aliens who recently had their fertility restored, only to wind up stranded on a planet without any of their women (hope the asari are feeling accomodating), several potential other species who are going to face various issues (the Hanar ecosystem is vastly different from Earth’s; the volus need a separate atmosphere to survive; the vorcha are basically vermin people who tend to overrun any planet they gain access to) and all of them ARMED TO THE TEETH.

I don’t think the love is going to last under those conditions. I don’t think EARTH is going to last under those conditions.

Anyway, this article is awesome. Perfectly outlines the issues with the ending.


On March 14, 2012 at 7:02 pm

This was a FANTASTIC article! I’ve seen so many people hating on those of us who are upset with these endings. Sorry, but I actually do feel entitled to closure, but other than that, over the years we’ve had plenty of time to do so much in the Mass Effect universe. Maybe I sound dramatic, but I was heartbroken that I had no way out of killing my Shepard. My first Shepard, might I add, that I navigated through the other two games and all the DLC just to be ready for March 6th. It was bad enough her face didn’t import correctly, but to have her die at the end acting completely unlike herself? Heartbreaking.

I’m a huge Bioware fan, thanks to my brother… Their games are really the reason I started playing console games again. They’re geniuses but right now I feel like they’re trolls under a bloody bridge. There are promises of something on the horizon that will be amazing and would stop all of our lamenting and then Casey Hudson shows up and talks about how he likes how polarizing the endings are. They’re ripping the fanbase apart and hurting Bioware’s reputation amongst an EXTREMELY loyal fanbase.

I just hold out hope that the future holds something better for this game because I really feel that my Shepard needs to go out fighting, not reasoning with a creepy AI kid. I’m a fan of the indoctrination theory flying around the internet and will keep myself in that bubble of theory and denial until I hear otherwise.


On March 14, 2012 at 7:12 pm

Sorry, Ross – Bioware’s in the middle of some calibrations right now.


On March 14, 2012 at 7:19 pm

Great Article, but I am confused. WTF did I do wrong to only get 2 choices instead of 3?


On March 14, 2012 at 7:26 pm

Looking around and its creeping in here too, im seeing more and more people who just dont get it. How in any way shape or form are the endings ok? We were told that WE as players would shape the ending but it was an outright lie. Lets be honest here, Hudson’s comments saying he wanted this polarising reaction is just crazy. He wanted the game to be remembered? For all the wrong reasons?

There really needed to be something like Sheridan from Babylon 5. Standing up to the big powers of the galaxy and basically telling them to take a hike. Seriously do think that if anyone took it up there would be a case for false advertising. Knowing that you can play the game in so many different ways just to get to the same result is galling. Let everyone die because thats all that will happen anyway.

This was not the first game I preordered but it will be the last. I already know of someone who will not buy another Bioware game, for another recent issue. I might be joining them because this clearly was not what it said on the tin, For the most part the game is awesome but then to totally destroy replay value for all three games is just lunacy. But it does have EA written all over it. Bioware sold thier souls to the real reapers.

Captain Obvious

On March 14, 2012 at 7:33 pm

The reason for the bad ending is TOO OBVIOUS. The real closure will come in future DLC’s of Mass Effect 3. It’s not enough for Bioware/EA to get your 60$, they want moar. Waaaaay moar from your pockets. Evil company is evil.


On March 14, 2012 at 7:38 pm

Btw, this is not the worst ending of a video game. I would say Borderlands takes the cake on that one. Also people are talking about how the ending ruins replay value. The game itself is not replayable. All the military resources dont get reset, the galaxy map doesnt get reset, etc, etc.

Kim Etzerodt

On March 14, 2012 at 7:59 pm

Didn’t that AI boy explicitly state, that the Reapers only harvest advanced civilizations?
And wasn’t his reasoning that it would prevent further synthetic life forms from killing all organic life in the galaxy – meaning the same races the Reapers kill, but also all the young races that the Reapers would spare?

Seems to make some sense – much more, than this article turns it into.

R. Duke

On March 14, 2012 at 8:10 pm

Even if this “Beginning of the End” theory is true, it’s a seriously bad move on Bio Ware’s part. I’ve always liked them since they seem to be on the fan’s side (you can’t ask for better gaming experiences than KOTOR or Mass Effect) but forcing players to pay for DLC to get the real ending is a horrible thing to do. Even if they give away the DLC for free, you’re paying for your internet connection aren’t you? It’s no different than a book leaving out the ending and saying “Surprise, we’re giving away the real ending at all Barnes and Nobles for free, you just have to drive here to get it.” Bull, pure and simple.


On March 14, 2012 at 8:29 pm


I can’t thank you enough for writing this article. I beat the game on Sunday of this week and have been twisted into knots for the last three days.

As an American, I believe in freedom of expression for all creators and designers, regardless of my personal feelings on the subject matter. However, as a consumer of a product, I feel like I have a right to receive what I paid for, especially if that was in the verbal agreement or contract.

I love most of BioWare’s games, and I’ve loved playing them. This articled did a great job of summarizing why a fan like myself could be so hurt by this ending. In ME2, if you didn’t buy better shielding for your ship, someone on the crew paid the price in the end. That system of choice and consequence kept us scrambling for our own personal ‘best’ endings. We’ve also been conditioned from the news articles to believe that this last game would take all that into account.

Impressively, 95% of the game’s narrative did. But the conclusion, the big finale didn’t. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I was absolutely blown away at how much of the narrative from the first two games carried over, (up to an including special lines from Tali expressing displeasure at having been sent up the heat exhaust tube in part 2) and was impressed seeing how making the choices I had helped unite entire species against the Reapers. But I was absolutely crushed that in the end, I have to try to make sense of 10 minutes of gameplay and footage that didn’t make much coherent sense.

For now, I’ll carry with me that I kept as many crew members and species alive for as long as I could. But seeing that many systems destroyed at the end by Shepherd’s hand after hundreds of hours of trying to unite them? It was a huge letdown.

In response to the fans and well expressed articles like this, I hope that BioWare will release a letter to the fans letting us know why they didn’t come through on the ending. We can all speculate all we want, but at over $200 dollars for the 3 games and the DLC’s, I’d really like to know as a consumer why the game didn’t match their promises.

Thanks again for taking the time to write this article. At the very least, you’ve helped a fan like me see that I wasn’t alone in what I was feeling and perceiving. I deeply appreciate your writing, and for giving us fans and consumers a voice.



On March 14, 2012 at 8:37 pm

people shut up stop ruining it for everyone the real reason the ending sucks is because everyone now knows what it is thanks alot!

anonymous cause

On March 14, 2012 at 8:53 pm

I agree with Mark, WTF did I do wrong to only get 2 choices instead of 3? WTF is the green light anyway??

Blue: Shepard control the Reapers
Red: Shepard kill the Reapers
Green: ????????????


On March 14, 2012 at 8:57 pm

To date I have played both Mass Effect 1 and Mass Effect 2 more times than I can count, and I am not a fan of some of ME1′s mechanics. And I am currently working on my 2nd play through, Played my Neutral and Paragon Shepard’s, of ME3and am not sure if I will play it again after.

I may play my Renegade, but I know that after that I will not play it again because there simply is no point. Heck, the only reason I am playing my Paragon is because I wanted to see how things played with Liara.

And the only reason I would play my Renegade is to see exactly how bad I could make things, by only doing the necessary missions to progress the story. But again, there would be no point.

So far I have not seen a single article that better explains why than this one.


On March 14, 2012 at 9:00 pm

The Green ending is “Synergy” where you combine organic and synthetic. From what I have read, so take this with a grain of salt, to get the Green ending your Shepard has to be Neutral and have a balance of Paragon and Renegade.


On March 14, 2012 at 9:05 pm

Let me see…. I destroyed the Reapers, Anderson dies (never liked him much anyway) ,the geth went poof and the cycle ended. Shepard lives, its clear from the breath scene and the “tell me another story” from the stargazer. The Normandy crashed on earth and at least Tali (my romance), Joker and Liara survived. So, Shepard will eventually rejoin with them. Sux for Tali though, no going back to her home world. In any case, none of the alien races that survived the assault on earth will be going any ware any time soon. Earth will become a ver interesting place with all the new inhabitants.

Jess Q.

On March 14, 2012 at 9:14 pm


Blue: Shepard controls the Reapers (and becomes immortal but it sucks? I dunno)
Red: Shepard destroys the Reapers and all technology and probably himself
Green: Synthesis. Shepard chooses to combine synthetic and organic DNA to move evolution along (without their permission, natch)

Green only shows up if you have a really good game. I did every side-quest but no multiplayer and I had green as an option.

However, apparently in a “perfect” game, after the Red “Renegade” (supposedly) ending, you actually see a tease of Shepard waking up in rubble that appears to be London, which really supports the crazy indoctrination theory. You don’t see Shepard’s face, but they’re wearing charred N7 armor and if you play a girl, you hear a girl’s “breath” as she’s waking up.

What does that mean? I have absolutely no idea.

Dan Sanders

On March 14, 2012 at 9:21 pm

I just wanted to add my voice to the thanks. I’ve never been this into a game series before, but I was hurt by the ending and at at a loss as to how to express my grief. If this were any other game I would feel either happy if things worked out or mad if the game had some problem, but honestly, I feel grief, like i lost something unexpectedly. powerful stuff.


On March 14, 2012 at 9:31 pm

Ross Lincoln, you have gained a fan. Both for being concise and eloquent in your writing, and also for bothering to take the time to deconstruct an issue that thousands are angry about, an issue that long term fans have been insulted over and told to shut up about, whether it is from Bioware reps themselves or most other supposed gaming journalists.

This is not the treatment we deserve.


On March 14, 2012 at 9:46 pm

I’m Commander Shepard, and this is my favorite article on the “Retake Mass Effect 3″ movement.

Original Video:

My Version:

“You all know the mission, and what is at stake.
I have come to trust each of you with my life — but I have also heard murmurs of discontent.

I share your concerns. We are trained for gaming; we would be legends, but the records are sealed.

Glory in online battle is our way.

Think of our heroes; Leeroy Jenkins, who defeated a raid group with a single pull.

Or Rick Astley, who kept excited gamers at bay with hidden Rickrolls.

These giants do not seem to give us solace here, but they are not all that we are.

Before the network, there was the Atari. Before video games, there was D&D!

Our hours of gameplay stopped Saren and Sovereign, but before that we held the line!

Our influence stopped the Collectors, but before that, we held the line!

Our influence will stop Bioware and Mass Effect 3′s crappy endings; in the battle today,


Nikki M.

On March 14, 2012 at 10:22 pm

Thank you. You summed it up perfectly.

I never expected to have a ‘happy’ ending. I’ve ran too many RPG’s and read too many great novels and trilogies to think it’s be Disney happily every after, and I would’ve been fine with that. I’m fine with the fact that my Warden disappeared in a few years after defeating the Blight. I’m alright with my Champion going on the lam, and disappearing as well.. Same with my two jedi from KOTOR 1&2.

The difference was that there was closure and choices, and you knew what effect your character had on the world when it ended. You, as Shepard, were losing friends and millions of innocent people as you worked to bring the galaxy together to fight back…

and up until you spoke with the ‘Guardian’ I was blown aware by the story, how if progressed and it was the best game I’d ever played..

and then I felt like I was socked in the gut. None of the choices were different to me, at all, or to my Shepard.

Ultimately, I picked destroy (good) because all I could think was if that was me, and I had to choose one of those ty choices after losing close friends and my lover, I was gonna nuke them. Felt awful, because of how my Shepard busted her ass to unify the Geth and the Quarians, as well as the Krogan & Turians.

That was no choice, none what so ever.

Hell, if they had popped my Shepard into those dreamwoods/afterlife/heaven, and everyone she’d lost on the way to the end was there welcomed her, and we got a write up of how the universe moved on.. I would’ve been happy with that

Liam Kroeger

On March 14, 2012 at 10:31 pm

ME3 = DA2 with guns for me. It’s that simple.
There are so many questions now at the end that I am almost a 100% certain I will pas whatever it costs to see a real ending. I do NOT care if it is a good or a bad one. I just want closure.
And therein lies the problem: Bioware can depend on people buying a DLC because they care about the story. But if they are really going through with this, there will be dark times in the gaming industry ahead.

Dragon Age 3 will be my last Bioware/EA product it they pull this off.

P.S. Please don’t get me wrong: ME3 was a great and purely epic game but the ending was just in insult to all who care about the Mass Effect universe and gamers in general.
Now I can fully understand why I consider myself more of a MMO-Lover: You don’t have to care about the end.


On March 14, 2012 at 10:44 pm

Organic life always creates synthetics. Synthetics destroy the organics and the universe comes to a halt. No evolution. No nothing. Thats why the Reapers destroy the universe every 50 thousand years. It’s also explained why The Illusive Man is on the Citadel earlier in the game. Also the endings for me were perfect. By the time I got to the Citadel and the child started talking I was thinking more about what’s best for the galaxy. Middle option is the perfect ending to me. I didn’t just save the universe from the Reapers but threats beyond that. Sherpard’s sacrifice was for the betterment of the galaxy. Mass Effect was filled with choices that affected the present. I think it fitting that the last choice be one for the future.

Matt C.

On March 14, 2012 at 10:48 pm

Just a fyi, the whole thing about the illusive man being on the citadel, it was said with the conversation with Hacket and Anderson that after he found out the citadel was the catalyst, he made for the citadel and warned the reapers, so he was there when the reapers closed it and moved it to earth


On March 14, 2012 at 11:48 pm

This is a brilliant article, thanks so much for posting it. I hope EA-Bioware wakes up soon and fixes this before the fans decide they won’t and walk away without looking back.

There is a theory that this is all a PR stunt, and perhaps an attempt to gouge for more money for the the DLC with the real ending,. They are taking a big risk at losing a lot of customers if its a PR stunt, and if its a DLC gouge, they will make those sales – but they will also piss off customers who may then say that they are done with EA-Bioware after that.

Not to mention people selling their copy right now, you know many of them won’t go buy another one after EA pulls some stunt like that.


On March 15, 2012 at 12:01 am

Great article. I don’t necessarily agree with how people are choosing to voice their opinions(I think many fans of the ME series take things way too seriously and are immature), but this puts things into perspective for me. I was fine with the ending I had, but thinking about all the things this article points out, the ending really does crap on everything that was being set-up through the whole series. I think at this point all Bioware will do, if anything, is put out a new dlc pack and act like this was all an indoctrination hallucination. That’s really the only way they can retcon the ending. I think they just screwed up though.


On March 15, 2012 at 12:35 am

I dunno, it seemed pretty clear to me from the beginning of the series that the Reapers were going to keep the entire galaxy in a stunlock and the only way to stop them wasn’t going to be pretty.

I guess… five years worth of ending cutscenes and/or “what happened to everyone” epilogues in the glorious Bioware “tradition” make a “good” ending? The thing with Joker obviously has a piece missing. I was actually listening and paying attention during all three games so not much if anything came out of left field.

Tanya W.

On March 15, 2012 at 1:23 am

I just finished ME:3 last night, I can’t say anything about this ending that hasn’t been said already. Thank you for this article.

More than the story, as a faithful Bioware customer(Everything from KOTOR 1 and on) I feel cheated, lied to and used, and felt the writers/developers think of us as nothing more than 5 year olds with money to burn.

My Shepard, yes MY Shepard, and I think everyone’s would never “accept” this ending, or the “choices” she’s given, especially such nihilistic ones. MY crew would rather get incinerated on Earth with me fighting than fly in a random direction.

I take comfort in the fact of the final destroy scene where the N7 chest breathes that Shepard was really just knocked out by the beam, and Anderson was really the one who saved Earth (which he deserved to), and hoping for a “Waking” DLC or a text-only mod.

Final note, if it were all real, the Catalyst/AI’s logic is false and utterly nonsense. I disproved his reasoning through the Quarian/Geth alliance, and throughout the game EDI herself is walking proof. But like everyone says, we’re not given any chance to say that to this walking plot-hole child and make our own decisions.


On March 15, 2012 at 2:26 am

These “endings” are completely and utterly disconnected from 99% of all 3 of the games put together. How they could put together such a feat as tying in all the choices you’ve made from ME1, ME2, and then into M3 and then throw it all away in 7 minutes is beyond me.

There’s a difference in Bioware taking artistic license and putting forth philosophical questions to us that we can interpret as we like and just taking the deus-ex machina approach and taking the easy way out and destroying one of the best sci-fi ip’s in the last decade.

Again, 99% of the game is amazing, it’s worth the money, and one of the best experiences you’ll likely see from studios anytime soon (mostly due to the quality of the VA’s and scripts), however ALL of that is completely invalidated in the last 7-10 minutes. I certainly wouldn’t want to touch ME1 or ME2 or 3 again,investing countless hours for…what…red,green,blue?


On March 15, 2012 at 3:04 am

My Problem was that they had to go out of their way to make such a ty ending. I would have preferred they had just been lazy and done a simple 2 ending choice: Control the reapers and rule the galaxy with an iron fist, or destroy them, knowing that no one can handle that much power. The fact that they added the weird, god-like child-computer just baffles me.


On March 15, 2012 at 3:49 am

What a good article it is, I enjoyed it.

I cannot believe that the Bioware made ME3 be filled with all those conflicts between different races, synthetics and organics, different values, philosophies, and end like THIS.

I hate to admit it, but it would have been better getting “overused sunshine and puppies and creepy masked babies” over that pile of junk.

Jonathan C Parker

On March 15, 2012 at 4:01 am

Agree totally with this article, nothing new I can add to the general feelings of disappointment. Maybe Bioware are going to latch on to the whole indoctrination idea that people have mentioned and linked videos to, but I have some answers to some of the supposed lines of evidence for it all being a dream/indoctrination.
1) You hear it being reported that nobody has made it to the beam that transfers you up to the Citadel. Well that is actually true. You are the 1st to make it and you hear that before you get there and they probably saw you hit like all the other soldiers.
2) Anderson getting there after you but then being at the console before you. He clearly states that whilst coming up after you, he ended up in a different location than you. It could have just been closer to the console than where you ended up. Plus you move at about 0.0000001 mph so a snail would probably beat you.
3) You crew members being on earth one moment then the Normandy the next. It takes about 20 minutes from when it is reported nobody makes it to the beam and a retreat/reorganise ordered to when you destroy the Mass Relays etc. On hearing that nobody had made it, Joker could have quickly swooped down, collected the team and then have been attempting to escape in the Normandy when forced to crash. I’m not saying that fits whith what my team would have done, but there is the time to do it.
So as much as I don’t like the ending, I really do believe that Bioware intended that to be the genuine ending and all the indoctrination/dream talk is wishful thinking. Maybe Bioware will change to that in view of the backlash but I do not think that was their original intent. I believe thay just simply made a really poor end to a fantastic trilogy.


On March 15, 2012 at 4:04 am

This article breaks it down perfectly and explains why the ending to video games’ “first true epic” is the biggest let down ever. It’s total crumb.

There’s a comment on here by “Chris” talking about all the ‘possibilities’ or something of the next Mass Effect games with synthesized races and tells us to “imagine what it would be like in the future there” and how it would “fix all the plotholes”. No. It doesn’t. It doesn’t answer why Joker ran away or why the Galaxy isn’t destroyed or why your squad is suddenly on the ship. It doesn’t solve the problem of a hopeless ending where the races probably starved to death (or were eaten by the krogan). You CAN’T imagine endings after this one. Did you PLAY the game? Did you READ the article? Just picturing the ‘next three games’ in a world where God Child molded everyone into Synthetic-Organic hybrids doesn’t fix these endings. If that’s what BioWare tries to do, I’m not putting a cent into the damn series.

Thank you for such an outstanding article. I can guarantee you I’ll link this around whenever I need to explain to people WHY the endings to ME3 deserve the hatred they’re getting.


On March 15, 2012 at 4:05 am

This sums it up nicely. To have such an epic franchise end in such a senseless way is what upsets us. We were allowed to make choices throughout the entire series. Yet, at the end of it all, we are left with no choices at all. We are forced to accept the director’s attempt at creating a controversy…creating a subject of discussion so ME can continue on. By looking at how many responses there are already, I guess he succeeded.


On March 15, 2012 at 4:10 am

Great article, I hope it helps bring about something positive.

Someone mentioned this on BSN, but I think it’s an important fact to consider. Most, if not all of us, play these games to entertain and distract and escape from reality. Our reality is generally boring, mundane, and these games are our outlets for being somewhere that we could not go.

How many pieces of fan fiction, spin offs, character backstories have been written about Baldur’s Gate, KOTOR, Dragon Age, Mass Effect? Because all of these are rich, detailed worlds/universes.

What can those people write about canonically post-ME3? No more fan fiction of humans visiting Thessia, or growing up on the Citadel.

To tie this back to reality, in our current economic climate where people, regardless of income are unsure of the future, games, books, movies offer a way to escape and give some perspective. We can all relate to a lot of the characters in these stories because we all know someone like them.

My former CO for example during service had a LOT of the qualities of Garrus, which made me like him even more because I connected with the character in a personal way.

Point being, ending your story on this note is a shame to the series, and to Bioware, who are infinitely better than this, all the small and large choices end up the same, going against everything they’ve done in the past.


On March 15, 2012 at 4:17 am

THX , great article …..If there were more articles like this maybe just maybe they will stop telling others that the ones that are disappointed aren’t a few as they said many times but a big part of the ME and Bioware community…I did not signed the petition but I am disappointed….Thx again for a great article….


On March 15, 2012 at 4:37 am

Amazing article Ross!

Notice how there are little to no complaints about the bulk of Mass Effect 3 up the the end scene itself? They did an above and beyond job in setting up the third chapter…but then….

Why did they do this? Surely SOMEONE at Bioware, a writer, an artist, a programmer, feels the way their customers do right now about how cheap, random and out-of-place these endings are?


On March 15, 2012 at 4:38 am

… I just realized. That indoctrination theory gives not only extra ending but allows post-end DLC. (not to mention obvious Aria retaking Omega)

If you killed Wrex in ME1 his brother will wage war with salarians.
If killed the Geth help Quarians with remaining geth forces
and so on…

I liked original 3 (or 16) endings but with ability to make post-end DCL gives Mass effect even more “plot gravity” like final fantasy 10 (with it’s 10-2), 13 (13-2 same way) not to mention FF7.

Giving that idea using “this” :

Who looks after ME tweeter maybe knows better


On March 15, 2012 at 4:39 am

I cannot think of anything better to summarize my feelings. Thank you very much for the article. Bioware should deliver us a closure DLC for free because I deny the one that came with the game itself. It was not unforgettable, it did not made the triology better… I played first 2 games again before the release, just to make sure I did all the right choices in first 2 games, just to see that they have no effect at all. I’d prefer a cliche ending that gives me closure and showing me that my choices mattered, instead of this crap


On March 15, 2012 at 4:47 am

Thank you.


On March 15, 2012 at 5:09 am

Thanks for the well written article. You did hit the main points. I finished the game last night and slept on it. I awoke with the same empty-gut feeling I had when I turned off my XBox last night. The ending of ME3 was just plain bad story telling. Cheap and lazy story telling. They robbed us of a story ending which we had been building for years. Every single one of us invested time, emotion and identity into “our” Shepard. We were robbed. Whether or not Shepard had a romantic happy ending with Liara or Tali. Spent the rest of his days in a bar with Garrus and Grunt picking fights and telling war stories should have been our choice. We worked for it, but we didn’t get our payoff.


On March 15, 2012 at 5:33 am

I am gratified to know that at lease SOMEBODY gets it.

We aren’t being whiny, we want the experience we were promised. Will I keep playing this game? Yes because the characters are still compelling and the game is still fun to play. I will just stop short of the ending and try to imagine the ending that Drew Karpyshyn actually intended, since this obviously isn’t it.

Am I going to buy ANY dlc’s (or any other product) from Bioware till something is done about the ending?



On March 15, 2012 at 5:36 am

I will so share this on my Facebook. This is EXACTLY why I was bothered by the ending of ME3.

Thank you for writing this.


On March 15, 2012 at 6:09 am

First, thank you for the article.

Second, I personally thought my Shepard would not survive this from the start of the game. Heck, even the opening music at the Start screen was somber and foreboding. So, I am not displeased that my Shepard died.

Third, as you pointed out, I have issues with things that did not make sense. Glaring example: As much as I wanted Liara, my love interest, to live, how could she be on the Normandy after I destroyed the Reapers. She was with James and I during the final push. After the explosion, I assumed that she died – that my choosing to bring her got her killed. But when I saw her looking alive and well, I did an Internet search to try and understand what I had been seeing in the last 10 minutes. And that leads me to my “Ending frustration.”

Finally, I discovered that there was a possible ending where Shepard does not die. More importantly, it required a high military strength. Because I do not like multi-player, I refused to do the online missions. I confirmed that there is no way to get enough points for the “Shepard lives” ending without doing multi-player. So Bioware chose to penalize me for avoiding multi-player. Worse, for avoiding multi-player in a game that has been historically a well-crafted single player experience. I would not have minded taking the time to secure the necessary resources. But to not even give us single players a chance to collect enough is wrong.

So, the ending is confusing. You do not have any chance at achieving other possible outcomes without doing multi-player. You never get to see if all the things you have done had any real impact – galactic unification, so what?


On March 15, 2012 at 6:34 am

Thank you very much for this article. It is certainly the only one that gets this deep into the matter and actually tries to see what really bothers us fans.
Like you said, we are not just whining about wanting a happy end, but are seriously frustrated, some even depressed about the way this last 10-15 minutes practically screw everything that has come before that.

YOu list all the valid points and I agree with all of them.

For me the most important one in matters of the story, is the fact that the theme of tolerance is so totally discarded and that Shepard only gets a choice between three ways he/she would never have chosen.
There are a few instances in the game where I felt we were being lead too much,(long dialogues with almost no choices possible) and nowhere does it show so much as in the end.
I was waiting and waiting to be able to do something, but no… no way.

No matter how I try to get my head around it, it makes no sense to built up Shepard three games long, to so utterly destroy her/she in the last minutes.

No, it’s not about a happy ending (although I personally would like at least the possibility to achieve one.)
It’s about taking everything the game was about and turning it upside town in the end.

And it is about a promised and neccessary closure, which isn’t provided.


On March 15, 2012 at 6:39 am

Thank you so much for writing this perfect sum up of everything that is wrong with the ending of this fantastic game and francise!
I have loved ME from the beginning and the ending(s) it has gotten is just undignified. It just doesn’t do this epic journey any justice what so ever and i really hope that BioWare (who still is one of my favorite developping studio’s only somewhat less now) sees that they really should make a true ending worthy of the name Mass Effect!


On March 15, 2012 at 6:40 am

This made my day,I swear that I couldn’t have said it better myself


On March 15, 2012 at 6:43 am

I agree with this article at every point. The ME3 ending is so badly written I’m simply ignoring its existence right now. To me the story ended when Shepard was running towards the conduit.

If Bioware was going to Retcon the story they should involve their core progression mechanic (the size of your forces) much more closely and nuanced.
I’m hoping the forces you collected will have more effect on the actual events. Like the Citadel defense force: Did the reapers kill everyone on board the citadel or are they still alive and holding out against reaper ground forces? Why weren’t we allowed to fight through the citadel to its control room (come full circle), instead of bringing us to some random control panel conveniently placed near where you are transported?

In that sense, It was disappointing that the citadels role as an actual mass relay wasn’t taken into account. Why not make the Citadel itself act as the galaxy wide smart-bomb instead without the mass relay network, If this thing can pull the reapers out of dark space on its own power, it surely can send a signal galaxy wide with the crucible attached.

The fleet-size could have been proportionate to your success.
If the Crucible is damaged due to a lacking escort, then the citadels mass relay could cause interference destroying the mass relays in the process, if the crucible is really damaged then it could destroy the citadel in the process as well (causing Shepards death).
However if its protected properly with enough forces (for example) it could leave the mass relays intact, destroy or subdue the reapers and allow for a good ending without the space/child/god deus ex Machina.


On March 15, 2012 at 7:26 am

Any money I’d spend on dlc is going to charity. From the moment the bioware push for cash to pre-purchase the digital deluxe version with it’s showing of the prothean in the demo, they’ve gotten their hands on enough of my entertainment budget. To make me feel better, my next entertainment budget item is going toward helping a real charity at this point. I’m adding up the cost of any dlc coming out after this game and throwing in an extra 80 bones and sending it on to the charity many are donating to.

I cannot see (other than altering the ending completely) that a dlc series is going to fix this anyway. What could they give us: new armor? more pets? super guns? story within the story? Nothing fits.

And hiding behind budget and time-line restrictions doesn’t cut it as an excuse. I’d gladly have waited a lot longer. It’s not like bioware is a startup- indie company. They had the cash, and they had the fan base. Their price point shows they had done their homework.

Speaking of which, I have the cash and had the time. I feel like I got suckered by all the pre-release comments and that darn demo. I hate that. They didn’t play fair, but I could have waited – and not purchased the game at all. Or looked in the bargain bin at my local, instead of an instant gratification Origin download.

News travels so fast, 14 days wait I could have saved 80 dollars. But the pre-release news and that demo… no I blame the company on this one.

No one can can convince me that even the game writer’s liked the ending- no matter how much they defend it.

Does anyone remember that guy way back that strung along a tail of CD’s he would collect along the march because he was trying to make an environmental statement? CD’s people would get in the mail regardless if they wanted them or not, and usually got trashed?

Oh wait Origin/EA instant gratification download again.


On March 15, 2012 at 7:59 am

Ross Lincoln YOU ARE MY HERO!!!
Ross Lincoln FOR PRESIDENT!!


On March 15, 2012 at 8:10 am

Many have already given their opinion about the end, and here’s mine.

For people who wonder why so many people think the ending of Mass Effect 3 was bad, here’s an analogy which requires a little knowledge of The Lord of the Rings and its plot:

Imagine you enjoy the story very much. So much, in fact, that you have read the first two books with appendices (all poems and songs included!), and/or watched the extended versions of the first two movies. Then you get your hands on the last book/movie which was just released. You start enjoying this item, not missing a single thing, since you think the story is much, much better than you are used to enjoy and you don’t simply want to miss anything.

Finally you come to the last part of this excellent adventure. The Fellowship of the Ring has had to face a lot of pain and misery and now they are starting the huge fight against Sauron at the gates of Mordor. At the same time Frodo and Sam are fighting to get to Mt Doom to destroy the One Ring, with Gollum in pursuit. What will happen? Who will win? Who will die? Will the ring get the better of Frodo, too? What is the fate of the world you have been “living” in through the whole epic adventure? Or the people who have followed and learned to love or hate?

Then the story cuts to Frodo in Mt Doom. Gollum attacks him, but then suddenly decides to cut his own throat because Frodo scolds him a little bit. Frodo throws the ring into lava and dies when the volcano explodes. Sam, your loyal companion who followed you all the way to the mountain, is somehow magically transported back to Shire, but that’s ok, since he’s riding faster than the wind to get as far away from you as possible. The world starts to explode. There’s no mention of what happened to your Fellowship nor if any of them survived. The End. The short afterword states that you can buy an extra chapter that will explain what happened to Frodo when he swam over a pond two months before his end.

Yes, Tolkien could have chosen any road he wanted since he was the author. But don’t you think that in any case the ending should have had at least some sort of closure – at least to explain was everything worth it, or to mention who, if any, survived? Or at least make sense.


On March 15, 2012 at 8:26 am

Please Bioware… PLEASE! I beg you to fix the last ten minutes of this game. It was the best game I ever played until I became indoctrinated.


On March 15, 2012 at 8:34 am

Great article Ross!

As far as I’m concerned, the Crucible worked, destroyed the reapers and the last 10 mins are my Shepard having a coma dream in a hospital on Earth with Liara and kids at his side.


On March 15, 2012 at 9:15 am

The main problem with the ending isn’t even the fact it sucked; its that each ending sequence felt like half an ending. It seems like Bioware/EA decided to cut the ending in half, in order to tick off their fanbase, thereby promoting the sales of a “real” ending DLC that explains/completes it. Controversy like this promotes word-of-mouth publicity, and all publicity is good publicity. All I know for a fact is, if the ending isn’t fixed/explained, for FREE, Bioware and EA won’t be getting another dime from me. If its not fixed, or fixed for a price, that’s it; I give up and wash my hands of the company. I refuse to spend my hard earned cash on content that should have been in the game in the first place.


On March 15, 2012 at 9:34 am

This is one of the best review I’ve ever read. When I finished the game the ending didn’t make any sense. I played the ending twice and tried to change the output. No matter what I choose it was terrible. I simply don’t understand this moral/sacrifice bull . I do my part of sacrificing every day. I am a married man! I don’t need that from a game.


On March 15, 2012 at 9:49 am

Thank you for this “clinic” you just put on.

Chuck Wells

On March 15, 2012 at 10:01 am

Kudos to the authors of this article. This is the most spot on, most exceptionally weighed and correct statement made about this unfortunate controversy that I have read. The fact that it clearly details the disappointment of fandom, without being intentionally inflammatory is quite remarkable. The outraged & vocal naysayers could learn a trick or two from considering how these guys frame their thoughts on Mass Effect 3


On March 15, 2012 at 10:14 am

Thank you so much. It’s nice not be called homophobic, a cry-baby, or a selfish, artistically-inept gamer for once in regards to this matter. You summed it up perfectly.


On March 15, 2012 at 10:33 am

About point 4. I thought the point was that synthetic life will destroy ALL organic life. Thus the reapers were created to cull the more advanced organics, while leaving the less developed ones alive in order to grow more. That’s why the salarians, turians, humans, etc survived while the Protheans didn’t. That is definitely expressed throughout the game/when talking with the AI at the end

Bart Stolk

On March 15, 2012 at 10:38 am

I’ve been thinking about the mass effect 3 endings for a few days now .
breaking down everything the series had in it.
as far as i can tell . the crusible doesn’t even work while its in orbit around earth . becausse it needs dark matter to power it.

but more to the point .
i don’t believe a single second of events afther you get blasted by a reaper during the all out storm to the citadel .
the whole thing is build on lies , details left out or changed to have another meaning .
my conclusion on the endings is that you are either unconsious and your choices deside if you : either give up and die , or fight to wake up.
based on your nightmares where you run towards the child .
the last nightmare ends with you burning along with the child .
Implying that sheppard wishes he/she died with the child .

upon that , if the child is your unconsious self , it gives you 3 options with lies .
-control the reapers : let the reapers turn you in a husk.
- meld biological and synthetic life together : become part of a human reaper
- or kill the reapers . wich leads to an ending with sheppard waking up in a pile of rubble.

add on top of that , that there is still 1 story to be told about the sheppard.
tells me that the whole ending is based on your will to survive .
cos in the end isn’t the whole idea behind mass effect 3 a simple statement? we fight or we die ! ?

Or your witnessing indoctrination for the first time.
cos so far we’ve seen it , not experienced it .
the sole reason i see indoctrination is the child .
sheppard starts seeing the child when the reapers arrive at earth .
we know the reapers use indoctrination .
so consider if the dreams you have are indoctrination attempts on sheppard while she’s sleeping and at her weakest point of resistance.
also if it is indoctrination , then the child is a reaper spreading lies .
turning the truth to there advantage .
like before the 3 options are changable .
if the child is a reaper then it seeks to control you (control the reapers option)
meld biological and synthetic life together (is obviously and attempt to force you to agree to help build a human reaper)
destroying the reapers and all synthetic races . if the child is a reaper then it’ll lie about the death of other synthetic life just to preserve its own race.
also note that your alignment goals change color .
also why does anderson not see the child .
or in a time of appocalypse why does no adult even try to help a child into an evac shuttle ?


On March 15, 2012 at 11:00 am

Give this man a Pulitzer.


On March 15, 2012 at 11:02 am

No court martial for Joker, he probably gets the worst out of everyone. On that seemingly uninhabited garden world with no transport, everyone who was on the ship is reduced to survivalism unless there’s a way of communicating with a nearby civilisation.

In that case, Joker with his brittle bones would be so much of a burden to the rest of the crew that he probaby wouldn’t make it very far, even if EDI survived and could carry him.

More doom and gloom!


On March 15, 2012 at 11:06 am

This is easily the best written article that I have seen detailing the flaws in ME3′s ending. While Bioware and other gaming websites are trying to brush this issue off as a bad case of gamer “entitlement”, this article shows the ending’s flaws without going down that road.

Kudos to the author on this piece. I only hope that more of the naysayers take the opportunity to read this.


On March 15, 2012 at 11:25 am

The entire point of the ending (and of Mass Effect) is that in the end, paragon or renegade is not a good vs evil discussion. They’re order and chaos. Organic and Synthetic life.

They’re EVERYTHING the entire series was about!

Here’s what I think the three choices represent:
- Destroy: Choose Chaos, Organics, Renegade, Humanity (Anderson). For now organic life is saved, but synthetics may be built again. If that happens, there will no longer be Reapers to eventually cleanse the universe and restore order. This is chaos.

- Control: Order. Paragon (literally: idealistic, not ‘good’). The Illusive Man examplifies this. Control also stands for the Synthetics. Rather than Reapers enslaving/indoctrinating humans, humans enslave reapers, geth and EDI. Control is predictable, but control takes away the freedom of the synthetic races.

And finally,
- Synthesis. This is neither Paragon nor Renegade, but what is it? The melding of Order and Chaos? I think this is the Unknown. The Cycle is broken and this is the next step; YOU get to think up what it means exactly. Perhaps it’s the ‘free will’ you talk of, even though that is already addressed by the mere fact that Shepard is there, talking to the Child.

Rewind a little bit. Shepard has just been hit by a freakin’ REAPER. Not something anyone ever is known to have survived. Better yet, Anderson somehow also got in and The Illusive Man pops up out of nowhere. Shepard can hear people over the radio, even though he’s not wearing one. His armour is all gone.. blasted off cleanly?

Was Shepard really in the Citadel? I don’t think so. Was it a dream? Pretty sure it wasn’t. Perhaps it’s just not meant to be taken literally.

In the end I could not have asked for a more fitting end to the Mass Effect saga, precisely because it ties everything together. It just doesn’t turn it into a neat piece of prechewed logic for you and lets you make up your own mind.


On March 15, 2012 at 11:42 am

Wow, you really have to forcefully missunderstand the whole story, if you sum up this much nonsense.

Every argument is filled with unlogical nonsense. First think, then write.
“In Mass Effect 3′s ending, the Mass Relays are destroyed in explosions so massive that they’re depicted as being visible from a perspective that resembles the Normandy’s Galaxy Map”. Which means that Shepard has probably killed more life forms than the Reapers could on their best cycle.

=>Maybe the biggest error first:
A. Blue Wave kills nothing.
Red wave kills Syntethics.
Green wave kills nothing

So what did kill shepard? only synthetics, and only if willed.
did you you even saw the end? seriously?

“No matter which of ME3′s endings you choose, the Mass Relays are all destroyed.”
=>Wrong: Take the “blue” ending, and the sequence of the exploding Relay is missing, unlike the “red” ending, where you can see a full-scale explosion. (btw: the Citadel is a relay itself)

“But in The Arrival, it was firmly established that the destruction of a Mass Relay would result in an explosion resembling a supernova,”
A: The explosion-wave isn’t ignited by a relay, but the crucible.
Maybe the relays supposedly expanded the blue/red/green wave by supporting it with their own explosion. Makes much more sense to me, at least.
B: Nobody ever tried to destroy a relay, those where just hypothesies.
In fact nobody understands how a relay exactly works. Only the protheans built a conduit similar in function.

and the list goes on and on and on and ( i mean it ) on and on and on…(seriously, i’ve read it through and every argument is just unlogical)

And at last, by reviewing the oppinion based issues like…

“Everyone in the galaxy is stranded where they happened to be at that moment, including thousands of ships and millions of alien races now orbiting a ruined Earth.”
=>…i just thought…
so what, they’re alive.
Poor ultra-advanced aliens, can’t find refuge in a faster-then-light ship, in a Galaxy full of friendly aliens.
You probably didn’t know how to further slander the story even more, than by already placing pseudo-facts that obivously aren’t true. (see above)

Man, you hate this game? fine, keep it to yourself. Or get real arguments.

You’re probably someone who rather watches bambi than inception.
Oh, this brainstormin hurtin too much…”right dawg?”

Jason S.

On March 15, 2012 at 11:59 am

+100 Ross!

That’s a clear way of thinking about it Dragon, but ultimately it’s apologetic towards the hashed together endings we have . I disagree, was Shepard’s story, *our* Shepard’s story, broken into 3 acts. Organics vs. Synthetics was already a subplot between Quarians and Geth which we could resolve.

All 3 choices in the end assume that Shepard trusts, gives a damn or WANTS to believe what the Starchild says.In no way are we given an explanation for any of this, or choices against it which goes directly against EVERYTHING we’ve done in the past 3 games.

Fine go ahead, destroy the galaxy, kill Shepard, kill the whole crew for all we care. Just have it make sense, which none of these endings do, they are not profound choices between vastly different outcomes.

In ME1 you could save or destroy the council, the governing body of the entire galaxy, permanently leave one of your squad for the lifespan of (now) 3 games, and more.

In ME 2, we all know the choices, including up to everyone ending up dead at the end, beside which you could keep or destroy a horrific site where thousands of humans died.

ME 3 discards *all* of that, and gives you 3 colors to choose from and tells you everything you did leading up to that point has no point.


On March 15, 2012 at 12:07 pm

9 Characters, most from all 3 games – a few started in ME2, exploring every relationship (or lack of) and having unique convictions that make them each very different from one another, not just paragon/renagade. And now they all end up pretty much the same way…


On March 15, 2012 at 12:10 pm

Of course it’s not apologetic; I sincerely think it’s a brilliant ending that’s perfectly in line with what went before.

Organic vs Synthetic isn’t just Quarian/Geth, it’s REAPER vs EvERYONE.

Johnny Gray

On March 15, 2012 at 12:37 pm

Thank you. I was trying my best to just roll with it, even managed to keep it together for a while. But I couldn’t do it. All that fighting, and in the end, I was powerless to save those I loved.

Thank you. They’re going to do their best to write us off as entitled and whiny, but I don’t care. Screw them. Because we’re together. I am not alone in this feeling of emptiness. Whatever happens, it can happen with the knowledge that we took a stand for the world we fought to save.

We held the line.

Jason S.

On March 15, 2012 at 12:41 pm

I don’t mean to offend you Dragon but, honestly asking here, how is your crew (who were all on Earth at the time of the Crucible explosion, it takes Shepard all of 10-15 minutes to get to the Starchild) on the Normandy IN mid-relay flight escaping the blast.

Nevermind the Joker running away, which goes against his character (he admits to massive guilt that he caused Shepard’s first death), so Normandy flew down to the Reaper/Harbinger infested area before the beam, scooped up your crew and magically flew off seconds before the explosion?

How does Shepard’s behavior at the end make any sense unless it was all a dream/subconscious, and why are we relegated to this ignorant AI-child who is apparently unaware that he’s the problem, yet Shepard can’t tell him that to his face and walk off.

Again it’s not about organics vs. synthetics, EDI/Geth/Quarians disproves the kid’s point. EDI herself says that Reapers are selfish and limited in thinking, all they want to do is bottle up organics to preserve them like specimens and reproduce.

That’d be a fine motivation for them without involving an insipid clueless AI-child who contradicts himself in one sentence.

Jason S.

On March 15, 2012 at 12:53 pm

Also to add further, again with the Geth/Quarian story, is that life is life, whether it’s synthetic or organic. The AI-child ignorantly assumes that a synthetic singularity, similar to Geth, would reach the conclusion to wipe out organic life, yet it provides no context as to why it came to this conclusion and Shepard can’t argue the thing on the spot as to it’s fallacy.


On March 15, 2012 at 1:14 pm

This article is absolutely brilliant. It thoroughly sums up all that is wrong with Mass Effect 3 endings and all the ways they contradict and render previous choices made in all three games irrelevant.

I especially loved reason number 2. Mass Effect has never been about ending everything that doesn’t agree with you, and yet that’s exactly what the endings here imply. And the game doesn’t even give you a choice to disagree with the Catalyst.

It’s been a week and 45 000+ people (and counting) have already voted for better ME3 endings. I think that says enough.

BioWare games, especially Mass Effect, have always provided a unique, innovative, interactive experience, along with a wonderful story and well written characters. The ending of Mass Effect 3 doesn’t do that legacy justice in any way.


On March 15, 2012 at 1:16 pm

I think those aren’t the right kind of questions, Jason.

I’m not entirely certain what *literally* happens on the ground and I don’t think it’s that important. As for Joker; I think, though I’m not certain that the Normandy is in FTL, not going through a relay. We’re not really told how the war ended, or how long it all takes; or even what exactly happens with the Citadel.

I’ll try to explain *my* understanding of events, but it’s deliberately open to interpretation, so by no means conclusive:

I think the human Shepard died (or at least nearly died given a scene in one of the possible endings) right there when he was incinerated by the Reaper. The Major on the radio isn’t lying when he says noone made it through.
We don’t know what happens to people when they get caught in a reaper beam. Their bodies get assimilated; but both the reapers and the Child attest that they ‘preserve’ the races they assimilate. Surely they can’t mean just the bodies?
Regardless, SOMETHING does move on after Shepard dies. Wether it’s his soul, or a manifestation of everything that he represents, THAT’s what goes on into the Citadel. It’s not the human Shepard, but the concept of Shepard (the name Shepard isn’t a coincidence either).

As for the Synthetics/Organic discussion; I think one of the main presumptions of the Mass Effect universe is THAT synthetic life will eventually destroy all organic life and create ‘order’. It’s the reason the Cycle was created and it’s the underlying motivator for the entire conflict.
The ‘solution’ of the Cycle no longer works however.. so we are left with the choice of how to continue.. destroy the synthetics so that they won’t destroy the organics.. but they might rise again; enslave the synthetics and take away their ability to rebel, but also their free will; or, if you believe that the premise is false and organic and synthetic life are compatible, choose synthesis.


On March 15, 2012 at 1:19 pm

I would like Game Front to publish an article about how prices for Mass Effect 3 have already dropped more than $10 for all 3 platforms on Amazon. What is EA’s reaction to this? Is there any data on SWTOR cancellations?

At the end of the day gaming is an industry about making money. These are some questions that need to be answered I think.


On March 15, 2012 at 1:30 pm

“At the end of the day gaming is an industry about making money.”

It’s THIS presumption that is incredibly harmful to the industry.

Happily it’s not entirely true.


On March 15, 2012 at 1:31 pm

You re totally right there should be at least ten different endings, depending what choices you make the people you bring together i feel ed after seeing the ending and the ending………………..


On March 15, 2012 at 1:33 pm

This is 100% right!

Jason S.

On March 15, 2012 at 1:34 pm

I appreciate the response Dragon, very well thought out. I wouldn’t have any problem with these endings if that were the case as you said, but again, a 5-ish minute cutscene for a 5 year trilogy does not do it justice.

I’d say as well that the ending you mention also goes against what i believe is the core of the Mass Effect experience which is choice and character development. I’ve gathered everything I possibly could against the Reapers, yet none of that matters and all the endings play out the same nor do we actually get closure on Shepard, the crew or the races we’ve met along the way. Whereas if you neglected upgrades on the Normandy or loyalty missions in ME2, there were heavy repercussions (story-wise).

I guess my final point is for a series based on moral choices, we get very few in the end, in direct conflict with what the developers said 2 months ago (the A,B,C endings which again amount to the same thing). I mean, why can’t I as a pure Paragon Shep just shut off all the Reapers only, maybe dying in the process, but knowing that trade, cities, my LI and the galaxy will be safe. Or have a renegade option to just use the citadel to send the Reapers/fleets into a sun, black hole etc?


On March 15, 2012 at 1:52 pm

“In nearly every way that mattered, they delivered a rich, complex experience for Mass Effect 3.”

Clear whoever wrote this article has not played ME3.


On March 15, 2012 at 1:55 pm

Well to be honest I also felt the ending was a little.. short.. then again, anything they would have added would have detracted from letting the players decide what *their* choice actually means..
Specifically I can’t think of any way they could have satisfactorily shown me what synthesis actually looks like.. it’s best left up to my own interpretation and visualization.

That’s also the reason why the endings, while visually somewhat similar, are thematically vastly different. The universe you leave behind depends on it. The game just asks YOU to fill in what that universe will look like.

Can I ask you back if the paragon/renegade choice you suggest would really have felt like a proper ending to the saga to you? To me that woud have been an enormous letdown, almost pedestrian. More something I would expect from Modern Warfare than Mass Effect.

The choice you make isn’t just for what happens to the reapers here *now*, it’s about what happens after the reaper destruction cycle ends all together! After all, the fact that Shepard is standing there shows that that design no longer works!

This, incidentally, is also why I think fleet readiness is tied to what endings you can choose. The ability Shepard has shown in uniting the races of the universe and opposing the Reapers for the first time gives him the right to make this decision.. It makes him the spokesperson for all organics (and possibly the sentient Geth). The entire game leads up to Shepard gaining the right to make that last decision.

Again, this is all interpretation; but interpretation that makes me love this ending :)

Perhaps the mistake Bioware made, if they made one, is that up until the ending we haven’t really been asked to think freeform. We’ve just made decisions that were given to us. Only at the very end the game moves away from literal meaning and at the same time asks you to *really* consider the meaning of what’s happening, what the reapers are, and what the main conflict is about, and as the writer of this article points out ‘fill in the blanks’.
Only I’d think letting players ‘fill in the blanks’, especially at the ending would be a good thing in an interactive story of this sort.
But perhaps the game has been too literal and expositional up until this point.


On March 15, 2012 at 2:00 pm

And this is why I pirate games.

Jason S.

On March 15, 2012 at 2:11 pm

Exactly that Dragon, the game has always been…literal..scientific (though it’s obviously a lot of nonsense sci-fi, biotics etc), but nothing in the 3 games is even vaguely suggestive that aside from the Reapers coming every “cycle” that there’s this “higher power” that watches the whole thing, or has anything to do with changing it.

Bioware took a giant misstep in a freeform ending, we’ve always chosen our path so far, so to kind of leave us with NO choice feels out of place and insulting.

As to my paragon/renegade choices, sure why not, I mean an open-ended ending may be for you if you chose say synthesis, which leaves the series in a gray area (though I do think they’re all cheap).

But for destroying the Reapers, it’s what MY shepard has wanted from ME1..what he’d been fighting for, so not letting him enjoy the fact that he’d truly stopped these monsters even for a brief moment and having his loved ones/friends nearby to let him see them safe isn’t worthy of my time to this series.

Would it have been so bad or unartistic for the Normandy to fly by the citadel (mysteriously with everyone aboard) and seeing your crew/LI in the lounge or the viewing deck saying goodbye as Shepard closed his/her eyes?


On March 15, 2012 at 2:15 pm

Here’s an interesting post I just found:

I think he might be somewhat missing the point (not sure, and in any case who am I to judge), but nevertheless an interesting view of the galaxy after the events in Mass Effect 3 (Hey! It could be quite a happy place!)

David Davidsson

On March 15, 2012 at 2:18 pm

Here check this


On March 15, 2012 at 2:20 pm

What I’ve been trying to say is, that *because* it’s pretty freeform it offers a lot more choice than anything they could have programmed!

You could choose to destroy the Reapers, right? That option is there. It even shows Shepard breathing under the rubble of London, so he’s still alive. I’m willing to bet he’d see the others again afterwards, in the long rebuilding of the galaxy that would inevitably follow after.

I just hope for your sake your galaxy will have a new shepard in a hundred, thousand or ten thousand years time when a new race of synthetics is threatening all organic existence ;D

Jason S.

On March 15, 2012 at 2:44 pm

I think that’s the point you’re missing is that there won’t be a synthetic race threatening organics, the Starchild’s logic is just nonsense, he’s the perfect example of a circular loop VI, similar to Avina. The Geth could have easily conquered *all* of the galaxy as referenced in ME2 where the tens of thousands of Geth we fought in ME1 were about 5% or less of the entire race.

They like any species unless it’s a shackled programmed AI like the Reapers, ultimately have no desire to wipe out anything, as it’s pointless.


On March 15, 2012 at 2:45 pm

Reason #4 is wrong. The Reapers do not “kill” all life. They only harvest the intelligent species and create new Reapers with them evolving that species to the pinnacle of evolution as a sentient bio-mechanical being in a non-chaotic way.

By allowing organic life to achieve technological singularity there can be no more evolution of life in the galaxy and therefore the galaxy dies. This is what what Reaper prevent by harvesting all species capable of technological singularity and forcing them to evolve in a manner of the Catalyst’s choosing.

The rest is spot on.


On March 15, 2012 at 2:53 pm

The simple fact that is being overlooked by those who are dismissing the unrest as simple “nerdrage” is that we don’t necessarily want the ending to be fluffy or in any way “sunshine and bunny rabbits”. A large complaint is simply that it not only provides no closure, but that in the context of everything we have learned about the game’s universe, its characters, is nonsensical.

What has been for the last half-decade was an intriguing, emotional story that was shaped based off of our choices. It is one of the main selling points of the entire franchise: “All your actions have consequences”. We were even told that the endings would reflect that, even going so far to say that there would be as many as SIXTEEN endings, all vastly different from the others and that it would not be “Choice A, B, and C”. What we received was exactly that. All of our actions that we had devoted 120+ hours to ultimately meant nothing and ended with more questions than answers and more plotholes made in the final ten minutes than the entire series combined.

The gamers who dislike the endings are not making their voices heard without reason. They (myself included) feel betrayed because we have invested our time and our money into something only to have our faith shattered and our dismay spat on.

The idea of “entitlement” is a sentiment that seems to be specifically oriented around the gamer community. It’s an idea that says that we are complaining about something we have no rights to, that we have no personal stake in the outcome of games we love and have devoted our time to purely because we were not part of its development. But, we are. It’s a symbiotic relationship, one where they develop, we play, we love, and we invest our money and our time so that they may continue to develop and we can continue to play. To have Bioware take a “It’s X, love it or get out” is a betrayal and an insult and one that is being countered.

So yes, I did not like the ending and I am glad that the voices speaking loudest are (for the most part) the most temperate. It needs to happen in all aspects and, hopefully, this will be a good start.


On March 15, 2012 at 3:01 pm

I think that’s a damn good ending (one of many IF we had choices). It’s extremely well written and fits Shepard to a T, I suggest reading it.


On March 15, 2012 at 3:02 pm

For me, the most interesting thing is to compare the ending of ME3 with the ending of Dragon Age: Origins. That game had endings that were both very similar and radically different. On one level they were all the same in that the hero defeats the dragon and ends the Blight. Regardless of your choices, that outcome is achieved. BUT your choices make a tremendous difference in all other ways. Alistair might be king, or might be a washed up drunk. The hero might live, or die. Morrigan might be pregnant with your child. Or Alistair’s. Or not at all. In fact, there’s an impressive number of cut scenes that chain together to give each playthrough a unique ending. It is viscerally satisfying, but also emotionally so. You feel like you mattered and at the same time you directly see the results of your various choices.

It astonishes me that ME3 took a completely different approach. Especially in light of the fact that the title is the end of the series. How is it that they were able to provide such a wide variety of endings in DA:O, yet also dovetail those choices with Awakening and then to a much smaller degree with DA2 but not do something equally epic for the final title of the ME franchise? It just makes no sense.

Ross Lincoln

On March 15, 2012 at 3:09 pm


The harvesting involves the systematic murder of billions of beings. Even the ones who are merely enslaved are completely converted into mindless machines without a soul or individual personality. That sounds a lot like killing to me.


On March 15, 2012 at 3:13 pm

Jason; if that’s how you think the Mass Effect universe works, then the destroy ending is perfect for you and you rid the universe of a rogue AI that was leading massive robot spaceships on some crusade every so many tens of thousands of years?

There’s noone saying that CAN’T be your ending… for me I think the Child was an entity that knew what would happen, so the technological singularity idea is a fixed reality in the Mass Effect universe. But that doesn’t mean my interpretation is right and yours is wrong or the other way around.

Zak, I never said you wanted an ending with bunnies. You’re using a straw man argument to accuse others of using a straw man argument :P .
That said I think authorial control can’t be compromised. Only BioWare knows what a BioWare game should look like. If you don’t like the result, don’t buy BioWare games in the future.
The alternative is design by collective, which is terrible.

As I said, I think the ending is a great conclusion to the story and I think the last choice perfectly condensates what the series is all about. And at the same time it allows you plenty of room, no it even invites you to think of what your choices mean for the universe you leave behind.
Not just the last choice; all your choices. Do you have to have the game put them in a nice list for you to make them seem more ‘real’?

I say this with caution, but I do get the idea the same people who rile against ‘corporate’ making Bioware do things like day-one DLC just to make money then proceed to say that THEY get to decide what Bioware should make, because hey, they pay the money.

Jason S.

On March 15, 2012 at 3:33 pm

Dragon, yes we have two very different views on the ME universe, but I think your ending(s) even deserves MORE than jump into light/disintegrate –> color beam cgi —> reaper cgi —-> normandy jungle.

That’s the crux of my argument really, that besides a choice in endings that 5-ish minute cgi sequence with no context isn’t what this series deserves.

And again, you said “the” ending and “the” last choice, to me there should be VASTLY different choices depending on how you acted, what forces/technology you’ve collected. This is the ending to Shepard’s story so none of it or all of it can be canon, unlike the “everyone dies” in ME2, which you can’t import, obviously, to ME3.

Ultimately we’re the customers/fans of this series, and you have every right to an open-ended ending, just as I have a right, as a fan and loyal customer mind you, to hold Bioware to their advertisements and

Is a variety of endings for closure too much to ask for a company that many of us have spent years and hundreds of dollars with?


On March 15, 2012 at 3:40 pm

Wow, beautifully written and thorough. I applaud your, sir.


On March 15, 2012 at 3:49 pm

I agree, but you know, I’m not even that upset with the endings, I just believe they should’ve detailed it more. I mean, IN THEORY those 3 are really great choices with lots of debatebla ethical decisions. For example. if you choose to destroy the reapers You are basically dooming the entire galaxy, but at the same time, letting you and others live out theyre lives. If you think about it, there is such a great morale clash in that. But they don’t do it that way. They just throw in a cutscene of bright colors and thats all. I say, the endings are good in theory but poorly developed

Jason S.

On March 15, 2012 at 4:00 pm

In all the endings the galaxy gets doomed one way or another, in all the endings the mass relays overload and explode (in 3 colors!), so it doesn’t matter if you controlled the reapers or synthesized everything (which is the most amoral thing to do, Shepard in any moral standing would never presume to make that kind of god-like Starchild nonsense decision for trillions of living beings).

I’m more convinced now that they just ran out of budget/time after the Cerberus/London portions of the end.


On March 15, 2012 at 4:19 pm

I’m Commander Shepard and this is my favorite article on!


On March 15, 2012 at 4:21 pm

Brilliantly written. Thank you for sharing. Redirected here from (original author of the ME and ME2 universe).


On March 15, 2012 at 4:49 pm

Ross Lincoln, as a longtime BioWare fan (since KotOR) I absolutely agree with everything you said here. You’ve captured so well what many of us fans have put less eloquently in countless posts.

For me, ME3 was quite possibly the most impressive game I had played, right until the final moments.

This was either an exceptionally dumb (or daring, if things aren’t quite what they seemed) way to end such an epic trilogy.


On March 15, 2012 at 4:52 pm

I was referred to this by a friend I was making fun of because his game didn’t end the way he wanted. Now I hafta apologize. No wonder you guys are upset. I didn’t realize the different ending were just color choices. I’m glad I didn’t pick up this game. It sounds like a waste of time for someone who’s never played any of the prequels.


On March 15, 2012 at 5:13 pm

I think people are entitled to want a happy ending to be honest. Sacrifices are made, people are lost and it may mean others being made but in the end isnt that what everyone was figthing for in the first place?

No one complained about the happy ending to Mass Effect 2. The difference with that game being that things you did really did make a difference to the outcome.

I can see no reason to play any further Mass Effect games after this one at the moment. Im not sure whether it was arrogance, stupidity, lack of time/budget or whatever but they may have just destroyed a cash cow of a franchise. A franchise I might add that had unlimited potential but it could never be called Mass Effect again.

If a film has a bad ending it can get changed if the test audience do not like it. What the hell did the beta testers actually do? Surely the ending would have been in there to report back on? It simply cannot fathom how no one thought this was a bad idea.


On March 15, 2012 at 6:03 pm

To Shep16

Obviously somebody thought it was a bad idea. I doubt Drew Karpyshyn’s departure was an accident or a coincidence.

I think what we all really want is the ending Mr. Karpyshyn intended. Happy, sad, or otherwise.


On March 15, 2012 at 6:04 pm

What exactly did you expect? Anyone with the slightest shred of common sense could see what BioWare did what they did in all the rest of the games: create a fairly similar experience no matter what choice you made. You want diverging paths and stories? Go read a “Choose your own adventure book”. Those can have different stories and settings because it doesn’t cost a million dollars and a team of engineers to set them up. All Mass Effect really did was allow for character interaction where an NPC could end up dead or alive, happy or ticked, or give a line of dialogue that might change something minor in the background.

In all three games, no matter what “big” choices you made, the same thing always happens. You save the council? Everyone is still pissed at you and you join the Illusive Man. You allow a gang leader to walk away alive? You might see her later on, and you reminisce, and she walks away without adding anything. All three games are just third person shooters with invisible “guard-rail” walls and static, unmoving set pieces.


On March 15, 2012 at 6:05 pm

Great article. Just finished the game myself, my first thought was “huh…that was pretty disappointing”. The game was fantastic right up until the end…which was pretty sad. I’m not mad I suppose but disappointed for sure. I was actually seriously planning on re-installing 1 (still have 2 installed) and playing back through all three since I lost on save games from one and wanted all my choices to be right so I’d need to play through from the beginning to do it. Now though….not really worth it. The ending just makes all those choices sorta pointless. Who cares who lived/died or who I ended up with because you don’t even so much as find out what happened to them.


On March 15, 2012 at 6:05 pm

I was vaguely satisfied with my synthesis ending. I love how Shepard turned out to be a cosmic hero of sorts that basically turns into a creation myth, like the movie The Fountain.

I became extremely interested in how the ending would explain the whole duality of the birth/rebirth cycle that the Reaper and Prothean hinted at. I thought that maybe the Reapers didn’t NEED to do any cleansing (they created the cycle themselves), because nature itself is dual and will take care of itself. From death comes life and from life comes death and so on. Yet indeed, Bioware sucks ass for this.


On March 15, 2012 at 6:08 pm

Ok this right here boiled my blood, mass effect 3′s ending was great. The DLC thing could have gone away but meh. So many things in the article are wrong and read like it was done by a spoiled child not happy with his christmas present. This quote pisses me off the most…”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” Kill the reapers….that was the whole f-ing point of the games, and if you think you didn’t have to make this option before you somehow skip the whole raknai queen part of ME1. Control the reapers…this was the whole side with cerburus thing you could do in ME2, and i know personally my “Galaxy for the Humans” shephard will pick this, i mean there is a whole way playing this game where you try to make humans the strongest in the universe -eg- letting the council die so humans can take controll of it. Merging life…you have more then one chance to let the geth grow into something more them just AI, and now you are offered this on a universal scale.

Supernatural season 5 ending quote…perfect for this…

“Endings are hard. Any chapped-ass monkey with a keyboard can poop out a beginning, but endings are impossible. You try to tie up every loose end, but you never can. The fans are always gonna . There’s always gonna be holes. And since it’s the ending, it’s all supposed to add up to something. I’m telling you, they’re a raging pain in the ass.So what’s it all add up to? It’s hard to say.”


On March 15, 2012 at 6:18 pm

Why is anyone surprised ME3 sucked? Bioware is owned by the francise killer called EA. Remember what Bioware with Dragon Age 2? Dumbed it down to appeal to a greater audience.

ME3 was rushed and the studio was lazy. The game engine was recycled to save money. Tali’s reveal picture was a photoshop of a stock photo! ME3 used a Deus Ex Machina ending, literally, basically ripping it off of Deus Ex.

Now they want to game you for more money for DLCs or possibly an MMO. Shame on you Bioware, and lying crook Casey Hudson.


On March 15, 2012 at 6:42 pm

Here here,

I’m fed up with people saying that those who disliked the ending of Mass Effect 3 were somehow childish or stupid. The problem with the endings is not theory but implementation. This could have been a great conclusion to the series, with Shepard making truly huge decisions about the fate of the galaxy. Yet remarkably the game manages to make the ending seem forced and mundane. It squanders all the probable thought and effort that the writers put into creating it. I especially dislike those who argue that all we want is some silly cliche ending as opposed to the apparently complex and thought provoking conclusion the game currently has. I would argue that whilst on paper the 3 endings could have been this, due to the way it plays it out it manages to be what those who defend it claim it isn’t, a hugely cliche Hollywood B-movie “Happily ever after” ending, which I am convinced I have seen numerous times before. In short Mass Effect 3 has a decent ending undermined by poor execution, and one does not have to be an idiot to be dissapointed with it.


On March 15, 2012 at 6:49 pm

Couldn’t have been put any better. Glad to see someone else understands this isn’t about happy endings but just more of a lack of consistency in a 15 minute ending after a solid three games


On March 15, 2012 at 6:52 pm

The reason people are called childish or stupid for complaining is that instead of living with want you have been given, they run off to the internet and scream about, making those player who were happy with the ending feel like sh*t for liking it. if you hate the ending so be it, but let the rest of the people live happy without all this ing, and thats was this is, not a well pointed out discussion, but a giant case of yelling at the rain.


On March 15, 2012 at 6:55 pm

Thank you for having the guts that all other websites lack and taking a stand.


On March 15, 2012 at 7:40 pm

@ Fortissimo This cleary is a misunderstanding and a generalization maybe in your case you had some fans make u feel bad but i and many other dont want that at all. If you liked the ending im glad for you and i actually tried really hard to like it but i couldnt. Ive noticed as time passed more and more people are saying they like the ending. Whether this be they actually do or they like to play devil’s advocate and argue againt the general population. The good side is though that this debate has raised money for charity so like the ending or not something good has come out of gamers being “immature and childish” and you cant argue against that. At least now you dont have to pay for dlc if you like the ending.


On March 15, 2012 at 7:52 pm

I almost love the ending if it weren’t for my romance interest Ashley. Seeing Joker and EDI in their new paradise was hilariously satisfying, but then Ashley steps out of the ship and has to stand there as the third wheel. That element of tragedy was unbearable. After finally hooking up with my Shepard after three games, I felt they deserved to be together, even if they would die together. Her voice actress did a really great job.


On March 15, 2012 at 8:26 pm

I JUST finished my game, after a very carefull play. Collected everything, did every quest…

My feeling is that it was for nothing. I have the real feel that I could have simply ended the game.

I was planning, a few hours before, a FULL new play, from mass effect 1 to 3.

Scrapped that idea, cause I felt that since the end is that fixed, since shepard won’t see the galaxy again, since he won’t be living in earth with ashley, or miranda, or Cortez or in Rannoch with masked babies, them I simply believe that I have no reason to play again.

IF I had a cutscene of shepard trying a normal life with the FUTURE I CHOSE than I would feel the urge to play again, from the begginning

I HATE the ending.

The game was really good, had me logged for a whole week.
But the ending did make the whole 3 volumes series seem like a really…. commom game.

THat Is it. The end felt COMMON for a game that is a mark in game making.

Bioware did screw me on this one.


On March 15, 2012 at 8:28 pm

It’s nice to see some of my issues with the ending written down by other people. Gives justification at my disappointment, but also shows my disappointment wasn’t purely because I didn’t get what I wanted, but also because it simply was written badly.


On March 15, 2012 at 8:40 pm

After playing through the game and completing all I could think of was….what?… Because of the fact that I can’t play multi player I was only able to get my WA up to 3500 with an imported ME and ME2 file, full completetion of all 3, so I had to watch the “extended” ending on youtube. If the fact that the whole ending was nothing but an illusion, I can honestly say that’s a good plot twist, and do think that it’s an acceptable option for AN ending. I’ll admit it, I’m a scifi junkie so I can appreciate a weird ending that is a trippy as a Pink Floyd video. BUT much like everyone I would like a real ending or a different selection endings.

And weird ending aside and little to no footage of other races fighting on Earth. A couple of things that everyone on all different boards have missed is what the !@#$ is with not being able to go back to Illium or Omega? On IGN they even commented about being able to go back to these worlds. The game does need more N7 mission like 1&2.

By chance did anyone notice the fact that you can’t restart the game with your current weapons,armor, or level from your previous play through like in 1&2. Reason I say this is because I would kinda like to go back and play through the game on hardcore or insanity mode and start off at current level of 57 and have my good gear for the really tough fight. Not too mention being able to have the cash too by the REALLY expensive black widow, paladin, and wraith or the specialty armors. You know for nostalgia and fun factor.

But comments aside the up to the “ending” was still phenomenal and outright addicting. And greatly hope that there will be DLC content that exceeds 2.


On March 15, 2012 at 9:07 pm

Excellent review! But, I have a question? Why is it that those of us who disliked the ending of ME3 are denegrated by those who did? Have we offended you in some way? Have we called you names or attacked you in some way? But why is it that you feel you must? For you to call us childish or ridicule us because you enjoyed the ending and we didnt well, to me that sounds childish. Just because you enjoyed the ending doesnt give you the right to denegrate those of us who didnt.


On March 15, 2012 at 9:49 pm

This article speaks the truth!


On March 15, 2012 at 9:49 pm

I would change only one thing about this article – the part where Bioware doesn’t owe us anything. That’s like saying the chef doesn’t owe you a good meal, though you paid $60 for it. Or that the personal trainer doesn’t owe you his time even though you paid $60 for it. People are going to say it’s not the same, but it is. Damn straight it is. We paid for the game. Collectively we financed this whole epic story. To say they owe us nothing for it is ridiculous. This isn’t a book written for the sake of art. It’s a game, and we have the right to be sufficiently entertained by it.

This attitude has nothing to do with entitlement. Wish people would use that word properly. This is about a fair transaction, a betrayal of trust. Entitlement says they should give us the DLC for free. No, we don’t own that. Might be a dumb move, but Bioware can release the DLC whenever they want, however they want, and we can buy it or not. We vote with our wallets. But what they did to the ending was more of a bait and switch. Ever read a novel where the author clearly wrote himself into a corner and couldn’t figure out how to get out of it? That’s what this was. The fact that they could even THINK about building this game without a truly epic ending that tied together the entire series boggles the mind.

t represents deliberate neglect, and it’s all the worse hearing them say “oh but look at how cool multiplayer is!!” Big. Frickin’. Deal. It’s not a differentiator. This isn’t Quake or Halo or Call of Duty. The STORY makes it. After that ending, multiplayer just feels hollow.

Ok, I could go on, but I’m starting to sound like a nerdraging fangrrl to myself and I need to go eat some ice cream or something…


On March 15, 2012 at 9:50 pm

So I finished the game last night and was confused / disappointed by the ending. It just didn’t make a lot of sense to me that after spending all that time gathering resources, ending centuries old feuds, keeping my crew motivated and alive, and generally making every effort to ‘save the galaxy’ like I was supposed to I find out that nothing I do actually accomplishes that. Instead I get to watch a rather long non-interactive ending where I get to choose how everybody gets to die. I don’t want bunnies and sunshine… hell, I’m fine if Shepard dies… as long as he/she accomplishes the mission and saves the people he/she sets out to save. Don’t give me any of that ‘but you did save them’ crap… I want cutscenes of my LI crying over my dead body (assuming I died), of Garrus and Tali making a little home on Rannoch, of Vega getting a war decoration in his new N7 armor, and of Taylor sitting on a beach in Rio with a downed Reaper offshore. Not some ‘use your imagination’ crap. I didn’t pay a total of $180 for all three MEs to imagine my own ending to the series. Actually, it looks like I did and that’s probably why I’m upset. They had all my choices, all my story options… they could have done something with them at least. The current ending just feels like a cop-out to me.

After a quick look around on the internet discovered that I was not alone in this feeling, and this review pretty much summed it up for me. Good job.

Interestingly enough, my 12 year old son has also been playing, and although he went straight to the end instead of doing all available side quests like I did, it turns out that his ending was 95% the same as mine (we both chose the ‘red’ pill). Only difference was that he didn’t have a ‘blue’ choice, and since he didn’t have a LI his ship scene gave the door opening sound and then cut right to credits without showing anybody getting out. So one more choice and less than 5 seconds of cutscene difference for spending an extra 20-30 hours in game for me. Seriously? That’s all you could work up to reward me Bioware? Don’t hurt yourselves rewarding an invested consumer or anything.

I guess it’s time to find the next great software company, because Bioware seems to have lost the edge. Sad to see a previously good company take the cheap way out, although I’m seeing that more and more it seems. EA has killed so many ‘good’ companies I really should’ve known better, but I thought Bioware had enough reputation to resist the inevitable outcome. Guess they don’t.


On March 15, 2012 at 10:02 pm

Anyone who didn’t like the ending to Mass Effect 3 probably is bad at Mass Effect. By that I mean they didn’t actually see the real ending (Finish the game with over 4k resources, choose the Red/Destroy option [as you've been attempting to for three installments of the series]). You go through the normal business with the AI, then you see Shepard breathing underneath a pile of rubble.

This implies he either wasn’t killed when he chose to destroy the Reapers despite the AI’s insistence he would be.. or that more likely he never made it to the Citadel to begin with and blacked out after the blast from Harbinger (which is why you hear “Nobody made it to the beam, they were all wiped out).. everything after the blast is either happening in Shepard’s unconsciousness due to concussion/injury or is a side effect of indoctrination (Supported by the “interference” issue when trying to target the reaper near the beam with missles, and Shepard’s prolonged contact with them during the entirety of the franchise. He’s strong willed but at no point is it ever implied he’s immune.)

Try using your brains before nerd-raging people… or try getting the actual ending to the game. Don’t criticize the entire game because you got an unsatisfying ending for doing an incomplete playthrough.


On March 15, 2012 at 10:05 pm

Also the scene at the credits isn’t just “Some Old Man”. Check the credits instead of skipping them, that’s a voiceover by Buzz Aldrin.. real life astronaut. Pay attention.. life should make you a lot less angry that way.


On March 15, 2012 at 10:30 pm

For those too lazy to finish the game properly here’s the part of the ending you’re missing. Shepard isn’t dead. He was hallucinating/unconscious or being indoctrinated:


On March 15, 2012 at 10:39 pm

To summarize the indoctrination theory you basically have to accept the fact that Shepard probably never made it to the citadel, during his unconscious or indoctrinating state you meet the AI who presents you with three choices:

1. Destroy – What Shepard would choose (Resist the Reapers)
2. Control – What The Illusive Man would choose (Therefore wrong/a losing choice – Supported by Javik’s conversations as well)
3. Synergy – Essentially become a synthetic/organic (Join the reapers, also a losing choice)

These all play out nearly the exact same way if you did a bad job with your playthrough and couldn’t break 4k resources. If you choose “Destroy” and essentially resist the reapers, and you have more than 4k (effective, not gross) accrued then you get the extra scene to play showing Shepard under a pile of rubble drawing breath.

Questions are now essentially – Did he even get to the citadel or did he just recover from the blast from Harbinger? And “Is his face deliberately obscured because he’s been indoctrinated?”. DLC should let us know, or you can just guess if that makes you happy.


On March 15, 2012 at 10:42 pm

Sorry, I just think people are too up in arms over things they never had control over. Mass Effect had always been a carefully crafted experience that could differ, often starkly, between players because of the choices they make. Regardless of that, however, we’ve always been playing a game with a very concrete set of key points.

Saren will always be the villain of Mass Effect 1. Shepard will always go down with the Normandy at the beginning of Mass Effect 2. With Mass Effect 3, every player will always go to Mars after escaping Earth, Cerberus will always attack the Citadel, and you’ll always end up having to choose a “colored explosion” at the end.

In the article here, they even say “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.” Does that not happen at all throughout the rest of the series? The article mentions before that having to sometimes betray your (Shepard’s) morals with your decisions is a heavy theme of the series. The ending choices are just another in a slew of hard ones that just have to be made, whether we like them or not. Plus, consider how none of your actions or decisions throughout the series have never actually had any bearing on these three choices given to you by a centuries-old AI, one that Shepard has never interacted with. How can we expect our past decisions to influence the choices laid out for us by ancient technology with a limited number of options?

Lastly, I think the most important thing is that to say our decisions don’t matter is largely false, because my friends and I have all had very different experiences in Mass Effect 3. Some were able to save both the Geth and the Quarians. In some of our playthroughs, Eve lived or died. There’s a lot of ways each of our playthroughs was different, crafted by our own decisions, whether we were Paragon or Renegade, however, as I first mentioned, we all went through the same places. We all went to Mars, we all went to Tuchanka, we all went the Rannoch, we all pushed back Cerberus on the Citadel, et al.

To somehow bicker that the game ends up forcing our battered Shepard into the same location for the finale seems petty, because then you should be complaining about how it did it to every player at almost every turn. Where did we end up at the end of ME1, or ME2? Same place. Were the last few minutes of the game (and series) unsatisfactory to some? Most definitely. I’d like to see what became of the galaxy because of my choices, like did the Kroggan finally grow up the way Eve had envisioned them to? But it’s not like it was the giant middle finger everyone makes it out to be. It doesn’t ruin the game, or the series. Sometimes, stories just don’t end the way we want them to.

We were given the great illusion of control and choice, and we used it to craft our own narrative for an extremely entertaining experience, but we could never stray beyond where BioWare allowed us to go.


On March 15, 2012 at 10:51 pm

Someone give these men a medal for writing this… it’s spot on.


On March 15, 2012 at 11:08 pm

Great, comprehensive write-up. For any fiction the ending has to follow the rules the world has created. If it doesn’t do that it’s a failure no matter what excuses are made.


On March 15, 2012 at 11:08 pm

I totally agree that the ending ruins the entire series. Here is why:

********************** Spoiler Warning**********

1. In my story the Geth are proven to be reasonable and willing to work with organics! Why then would the Reapers statement that synthesis destroy organics hold true?

2. Why make the Reapers appear malevolent and down right evil???? In ME 2, Harbinger says that all organic life will be destroyed in the deepest and most evil voice i have ever heard. If they are doing good, then why not say so and act accordingly? Instead they come across as evil. lol

3. The true antagonist is Cerberus, but bioware only introduces them in ME2 and in ME2 their intentions are ambiguous! The ME series has great great potential, but the writers failed to think through all aspects well enough. They should have made the Reapers malevolent and perhaps controlled by a evil scientist in another dimension.


On March 15, 2012 at 11:12 pm

Just seems like you expected a lot of hand-holding in the ending.


On March 15, 2012 at 11:25 pm

I’m sorry, since when is expecting an actual conclusion – you know, one of those things that shows you what happens to the people you’ve called your “crew” after the “choice” is made – considered “hand holding”?

Whether you like it or not, Mr. Blah, this article is spot on. The RGB ending completely discards everything that made Mass Effect what it was and throws 5 years of an established extended canonical universe out in the trash.

But I can already see a shift happening on the Bioware forums and elsewhere. The next phase of “these players are just a vocal minority/those players didn’t ‘get it’” has started. We are HARDLY a vocal minority and the reason we dislike the ending isn’t because we didn’t ‘get it’; We get it so much that we know it makes NO sense given the rest of the universe and the story presented.


On March 15, 2012 at 11:52 pm

Just finish it 2 days ago, and i’m dissapointed.

***spoil ***

I don’t care if the hero die or not (i prefer shepard alive because I really like the character) but some tragic is good and different than big happy ending… But when I saw this ending :/ I choose the synth/organic because it’s like a new revolution etc. I thought ok, so illusive man here doesn’t change nothing, I did every quests to get a big army and I didn’t see any difference, as if I run in the final mission with the minimum army it’s similar. My choices until me1 and 2, nothing appears. The speech of the ai about every 50k years we kill organic life, I was confuse and didn’t understand anything, said in my head ‘wtf ?’
The ending let me a taste of non-finish. And when I saw the 2 others differents endings on the web (yes because I didn’t want to restart this mission…) I was more angry and dissapointed…
This article is awesome, everything we feel about this game and this end are here. Bioware should make another end, and to be forgiven a free dlc, but I can dream.
ME series was an awesome experience for me, I expected a me 3 like the 1, more rpg style, few longer, anyway I enjoyed the game until the mission on earth, and it worsened with the ending.

Jason S.

On March 15, 2012 at 11:53 pm

Look, whether or not you love the ending or hate it, it simply does not fit the universe they’ve set up.

Look at how there’s little to no backlash at ALL to 99% of the rest of Mass Effect 3 because everything in that 99% fit.

It’s not unprecedented for developers/writers to expand or change a story or script, look at many books and movies (Blade Runner, Little Shop of Horrors etc).

If it’s not all a dream sequence and we’re to see the ending at face value, at least give the player *options* depending on his/her choices to argue that false-logic child down.


On March 16, 2012 at 12:00 am

ah another thing, the music… It was one of the element I liked about me, and jack wall is absent for the third, so they decide to create 1 or 2 songs, and recycled, no, put the same music in this episode (I noticed that with the dlc music of overlord if i’m right in me3).
I don’t talk about the dlc ashes, it should have been free, or just put a text in codex about prothean history, because pay for that ? we’re very far from overlord or shadow broker dlc. Worse if you’re a vanguard, javik would be almost useless.


On March 16, 2012 at 12:06 am

I for one can accept Shepard dying. In fact I thought it would happen. I can accept a lot of things but this ending left me dissatisfied. I spent hours building an army to fight the reapers and in the end it did not even seem to matter UNLESS you choose the ending where you kill all synthetic life and you readiness will give you that small extra clip. I was expecting to see a war. Maybe even everyone cheering in victory or seeing people overlooking the death and destruction… nope none of that. I knew the ending wasn’t going to be all sunshine and rainbows and honestly that is all fine and dandy but this ending left me confused for all the reasons you guys mentioned and then some. However, with the shepard waking up in a pile of rubble part there is a question. How the hell did Shepard even survive? Where did he/she land without burning up in the atmosphere and if s/he are in the rubble of the crucible then is he floating around in space after the whole thing exploded. I think the problem with the ending is that it is too open ended and not a solid resolution.


On March 16, 2012 at 12:06 am

again, can’t edit my post. The big decisions you made, for example about krogan, geth in this episode they can show that at the end, I asked myself if it’s a good idea to cure krogan etc but the results ? just a mail in your mailbox…


On March 16, 2012 at 12:26 am

Its so amazing to see a game journalism site that actually plays the games to the end and states valid conclusions based on post-analysis of the entire package instead of over-hyping a game due to contractual obligations with its developers, personal bias or whatever the case may be. I think I found my new favorite game news site!

Thank you for a very clear and concise article that represents the fans underlying feelings about this unfortunate situation with a game we all REALLY want to love!


On March 16, 2012 at 12:27 am

its so true i hate this ending
the game is until the end so good
i wrote bioware that i was very disapointed
but the did not wrote back


On March 16, 2012 at 12:54 am

After all those story collecting allies and ….. Director get tired and suddenly finished the game in the worst way!
We were in the tank => the tank stuck => everyone died! actually we didn’t saved the earth!
All people in the mass effects (2 , 1) suddenly died in mass effect 3!


On March 16, 2012 at 1:35 am

i don’t think I have any more input that hasn’t been covered to death….

i don’t think I’ve had another game with a 10 minute ending that makes me disgusted to even boot up the other two games in the series.

i’ve had ME1 installed on my PC for almost 4 years…and a day after finishing ME3…..I uninstalled it..

DA2 never made me feel like not playing DA:O over again…..i don’t think i can trust Bioware again, $60+ for depressing me (and not in a sad ending or bittersweet way), thanks.


On March 16, 2012 at 2:01 am

First, thank you for voicing our problems so eloquently. This pretty much covers my issues.

Now. I can absolutely see the indoctrination being what Bioware intended. It is interesting, and would be awesome if you could get to a real ending with a new game plus character or on a harder level. But that isn’t the case. Really finishing the game would require dlc.

And it creates a whole new problem people have pointed out. If that’s it, they are making me pay more to finish their game. I already paid to finish their game.

And even if it were free, I paid to finish their game on my timeline, not theirs. Once they released it, it was supposed to be mine to play in my time. So now they dictate when I finish because it’s their art and their joke?

They wanted us to talk about it? Then why didn’t they give us something *real* to talk about? What did your failure mean? They gave us cut scenes that didn’t make sense to talk about.

So instead we are left talking about the failure of the end of the game.


On March 16, 2012 at 2:08 am

Cerberus is all over Mass Effect 1… in side quests. Like, almost all of them.


On March 16, 2012 at 2:16 am

Unfortunately Bioware has lost the grip on what computer games are about and who is its main audience. Video games are for children and the youth. That is its primary market. Recently and due to the advances in hardware and software and the investments in the computer game industry, video games are finding an audience in the adults as well and profitability demands that they are catered to as well. The thing to remember is that in order to do that, you have to do a lot better than what Bioware has done. Clearly Bioware lacks the intellectual wherewithal to tackle such a problem. A striking example of how things should proceed in any plot involving AI, and the prospect of acquired consciousness, is Arthur C. Clark’s Space Odyssey trilogy. There in the final part the AI or whatever they are, decide to annihilate the human beings because their history, particularly in the twentieth century and the sheer magnitude of atrocities committed by “humanity” in that period, does not qualify them to step out of their bounds, namely the solar system. Imagine what this race would be capable of if it reached to the point where it could exert any influence on the faith of other races in the galaxy. The humans defend against this decision by hacking the computer of the AI and survive the judgment. Although the AI plant a race in the moon Europa and warn humans to keep their hands off of that planet. Apart from how racist that plot is, (i.e, equating the humanity with the Western world; the guilty party to the atrocities of the twentieth century resulting in over a hundred million deaths and also giving “Europa” the role of the equalizer against the “humanity”‘s follies all along forgetting that it was “Europe” that was the main party to those atrocities), the plot is an elegant one. Bioware’s plot is just ridiculous. It shows that it is concocted by people who are simply out of their league when it comes to this kind of plot. They should have held on to the tried and true Hollywood guns. A simple happy ending, perhaps peace with reapers or disabling them with a virus that only the catalyst could produce would be a far better ending. That would be a game that thousands would play over and over again. As it is, it is not even worth a second play.

So, there is the lesson. Perhaps Bioware is the little reaper in the universe of computer games. Just because a company has enough resources and audience to do what it wants to do, it should not step out of bounds and try to do thing that it was not made to do in the first place. Literature and philosophy is intelligence. Bioware has collectively proved that it is not intelligent enough. Just a bunch of very good programmers with lots of money.

Chris LaVasseur

On March 16, 2012 at 2:18 am

I wanted to live with Tali… and I get three “You’re dead!” endings. :’(


On March 16, 2012 at 3:18 am

Exactly what i’m thinking about … nice work here


On March 16, 2012 at 4:28 am

I just want a fourth decision, I just want to rub in the stupid star-child`s face when he states his reasons to wiping out advanced civilizations, that I have proof of the opposite, I have proof that he is wrong, I have the sacrifice of Legion and the Geth helping Quarians, living in peace helping each other! All the hostilities started when Organics wanted to destroy Synthetics out of fear, and that he is wrong because he is driven by the same fear of the unknown… and as a result of my proof I want him to melt in an attempt of rationalizing what I said, and so destroying the reapers… Yeah you know what, this is what happened in my story the official ending.

Josh (a.k.a. SWJS)

On March 16, 2012 at 4:55 am

While the article is very well written and does help to understand fan’s frustrations, there are a few errors here. Perhaps the fans were so gobsmacked they forgot, or weren’t paying attention? I will point out and correct these mistakes, and offer my own theories to unexplained things.

1. Upon discovery of the Human Reaper in 2, EDI flat out tells you the Reapers are not synthetic, but rather constructs created using organics. This essentially makes the Reapers the final evolution of both organics and synthetics, talked about in the synthesis ending.

2. The Mass Relay Shepard destroyed was destroyed violently using a small planetoid. The Catalyst probably saw this outcome, and since it’s purpose is the salvation of organic life, I highly doubt it would tell you “Derp, you’ll save the galaxy from the Reapers, but blow it all up too!” The energy from the crucible expands out to engulf the Sol system, before firing into the Charon relay. The Crucible’s beam obviously dissipates the relay’s core before it fires to the next relay, which likely removed the relay’s “supernova” explosiveness. The map we see is in fact the Normady’s galaxy map. The explosions were in reality the Crucible’s power radiating from the relays, the blips on the map were acknowledging the destruction of each relay, and the area of effect for the Crucible’s power beam.

3. Before you leave Chronos Station, Vendetta explicity tells you the Illusive Man fled to the Citadel to warn the Reapers that you were coming, shortly before you attacked the station. Therefore his reappearance at the end is indeed justified. He was there the whole time.

4. The Synthesis ending, if explained better, essentially means that Shepard has made it not only possible for Synthetics and Organics to co-exist, but has allowed them to procreate with each other by lightly altering the genetic makeup of all galactic life. This essentially means that not only can Joker and EDI be a definitive couple, but they are now able to have viable children. This effectively renders the Catalyst’s points moot, and defeats the purpose of the Reapers, causing them to cease hostilities leave. This at least does give the Synthesis ending more justification, and is essentially why it is the “Golden Ending.”

5a. The part with Joker and EDI can be interpreted two ways. It’s possible that Shepard was presumed dead upon being hit by Harbinger, thus causing his comrades’ moarale to drop severely and retreat. Upon returning to the Normandy and other ships via shuttle they all, along with Hackett, learn from Anderson that Shepard woke up and went into the conduit. They understand Shepard is injured, but is still capable of opening the station. Upon docking the Crucible, nothing happens, so Hackett contacts Shepard. Shepard collapses and Hackett loses contact with him and Anderson, but the Crucible does start to activate. Hackett presumes Shepard died just after activating the Crucible, and fearing it’s effects, orders all ships to retreat. Thus the Normandy begins to pull out, the Crucible fires, the Normandy tries to outrun the beam by initiating a relay jump, it take damage and ends up crashing on the unknown planet.

5b. The Normandy and Shepard’s squad were infact destroyed by the beam, and the planet the Normandy crashes on is actually the afterlife. The reason the Normandy appears is because if you chose Synthesis, then Synthetics are now truly alive and thus have souls, allowing EDI to join the crew in the afterlife. Shepard doesn’t appear in the afterlife because he didn’t truly die, bit rather every part of him became one with everything in the galaxy, including the Reapers.

5. Since at the end we see the grandfather passing down stories of Shepard to his grandson, possibly descendants of Joker and EDI, it’s safe to assume the story was spread to people who weren’t at the Battle for Earth. Thus it’s also safe to assume the galactic community either created a new alternatives to the Mass Relays, or built new ones using data recovered from destroyed Reapers or the Citadel. This could possibly be further expanded on through DLC, and likely will considering the fan uproar.

So as you can see, even though a couple things are just speculation on my part, some things are explained in the series, even if rather poorly regarding some. My assumption is that most of these details were accidentally overlooked or forgotten due to the sheer amount of mindf*** given to us in around ten minutes. Since I’m sure I missed an issue or two, I may read the article again and add more to this in another comment later, though I do hope this helps explain and/or justify a few things.


On March 16, 2012 at 5:17 am

Let’s assume for a moment that the ending thus far is what it is, and not a dream, just for a moment. With that in mind, let’s also take note that Shepard would never just “accept” something like this, paragon or renegade. Now let’s look at actual characters in game that follow you to the Conduit. In my playthrough, I took Garrus and Javik. Neither of them were on the ground dead when I looked around. So that means, they were either vaporized or ran back. They weren’t vaporized, because they got off the Normandy at the end (well one of them did). So that means, they ran off and let Shepard there to die. This does not sound like the Garrus I know from the last three games. Rather, it would seem that they wouldn’t just fall back, especially Javik. Why in the world would he ever let something like this get away from him? He was already going to kill himself after this was over anyways, so what, he suddenly chickened out? He wasn’t called the exemplar of vengence for no reason. And as for the other members that you could have taken with you, all of them had something to save by activating the Crucible. Liara had Thessia. Garrus had Palaven. Ashley and James had Earth. Tali had Rannoch (even though it wasn’t overtaken persay). And finally EDI. Even though she didn’t have a home world to save, she still knew how important this was. I doubt she would have given up as well. All of them were ready to die for this, and in some endings they do, although I hear that even though you see them dead, they can still walk out of the Normandy unscathed. And if they did run, why didn’t they carry my sorry butt back to the med bay or something?!

I am a fan of the indoctrination theory, and I hope it is true. If not however, what I have said here goes to show you why the ending makes even less sense.


On March 16, 2012 at 5:21 am

@Josh, Afterlife??? are you efffing kidding me? What is the point of saving LIFE(I say life because synthetics count too) if you can live forever in an afterlife? The whole struggle would be pointless. Nah well die and go to heaven see you there Garrus, exept you are not chrsitian… yeah and exept you EDI and Legion, you have no soul, and so forth…

Josh (a.k.a. SWJS)

On March 16, 2012 at 5:22 am


Very well said sir or madame. Very well put, I feel the exact same way and also share this point of view.

As I pointed out in my last comment, a lot of people are saying much of this was never explained, or that the Catalyst’s logic was hypocritical, when this wasn’t the case.

The backdraft from the ending is absurdly overblown, and I believe it’s simply the writer’s excellent work showing. The ending, and twist were so astonishing and emotionally taxing that no one is willing to accept it and move on. As a matter of fact I felt the same way when my mother passed away, so I do have to give the writers credit. The ending did it’s job, if a little too well.

Jason S.

On March 16, 2012 at 5:26 am

Josh, none of those things address the why an AI-child needed to be brought into the story in the last 10 minutes, or why he’s even justified in speaking at all to Shepard.

The Reapers throughout the story commit the worst genocides over and over and over again with no repercussions, and this AI-child apparently has no moral compass to think for itself, unlike the Geth, that maybe killing people is actually wrong, and our Shepard has no choices to explain that to him.

That afterlife bit does not fit into the setting at ALL, there’s little to no “mysticism” in Mass Effect, even the Asari “gods” are debunked as Protheans on Thessia. It does not fit at all, it *would* fit if there were unexplained phenomena, like the Reapers if we didn’t find out they were the toys of some space-child, but everything is explainable within the setting.

Why would Hackett presume anything about the Crucible? It isn’t inferred that it’s anything but a weapon against the Reapers in the whole game.

The Illusive Man being there is fine, I caught that Vendetta said as much.

Whatever speculative endings like these Bioware wished people would “imagine” after the cgi are debunked by the game itself, thus the endings making no sense.

For all of their awesome effort to be thrown away for such a huge portion of their fanbase, it’s an issue that deserves to be addressed. Otherwise the next Bioware release, we might as well save the $60-$80, watch it on youtube and “imagine” the rest.

Josh (a.k.a. SWJS)

On March 16, 2012 at 5:30 am


It’s just a theory. It’s the least plausible of the two, but it’s there. And Shepard wasn’t just working to save lives, he was working to stop the complete extinction of the galaxy’s sapient species. In other words, survival. If the afterlife theory is true, nobody knew about it, or considered it, so in the end it’s just a symbolic way to show that Shepard had infact achieved both the salvation of galactic species, and synthesis.

Also, you don’t have to be Christian to believe in an afterlife. I know an atheist or two who believe in some form of existance after death, just not necissarily a paradise with a God.

Jason S.

On March 16, 2012 at 5:38 am

To add, I replayed the ending last night, and honestly thought this kid, with as much death and suffering as he’s caused to avert a potential outcome that isn’t explained, and as far as we can tell isn’t possible apart from the AI itself and the Reapers, is just a petty little homicidal dictator.

It’s effectively an American G.I. coming up to Hitler’s bunker in WW2 to stop him and Hitler telling him, “Oh well I did all this to avert other countries committing worse acts in the future.” Then pointing the soldier to 3 nonsensical doors.

How is the Catalysts logic not fundamentally flawed?

It’s a freedom vs. slavery choice, he’s controls the Reapers so they’re a shackled AI, and kill organics by the trillions, snuffing out entire species, yet we’ve been helped/friended by a whole race of unshackled AIs and EDI who haven’t done anything but defended themselves (Geth due to Quarian attack, EDI on the Moon due to being aware for the first time and being attacked?)


On March 16, 2012 at 5:40 am

Well said.
A well written and succinct report.
I have a question:
Considering the recent disappointment with EA related releases (my own in particular): BF3, SWtOR etc. I wonder exactly how much of the damage is down to EA enforcing unrealistic release dates, demanding the removal of components and alterations of games for future DLC?


On March 16, 2012 at 5:44 am

I’m glad you mentioned brokering peace between the geth and the quarians. I got that resolution in my playthrough, and it moved me to tears. It was damn near transcendental in its beauty. Then the ending took a massive, stinking dump on that beautiful scene.

Josh (a.k.a. SWJS)

On March 16, 2012 at 5:50 am

@ Jason

It’s actually very simple, at least to me. It’s an A.I. created by the first civilization, and after witnessing the devastating effects on Organic vs. Synthetic war, it decides to try and preserve both sides by combining them into one entity, aka the Reapers. In order to impose order upon the chaos of these inevitable wars, it repeats the same step once sentient life evolves accordingly. Considering that it’s an A.I. like EDI, it’s likely the Catalyst thinks like an A.I. and is morally ambiguous, has no morals at all, or does have good intentions, but is wrong in it’s method. Like The Illusive Man.

Maybe so, but it is just a theory. The possibility of an afterlife is touched upon in a few ways. As a matter of fact, Ashley believes in it, and so can Paragon Shepard, in ME1.

You forget that they still don’t know EXACTLY what it does, they just assume it will destroy the Reapers. They were unaware of any possible backfire or repercussion, like the destruction of the mass relays. As Shepard put it, they were “kids playing with a loaded gun.” And they state the Crucible is pretty much just a wild card they’re pulling out in desperation.

It’s fairly easy to fill in the blanks yourself, provided you’re not a sheep who needs to be directed everywhere you go. All it takes is paying attention and having an imagination. I’m personally fine with the ambiguity, that way I can form my own conclusions. Yes they could have explained things better, but I hardly believe the ending is this satanic atrosity that ruins the game in every way. The game is amazing, and trashing soley based on your reaction to the last ten minutes is ignorant. We’re all entitled to voice our opinions, but I highly disagree with the majority.

Josh (a.k.a. SWJS)

On March 16, 2012 at 5:58 am

To Add, I’m not saying it’s logic isn’t flawed. As I said, it had good intentions, but it’s method is flawed. Shepard obviously found a better way through synthesis, with it’s help and sacrifice. And as for morality, it was likely an A.I., and as such probably didn’t have an accurate understanding of such. It could be explained that way.

Jason S.

On March 16, 2012 at 5:59 am

@Josh, I agree and your I respect your argument, and all of us say, 99% of the game is the best experience from gaming you’re likely to find.

But had I known of this ending for the series on March 5th, I would not have sunk $60 on March 6th. Specifically because I read all the pre-hype about choices and not having a A, B, C or a Lost-style ending.

The analogy best used is having the best meal of your life only to find a dead roach in the last bite. No matter how good the meal was, it’s ruined by the roach.

I did pay attention, and it still does not fit to me nor makes any bit of sense, and if I were to simply use my imagination, well then I could have saved the $60 and written/read a short story fanfic for free that wrapped up the series.


On March 16, 2012 at 6:10 am

I’ve read, and I agree. I’m starting to warm to the ‘Indoctrination’ theory, but the fiasco they left us with was a hollow hole torn from my mind. I’ve poured so much life into this series – to have my contribution disregarded like this just hurts. Bioware have just shattered my loyalty.

Oh, and someone said that “we don’t know what synthesis looks like”. Yeah we do – the jungle planet, as people get off the ship, they have a tracery of green circuit lines under their skin. Wow. Yeah, totally blew me away with the sheer magnitude of that choice.

Sarcasm there, in case it wasn’t screamingly obvious enough. Thanks to the author for helping me put my thoughts/feelings into words, thanks to those mentioning the Indoctrination theory – I will be watching out for that in my Renegade playthrough, for sure – and worst case, well, yeah – Shep dies in the beam, and has some retarded fever-dream as s/he burns out. Peace, and here’s hoping that ‘truth’ DLC rumour is going to happen, because otherwise Bioware can join Game on the ‘totally screwed’ ship, and I shall wave and laugh as they sink beneath their own hubris.

Josh (a.k.a. SWJS)

On March 16, 2012 at 6:12 am


Fair enough. I suppose it was easier for me considering that I’m into writing myself and have an active imagination. To each his own. I can understand the fans’ point of view, and while I don’t agree, I can still respect their reasoning for not liking the ending. For me though, I was emotionally invested.

I am curious to see what, if anything Bioware produces to adress fan concerns.


On March 16, 2012 at 6:39 am

oh god, thanks for the article.

Jason S.

On March 16, 2012 at 6:49 am

@Josh, like the poster above you implies, I think Bioware just overreached with this ending, I respect and would totally play a game along the lines of Inception, anything with ambiguous finales. but it just doesn’t fit *this* point of the series.

If they make another Mass Effect, 4 or another continuation of it, go balls to the wall being cryptic and leaving it to us to interpret.


On March 16, 2012 at 6:59 am

Just rewatched the end of season 4 of Doctor Who, an ending that was bitter sweet (despite some people not liking the character) but still a true victory. If the ending to ME3 had a similar feel to that for the best possible paragon ending that would have been perfect. instead we have 3 near identical pyrrhic victories due to the destruction of the relays.


On March 16, 2012 at 7:06 am

This article, although well-written, is not well-developed or thought out. This seems to be a premature outburst of confusion and fist raising without trying to follow the string where it leads and understand why it ended up there in the first place.

The ending is not to be taken at face value. Whatsoever. It doesn’t boil down to “blue explosions, red explosions, or green explosions” … it’s much more profound than that, and the existence of this trolling article is testament to how much about the ending the author (and the outraged “fans”) truly understood.

Reaper Indoctrination. Read about it. Then play the end of the game over again until you understand what is REALLY happening during Shepard’s “final moments”. If you choose wisely, Shepard may even show hints of still being alive at the end of the game.

You’ve all been fooled. Brilliantly, might I add.
<3 ME3

Abhijeet Mishra

On March 16, 2012 at 7:17 am

I know some people think that the endings are fine, but what those endings have made me do is that I am not at all interested in making any choices on my 2nd playthrough, unlike ME1 or ME2 playthroughs. I’m just playing for the gameplay, with decisions on auto. I mean, if nothing is gonna matter in the end, then why should i be wasting time on making choices that ultimately don’t matter?

I have no problem with the ending except that there was no closure to what happened to others. I mean, something! Show the Turians and Krogans! Show us ALL our crew members left at the end of the game.

The final moments after Shepard wakes up and is transported to the Citadel seem like they were written by a totally different team, who were told to handle it any way they like, and who had never even played the games themselves and hence did not have much emotional attachment to it.

And now, we wait for Dragon Age 3 and see what, if anything, Bioware does to redeem themselves. By the way, apart from the ending, I absolutely loved the game.


On March 16, 2012 at 7:42 am

Mass Effect 2 brought us an ending that even saw the death of all your squad mates and Shepard. This was brilliant and well thought out. Depending on how you played people died or made it. Even who you sent to do what toward the end made a difference on them dying. I played 4 times just to see who I could save and how my mistakes had real consequences, I will hold mass effect 1 and 2 but specially 2 as an incredible journey.

Mass Effect 3 to me with the included DLC of the last Prothen is also brilliant story telling and the ending as a rush, uncooked, ending with large missing parts that was given to some amateurs to deal with. If you play the ending up to Shepard reaching the transportation conduit you can stop there and write your own ending where Shepard dies and a massive pulse shutting down the collectors and frying them internally.

I see no DLC been worth buying and the Mass Effect Universe been over when it comes to anything else since the endings all come up with massive die off all over the galaxy and travel will be slow and uninspiring from now on. This is what the final cut scenes leave us with.


On March 16, 2012 at 8:18 am

Well, I think its clear that Bioware rushed the game. Common practice in gaming industry. Its sad to see it in Bioware product though.

Average joe

On March 16, 2012 at 9:03 am

Point is whether it was a marketing stunt and Bioware did have in plan to release a real crowd pleasing ending is irrelevant.
The problem then is that Bioware intentionally released an incomplete title and was perfectly comfortable selling/marketing it as a full product.

As responsible consumers, would you reward a company that does so with more money or critical acclaim ? No. You’d moan first then take your money elsewhere. I don’t want a future where games are released by the chapter ( indie studios i have no problem with) and projected profits determine how far the story will/can go.

It’s lazy and insulting.

Rogerio Ketzer

On March 16, 2012 at 9:10 am

And what can you say about the last scene showing Shepard’s armor, and his chest start breathing? Could he be survived? Maybe the next DLC could show us his rescue. And they could explain it by everyone thinking he is dead and he’s living in some galaxy corner with the love character of his preference, starting a new quest rebuilding the relays…


Bioware, I’m your man to fix this problem… LOL

Rogerio Ketzer

On March 16, 2012 at 9:22 am

We have a lot of things to possibly explain his survival. His rebuilding by Cerberus and some kind of new body feature, we can think about a Mega-DLC introducing a new problem, maybe related with the mass relays origins, we add this with some miraculous reason for Shepard still breathing after all the mass, and we can find his crew, or, find a new one, with a better Normandy, or rescuing it, with some kind of Star Trek changes explanation. For me, we could find some link to maintain him alive and start a new trilogy using the same Shepard. The good (or bad, depending on your choices) old Shepard…

Slightly *meh* fan

On March 16, 2012 at 9:22 am

I was fully prepared for the death of Shepherd (even though I had hoped for a little blue Shepherd/T’Soni family ending…) but I think the article really does sum up how wrong the actual endings were.

While it might be a bit childish to have secretly hoped for a completely happy ending (seriously… little blue children!), I would have been content with any coherent (and even slightly varying) set of endings. A couple of possible candidates could be the use of the Crucible as a weapon to augment the galactic fleets and the eventual destruction of the Reapers, or the total failure of the Crucible and the Reapers winning the battle. And that was just me thinking of the top of my head. The team of writers that brought us the Mass Effect series up to the last 25 minutes or so should have been able to come up with a really good set of possible endings, and probably more than three of them at that!

Up until the end I felt that this was the best game of the series, even with some of the more obvious flaws, which were mainly aesthetic. The pacing was great, the incidental details just added to the depth of the in-game universe and the ability to take on the role of galactic peace maker was just a bit thrilling at times. The galactic recruiter aspect placed massive decisions in the hands of the player and by the end (if you didn’t already), you felt really invested in your Shepherd. I even thought of mine on first name terms (Lena, if you’re interested)! The frequent appearance of past characters allowed Bioware to put a face you care about on the decisions you make, and I had to reload a couple of times because of the unforeseen heartbreaking consequences of some of my decisions (Tali’s suicide and the extinction of the Quarians being the prime example). And even though the romance sub-plot was generally absent a lot of the time (and the sex scene felt gratuitous and embarrassing), the scene at the end where Shepherd said “goodbye” to Liara was genuinely moving. I also can’t be the only person who felt pleased for hours at resolving some of the various racial conflicts in the game, even ignoring the chances of a final victory. Despite so many positives, having the biggest flaw of the entire series at its very end was a hell of a way to take a lot of the shine off the whole ~100 hour experience.

I still think the Mass Effect series rates as one of the best video gaming experiences I’ve ever had, and I’d still recommend it to other people (my copy of ME2 is soon to be winging its way to my brother…) but what a bad way to go! I don’t care what actually happens in it, but if Bioware could release even one half-decent ending I’d definitely download it.

…..Even if I don’t get my Lena/Liara wedding! :-o


On March 16, 2012 at 9:31 am

Wow.Great article.I’m big fun of ME,but ME3 made me feel frustrating,but i didn’t know why exactly.But all became clear after this article.For fan like me it’s a huge dissapointment.Not like dragon age 2,but still.

Sorry for bad english,i’m from Russia


On March 16, 2012 at 10:12 am

Also,i was hoping to have a final confrontation will be with Harbinger,how it was with Sovereign in me1.But in the end there was nothing like


On March 16, 2012 at 10:22 am

I agree with this article entirely… I havent felt this dissapointed/let down by a gaming company since Star Wars Galaxies “introduced” the NGE… 3 games/uncounted hours spent developing a character and his/her interactions with the universe they are in, relegated to nothing…


On March 16, 2012 at 10:30 am

Well it is nice that these flaws were put together in a well written article.
Though my first surprise was that Shepherd survived the hit from Harbinger. That beam can take out capital ships with one shot.

All in all Shepherd has some epic level armor.

(Not mention that the destroyer reaper can kill you with one hit on Rannoch)


On March 16, 2012 at 10:31 am

This article is SPOT ON. Bioware really SCREWED their fans on the ending. I really hope some closure to the game (ending) isn’t coming as some dlc because it would be false advertisement on Bioware’s end. To think that some of us fans really considered this series one of the BEST series this gen, stuck with you throughout the series, put in MANY hours in ALL THREE GAMES & bought this game day one.


On March 16, 2012 at 10:38 am

Brill article, very nice read. Having just done the red and blue endings i was kinda looking for a bit more closure. I will attempt for the green but not right away, 26hr playthrough on my first attempt (with ME2 import) now when i really should have been doing boring assignments…..though thank the flu for taking me out of action and granting me a reprieve to enjoy ME3…well most of it.

I havent experience multiplayer yet, but if these rumours that adding to readiness can change it then i guess i will try it. But i dont play ME for multiplayer thats why i have BF3! It just smacks of laziness and well just disregard for those of us who enjoy a more cerebral and profound experience from our games. When i want DLC i want it to add a new angle to MY (emphasis on that), bioware may have written it but its MY story. Not some more godamn maps for a MP mode i will hardly utilize.

Ive loved this series from the frist game right up to ending up on the citadel again (pre-illusive man meeting), and the only thing i can take from it is that the hope and build-up of the game is now translated into real life that we will get a more resolute ending. Because for me, this series hasnt finished, not with this….. surely.


On March 16, 2012 at 10:45 am

Meh. That is my initial response t your article.

As i was reading it, your response seemed well thought out and interesting, with lots of different ideas all tied together quite nicely around one central idea. But then i noticed something, something that just felt wrong about it all. And then i realized you had pulled a bioware.

Just for the sake of academic credit, usually persuasive articles require these things people like to call “examples” and “sources.” I noticed 2 of these throughout your entire piece, only one of which really supported your argument (the bit about the Relays from “Arrival”). You had some good ideas and comments, but your entire reasoning was pretty much “because I said so, ok?” I get that you were ripping on Bioware, but did you have to steal what you claim is Mass Effect 3′s ending style too?

And more to the point, I think the “ending” everyone has been expecting has been entirely overlooked. The ending to the Mass Effect Series is not the last 15, 20, 30, or even 60 minutes. IT’S THE ENTIRE GAME. That’s right, the entire game. From the moment you step into the beam on earth, in the grand narrative scheme, the story becomes more of resolution than anything else. You have rallied the galaxy, you know you will now be able to stop the reapers (that’s why if TIM kills you it’s game over, not an ending), and the final choice is actually quite separate and distinct from the rest of your experience in the game.

From reading this article, and many of the responses written here, I believe my views are in the minority, but I figured I’d get them out there for anyone who wants to hear. Bioware has written an amazingly deep and entertaining TRAGEDY. And I for one tip my hat to them, sirs.


On March 16, 2012 at 10:46 am

Actually I enjoyed the game but when i finished it i wish i hadn’t played it! everything was good and attractive until cerbrus defeat! I hope Bioware change the ending! I’m gonna pay for the new one!


On March 16, 2012 at 11:00 am

Good article Ross!

Funny how some people think this series is a tragedy as everything in the bulk of the games is about overcoming impossible odds through camaraderie, diplomacy and choice , ruined by a badly written shiny kid.

Not to insult people who like the endings but opposing even the concept of ‘adding’ onto the endings via DLC (free or not) isn’t fair, it doesn’t change YOUR story at all, and would give meaningful closure that makes sense to bulk of the fans who loathe this ONE non sequitur ending we’re forced to choose.


On March 16, 2012 at 11:24 am



On March 16, 2012 at 11:25 am

Pesonally i think that such one linear endings suggests that bioware will keep milking the series in one way or another in the future (online game for instance) I dont see any other reason for them to make such an half arsed ending with such limited choice. They really needed those mass relays gone… ah i miss DAO :(


On March 16, 2012 at 11:33 am

@Shakes: At least it would have been ok if it were a consistent tragedy, and it actually made sense. But it didn’t. So many things, like the crew fleeing, Joker having mysteriously picked up the crew from under the nose of the Reapers, the kid AI, made absolutely no sense.

Furthermore, as the article points out, the whole point of the ME series was the importance of your choices. The ending chucked all that out of the window – “sorry, none of your decisions matter, you have three options which are all the same”. Unlike with a book or a film, in a game – especially one in the great Mass Effect series – it IS possible to please 99% of people, with a few carefully crafted ending variants with logical paths to each one (obviously just selecting “happy ending” or “tragedy” at the end wouldn’t work). What we got was an ending that please 1%.


On March 16, 2012 at 11:35 am

@Josh The afterlife idea is an interesting take, Josh! Especially where it concerns EDI. I thought it represented something akin to the garden of Eden myself.. though that makes having three people there a little.. awkward. Or only males, for instance… :D

@Shakes Interesting thoughts. I’m not sure that it’s necessarily a tragedy though. It depends on what you mean by tragedy.
What many people appear to be missing is a feeling of catharsis (which is what classically a tragedy is supposed to evoke at the end).
If you mean it has to have a tragic ending, I’m not sure that’s the case here!

As for the ‘indoctrination theory’, I’m not a fan of it myself but I’m pretty sure Bioware anticipated it as a possible reading of the ending!

Come on, they don’t want to give you closure personally, they wanted to end the series in a fitting manner and they want you to think about this stuff and talk about it! They’ve even said so!


On March 16, 2012 at 11:35 am

Just imagine the possibilities for downloadable content! Joker and whoever’s left of the crew are left to slowly starve to death in a jungle on an unidentified planet. Joker succumbs to Vrolik’s disease and breaks multiple bones by falling off a cliff and his corpse is used as sustenance for the surviving crew. You control Kaidan/Ashley as you try to resist your descent into madness and cannibalism and find a way to stay alive. *SPOILERS* Everyone dies.


On March 16, 2012 at 11:38 am

@Michael what plots still required resolution? The Quarians and Geth either killed eachother or came together. The Genophage is cured (or not). All your choices have already been played out.

The ending brings the series back to its core themes in a brilliant way.

The issue is that most people apparently don’t want a *good* ending; they want a personal wish-fulfilment fantasy.


On March 16, 2012 at 11:40 am

Genophage*.. how did that happen?


On March 16, 2012 at 11:43 am

It’s not about sad ending It’s about bad ending and sad ending. director acted like Amateurs , finishing the game in the worst way! it seems he didn’t have any idea to finish the game!


On March 16, 2012 at 11:44 am

Ok got to the ending and I thought Indigo Prophecies ending was bad. There really is no way the Normandy would be going through a relay. Killed the franchise stone dead lol. Cant bring myself to start again. Shepherd would certainly have argued that the squirt had no right to make decisions for entire civilisations. And chosing the destroy option, I dont see why the relays were destroyed. Am I missing something there?

Everything has been said before but did anyone else’s Shepherd eye colour change in the finally?


On March 16, 2012 at 11:45 am

I’d also like to point on that people seem to have completely missed an important factor – the Crucible. Think of the definitions of “crucible.” The non-metallurgical definition is “a severe test or trial.”

Never minding the in-universe idea of naming it that, but the ME3 development team’s idea had to be some form of foreshadowing. When I first heard the name, I was like “Hrm…interesting name.” Then, upon reaching the finale, I muttered “Ah…it all makes sense now…” To say that I was surprised was only because I didn’t quite think they would follow the definition so explicitly.

The Crucible, at its core, is a weapon powered by a choice, proposed through a “severe trial.”


When it comes to the Reaper’s intentions, it also makes sense. Haven’t we seen the same thing in things like I, Robot, or anything where synthetic life takes over? Cold and calculated, they believe in order to protect organic life, they have to control or destroy a large portion of it, believing that it’s a perpetual cycle where if left unattended we’d annihilate ourselves. It makes sense, but at the same time doesn’t because synthetics often don’t understand how people can change.

The Catalyst is an old AI, and it even struggles to comprehend how things could be different. It mentions to Shepard that this cycle proves something different, but it can’t just change the Reaper’s course. It’s not in his programming. Shepard is the only one who can decide the outcome of the galaxy, but unfortunately, even Shepard is only presented with a handful of options.

It’s not like any amount of Shepard’s pleading with the Catalyst about how “this time it’ll be different” would change anything. It’s just not in the Crucible’s or the Catalyst’s construction or programming to give any other options.

You build a gun and load it with real bullets, and you have very limited options. You can either shoot a bullet, or not shoot a bullet. Even though you totally know a gun could shoot blanks, this gun you’ve made and loaded with real bullets cannot.

Shepard’s options are limited, and unfortunately, just like in real like, oftentimes we are forced to make decisions that go against the very fiber of our being. The only choice not given to Shepard would have been to just walk away and not do anything with the Crucible – but that would have accomplished nothing but allowing the Reapers to continue, or someone else would make it up to the control room, and end up in the same position.

Shepard was given an impossibly heavy crucible. The Reapers were on course to once again win over another cycle. He could either use the Crucible in one of three ways, or not use it at all, which wasn’t an option, because otherwise the Reapers would still win.


On March 16, 2012 at 12:01 pm


I’d thought about the Catalyst as that which causes the change in the universe that happens at the end of Mass Effect 3; but I hadn’t considered Crucible yet. You’re completely right!

I would say though that Shepard CAN’T decide NOT to make that choice. As the Child says, the system is broken and this is proved by Shepard being there. If Shepard doesn’t choose, who else can? A choice has to be made!


On March 16, 2012 at 12:04 pm

Bioware pulled a LOST.


On March 16, 2012 at 12:14 pm

Even though I liked the ending from an atmospherical standpoint (Minus the inane Normandy crash- and the unnecessary post-credits scene), I have to say the article makes very compelling points why many perceive it as an unfitting end to a series.

I enjoyed it as it is, because prior to the ending (and, even if with lower variety, during the ending) my choices truly did shape the future of characters and civilizations to come- even though BioWare did not show us afterwards.

I only have one objection: As you said, the game’s most central theme is happiness through unity and tolerance- as it is most convincingly displayed by the Geth/Quarian conflict and the Genophage- and also, self-awareness. Why is the “Merge”-ending so against these concepts? Yes, the DNA of every race would be re-written and merged, resulting in a new cross-species, but does that imply intolerance? Does it imply lack of individuality from a personal standpoint? Because I don’t think so. In fact, it’s only a logical conclusion to the conflict between Synthetic and Organic life as the AI brought it up- by essentially making them equal. Maybe it’s the theoretical communist in me, but I find that very appealing.

As for the “Synthetics are inherently evil” bit- I don’t think what Shepard experienced should apply here. After all, before he came around, even organic species were divided. So why would the AI think otherwise when it was the first- and singular- event where both Organics and Synthetics overcame their prejudices to fight a common enemy? Shepard’s charisma could merely be the exception to the rule.

Lastly, concerning the Xzibit pic: There’s a difference between the downfall of organics and the rise of synthetics every 25.000 years and a constant war between them where one of the two may possibly never re-emerge: The AI simply controlled the issue (and, by that, gave both forms of life breathing room), he did not solve it.

Other than that, great job. Even though my experience wasn’t tarnished at all by the ending (Because, in fact, the controversial ending ultimately leads to much more discussion about the game’s themes and ideas), I can only hope that those who were disappointed get the ending(s) they wish so that everyone is happy.

The game and the franchise would absolutely deserve it.


On March 16, 2012 at 12:17 pm

I’d just like the defenders of the endings to answer a simple yes or no question.

Joker and my entire crew, including the zealot Prothean who would claw away at a Reaper’s leg and die, some of whom fearlessly went through the Omega-4 relay knowing they might die, would LEAVE ME stranded on the citadel or earth while running?

Add to that that they’d crash land on a jungle planet all smiles?

Yes or no.


On March 16, 2012 at 12:19 pm

While several of the above points covered by TWOxACROSS are valid, I do not think even these interpretations excuse the almost humorously identical endings that result from any of the three choices made. After playing through each of the three endings I am very puzzled.

Contributing to my confusion is the track record of BioWare on endings to Mass Effect games. Their ability to create a sustained level of immersion for the player controlling Shepard that continues through to the closing credits is evident. Moreover, it is atypical for such a skilled team of writers and developers to craft an ending to a series that is a complete and utter disaster

When watching the final, inappropriately brief resolution to such an excellent and detailed story where it is characteristic for scenes to be long and memorable for positive reasons, it is unknown what the reasons are for so many commonalities between endings to an experience that markets itself as a purveyor of choice, along with the rewards and repercussions your decisions have. Whatever the reasons, it’s an unfortunate and abject failure.


On March 16, 2012 at 12:25 pm


Actually, inter-relay transport is instant, so they were in fact travelling at FTL speeds, not through a relay. Would Joker step on it if there’s a huge explosion after him?
You bet.

Did they crash land on a planet or are they in the afterlife as someone suggested earlier? Would you have preferred if they’d looked a little glum?


On March 16, 2012 at 12:30 pm

Who gave the kid the right to decide? Yes bioware did thats who. But come on, NO ONE figthing would just bow down to that.


On March 16, 2012 at 12:31 pm

@Biggtuna If for the sake of this conversation at least we accept that Bioware tried to focus the entire experience into this crucial final decision. This crucible in fact. And if we also accept that they want the players to consider what their choice actually means rather than telling them.

What would you have shown in the final 3 minutes?

I think Bioware had very good artistic and narrativistic reasons for every aspect of the game’s ending. Probably more so than any other point in the game.


On March 16, 2012 at 12:40 pm


I didn’t ask how they were traveling or if it was some metaphysical bull that, so far has NO place in the Mass Effect universe except the last .5% of 3 games?

I asked, in yes or no terms, that YOUR crew, and Joker who are have your lover, people who said they would die for you including the zealous Prothean, do you accept the fact that out of nowhere that they would run away and leave Shepard behind, not knowing his/her fate?

Yes or no question. If yes then that single action completely invalidates everything in the past 3 games, why bother helping any of these people when you can just take any number of Alliance troops with Shepard on Earth.


On March 16, 2012 at 12:47 pm

To Gatha

The answer is without question no. Love interest especially would not just up and leave. No chance in hell.


On March 16, 2012 at 12:50 pm

@Dragon How do the races get home without Mass Effect Relays? Do they all just live on earth now? How is that going to work? Did they all just die when the Mass Relay exploded? Why was joker running away from the Mass Relay when it exploded, how would he have time to do so?


On March 16, 2012 at 12:51 pm

Oh, and how did Joker have time to pick up the whole crew (they were on earth) when this was happening. Some of them were right next to the Citadel beam with me and there are reapers there.


On March 16, 2012 at 12:53 pm

It’s a common writing problem, even for great writers – juggling tons of threads, telling stories around a central mystery, and then when the big reveal happens it can’t stand up to the quality of the work that led to it. This is just a very stark example of the phenomenon – amazing lead up, total choke at the end.

The grandfather ending makes no sense at all in the context of synthesis. Sure, all organic life in the universe has reached a higher tier of evolution (information singularity), and then at some later time people have forgotten details of the originating event.

Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri had better endings.


On March 16, 2012 at 12:59 pm

First of all, I completely agree with the article’s writer. This ending left me with utter disappointment.

I hoped, that if I don’t get enough forces I will see the Crucible destroyed, the fleet destroyed, the squadmates die, every civilization slowly eradicated (with very short cutscenes) and 50.000 year later a new species dig out the ruins of this cycle and Liara’s Archives about everything, giving them a better chance to succeed…

I hoped, that depending on my choices I can see my squadmates, even Joker die and The Normandy destroyed, as they trying to defend the Crucible to give me a chance.

I hoped, that I can side with the Illusive man, taking control of the Reapers, and subjugate every other life form in the galaxy making a Terran Empire, or something similar.

I hoped, that after learning the/a sensible truth, that for example the first generation synthetic’s (The Reapers) solution to coexist with their creators is to harvest them (make them synthetic, or unite with them, but were corrupted, changed in the process, resulting in that ideologically twisted little boy “AI” controls them). I could let the Reapers continue their cycle (as sacrificing trillions now but letting an other cycle to begin).

Or simply shutting down the mass relays forever (without destroying them – which makes no sense, like stated in the article, if I don’t want to commit a galaxy wide genocide) and the Reapers too. Essentially dooming Earth with so many species trapped there, but preventing a next cycle or a full scale organics vs synthetics war from happening.

Or killing that manipulative little **** “AI”, with an epic last boss fight where the squadmates left behind slowly arrives, and help. Essentially freeing the Reapers from their shackles, and letting the previously absorbed cycles organics collective conciousness to awaken, stopping the war.

And depending on that Sheppard survives or not, the love interest with a little child (only with male Shep, or female with Liara :P ) telling the story about their father… and after the father walking there happily or not (if Shep died)

And talking with everyone in that dark dream forest, learning from them how they lived after that but letting things open but somewhat closed. And if the Reapers win the whole forest begin to burn with everyone, but if Sheppard saved the galaxy, it slowly becomes brighter and greener… after the dead squadmates souls burnt :)

Or something, something that make sense, and give the feeling that Yeah, my choices really had an impact on everyone’s personal life, and in the galaxy as whole…


On March 16, 2012 at 1:02 pm

I absolutely agree, the authors here are reading my mind. I have been carefully developing my Shepard, rethinking every difficult decision, hoping for something grandeur in the end, maybe a happy ending involving my LI. That would be nice and rewarding. When playing ME 3 ending I was sitting in front of the computer thinking wtf, w.t.f., wtf… every time I hit a sentence I have a lame choice, not connected with my Shepard’s choices, I have to die (why?????), and to make matters worse my death actually doesn’t solve anything. I’m frustrated, sad, disappointed and really don’t want to buy anything EA produces in the future. Thank you for wording my frustrations in a beautiful and eloquent way.


On March 16, 2012 at 1:06 pm

I didn’t care that my character died, I was more upset that the her death felt semi-pointless and didn’t lead to anything. Or if it did, we aren’t told about it. I felt like my Shepard worker her ass off to get to that point then just gave it all up because there was no other option. It just wasn’t very satisfying…


On March 16, 2012 at 1:10 pm

To Gosia:
Yeah, I completely agree. My Shep would no way in hell sacrifice himself based on a Reaper King AI’s word! Why should Shep trust the world of that manipulative little boy? If I got electrocuted and die I can control the Reapers? If I jump into the abyss my dna will change the whole galaxy? Who would believe this BS? My renegade Sheppard would try to shoot the boy in the head, without a second thought!


On March 16, 2012 at 1:12 pm

This sort of reminds me of how I felt after watching The Phantom Menace, except that whole movie was terrible. At least in this only the ending is bad…


On March 16, 2012 at 1:19 pm

Well MY renegade Shepard would’ve shot Saren in the face that time I met him on the Citadel in Mass Effect 1! BUT I COULDN’T! I CRY FOUL!

They could have done that and it would have been called

The Mass Effect writers chose to step above that.


On March 16, 2012 at 1:25 pm

I’ve addressed this in some of my earlier comments; what happens to the fleet in Earth’s orbit isn’t really that important. But if you want a *possible* answer; I think there’s still a quarian flotilla around which knows all about surviving in space? They also all have FTL drives and (again from the quarians) the technology to mine asteroids and planets for fuel and resources.
Of course another answer would be that they were all wiped out by the crucible, for instance, frying them, or their life support systems. It’s just one option, but if it’s important to you you can fill in the blanks in any way you like.


On March 16, 2012 at 1:34 pm

@ Dragon: That is very important to me, I loved all the races and characters, and their fates at the end are the whole reason I’m playing the game/reading this story.

Well, if Joker was outrunning a huge explosion, then logically all the other ships and earth went boom because no one else was outrunning a huge explosion. So what, all the advanced races in the galaxy are dead except Joker and and the ones who didn’t fight in the war? Great, so Shepard is dead and everyone else is dead, totally satisfying… It’s a good thing I spent all that time getting everyone to cooperate so I could kill them all at the end with a chain-reaction of Super-Novas.

Oh wait, the rest of my crew was magically with joker even though they were down on the the planet with me, so I guess some of them aren’t dead…


On March 16, 2012 at 1:36 pm

I had Ashley (as LI) and Javik with me in the end and then they both exited the Normandy in perfect health. WTF. Come on… Ashley wouldn’t leave without Shepard and Javik would get into the beam unless he was totally ed (=dead).

As for Normandy (I don’t believe Joker would leave)… Seemed to me the red “explosion” moved so slow (except for the part that was aimed at the Relay) that at FTL the Normandy would have escaped it easily. It also would have taken them hours to reach some unknown jungle planet at FTL (unless Sol has one of those planets somewhere).


On March 16, 2012 at 1:38 pm

To Dragon:
Yeah, I didn’t say I wanted it my way, I said that in my opinion that was a standard. I would have been happy if they would really step above that.
But as this article clearly states the Mass Effect writers chose to step below that.
For me Fan Service means creating something the fans enjoy, not because that’s the exact same thing the fans want but because it has good quality and enjoyable. So I take your comment as compliment :)
Knowing what the people (fans) enjoy, and what they think they will enjoy are usually two very different things :P


On March 16, 2012 at 1:39 pm

You people seem to be forgetting the Crucible again. What was the Catalyst (the Citadel’s Master AI) connected to? The Crucible.

How are people forgetting about the actual thing that allows the “colored explosions” to even happen? The Citadel couldn’t do it on it’s own.

The ancient races that created and perfected the Crucible’s design built it to add onto the Citadel, but all in all, the Crucible itself is not tech owned and used by the Reapers. The options given to Shepard on what way to use the Crucible were not something the Reapers thought up, they were different ideas thought up by the ancient races who all helped build it.

And when it comes to those options, they make sense. Use it to destroy all synthetic life, and it will destroy the Reaper threat forever. Unfortunately, it will also destroy other synthetic beings, like the Geth. That’s an unforeseen side-effect the ancient race who implemented it hadn’t thought of. They didn’t know synthetic life like the Geth, or EDI, would even exist in such a way that they would be important.

Control was given as an option based on another race that thought it might be better to reason with the Reapers and make them leave. It’s similar to talking a gunmen into lowering his weapon and releasing his hostages, instead of blowing them away (Destroy option), which can cause collateral damage, like innocent lives being lost.

Synthesis is a weird one, but in essence, Shepard is used as the basis of a synthetic/organic DNA module for the rest of the galaxy. I mean, since his revival in ME2, he IS both synthetic and organic. It still works, too, because as was said, if there is no longer “organic” life, the Reapers leave.

Remember, the Reaper AI Catalyst had no control over what options were implemented into the Crucible, because it wasn’t created by the Reapers. It was created in opposition of them.

I liked these ending choices, because they really do make you think. Of course, I do say that there should have been a bit more to them. Show how the different races (guided by your previous choices) got along afterwards. It’s a small form of closure, but not entirely necessary. Sometimes endings are left to the audience’s imagination so they can craft their own, unique “satisfying” ending.

Jason S.

On March 16, 2012 at 1:44 pm

“I liked these ending choices, because they really do make you think.”

I agree, except the more I think about these endings or ending since it’s really only one cgi sequence, the more none of it makes any sense in the Mass Effect setting we’ve been given for 3 games.


On March 16, 2012 at 1:46 pm


THAT part of the ending made some amount of sense, it just wasn’t very satisfying and the whole thing was out of left field. The plot holes come into play with Joker outrunning a Mass Relay explosion and the fact that anyone who didn’t outrun that explosion is now dead. Basically, anyone Shepard convinced to help him fight the war is now dead…

Also, the part where your crew is magically on the Normandy at the end, that is also dumb and makes no sense.

The whole, “little kid is god like entity that forces you to make a choice that has very little to do with the rest of the game” could make sense, it just leaves the player feeling a bit cheated.


On March 16, 2012 at 1:48 pm

TWOxACROSS, how does Shepard living after the destroy option (if you get over 4000ems) fit into this if he is partly synthetic? The kid even hints it would be the end for Shepard (as far as I can remember), yet Shepard lives.


On March 16, 2012 at 1:51 pm

Well, I would argue that judging from the huhge amount of discussion and different interpretations buzzing around the internet, they really REALLY took a step above that.

Here’s a rather bleak one for instance:

I don’t agree with it, but it’s definitely a valid theory!

You’re absolutely right.
It’s very strange that the Normandy ends up on that strange planet so fast and that your crew members are on board. Now why do you think the writers put that in?


On March 16, 2012 at 1:55 pm

Oh also – the Catalyst says the Mass Relays would be destroyed, but there’s no mention of if it they would cause super novas like what happened with the Alpha Relay. Considering that was destroyed by an asteroid, while still active. It’s possible that it’s the same difference to letting a nuclear reactor meltdown and taking it apart, and actually safely shutting it down and then taking it apart.

Plus, the wave that is shown to emanate from the Relays as they go down is the same that comes from the Crucible, and that’s not exactly shown to be a blast wave destructive to all matter it touches.

And if the Citadel+Crucible is destroyed, it goes down after the blast wave, not with it. Much like how the Relays went down moments after shooting their own beams. What would have normally caused a super nova might actually be what is being shot between each Relay, and ultimately off into the far reaches of space, not decimating the solar systems.

And who knows, maybe it caused a Mass Effect, and the Normandy wasn’t so much outrunning the blast wave as it was unintentionally riding it, and Joker is scrambling to keep the ship aligned, surfing the wave until it passed.


On March 16, 2012 at 1:59 pm

@ TwoxAcross,

Yes, and the ending is an excellent time to explain things like that so we don’t have to make everything up or assume the writers were just lazy.


On March 16, 2012 at 2:01 pm

Could be “the ending of the human/synthetic Shepard,” or something, but Shepard, being the stone-cold badass that he is, manages to survive in part because he is still mostly organic.

I don’t mean to claim that the endings are perfect, because they totally do have a few hiccups, but it’s mostly due to the ambiguity. I’d say the concepts themselves are still valid, the presentation was just…lacking.


On March 16, 2012 at 2:05 pm

To Dragon:
Ok, I agree with the dream ending. But then what about the grandpa? Then that part make no sense, unless they hiding survivors, waiting for the destruction to end. But then why talking about Sheppard so highly? A fallen hero.
Yeah, you are right with this one, a Reaper win, dream ending is acceptable for me. Otherwise I would be upset, that none of it makes any sense XD More like forced to accept it -.-


On March 16, 2012 at 2:12 pm

There not valid though if you have played all three games. They suit people who have played just ME3 just fine. None of the choices make sense and if all thre choices were added by earlier races then why cant this current lot add their own as well.


On March 16, 2012 at 2:23 pm

How are they not valid by having played all three games? I mentioned before that in no way does anything Shepard has done throughout the series have a bearing on the options the Crucible has.

The Alliance built the Crucible on an ancient design, a design that could not be affected the actions of someone (Shepard) in the distant future. Plus, since they were building it on a predetermined design, the Alliance couldn’t just add in whatever options they wanted, because they had no idea how it worked. You hear that all throughout ME3; that they don’t know what it does, but they know it will stop the Reapers somehow.

If you didn’t know how a gun worked, would you try to add on some feature to the design while following instructions to put one together? You could end up blowing your hand off.


On March 16, 2012 at 2:23 pm

There’s also the fact that the pulse itself makes no sense. Bioware has always said that Mass Effect’s technology isn’t just magic in space but that’s exactly what the pulse is in two of the three endings.

How does the pulse turn organics into a half synthetic hybrid? That doesn’t make any sense. Not only do organics not have the chemical components to be made into half synthetic but such a process would be extremely painful if not lethal. Not to mention the huge amount of difference between different lifeforms. How could the pulse work on a human and a Hannar at the same time?

How could the pulse be configured to target only synthetic lifeforms? How would it distinguish between a sentient robot or computer and a non-sentient electronic device? Either we assume that the pulse could just magically tell the difference, which means it’s just magic. Or we assume that the pulse destroys electronics, which means everyone on a space ship, has cybernetic implants, or relies on technology, is dead, and the galaxy is sent back to the stone age.

Only the control Reapers ending makes sense since the pulse could just be a signal that reprograms the Reapers.

Heckboy 77

On March 16, 2012 at 2:39 pm

I was hoping for multiple endings like they did with Quantic Dream’s Heavy Rain for PS3. You had the mega happy ending, the everyone dies and the bad guy gets away ending and everything in-between. A total of about 25 completely different endings and which every choice you made DID impact the ending. Bioware should have taken a page from this and everyone would have been happy. ;P


On March 16, 2012 at 2:44 pm

Perfect way of putting everything that was wrong with the ending of mass effect 3, regardless of what color explosion you “choose”.

This needs to be posted on Biowares site and every other gaming site just so people understand why so many people feel let down.


On March 16, 2012 at 2:50 pm

Anything we can’t explain was at one point called magic. In the 16th century, thaumaturgy itself was the process of unintelligent people explaining how machinery worked as a means of “miracles,” because it wasn’t general knowledge to understand how some things work like we know them to today.

All of the “space magic” in Mass Effect comes back to Dark Energy, and as a species, Dark Energy still eludes us now. Just because Mass Effect goes out of its way to try and explain everything in great detail in the Codex doesn’t mean there aren’t still things in our universe that just defy all conventional sciences and stump our brightest minds. Take a look at any number of the strange phenomena in the universe – there’s plenty we don’t know.

It’s already a tall order to accept the idea of Mass Effects and Biotics (space magic), but why is it so difficult to accept something that comes from the unknown?


On March 16, 2012 at 3:01 pm

They dont know what it does. So why are we supposed to be believe that Shepherd would believe the kid knows what it does? The whole notion of creating synthetics to stop organics from creating synthetics and destroying themselves is crazy.

The choices bar destroy go against everything Shepherd was working towards. He/she wouldnt just accept it and i’m fairly sure he would have argued that the AI did not have the right to make that decision.

The biggest thing for me is that nothing makes a difference. You play just ME3 you will get the same ending as if you played all three. They did say it wouldnt be a case of A, B or C. Which is what we got. There was no reason for the Normandy to be doing what it was doing. They would not just abandon the fight.

But I also dont want to get into an argument. You like the endings, I dont. Lets leave it at that because I don’t think either of us will be able to convince the other.


On March 16, 2012 at 3:25 pm

The Catalyst at least knows the functions of the Crucible because the Crucible is attached to the Citadel, where the Catalyst AI resides. The Catalyst is used as an interface for the weapon, after all.

The Reaper’s intentions is not crazy, because you’re over-simplifying and exaggerating it. It’s not “save organic life from synthetic life by destroying organic life with synthetic life.” It’s “save organic life from the inevitable annihilation by themselves and synthetic life by periodically removing the advanced species (the ones that could create synthetic life), and leaving other organic life to expand in its place.”

It’s like pruning a tree. You get rid of the overgrowth so that it can grow properly and not fall apart under its own weight. You’re not just tearing down the tree.

That’s not to say it’s an old, out-dated, and completely asinine plan for the Reaper’s to have, but if like I’ve mentioned before, if there’s one thing that AI will always struggle to comprehend, it’s how humans can change, and history doesn’t always repeat itself.

And what decision does the AI not have the right to make? If it’s that the Reapers don’t have the right to decide the course of the galaxy, I’m pretty sure Shepard has made that argument before, to every Reaper he’s had a conversation with. Not to mention, what argument could Shepard make to an ancient AI like the Catalyst that to seems only exist in order to inform and operate the Citadel? Trying arguing with a rudimentary chatbot, see how that goes :p

If it’s that the Catalyst has no right to decide what happens to the galaxy when the Crucible is used – it’s not the AI’s decision. The Catalyst AI is deciding nothing at the end. It’s merely vocally presenting to Shepard the options the Crucible has.

In the end, yes, each ending is the same. However, the outcome depending on your choice (Destroy, Control, or Synthesize) could be largely different. If you chose Destroy, but sided with the Geth, all of Rannoch is unoccupied. No Geth or Quarian’s to claim it. If Eve survived, will the Kroggan finally quit acting like a bunch of war-mongering douchebags? The ambiguity certainly annoyed some players, but it also leaves a lot to the imagination.

In a way, by leaving an ending ambiguous, doesn’t that allow everyone who played this series, where everyone’s Shepard was different, to imagine an ending that best suits their desires?


On March 16, 2012 at 3:26 pm

Very well written article and I agree with many of these arguments. Although I didn’t hate the ending, even going as far as liking it, I do see that it could have been better. I realize that the ending wasn’t what many of us were expecting and that a better ending with better explanation and closure would be surely welcome
However, the argument that your decisions didn’t affect the ending is a bit misguided. I say this because both ME 1 and ME 2 had endings that, for all intents and purposes, boiled down to one decision. I get that it’s upsetting that Bioware promised that the ending would be a culmination of all your decisions and that many people perceived that to mean the actual final moments of the game. I believe, however, that what they were promising was that throughout the final game you would see the outcomes of your past games’ decisions and that’s exactly what happened. Most, if not all of my decisions from the past two games came back in the finale and I was shown the outcome of those decisions.
My past decisions may not have affected the last 10 minutes of gameplay but they certainly did show up in the rest of the game. From my romance interest, to curing the geonophage, it felt like all my decisions were coming to a close. I felt satisfied with every decision I made and how the outcome of all those decisions occurred in this final game.
Once again, I’m not claiming that the ending had no flaws because it certainly did and I agree with most of the criticism of the ending. What I don’t agree with, though, is the criticism that all your decisions weren’t represented in the ending, when both previous games did the same thing. Your decisions past decisions were represented in the final game anyways, just not those last 10 minutes.


On March 16, 2012 at 3:27 pm

it’s just crying , as usual


On March 16, 2012 at 3:28 pm

Article sums it up perfectly….

I just finished it..what can I say..gearing up for this in January/February I played ME1 and ME2 as a full Paragon…saved all my crew…

And yet apparently nobody cares enough to wonder about Shepard at the end, apparently they’re happy to be in the Lost island. I almost expected John Locke to walk by Joker and give him a pat on the back while eating an apple.


On March 16, 2012 at 3:28 pm


By your logic, there’s no such things as bad sci-fi. Heck, Independence Day might be realistic since we’ve never met aliens before so we have no idea how their computers would interact with ours or how our virus could affect their computer. Armageddon might be 100% accurate because there’s a lot of things we don’t know about asteroids and we don’t really know what would happen if we nuke one.

There’s a difference between things that can be explained within the game’s logic/science and things that are just made up on the spot. Yes, most of the tech and science in Mass Effect are far beyond us, but they are consistent with the science of the universe.

Heck, even magic has rules. For example, in Lord of the Rings, the only way to destroy the One Ring is to throw it into Mount Doom. That’s a constant throughout the entire series. They don’t have someone show up out of nowhere and say, “you don’t really need to toss the Ring into Mount Doom, we can destroy it with this +7 Epic Hammer of Pwnage.”


On March 16, 2012 at 3:32 pm

Sorry but I disagree. My journey was unique. I united the quarian and geth. Wrex is the leader of the Krogan. My whole team made it from ME2. My journey rewarded me for the choices I made.

I’m not going to complain about what had to essentially be a superficial differences at the end of the game. The ending whils similar are still different. The goal was to stop the reapers and thats what I did.

What needs to happen is a little bit less whining, ing and moaning.


On March 16, 2012 at 3:56 pm

What did you expected? It wasn’t even two years from ME2. Loo kat Valve and Half Life. Biowar just didn’t have time. Don’t hate them, hate EA and greedy publishers, which wanted a game ASAP.


On March 16, 2012 at 3:57 pm

Thank you for writing this, it put words to everything I felt and feel after finishing a story I had invested 5 years into.


On March 16, 2012 at 3:59 pm


The whole origin, history, purpose and so on of the random kid AI was a massive loose end. It is bad writing, end of, to stick an entirely new plot device in right at the end.

The Normandy and the crew’s desertion of Shepard was ridiculous.

The destruction of the relays was equally so – basically it means a) that earth and all the surrounding fleets are destroyed (if it’s consistent with ME2 DLC) and b) that even if that doesn’t happen, everyone dies because earth and surrounding planets haven’t the resources to support all the fleets in orbit.

The entirety of the Catalyst’s “logic” was ridiculous. It made no logical sense and Shepard’s blind submission to the three (identical) options presented went against everything the games stood for.

The crappy cop-out of Shepard’s breath at the end also offered no closure.

I could go on. There are plenty of excellent posts over on Bioware’s forums about this, detailing just why everything sucks so much. It’s not that people want a happy, butterflies-and-rainbows ending: they just want coherence, consistency, and real CHOICE. That’s what ME1, 2 and 3 were all about, and that’s what we don’t get here.

You are entitled to your opinion: but when this volume of fans protest, you know something’s wrong. If you’ve got the time, this is an excellent post about the issue from a reasonable, measured perspective:


On March 16, 2012 at 4:00 pm

There is a difference between the ID4 thing, because logically it IS silly to think that a human computer could interface with an alien one. Anyone who knows how our technology works would see how silly it is, unless the aliens also operate on normal wi-fi signals.

However, Armageddon makes sense. An asteroid hurtling toward Earth could be made out of brittle space clay, and could have completely burned up in atmo, harming no one. There could totally be other minerals and materials that we don’t know about yet. As for the One Ring, that made sense because it was a magical ring, so the one place that could undo it would acceptably be the one place where it was forged.

Mass Effect itself uses the idea of Dark Energy, a form of matter we know next to nothing about, and sorta bulls a concept onto it, which works well for the game. Even how electrical impulses allow the use of Biotic powers.

Although I have to point out completely reconstructing a well-aged human and bringing them back to life, memories and all, is quite far-fetched. Almost as far-fetched as a “magical” blast wave that interacts with organic and synthetic matter in some way. Why is it so hard to believe that they’re might still be some things about the universe even the advanced civilizations of the Mass Effect universe don’t understand. The Crucible is ancient technology, and even the Lazarus project isn’t explained to us in detail. It’s silly to believe one outlandish thing so readily and not the other. Perhaps it’s just because the Crucible’s wave is so closely linked to the ending people are so bitter about.

Maybe that’s why I’m mostly okay with the endings…I can accept both of those, because it’s all just fiction.


On March 16, 2012 at 4:08 pm

Actually just saw what “Bro” wrote above me there, and it would seem that after so much eloquence was put into the game of ME3 that an ending like that really does seem like the result of publisher pressures…. Dear writers, designers, and artistic creators of Mass Effect 3, was that really the story you proposed? I feel like the stories proposed were most likely fantastic and creative and cohesive just like the rest of the game was, but what if there was no time to do them properly with the constraints existing from the publisher? This is why I feel most robbed, I feel like the designers and writers very possibly had a vision for what they wanted and were told “its not in the budget, so you’re gonna have to wrap it up another way.” There was a very clear progression as laid out in this article, the writers seemed to be “going somewhere” with all of it…. and then it wasn’t given a chance to come to fruition.


On March 16, 2012 at 4:10 pm
Transcripts from the new app which followed the ME3 development team during the last few months before release. Cliff Notes version….there was mass confusion on how to do the ending, and the final decisions were made last minute by only a handful of people without focus testing.
Long post from a professional screenwriter on ME3′s endings. Cuts through all this back and forth garbage about “I thought the endings were awesome, so there’s nothing wrong and you people are stupid” followed by the inevitable “I thought the endings sucked, so they need to be changed and you people are stupid”.

Here’s the deal….regardless of your emotional response, from the cold factual standpoint of what constitutes good writing (IE adhering to the almost universally accepted rules for story structure, progression, and conclusion that basically everybody, Hollywood included, follows), ME3′s ending is an absolute travesty.

Reading through the referenced post and responses, you’ll find links to other posts from either screenwriters, or people who teach writing for a living. They are universally appalled, and many are quite confused as to how a piece of writing this appallingly poor was allowed to ship as a final product. That, I think, is a very good question.

Whether or not BioWare should change it is an entirely different debate. Personally, I think they should let it stand as-is to serve as a case study of what not to do with a trilogy conclusion and because, at this point, the damage has already been done.

Many of the hardcore Mass Effect fans on BSN have already resold their copies of ME3, in a lot of cases with ME2 and ME1 as well (the rapid price drop for used copies of ME3 at retailers barely a week after launch indicates this is a widespread reaction). Many have also concurrently cancelled their SWTOR accounts as well. This is the same group of people who buy the majority of franchise DLC, comics, and books. BioWare is not going to get these people back.

Alex D

On March 16, 2012 at 4:22 pm

Bioware is laughing in secret right now. They pulled the biggest prank/DLC/indoctrination stunt in the history of video games. They are “listening”!! (they are also laughing at all of us). Let me explain…

1. Harbringer’s 4 eyes glow yellow before the final rush
2. When you turn around after the blast you can see “dream trees”
3. Sheppard doesn’t recognize the citadel’s interior which looks like the inside of the collector base (with only human dead bodies)
4. The second part of the collector base looks like the Shadowbroker ship
5. Anderson (hope) and TIM (despair) magically appear.
6. Sheppard doesn’t need gear to survive in space
7. The “spirit kid” (reaper) Gives you 3 choices and makes sure you get a bad vibe about destroying the reapers
8. If you choose control, you sort of turn into a husk with the “spirit kid” smirking (the reapers have won)
9. If you choose to destroy, Sheppard magical cures from his injuries while he is shooting and the “spirit kid” instantly vanishes when the unit explodes.
10. The base on which Sheppard is explodes with all the mass relays (I looked at this “color explosion” as being a reaction in Sheppard’s brain)
11. Your team mates during the assault land on a paradise planet (they are attending to you being unconscious)
12. You take your second wind in the rubbles of London???!!??

TO BE CONTINUED!!! (suckers :P )

Chris Williams

On March 16, 2012 at 4:29 pm

completely agree, everything about this article is what i was thinking when i completed mass effect 3


On March 16, 2012 at 4:39 pm


And if you know anything about chemistry, physics, or biology, you would also think that the Crucible pulse is ridiculous.

Armageddon makes no sense, I don’t have time to list all its problems but here’s a review that lists some of its problems:

As for Shepard being brought back to life, he wasn’t brought back by someone waving a magical wand at him. He was brought back through the use of high tech medical equipment, extensive surgery, advanced nanotechnology, and cybernetic implants. Also, Shepard died in space, which means his body was preserved. Since everything you are, your memories, personality, instincts, etc., are in the brain. Resurrection would be a matter of repairing the brain and restarting the chemical processes of the body. In fact, we’re beginning to learn which specific parts of the brain store certain memories. A few studies have even managed to isolate specific synapses that trigger specific memories of words, places, and people.

It is not even conceivable that matter in the body can be transmuted (which is a nuclear process meaning if it’s not done with very high efficiency the energy released would be massive), configured in a complex way that is compatible with the person (there’s a chance of organ rejection even from close relatives), have it work across all organic life (different species aren’t even composed of the same chemicals), and all happening in a few minutes (compared to the two years and extensive procedures Shepard went through to get resurrected).

It’s ridiculous to compare the process that brought Shepard back to a magical wave that turns all organics in to half robots in a few minutes.

Also, when did they ever indicate that mass effect technology or dark matter could do anything as complex as the pulse? When have they ever shown a mass effect field capable of transmutation, genetic modification, or creation of complex machines?


On March 16, 2012 at 4:39 pm

@Alex D
Although it would be nice, the ‘indoctrination theory’ is unlikely. For starters, the first post I referenced basically rules it out in the developers own words.
Secondly, that idea requires cunning that approaches the genius level. As we can plainly see in the referenced post, Casey and Mac are about as creatively deep as a rain puddle. The answer for the inconsistencies you have cited is incompetence, not cleverness.
Thirdly, the consequences of indoc theory being true are actually WORSE than the devs simply being ‘stuck on stupidz’ as it appears now. it means that BW deliberately shipped an incomplete game that fans would have to download DLC to complete. This is a dark alley that the gaming community needs to stay away from at all costs


On March 16, 2012 at 4:44 pm

Game Front has just a acquired a new reader.

Jason S.

On March 16, 2012 at 4:48 pm

@KingofMadCows It’s diverging off topic but, that’s a great point about Shepard’s first death, today we still know very little about how the brain works but we’re beginning to understand the why’s. Like why certain memories can be recalled easier than others etc.

200 years from now? There’s no telling if we can rebuild an entire person from what/how their memories are formed and stored and the game goes out of the way to mention the important fact that Shepard was preserved, and that the brain was intact.

It’s grounded within the setting they’ve given us.


On March 16, 2012 at 4:53 pm


So the catalyst in its all knowing wisdom devised a plan to harvest organic life (I think death would be better by the way) in the most evil way possible. I doing so though it makes no attempt to include a failsafe so it can change the programming of the reapers. Essentially then the catalyst is not important. The reapers stated they are sentient, so programming should not matter. They should be able to agree to just leave though, correct? And therefore give the organics a shot at not screwing up.

They did mention dark energy but this was not referenced at all in ME3. In any case the AI said the Reapers were his solution. So again not providing a failsafe and assuming that all races would make the same mistake is very short sighted. But as I said I don’t want an argument. You like the endings, fair play to you. I didnt as it was all very contrived and seemed rushed.


On March 16, 2012 at 5:06 pm

Dear everyone at BioWare, I loved every moment of ME1, ME2, and ME3 right up until the end. To take a page out of “your book” so to speak, just as Shephard rallied for unity and healing between warring factions I would like to do the same here for you the creators and us the fans. You are truly wonderful story tellers and game designers, and there is no reason why this needs to be ME3′s legacy. Before Portal 2 came out, a revision to Portal 1′s ending was “snuck” into the game… and it worked. Now, you won’t be able to “sneak” in a revision, but let me say this: If the revision capitalizes on player choice and wows the players – even if every ending has shephard dieing in different ways – players will forget their gripes, their experiance will be altered and their love of the game renewed. You have already expressed a desire to see fans want to spend more time in the Mass Effect universe in the future, if things stand as they are it may be difficult to see that happen, but if fans love for the game can be renewed by offering a different experiance wouldn’t that be worth it? I have tried to stray from specifics, but allow me to try to be a bit more specific while trying to remain abstract – Players want longer more fleshed out endings, and they want them to differ greatly to represent how greatly different the choices they made were along the way from ME1-ME3. Allow me to loosely quote one of the developers from the Collector’s Edition of ME1 who said something along the lines of “This is your story, if you’re not happy with the ending you only have yourself to blame,” what a fantastic line, and so true it was through ME1 and ME2. But with ME3 you the Creators told your ending, and only your ending… we all simply hoped to love or hate the ending based on the choices we had made. If you give choice back to the player, they will no longer have you to blame for the ending, they will only have themselves to blame… and in the end, that’s all we want…. we want to have only ourselves to blame.


On March 16, 2012 at 5:11 pm

I’ve never visited this website before, I stumble upon this article through a comment posted on IGN. But after reading this extremely well written article I think I may vista here more often. I agree with everything you’ve written here. I really enjoyed the Mass Effect series and it has become one of my favorite series of video game or any other medium. I’m not necessarily angry with Bioware, they have created an amazing game and and universe within the game. However I do feel let down with how the ending played out and how little affect my decisions had. Sadly, i don’t plan on purchasing any future downloadable content for the game as I see no point to it. Again this was a very interesting article to read, it’s evident that you put a lot of work into it and you’re concerns are genuine.


On March 16, 2012 at 5:19 pm

Oh for the love of….just…no…words…
(turn down your speakers first)


Seriously, Bioware? SERIOUSLY?!
Is there ANYBODY right now, after seeing that, that still has the stones to try and defend this sorry excuse for a company?!


You indoctrination theory people, do you honestly think that a company that has gotten so bloody stuck on stupidz that they USED A THRASH METAL BAND’S ALBUM COVER AS THE ENDING SCREEN FOR THE MOST SUCCESSFUL GAMING TRILOGY OF ALL TIME has the intelligence and creativity to implement the idea you’re pushing? Are you people serious?


On March 16, 2012 at 5:27 pm

Yes, thank you! You, sir, are beautiful!


On March 16, 2012 at 5:27 pm

“What they want is the chance to experience the game BioWare explicitly advertised and for which they paid a substantial sum of money.”

Amen to that. This is a brilliantly written article; thank you for writing it. I really, really hope Bioware sees it and takes it to heart.


On March 16, 2012 at 5:27 pm

Interesting article. I agree with some of it, disagree with other parts: point #5 is spot on, #1-2 & 4 are mixed, and the only legitimate point you make in the whole of #3 is that the game should have gone into more detail about what actually happened (which point had already been well argued in #5), and that the whole extinction event/inferred holocaust argument demonstrates very little knowledge of the way technology works in the ME universe. All in all, I found the ending flawed but basically satisfactory.

Still, there was one bit at the end of the article that really pissed me off: “The fans don’t want to scrap the bleakness for some kind of enforced happy ending.” I don’t know on what basis you claim to speak for all “the fans,” but I’ve done quite a bit of reading on people’s opinions on the ending, on, the Mass Effect wiki, Metacritic, Bioware social network, etc., and there a great many people who express a desire for just that. I think this line of thinking is wrong, dumb, and detracts from more legitimate criticism of the ending, but you can’t just pretend it doesn’t exist to make your arguments seem more valid.


On March 16, 2012 at 5:28 pm

The more I think about the ending (I just finished last night), the more strongly I feel that the destruction of all advanced civilization in the galaxy (save whatever civilization the Normandy’s crew sets up on that planet) should be the You Lose ending of the game; if you make bad choices in all the games and if you don’t get your military readiness high enough.

I could deal with Shepard dying; that seems fitting considering that she was resurrected specifically to fight the Reapers. I could even deal with the other various outcomes (the Reapers are destroyed, but the Geth and EDI have to be sacrificed; the Reapers are called off but will likely come back; organic and synthetic life are merged) if they didn’t all require that the mass relays are destroyed.

Because, like the article mentions and as I alluded to in my first paragraph, the destruction of the mass relays means only one thing: Everyone is dead. Earth, Palaven, Thessia, and Tuchanka can’t be rebuilt without support from other planets/species that weren’t as hard hit. Residents of isolated colonies and space stations that aren’t self-sustaining will all starve to death. Trillions of people are dead and advanced civilization is over, so what in the hell was the point of all this?

That lame epilogue with the child and old man also makes me fear that this is the *real* ending.


On March 16, 2012 at 5:37 pm

You’re talking out of your ass, which is no surprise because you’re being an .

It’s lovely how your argument is pretty much “everyone is entitled to their opinion BUT YOU’RE UNDENIABLY WRONG AND I AM RIGHT!”

I have that app. You made up everything you said, that’s not even in the thread you link. “mass confusion”? Really? It says “The final bits of dialogue were debated…”
They’re talking about the dialogue here! Not exactly how the ending would look. Your allegation that it was ‘decided by a small group of people without focus testing’ is not only nowhere to be found in the source you link, it also doesn’t mean anything.

The screenwriter you link makes a pretty fundamental error. He takes a DESCRIPTIVE model of storywriting and applies it PRESCRIPTIVELY to Mass Effect. He starts by asserting that “Mass effect is a conventional story”. Then he proceeds to list what makes Mass Effect NOT a conventional story.
This is indeed the kind of model Hollywood screenwriters use, and it’s why nearly every Hollywood movie is exactly the same!

This screenwriter completely fails to take into account the subtext that’s going on. He takes the ending completely at face value!

He gets one or two points right, but he gets a whole lot more wrong.

I too am a writer. I write for both video games and theatre. I thought the ending was great, as do my friends in the field who have played Mass Effect 3.
No, it’s NOT standard Hollywood. That’s a GOOD thing.

Somehow I also can’t find all these dozens of writers who ‘universally’ agree with your point of view. I suspect because you made them up, like you did with those people who are returning their copies and never coming back.


On March 16, 2012 at 5:39 pm

@Jawa you’re a raving troll. Please disappear.


On March 16, 2012 at 5:40 pm

Spot on Taking everything in to account in terms of what has been said and neetly sums it up in a few pages.


On March 16, 2012 at 5:45 pm

“Synthetics vs. Organics” – this made sense in the “original” ending, which was something to do with the fact that Reapers destroyed organics to stop their lust for Dark Energy or something.

Hence all the Dark Energy foreshadowing in ME2.

to be honest though, I’d have preferred no choice. You should have just sat down with Anderson as you do if the Illusive man doesn’t shoot him, and then watched the crucible firing.

I know a “New Hope” style awards ceremony on the Citadel was probably never going to happen, but endings like that should be allowed by the fans imaginations.


On March 16, 2012 at 5:47 pm

well i said this game sucked from the get go loser loser loser


On March 16, 2012 at 5:48 pm

So an ending full of plotholes and no resolution is a good one? Ok you have your opinion. Accept other people have thiers and move on.


On March 16, 2012 at 5:49 pm

rockband is off the chats lol


On March 16, 2012 at 5:51 pm

SHUT UP shep16


On March 16, 2012 at 6:22 pm

Even though Shepard’s suit was compromised? In cold vacuum of space. I’d assume you know what happens to a human body in space, right? The human body’s blood supply would freeze so fast that it somehow starts to boil at the same time, completely destroying the brain. There’s also the fact that he fell into the atmosphere of the nearby planet, and before the camera finally cuts away, we see his body igniting. Shepard’s body would actually have been, by all accounts, incinerated. There shouldn’t have even been any remains to be recovered. I suppose the atmosphere could have been extremely thin, but, who knows…?

Yes, the Reapers were foolish enough not to put a contingency plan in place, but then why would they? They thought they were irrevocably in the right in what they were doing. The Reapers come in and do one thing, and it’s not sit back and see how things are going between organics and synthetics first. It’s one of the main flaws that any AI is always shown to have – no foresight in seeing how things could be different. They can only accept cold, hard facts, and believe that a cycle will continue to repeat itself.

It’s that kind of shortsightedness that makes villains what they are, they refuse to see how what they are doing could be wrong. Not in the moment, and not in the future.


On March 16, 2012 at 6:32 pm

I suggest you re-read my post. I also suggest you take it down a few notches if you want to have a productive conversation.

1. I’ve made no argument. I have linked to posts by others and restated (in brief) their contents. My opinions (highlighted by phrases like ‘personally’) are at the bottom of the post.

2. The validity of the contents of the first linked post are not subject to debate, as per BioWare. The information is genuine.

3. You yourself have confirmed, in a roundabout fashion, the contents of the second linked post. The mass effect trilogy IS a conventional story arc, right up until the last 10 minutes or so. It then completely abandons conventional form. Doing so confuses the hell out of the player, which goes a long way towards explaining the roughly 50k votes on the BSN poll demanding it be changed. That is the author’s point, and I see nothing in your post to suggest you disagree with it.

4. Your counterpoint, as I see it, is that BW’s decision to throw the conventional story arc out the window for the last 10 minutes of a 120 hour trilogy is a good thing, because it’s a daring stroke of art that breaks with conventional wisdom. Translation: those who don’t like the ending are simply too stupid to appreciate it. All 50k of them.

Yeah. That’s not egotistical or anything.

5. I made no mention of quantity (IE “dozens”, in your retort) regarding other screenwriters and teachers in agreement with the OP. Last time I checked there were four. In short, you’re one to talk about making s**t up. Try again. If you haven’t found them, then you’re not paying attention to the comments.

6. ME3 is available NEW on Amazon at $43USD for PC, and $40USD for Xbox, without even getting into the used market. It’s been out for a week. My local EB games won’t take any more copies of ME3 for trade-in right now, because they already have too many used ones as it is. And if you even bothered to spend any time on BSN, you’d find post after post from gamers who have traded in their copies and cancelled their accounts.

So, again, you’re full of s**t.

7. Your complete dismissal of the ‘Final Hours’ content tells me that you A) skimmed it and B) didn’t understand it or didn’t want to. There are plenty of other BSN users on that thread who have extrapolated the contents in detail, but finding that would take some actual effort on your part. It’s not my job to hold your hand.

Your specialty on this forum seems to be trying to verbally abuse posters whose opinions you don’t like. I suspect you may be a troll. If not, and you are in fact just an egotistical troglodyte, I’d suggest you look for softer targets before you make yourself look even more foolish.


On March 16, 2012 at 6:39 pm

Dude, you wrote and I quote

“Here’s the deal….regardless of your emotional response, from the cold factual standpoint of what constitutes good writing (IE adhering to the almost universally accepted rules for story structure, progression, and conclusion that basically everybody, Hollywood included, follows), ME3′s ending is an absolute travesty.”

That just makes you a pretentious idiot and shows you don’t know the first thing about writing.

And my point was that you misrepresent what is in the Final Hours content. So yes, you’re making up.


On March 16, 2012 at 6:41 pm

If you read back a bit you may find there was some reasonable discussion going on the meanings and merits of the ending.

YOU’re the one who’s ‘verbally abusing’ those of us who think the ending has merits and it seems you haven’t even read any of our posts.

So fck off, troglodyte.

Blandy Buchanan

On March 16, 2012 at 6:47 pm

Not to mention that player choice WITHIN the game is nullified almost instantly.

Save the Rachni species but let Grunt’s squad possibly die? Grunt will live anyway.

Side with the Krogan for the genophage cure, which pisses off the Salarians so they won’t support you? They’ll support you in the next mission anyway.

Nothing has any consequences in this game, even before you get to the ending.


On March 16, 2012 at 7:11 pm

I’d say you might be full of , too, since I worked in the gaming retail industry, and no EB Games or GameStop, refuses to take any used game on the grounds that “they have too many already.” The only time we don’t take in a game is because we are no longer carrying that platform (because it’s old), it’s missing a key component (like an extra disc), it’s too damaged, or it requires a CD key for activation (eg a PC title).

Used games are what keep those businesses running, so why would they refuse more stock to sell for profit?


On March 16, 2012 at 7:27 pm

I don’t think working in the industry automatically makes you an authority on the stocking practices of every individual EB in the country, but I appreciate the input. I also thought it unusual that the local EB didn’t want my ME3 copy (they’ve always been good about taking games in the past), so I inquired further. The clerk told me, in short, that they had only sold 1/3 of the new copies they received in their original shipment, sales were slowing down, and they had a ton of trade-ins. Sales of new copies were way below expectation, and they didn’t want to add any more used copies to current inventory until they moved more of the new ones. Seems simple enough to me.


On March 16, 2012 at 7:45 pm

Thank you for explain with wordsexactly how I felt at the ending of mass effect 3is not a tantrum as a child because there is no happy ending. This is giving us a logical and coherent end as the whole saga has been so far, Without fail argument.Still do not understand how such a great product, and so care has been falling into this.


On March 16, 2012 at 8:01 pm

Great article the ending of ME3 was definetly missing way too much. Assets and allies among the top on my list. Why go through all 3 games to not see the results?


On March 16, 2012 at 8:03 pm

I fear that EA/Bioware will not like this article too much, Gamefront. You sided with us, the gamers, too radically and it will hurt the big guys a lot. They might even not send you games to review and such any more, nobody can tell…

But we are glad you chose to support the players instead of calling us “entitled” and “whiny”. There were many times we were wrong, but Mass Effect 3 is a huge fiasco, and not only its endings and this one time, the gamers have the right to be VERY disappointed. After a game where Bioware kills some of our characters we came to love regardless of our decisions, the ending came as a mighty blow. I know fully-grown-ups that cried at the ending and got depressed for days, and can’t even touch other games for now.

We were taught by Bioware that if we work hard enough, we can save our NPCs, make them loyal, unlock side quests, keep them alive&happy, you know? And now, after dozens of “working” hours, we were robbed of all our decisions and stuck in a game that we didn’t feel like it was ours any more.

They’ve stolen our Shepards…


On March 16, 2012 at 8:15 pm

Someone made this pretty incredible Google document breaking down how little sense almost every single thing in the Mass 3 ending makes. While there’s been talk that it’s all a dream, or whatever, this document illustrates what a mess the ending is if the events depicted are in earnest – writing so sloppy to where it’s kind of appalling to think of what a disservice and insult it is to the supremely talented artists, programmers, and voice cast who poured their hearts into the game for the writing side to put so little thought and effort into their work.


On March 16, 2012 at 8:25 pm

I sincerly hope Casey Hudson or someone at Bioware reads this. Especially after his statement today.

J.G. te Molder

On March 16, 2012 at 8:47 pm

To all those who go “it was indoctrination” and if not outright said, at least implied “Bioware is brilliant” you have it completely wrong.

All the things said of the ending above, are still true for “indoctrination” option. WORSE, not only do all those this remain true, we can then add another: “THERE WAS NO ENDING AT ALL!”

If it was indoctrination, and the red ending is Shepard breaking free from the indoctrination…

That’s it! The reapers are still there, the battle is still raging. Everything that happened did not actually happen, you still have to enter the citadel, or if you did actually enter the citadel, you didn’t go up with the glowy lift, and anything happening there. You choose the red option, withstanding the final indoctrination attempt, has you wake in front of the citadel, or in the first room, with your battered crew around you… and then the actual ending to the Mass Effect saga would still have to happen!

There was no ending at all, if indoctrination was the indeed what was happening. And the thing is, if red broke you free of it, while the first two endings are reaper winning endings you only find out after you choose the red ending in reloads, it would be one hell of a clever thing to do. Indeed, it would have people go, “Oh, no, I’m dumb. I let myself get indoctrinated. F me, I suddenly have much greater sympathy for the ME1 bad guy!” Hell, there’d be bragging threads across the net: “I didn’t get indoctrinated, I didn’t fall for it, I went with blowing the reapers up, you suckers!”

In fact, it’s almost like EA said, remove the real ending, we’ll have them buy that as DLC later…

If it is the case: don’t buy it, don’t buy any EA stuff. they better release it for free if this is the case. You can’t let them scam you out of your money, it’ll only encourage them and other companies to do the same.

Bart Bujnowski

On March 16, 2012 at 8:56 pm

I believe the statement in reason number one is wrong –

BioWare could be liable for deceiving it’s customers.
There are consumer protection laws that make it unlawful for the company to make false/deceiving statements about the product they are selling/advertising. (think the shoe company – don’t remember the name – that made a claim that their shoes will help you loose fat, but upon scientific inquiry, it was proven to be grossly ineffective, the company had to repay customers for the deception)

In other words, if fans would sue BioWare over breaking the promise of player choices having (pardon the pun) mass(ive) effect on the endings, there is a chance they would win the lawsuit -BIG – forcing BioWare to at the very least return the cost of the game to the players that bought it for their deception of their customers.

And honestly? I’m not sure if any of their “upcoming” DLC could do anything to change the outcome of the hypothetical lawsuit – especially if it would not be free of charge.


On March 16, 2012 at 9:27 pm

This article does a remarkable job of oversimplifying and applying blinders to the content, which it accuses of the same thing. I understand that you are both upset and opinionated, but arguments among intelligent folk aren’t won by falsely reducing and outright lying about the the facts present in the opposition.

This is disappointing, as is the string of “you are so right I love you!” comments by wayward folk who––distraught and confused by an ending they (fairly) may not have enjoyed or fully understood––were simply searching for a beacon of dissent.

GT Williams

On March 16, 2012 at 9:36 pm

Just finished the game, and it was an enormous let-down, for pretty much all the reasons stated here. Considering all the options you have throughout the game, there could be many different endings (I would’ve liked retiring with Garrus, myself). Now, on the one hand, writing and making that many endings – with or without love interests, little snippets of what the rest of the universe is doing, etc. would take more time and effort, but to have everything I’ve done thrown out the window like that makes me wonder if it’s even worth a second play through.


On March 16, 2012 at 10:08 pm

The Xzibit image is priceless; a true lol moment. All the more so because of the absurdity of the plot point being referenced. I loved ME3, even the ending. However, that changed after about five minutes of thinking about it. Don’t get me wrong, still love the game, but the ending is a copout, and contrary for its own sake. Hard to believe that this was the ending Bioware had in mind since the first. You’d think that’d be long enough to make it make sense…:-S Love this article, though. The ME writers should give it a look.

Name witheld

On March 16, 2012 at 10:11 pm

For the writer of this piece, please leave politics out of your writing. You are writing for, what I can assume to be, a myriad of people. Many of those people have different ideas, thoughts and beliefs. If someone is an Obama supporter, they don’t need to read your comment on something Obama related considering there’s no corollary in ME3 with Obama or what he does.

In short: you are including your own personal (off-topic) beliefs with that which doesn’t mirror each other. If you were to give another example it should be one that doesn’t serve to draw attention away from your point and cause controversy. It should be neutral. Talking about Obama is not neutral. In fact, it’s very far from center.

That out of the way, I’m still playing the game and I’ll experience what is there and come back to this to see if I felt the same way you did. Apart from what I mentioned above, I thought it was well-written. I just want to note again that even if you write the most brilliant piece anyone has ever seen, something that can be viewed as small or trivial can ruin all your hard work.


On March 16, 2012 at 10:14 pm

Don’t know if this was mentioned but, did the normandy crew populate an entire planet, resulting in the “stargazer”? Joker is THE MAN…..


On March 16, 2012 at 10:19 pm

Bioware let down everyone with that cheap, garbage ending. It felt less like a culmination of all those years of playing Mass Effect and more like they fired whoever had been working on it, and some new person came in and drew up some last minute ending. It literally meant nothing and made no sense. It discounted all of our actions, not only in ME3 but in the entire series. I loved Mass Effect, it was my favorite series before that ending, overtaking Final Fantasy and Legend of Zelda. I cared about all of the characters, except maybe Zaeed, and watching Mordin die was the first time in years I’d cried playing a video game. I used to say Bioware was the best game developer around, but they seriously did their fans an injustice with the way they ended that game. It wasn’t just that we hated it, it’s the fact it minimized everything we did. They kept touting that all of our actions had an effect, but you could have played two vastly different games and still ended up with one of two/three endings that were all similar to the core. Never been so disappointed in a game.


On March 16, 2012 at 10:32 pm

Personally, though the plot holes and arguable discarding of overarching themes are definitely disappointing, especially when laid out as well as they are in this article… I could have totally made my peace with those things if I had to.

But what I really can’t stomach is the lack of closure from an emotional perspective. Personally, while I have enjoyed and greatly admired the sci-fi story of mysterious galactic cycles and one man/woman trying to unite a galaxy to fight a common enemy… for me, all of that was simply a backdrop for my own characters personal journey. It was an emotional story spanning over 5 years, about friendship, love, personal sacrifice and moral character. For me, if you take away the relationships, so carefully fostered and developed over the 3 games… what’s left is a rather cold and empty sci-fi story that while interesting enough to play through, would have been largely forgettable.

And this is what kills me. The developers and writers would have known this – it was their hard work and amazing talent that created this stuff out of thin air, that wrote a story and nurtured characters that would bring the series to life and inspire heights of emotional attachment that most games don’t come near. So how on earth can they so casually finish a series for good without giving the player proper closure on what happened to their friends and loves ones. At the end of my play-through, I see that Joker, Ashley (love interest) and Javik all survived, and they seem pretty damn pleased to be alive, even though Ashley has just lost a love that she’s spent years fighting to find and keep (could she even know that Shepard is dead?). It’s worth noting that not once did I actively choose Javik in my squad, and I rarely spoke to him on the Normandy. Not only does the survival of the above 3 not make much sense, the story has now been finished and I have no idea at all what happened to Tali, Garrus, Miranda, Jacob, Liara, James, Cortez, Jack, Dr Chakwas, EDI, Wrex, Admiral Hackett and even Shepard’s own damned Mother. Hey, but at least I know Javik is okay. The irony that he should be one of the three I am told survived is fantastic, considering he’d already revealed before the battle that he’d be killing himself should he survive.

I fully understand that not everyone has enjoyed these games for the same reasons as me, and I also understand that there is no such thing as a perfect ending – somebody will always disapprove. But providing SOME ending for the characters whose relationships with Shepard defined the entire game for some (if not most) players isn’t something I would have imagined being optional. To me, it’s akin to ending the game without bothering to tell us the outcome of the war… and I can’t even fathom how the developers would feel that is satisfactory.


Nyan Shepard

On March 16, 2012 at 10:49 pm

There was 3 things that you guys have missed. 1) Why does the AI help destroy what it has been doing for millions of years. 2) Who created the AI in the first place. 3) If you got the collector’s edition in the art book there is a concept art for The Illusive Man as the final boss looking nothing like he does when you see him on the citadel


On March 16, 2012 at 11:00 pm

As an addendum, I don’t HATE the ending. There’s a lot of subtlety and subtext to the proceedings that make it work on an emotional, dramatic level. But the logic is contrary to what’s already been established. Go back over the other two games as well and you have things already shown to us being contradicted here, at the end. It’s not pouting at ‘not getting it’ for most of us.

Rather, many of us do ‘get it’, it just doesn’t add up in context of the series; it’s blatantly inconsistent, and not all of that can be excused by adopting a relative stance. Shifting focus to the metaphysical for the ending isn’t a bad thing–taking liberties with execution is quite another.

Don’t automatically hate it just because it doesn’t end the way you want, but also don’t presume that everything can be chalked up to implication or analogy. The end to ME3 isn’t biblically diabolical, but it also isn’t as clever or esoteric as it likes to think it is. The facts in this article are generally accurate. And just one being accurate is bad enough, given how much so many of us loved this series. I guess that’s actually the crux of it for us really, isn’t it? ME deserved better than a predictable (come on, be honest) ‘revelation’ with an explicitly linear outcome, incongruous lack of player participation on any meaningful level and redundancy of choices made in the past. It feels a half-baked ending, garnished with techo-inverse-Darwinian dicta that threaten to subsume the thing, and a discordant mix of conceit and outright DEceit, After five years, we’re right to have expected a fully-cooked meal for the time spent waiting; something that holds up to scrutiny on each level. But it’s the cooks that should be most aggrieved by the result, not us. The result was not what it was meant to be, and if it was…*sighs*.

Sorry for the length of this, guys and girls; I just thought I needed to make myself clear.


On March 16, 2012 at 11:58 pm

I always suspected this, but now I am sure. There are better things to do in life than trying to place the cursor on a point on the computer monitor and clicking the mouse button. If Bioware+EA has achieved anything it is that no matter how you color it, it is still that: Killing time and achieving nothing in return, except destroying your eye sight, getting fat while losing your muscle mass, and getting a headache as your reward. For this ex-gamer, and from now on, games will be only the next best thing to time that is already dead, like waiting in lines, or sitting in a cab or bus. Oh, but I don’t have a mobile gaming device, so I guess I’ll just have to enjoy the sights and sounds. Whatever it is. It is guaranteed to be something from the greatest game of all: Life.


On March 17, 2012 at 12:39 am

When I finished Mass Effect 1, my feeling was “Oh my god, I cannot wait to play through this again, go full Paragon, do everything honorably!” I booted it up right after the credits rolled.

After finishing Mass Effect 2, my feeling was “Oh my god, I cannot wait to play through this with my other Shepards, see who I can save, which npc’s live from ME1!” I booted it up after finishing up a DLC or two.

After finishing Mass Effect 3, I felt like uninstalling all 3 games from my computer and blocking all Bioware sites from my browser, it felt like a confusing, out-of-the-blue, bad breakup.

Is that really the “emotion” Bioware wants to leave this series with? I guess so if you’re in the business of losing customers.


On March 17, 2012 at 12:39 am

Saw a horrible Yo Dawg meme

Stopped reading there.

not a tribble

On March 17, 2012 at 12:53 am

Like the Yo Dawg meme or not, I hate it myself, but it’s word for word what the logic of ending of Mass Effect 3 is.

Josh (a.k.a. SWJS)

On March 17, 2012 at 1:23 am

@tomipp and TWOxACROSS

Once again I applaud your understanding of the situation at hand. The more of these comments I read, I can pick out a definate pattern.

1. “Even though other people have clearly pointed out factual flaws in the article, I still consider it to be absolutely right because I feel the same way.”

2. “I am unable to form my own conclusions, am utterly confused by the ending, and do not recall any explaination of the events taking place even though they do very briefly explain a few things. Out of my confusion and disappointment I will now rage and oversimplify the logic of this ending, therefore defeating the purpose of logic.”

3. “The ending makes all of Mass Effect ruined forever. It is garbage, Bioware is Satan, and I will boycott anything related to Bioware out of my own ignorance.”

4. “Anyone defending the ending or stating true facts is a troll. They are wrong. Go away.”

That’s essentially what this article and it’s commentators are doing. It’s rather sad. I’ve added my two cents though, to each his own.


On March 17, 2012 at 1:35 am

/nod to the article.

This ending really did feel like a crazy divorce or something, with no reason.

It’s like if my husband of 12 years came into the room and said to me:

Him: Hon, I think we need to separate.

Me: What? Why? We were fine yesterday! We were talking about taking a trip to Finland next year, just the two of us!

Him: Because if I don’t divorce you now you’ll divorce me somewhere down the line.


On March 17, 2012 at 1:39 am

Damn it bioware ! why did you do that to make everyone angry!?

just check the chart in the CVG! 86% from 6333 people said the bioware blew the mass effect up!


On March 17, 2012 at 2:15 am


Oh come on now, you can’t say something like that and then not even provide an example of what’s being ‘over-simplified’ here. I’m getting really tired of the few fans of the ending implying that they’re obviously more intelligent and sophisticated than the people who clearly didn’t understand the underlying themes.

I understood the endings completely. I also agree entirely with this article. So do you have an explanation for, say, the Normandy’s inexplicable flight from the battle, or are you just referencing the supposed ‘depth’ in removing the Mass Relays from the equation and allowing the universe a chance to start over ‘fresh’?

Or maybe you’re talking about the Indoctrination theory? Do tell, please. The article made its points. If you’re going to comment against it, at least make yours.


On March 17, 2012 at 2:56 am

@Josh (a.k.a. SWJS)

Logic of the game?

Yeah, George W. Bush saw the logic of the last Batman movie and felt right there and then in love with it. What an awesome sacrifice! At least the characters there had a choice.

Logic. Ahem… :

- Synthetic: Kill me or control me. I am going to f… you anyway. You are the first one up here, you know.

- Bioware is making the ultimate sacrifice. Even bigger than you, for revealing itself such imbeciles.

- The game is indoctrinated itself. It does not have to live up to any logic.

- It is just a game. Just as stupid as those who have paid for it.


On March 17, 2012 at 4:09 am

Excellent article. I agree with all arguments. I’m very disappointed with the endings.

Josh (a.k.a. SWJS)

On March 17, 2012 at 4:38 am


Relies like that only futher prove my point. Once again you oversimplify the ending, imply that very little logic is involved in it, when in reality that isn’t the case at all.

The reaction to the ending is understandable but overblown. The outright ridicule of both the game and bioware over 10 minutes is absurdly ridiculous, and I fail to see how fan logic of “The ending sucks, ME3 suck, Bioware is Lucifer!” is any more logical than they ending they so hate.

Like it or not, that’s what it’s boiling down to. It wouldn’t be so bad if people were applying actual logic and not just parroting and/or praising the article. A lot of the responses here aren’t exactly helping the argument either.

I’ve already added my two cents to the jar. I’d add more if I were certain it wouldn’t be a hopeless cause, paragraphs of wisom and logic buried under a thick pile of parrots and rage. It’s the Internet, I doubt it’ll ever end up that way. The only reason I’m still here is to watch other discussions unfold, especially when people like TWOxACROSS actually bring logic into the mix. I’m curious as to see the final outcome of this debate. I never was one for news or politics, but this ordeal with ME3′s ending is so amusingly absurd that it may just spark my interest.

Don Elton

On March 17, 2012 at 4:44 am

It’s not the ending that’s flawed it’s the story (and gameplay) in ME3. Remove the Crucible and (as the article suggests) add consequences for the various choices. Great game however, Im not disappointed by the ending.

linda li

On March 17, 2012 at 5:23 am


Um Josh, there’s no logic in that ending, the game made sense up until that point, where Bioware decided to do a 360 with the franchise. Apparently we don’t have to “interpret” ME1 or 2′s endings even though they’re more varied than 3′s (especially 2), and yet we’re supposed to “imagine” 3′s endings ourselves?

I’m sorry, but none of the advertisement or trailers for the game inferred that, or I would have saved my money.

This isn’t some abstract art you’re supposed to “figure out”, it’s a commercial product that you pay for.

The large bulk of the people aren’t saying anything against the bulk of the game, we love it to death, but the last scene throws away the entire franchise with vague, confusing and illogical scenes that don’t tie in together.

People who like the endings? More power to you, but YOU seem to relish in the fact of attacking people who are thoroughly disgusted with it, because it’s lazy writing, a rip-off of other series, and totally disingenuous to the other games.

I’m happy you got your ending that satisfies you. Maybe if I thought less about it I’d be happier with it, but everything I’ve come to love and learn from 99% of the last 3 games proves otherwise.

Kyle Dillingham

On March 17, 2012 at 6:02 am

I have written a letter which I have sent to multiple people and posted in multiple places. The people and places are as follows:,,,,, BioWare social network,, Mac Walters (Lead writer), Casey Hudson (Producer), Ray Muzyka, Greg Zeschuk,, BioWare facebook fanpage, Mass Effect facebook fanpage.

This letter is to be my formal addition to the already LARGE number of ‘concerned’ gamers. I have put considerable time and effort into crafting this letter and have covered as many topics as I could think off. Consequently, this letter is fairly long. Knowing this, I have made a table of contents/index for any and all readers. I also have posted the entire letter on my site, “” (for free) as to not blanket each site with such a large amount of content.

If you like what is inside, please support it through comments, re-posts, and bumps. My hope is, with enough traffic, we can send a solid, unified message that will stimulate change.

The formal letter can be found here:

Thank you, enjoy, and as always, stay curious.

Kyle Dillingham


On March 17, 2012 at 6:13 am

Excellent article! I enjoyed the read and agree whole heartedly with the author.
I am a very disgruntled customer of Bioware. I hope they do the right thing and sort out this mess.


On March 17, 2012 at 6:21 am

The debate could go on forever but it does seem that the more people who complete it the more people are saying it was disappointing. Just listened to the Sovereign conversation from one and that pretty much contradicts everything in the finale of 3. Just my opinion though. Everyone is entitled to thier own. All the flaming going around really isnt necessary.


On March 17, 2012 at 6:36 am

It’s same as AC: Revelations, where you have to watch stupid AC Embers, computer made goodbye to Ezio. BioWare just didn’t have time to make proper ending, because EA push them to make game ASAP. They are not Valve, unfortunately.


On March 17, 2012 at 6:53 am

I can agree with most that has been written in this article. The ending was a disappointment and what I expected to be a very branched out selection of endings, cos of all the decisions available to the player, finally converges into 3 insipid scenarios.


On March 17, 2012 at 6:56 am

I think there not enough said about absolute absense of emotinal closing, i just wanted to point it out that in a game like this we got very close to many of the characters( not only Shepard`s possible romance choices, but almost any character that was in the game from me1 to me3) SO as it is, ending doesnt provide any kind of “goodbye” thing (except grey colored short cuts)

THis is very important!

advances, none logical

On March 17, 2012 at 7:22 am

Great article, sums it up.

Maybe Bioware wanted this controversy, or not, they’d be idiots not to take advantage of it.

That said, ending was utter nonsense whether they plan to add onto it or we have what we have. A five minute film to wrap up 5+ years of game and development that besides colors is chopped up for “different” endings and we’re asked to buy more DLC at the very end?


On March 17, 2012 at 8:10 am

Well-written, thought-out, and justified.
(wish i could say the same for mass effect’s ending)


On March 17, 2012 at 8:10 am

Well-written, thought-out, and justified.
(wish i could say the same for mass effect’s ending)

Srsly, gr8 job.


On March 17, 2012 at 8:32 am

reason no 2 is flawed. he does not EXACTLY say we kill organics so that organics will not create synthetics that destroy them. He explains that the unique genetic code of each race is PRESERVED in reaper form, not killed get your damn facts straight.


On March 17, 2012 at 8:37 am

@advances, none logical

Agree , Bioware has to do something!


On March 17, 2012 at 8:50 am

Check this one Casey Hudson finally answered but not cleared!

Thomas Schöpplein

On March 17, 2012 at 8:52 am

I finished my ME3 experience with the first out of 10 ME2 save games I saved for this, today, 2 o’clock in the morning central european time…., I couldn’t do it faster, I have a very demanding job, I’m 39 years old, CEO of a local bank in Germany and Mass Effect for the last 5 years was my personal haven to flee when I had enough of financial crisis and so on. I even saved 5 days of holiday to take a whole personal week and try to do 2 or 3 more run throughs of ME3 with my other save games of ME1 and ME2… until 2 o’clock this morning…..

I did my first multiplayer ever (!!) in the last days to get my galaxy readiness rating higher…, I even get my xbox live gold abo the first time because I needed it for multiplayer and then this ending…, it destroyed the whole series for me in 10 minutes…., oh my….. what a disaster….

Bioware, I’m just one single fan and consumer of your games, but I would have payed steadily and paciently for every little dlc, every spectre package for mulitplayer (because I’m not so good, I have to keep up not to embarass the other 3 poor guys enduring me in the level) and as I said, Mass Effect was my little personal Haven I could flee to. I would have played ME3, I don’t know 20, 30 times if the ending would have been anything like ME1 or ME3. I don’t want an ambigous ending, a spirituell ending or an ending of art…., I want my Shepard fight hard for what he belives, make the best moral choices he can make, make sacrifices and in the end, I wanted to have a fighting chance to save the universe as it was, save himself and get the girl. I know, not very intelectuell, not very fancy, I know, just a normal dumbass hollywood ending…., but you know what, if I want despair and bad endings, I have them all the time in normal live, I don’t need a game in which I spent maybe 200 to 300 hours over 5 years to do this.

Bioware, I’m just one fan, one customer, but this one won’t buy anything from your company ever again, and I certainly won’t play ME3 any more, nor single, nor multiplayer. I will of course cancel my xbox gold right away, I don’t need it anymore. You’ve lost a fan, a customer and I lost my personal Haven……

It’s so sad, that you had to forget what the vast majority of us normal girls and guys want when we play this game, save the day and get our boy or girl….. you have no idea I fear, what you have done to many of us, remembering today 2 o’clock in the morning, sitting in front of my tv and thinking…, this couldn’t be happening…..

confused husk

On March 17, 2012 at 8:59 am

I am not satisfied with the ending (I don’t hate it, but unsatisfied). Shepard died, but I’ve no problem with this. Actually, after the need for a catalyst is revealed in the game, I was pretty sure that I would be the catalyst. And I was also pretty sure that I will be the one who will activate the crucible and would die in the process (like another suicide mission). I played a big part of the game “knowing” I’ll die.

I think the events leading to ending and the ending itself contained more holes (or at least more poor-writing) than other parts of the game. When those finishing events lead you into a so-so ending, everything blows up for the fans. The endings are 90% similar to each other (at least visually) and they are also similar to the ones I’ve seen in Deus Ex (control, destroy or become some hybrid). Also this whole “wipe out and begin again” stuff sounds similar to what The Architect (which is also an AI) says to Neo in Matrix about the machines and humans (we wipe you out and reset matrix to start again, this is a cycle). This may not a big deal, but it makes this so-so ending look a little poor and unoriginal.

Also, when I think about my Shepard, two of the choices do not make really sense:

If you have chosen to control reapers, then why you fought and killed the Illusive Man. He was trying to achieve the same thing (the fact that he could never achieve control does not change anything). If you’ve used (or helped) him before, you may have got what you achieved more easily. This choice also makes the last dialogue with the Illusive man look meaningless, I think. If what you chose in the end is wielding their power, you shouldn’t have destroyed Collector base before (which I did). Or if you did, you shouldn’t be presented with this choice in the first place (keeping base is and action towards wielding their power). Since their only purpose of existence is gone (there will be no cycle), where are the reapers going ? For what purpose you’ll use them ? What becomes of you ? It doesn’t matter whether you use them for good or bad, it would be playing the god. Unless someone explains me how this choice (wielding godly powers) fits into the game and the way our Shepard behaves, I don’t count this one as a choice.

If you’ve chosen to synthesis, then you’re basically doing what the AI does with its cycle. You’re taking any chances of choice, evolution and to some extend, free will from organics and even synthetics. You are creating a single future for all the races. You create a new life form without the will of anyone involved and you play the god. You don’t wipe out anything but, you decide on their fate much more than the other two choices. People can build what is destroyed but, there is no turning back after your green solution. This choice also does not exactly fit into my mind (and my Shepard’s), I can count this choice only 0.5 of a choice (or maybe 0.25).

Destruction of the reapers and relays is also a big decision but you’re fighting for that purpose from the first time you faced reapers. Everyone in the galaxy knows that you’re there for finishing the job, which is destroying reapers (OK, more correctly, stopping them). Also, everyone knows (or thinks) that crucible is for destroying reapers (not for creating a new greenish life form). Only thing that bothered me was that, EDI and Geth being destroyed with this choice.

So, I have 1.25-1.5 choices in the end, not 16, not even 3 as most people say.

In addition to that, some stuff didn’t really made sense for me. I mean, I still have questions and theories (like many people posting here):

AI says that “created will always rebel against its creators”. If this is just a theory (or result of some flawed calculation), then you are really an AI (Artificial Idiot) since you’re wiping out organics without a real cause. Or, if this is not a theory and you’ve seen this (synthetic vs organics thing) happened “many times” before creating the reapers, then there was already a cycle in which organics flourish, create chaos, wiped out and flourish again (otherwise how could you observe that happening “many times”). And If there was already a cycle (a natural one), why you’ve created f***in another one.

AI talks about preventing chaos which is unpredictable. How you’re so sure that this happens every 50000 years (If this is that much predictable, then there is an order here, not chaos). How you’re so sure that synthetics wipe out organics ? How you are so sure that all the organics will behave in exactly the same way (Shepard didn’t, we know it) or every synthetics will behave the same way (Legion didn’t, Geth also didn’t completely). Is there a universal fate that can’t be changed and you know it ? Are you an AI or the God ?

Dear AI, if you are so concerned about organics and the synthetics wiping out them, then wake up every 1000 years and if there are any synthetics around, destroy them before they wipe out organics. Are you mad, why do you wait 50000 years and destroy most of the galaxy ? Wake up more often and destroy less. Why don’t you do that ? Do the reapers charge slowly ? Or maybe you want to play mysterious.

Dear AI, you’re controlling the reapers and you say that “my solution will work no more”. Then, why don’t you get your f***in reapers and get the f*** out of our galaxy (or better destroy yourself). I’ve already showed that you’re wrong and your solution won’t work. Why I can’t just shut you down or destroy only reapers. You say Citadel is your home, then maybe destroying the citadel should also be enough. But no, I have to make a choice which don’t completely make sense (and someway or another I’ll devastate the galaxy). Boy, really, I hate you.

Dear AI, you talk about synthetics wiping out organics. The only advanced synthetics we have, which is Geth, didn’t even wipe out Quarians. Instead, as we learned from the previous games, Rachni war and Krogan rebellions were much more dangerous and galaxy wide threats which may have lead to some organics wiping out other organics. So, what about organics wiping out all other organics ? Don’t you have a solution here ?

And by the way, for god’s sake, who created you ? How did you find so many power, time and resources to create reapers ? Are you the God or some Godly creation ?

All those points may not be really problem regarding the ending, there may be answers to all of them. You can even say “OK, this is an AI and it thinks like that. It is idiot, illogical. so what ?”. But, then this is putting a stupid AI (shown as a kid) and its flawed logic at the middle of all those events which doesn’t look satisfying for me. At least, I would like to be able tell those thoughts to that stupid AI instead of following a limited script. I’m sure that, Shepard would also love to tell something similar, instead of saying “Yeah” and being presented with 1.5 choice(s).

About the Galaxy after my choice:
As I said, destruction was the only meaningful choice for me, so I’ve chosen the red light. But after the destruction, I think the galaxy won’t be in good shape. During the game, we learned that all the civilizations advanced much more when they’ve found the relays (this is also what Illusive Man says). Probably FTL or the other basic tech stuff is not enough for galaxy wide advancement (this sentence is from ME wiki about relays: “allowing for journeys that would otherwise take years or even decades with only FTL drives”. I mean, FTL is not that fast). And during the ending scene, the AI says “you will destroy most of the technology you rely on” in addition to reapers, synthetics and mass relays. Here, we’re talking about half of the high tech galaxy (at least military fleets) more or less trapped on earth (nearly destroyed) without enough resources, “most of the technology they rely on” is gone and with no more relays. Galaxy won’t be thrown back into dark ages but, in the end we’re not seeing a united and balanced galaxy, we’re seeing a separated one with unknown future. Of course, they are at least alive and free, and you can say that “Dude, there are many many reapers lying around, they can harvest their tech easily to make relays”. I can say, “How long will it take and how would they survive until that happens ?”, “How intact the reaper tech would be, after destruction ?”, “When will krogans begin to eat Turians ?”. Or I can say, “They couldn’t understand how relays work by looking at and using working ones for hundreds of years, how do they create one just by analyzing reapers ?”. We’re just speculating in one way or another. If, in the end, I have to speculate about the fate of the galaxy and the organics (I can’t even say that I’m dead or alive), then why I finished the game ? What answers did this provide to me ? I’ve speculated (or tried to guess outcomes) during the game, now I want a more satisfying and complete conclusion. It does not have to be a “giving answers to all damn questions you have” type of ending. But, it has to be “not so much confusing”.

Apart from this so-so ending, the final battle in London was also very disappointing for me:
In the end mission (London) I should have seen Asari commandos unleashing their biotic powers, Krogans fighting fiercely, soldiers incinerating or overloading their enemies, Eclipse vanguards charging to enemy as I do (and use Nova to smash them), I should have seen Geth primes fighting with the Brutes, Rachni fighting against their reaper versions and along with more others. I should have seen those f***in galactic army fighting for the last hope of galaxy and all those biotic / tech powers at work right by my side. This is probably the last time I would be in Mass Effect universe, so what I’ve seen had to be much more epic than what I got. This didn’t have to be in game or real time, it could have been with short cinematics or scenes from the “battleground”. This is not a recon mission, this would be the last battle of everyone if we can’t win. Where the hell are you all the people ?

what I’ve got during last battle is this: me and my squad trying to destroy the reaper guarding the beam and “where the hell are you Anderson” telling me “we are on the way” or “hold on”. “Hold On” !! Ok, Dude. I’ve a bunch of Brutes and Banshees here and there is a reaper guardian just above my head. But, no problem I just hold on. And what I also got was, only a handful of people charging towards the beam (probably only humans, again no signs of other races) under reaper fire !! What the f*** you’re thinking, when you charge towards a reaper with only a handful of people. Have you ever seen someone, that lives after getting hit by that reaper beam ? Only plan you have is actually running towards the beam directly, without any tactics, really ?

Last words about my squad:
Joker, where the f*** you’re taking my love (Liara) and my squad to ? I’m trying to save the galaxy and you are running away at FTL speed ? What is this hurry ? Do you have a hideout that I don’t know ? Do you have a beach house on a some distant planet ? If you had time to land on earth and found my squad alive (I don’t know how), then you’re supposed to come after me into citadel. You should not go to camping in a forest on a distant planet (I really wonder what you’ll do there). I think even this part itself makes the ending look illogical (or confusing) and that dreaming / indoctrination theory look a little more appealing (we have infinite ammo, our armor is destroyed but comm is working, I’m half dead but Anderson is in good shape, my armor doesn’t look like a burned Inferno armor, etc.). This “forest on a planet” scene could be the last dream Shepard sees on his / her last moments just before dying but, sequence of events do not fit exactly. Of course, that planet could also be the heaven, I don’t know.

I’ve read most (if not all) of the comments here and I may have repeated what many people said before (sorry for that) and it was a long post (sorry for that too). Some points may sound stupid or obviously wrong to you. But, I wanted to give my opinion on this topic. This much speculation and confusion is not good (and a little unsatisfying) for the ending of such an epic and great game series.


On March 17, 2012 at 9:06 am

Im still not happy with the ending even after a few days reflection. Ive tried MP and its ok i guess…however @Thomas Schöpplein says everything i wanted to say.

Mass Effect is my little haven too, i work at sea for the most part of the year so as silly as it sounds i empathise with a lot of the characters in the game, being away from home, getting caught up in a myriad of tasks everything familiar can seem a million miles away although im lucky, my home isnt being harvested by aliens :)

I dont want an artful ending… for those of you who are genuinely happy with the ending as it is, then great im happy for you too. For the rest of us asking for more closure then theres nothing wrong with that, if it does come in DLC form hopefully it will be optional so you can keep your endings and we can keep ours. What fits for you doesnt fit for me, and if nothing else the story of the game shows that so please respect other peoples opinions, as that, opinions and not whining or crying.

Im trusting bioware that they will deliver and this is part of something bigger, im not keen on paying for a happy ending though….but im already trusting them not to ruin one of the best series ive ever played, i think thats payment enough.

And the damn thing will come out just after i head off to sea for another 9 months…. :-/

@Thomas Schöpplein /tip hat to you sir.


On March 17, 2012 at 9:43 am

@Kyle Dilingham

You’re a writer and you think it is a good idea to have 45 minutes of pure exposition at the end of the game? The ending of Return of the King was a *weak* point in the movie.

From your website I gather you consider yourself to be very very good at everything (so I presume you’re not *just* a writer). May I suggest perhaps.. errm.. you’re not?

I sympathize, but you’ll probably understand the writers and designers at Bioware have their own stories to tell? In the end I feel it’s their prerogative to decide what to make as long as their choices are defensible. In this case, they really are as a bunch of people have pointed out.
To me the Mass Effect series is also filled with ethical and intellectual problems, which is what I really like about it. So I hope that game you want gets made; for now may I suggest Star Wars: The Old Republic?
There you get a lot more content, character-building and relationships. It’s also a little less highbrow than Mass Effect.


On March 17, 2012 at 10:14 am

I loved the comic book series Hellblazer. They then made a movie based on it called Constantine, starring Keanu Reeves. The movie was horrible of course. Am I demanding that they make it again but better? Of course not. Do the fans deserve better? Maybe, but that doesn’t mean anyone is responsible for making it.
On a second note, this article has as many if not more holes and misunderstandings than Mass Effect. I’d love to go into detail, but I don’t get paid to write and I have laundry that needs doing.


On March 17, 2012 at 10:22 am

I guess it was just me, but I actually liked the ending I chose. And, when it all comes down to it, the options at the end were really the only way to do it. BioWare can’t create thousands upon thousands of endings that change based on every single little choice you made. Instead, it goes on the big one: whether or not you destroyed the Collector base at the end of ME2. My only real complaint with it is that there are no major differences between the three choices, for the most part. And I would’ve maybe liked to see more changes based on how you dealt with the Quarian/Geth situation, or at least who ended up in the final allied fleet.


On March 17, 2012 at 10:32 am

I finished the game late at night. I absolutely loved the end game to the moment when I reached the Citatel for the last time… and then it just shut me down. I tried to justify all this idea of the catalyst, not being a weapon as I thought it would be, and the rushed cutscenes in the end. After waking up the next morning I thought that maybe I just picked the least appealing ending – the justifying mode still on apparently ;)


On March 17, 2012 at 10:55 am


“BioWare can’t create thousands upon thousands of endings that change based on every single little choice you made.”

How hard would it seriously have been to do some Fallout-style ending slides that highlighted how your choices changed the major characters, the most important side characters, the various races, and some of the major locations? Those things are very cheap and easy to make, and would make people feel like their choices were validated in the end, while providing some of that closure and replay value they were asking for.


On March 17, 2012 at 11:15 am

Absolutely spot on analysis. I am not actually mad or upset about the ending though: only moderately annoyed. How do you end a journey in a meaningful way that satisfies most people? It’s difficult.

Unfortunately, Bioware’s endings disappointed many of their fans because they told us how important our choices were to the game, but, in the end, they really weren’t.

Sometimes, I’m fine without the visage of choice in a game. It only makes the experience that much more potent and raw when something tragic does happen and I can’t stop it.

Jason S.

On March 17, 2012 at 11:17 am

A lot of other game developers and artists come to the same conclusions as well in this thread:

It’s not artistic or visionary to insert God-boy into your ending or leave a heavily detailed multi-million dollar franchise with metaphors, some flashy lights and jungle planets at the end.


On March 17, 2012 at 11:59 am

BioWare could have learned something from the Wachowski Brothers:


On March 17, 2012 at 12:00 pm

I understand the dissapointment even if I am not huge fan of franchise. It is sad that ME ends, there will be no Shepard, no Liara, no EDI, no Reapers and so on. But this sadness unfortunately doesn’t come from the game, but from the actual real life and that’s the main problem. Ending of ME3 didn’t have choice – ok, didn’t have answers – ok, didn’t have gameplay continuity – ok, but MAINLY it didn’t have emotions and that is not ok.


On March 17, 2012 at 12:13 pm

I support 4/5 things the article points out, I think it could’ve been handled within the space of the 10 or so last minutes, we don’t need a 45 minute wrap-up like MSG4, but everything else is spot on.

In ME:1 I cheered as my Shep stuck it to the council and determined to find the Reaper threat. In ME:2 I applauded at my monitor, something I abhor people doing in movies personally, as my Shep stuck it to the Illusive Man. In ME:3 I alt+F4′d out of the game as soon as the credits rolled and haven’t bothered to even click on the icon once since.


On March 17, 2012 at 12:28 pm

For those comparing how books and movies are up to the creator to do with as they please versus Mass Effect I’d like to point to a quote from Brent Knowles, lead designer for Dragon Age: Origins.

I read one recent blog post where the writer basically said “the ending was awesome because it was just like a movie” and I think she was missing the point. It is a game. Not a movie. And more specifically, its a role-playing game. The players are *part* of the game. Part of the process of building and experiencing the game, much more so than with most other forms of entertainment. Entitlement is really a right, for the gamer, because they have participated, actively, in the game itself.


On March 17, 2012 at 12:51 pm

Spot-on analysis.

Now if only Bioware would LISTEN and just own-up, instead of playing the PR game.


On March 17, 2012 at 1:12 pm

This article is Logical and represents the truth. thumbs up


On March 17, 2012 at 1:53 pm

Great article.

Like the youtube review says, if you’re gonna ADVERTISE 16 endings…..HAVE 16 DIFFERENT endings. OR 8 with half and half…..


On March 17, 2012 at 2:15 pm

I havent read the all article yet. But let me say this.

The reapers purpose is to allow civilizations to grow, to allow the universe to grow.
The AI clearly explains that they dont wipe out EVERY organic especie in the universe,
instead they take away the advanced ones.

Why is that?

Because if they didn’t do that, the universe would be rulled by sinthetics, they would
completely kill every organic being in the galaxy and then life would end.

By creating the reapers they allow life to continue at the cost of trillions of live.
Life goes on, other species will evolve…

It sucks but it’s actually brilliant, the effects of AIs on the universe is dangerous.
Shepard herself said this, whats the point of allowing lower life forms to live, if in the end they are playing in their hands.

The Catalyst was like a mix of god and science, and it was beatifull. And besides, it was clear from the first game that things wouldnt end up well.

The only thing I feel that the ending really screwed up was the normandy insane crash for no reason at all on a distant planet with team mates that were with me on Earth. NO FREAKING REASON WHATSOEVER!

And then theres the question of what happened to everyone. x.x


On March 17, 2012 at 2:40 pm


Bioware own up to what? As far as I am concerned this game is finished. I have already removed the game from my computer and erased all the saved games and emptied the Recycle Bin. I mean it is already embarrassing to find yourself thinking about Liara and what is she doing right now, on your way to work, let alone hoping that Bioware gives you back a moment with her again. That would make us triple virtual jerks. LOL! :) . Just forget it.

I’ll never play another game from Bioware. First insisting on injecting homosexuality in every game they make, saying that they try to depict humans the way they actually are, and going so far as having animals on offer in a brothel in Dragon Age, Origins, and now this.Having finished with humans and getting away with it, they now insist that, that is how Reapers actually are! What jerks. Rude, insulting, spoiled imbeciles. About time they are introduced into the Hall of Shame.

Jason S.

On March 17, 2012 at 2:41 pm


That logic is nonsensically circular, a civilization need not be space faring to create AI, nor a singularity. ME universe is based on our timeline just 200+ years further, yet we’re not a space faring species like the humans in ME, but we can reasonably before being a space faring race create self-aware AI without leaving the planet, it’s a tried old theme.

So, accepting godchild’s circular logic, WHY, WHY don’t we get a chance or hear an answer to the EDI/Geth solution we’ve done, or ask the kid since it/Reapers were so wise and powerful, not just police the galaxy against AI instead of wiping it out.

In the first game, it’s established that unshackled AI is against the law by the Council due to the Geth rebellion, which we learn was in self-defense like any living thing would do. So the Reapers being much more powerful and advanced than the Council races, instead of “harvesting” and killing species through genocide just enforce the rule of no AI?

It’s all smoke and mirrors, like EDI said, the Reapers are only selfishly looking out for number one, themselves.


On March 17, 2012 at 2:46 pm

Help!! I was reading this article and tried to advance to the next page when it said that it wasn’t available,that the address was down or had been moved to a new address. I would really like to finish reading this article but i cant. help meeeeeeeeeee

Josh (a.k.a. SWJS)

On March 17, 2012 at 2:56 pm


Yes… I’m attacking people. Erh, no, not really. I’m stating the truth. The ending had pleanty of logic to it, just because you can’t understand it doesn’t mean it’s illogical.

The end goes as such: You meet the central AI of the citadel, most likely a construct of the first cycle’s civilization. Shepard goes “Derp you kill all organics!” This AI then turns right around and directly explains that it created the cycle to protect synthetics and organics from whiping each other out. The reapers aren’t synthetics. The Catalyst states that they only harvest advanced civilizations and store that life in reaper form, allowing younger races to advance and prosper, before repeating the cycle again. Once again, it’s like pruning a tree, not directly cutting it down. The cycle is the AI’s solution to chaos, but thanks to Shepard and being rewritten by the Crucible, it realises this logic is flawed, and opt to find a new solution with Shepard’s help. Each choice at the end is represented by a color and/or person. Blue/TIM is Paragon, Anderson/Red is Renegade, Green/Shepard is Synthesis.

Renegade destroys all reapers and synthetics, including EDI and the Geth, stopping the cycle and betraying the synthetics you called allies. Sheprd possibly lives, but any new synthetics created are likely to go to war again.

Paragon dissiminates Shepard and uploads his consciousness into the reapers, giving him full control of the Reapers. In this ending Shepard can move the Reapers to assist species, furthering peace in the galaxy and further showing destruction isn’t always the answer. The citadel and Mass Relays also survive in this ending. With the Reapers still in tact, Shepard could possibly have them repair any damage to the relays, saving the galactic community from separation.

Synthetis dissiminates Shepard again, but this time uses the nanotech used to rebuild him to rewrite the genetic structure of all life. This allows organics and synthetics to procreate by making them compatable, and is the final evolution of all life. Shepard becomes one with everything, including the reapers, who are spared destruction as well, leaving the option of them rebuilding the relays open. This proves the best ending because we only lose Shepard and Anderson, and there’s no need for the cycle now that organics and synthetics are compatable, and with the reapers still around, they could find new, better purposes. Such as rebuilding the relays. In this end, there is peace, and a future for everyone. Everybody wins.

Each ending has different consequenses, so in the end your choices would still matter heavily, even if the games leaves it up to your imagination. In the end this proved to be the best decision because it left it up to the player mostly, explaining only what it had to so that every player’s Shepard would end their story differently than the others. I bet you that if they’d written it out for us like we were two year olds stuck on an algebra problem, we still would have been upset because they limited our imaginations more and thus limited our choices and their consequenses. Plus, would you really want to sit through 45 minutes of nothing but exposition, followed by the credits, and then the epilogue? I know I wouldn’t.

I could probably go into much more detail, but we’d be here all day. It really isn’t that difficult to understand, so long as you pick your jaw up off the ground, pay attention, and analyze each option carefully.

Kyle Dillingham

On March 17, 2012 at 2:58 pm

@ Dragon

To clarify, I never used the words “exposition” or “pure” when writing my letter. I believe I used the words “cutscene” and “cinematic”. The entirety of Mass Effect interactions are ‘cinematic’, and many of the cutscenes are interactive in some way.

I would MUCH rather a developer err on the side of more cinematic than less cinematic. There is a LOT to wrap up in this last game and I absolutely wouldn’t mind watching what happened to each person based off of the decisions I’ve made. However, I would probably agree with you that a more interactive experience would be preferred. Perhaps the player could travel to each of the worlds/places that were saved and talk to the people there (whether that’s the locals or leaders).

I enjoyed the ending of LotR: Return of the King because it wrapped up everything. Sure it wasn’t as ‘exciting’ as the all-out battle a few minutes before but the movie would have seemed lackluster if the the credits rolled after Frodo and Sam are rescued by Eagles.

You are ABSOLUTELY allowed to suggest that I am neither a writer nor proficient at anything; that’s your prerogative. Unfortunately, we’ve never met so you can only derive this subjective notion from my name & website. In contrast, I can only ascertain what I will from your given title: “Dragon”. Note the disconnect. However, helping people become adept at a great many things is a passion of mine and I absolutely wouldn’t change it for the world.

I am always open to new ideas, suggestions, and opinions and would love to read your letter/article/paper regarding the concerns and pleas for a new ending.

Kyle Dillingham

On March 17, 2012 at 3:21 pm

@ Thomas Schöpplein

Wow, that’s rough, brother. It’s so interesting that this game made such a big impact on our lives in very diverse ways. I feel your pain. When I began dating my girlfriend I told her up front, “there will come a time when I will not sleep, have poor hygiene, and in all probability, zone out & ignore you. That time is March 6th 2012 and my mistress will be Mass Effect 3.”

In hindsight, I feel quite foolish, like I’ve been duped.

I agree with @Dragon. I hope you get the ending you wanted. There is a petition (of sorts) 50,000+ strong who are trying to have the developers create a more desirable ending. Perhaps one day you’ll get your haven back :) . Until then, I hope you find haven in new ground.

All the best and always stay curious,

Kyle Dillingham


On March 17, 2012 at 3:28 pm

@ Josh (a.k.a. SWJS)

I was thiking exactly as you until I saw how the Normandy magically could flee from the Sol system, and my squadmates were on board.

And then I saw my femshep body breathing on the earth ground!! And then I just couldnt understand anything at all.

When I tried the other endings the problems were even worse, why in the hell if the reapers are under my control or the whole life is integrated with them, in the final sequence with the oldguy and the kid it looks like they cant travel between the stars? Doesnt the control/synergy option achieve to a kind of golden age of the civilizations in the galaxy? They are the reapers, they built the mass reles, why they/we cant build them again?, why it looks like the culture and science of the oldman society is recovering from a total collapse?

I think there ARE too many questions with these endings.


On March 17, 2012 at 3:40 pm

@Josh your replies were fine until you said “I’m stating the truth”, and yea it sure does seem like you’re out to attack people who feel like they were lied to. I think YOU need to pay attention because 99% of the last 3 games isn’t interpretive at all man. What you see it what you get, cause you know why?

It’s a RPG, a GAME! One that many of us have sunk 100+ hours into. Nobody’s askin for a 45 minute LoTR ending, they’re asking for:

1. Options that reflect YOUR choices, not some watered down R,G,B. Gathered all the war assets/fleets and acted honorably to everyone? then hell yea, your Shep should get the CHOICE to finish this and settle down and retire.

2. Closure, and epilogue, SOMETHING that isn’t vague and out-of-place. It’s not like ME2 or 1 ended in “well maybe sovereign is still alive cause you never saw it’s core explode so it’s still on the citadel” or “Well even though we blew up the Collector base, there’re collectors for Javik to interact with in ME3″.

Why even argue with people who want these options added in? Does it detract from the endings YOU have already?


On March 17, 2012 at 3:43 pm

Finished ME3 nearly hour ago and I have to say it looks like the storyline was bit rushed after the run to the beam. There should be probably another fights in the Citadel, but BioWare didn’t have time to make it, so they add the part where you can chat with crew before the missile mission and this stupid endings. The part after beam is strangely quick, concise and rapidly looses tempo.

Jason S.

On March 17, 2012 at 4:13 pm

I’ll just leave it at this.

^ that is how you make an ending to a sci-fi epic.


On March 17, 2012 at 4:18 pm


The Catalyst’s logic is pure circular bull. The game proves this at 3 points.

1: The Pohentans was fighting a war against a race of synthetics and actually winning, when the Reapers came and rolled them over.

2: The Geth’s reason for raising up against the Quarians was self-defense, because the Quarians tried to genocide them, and even then the Geth decided not to hunt down the Quarians, and actually wished to live in peace with them. And you can actually create peace between them.

3: EDI, a synthetic lifeform, wishes to befriend the crew of Normandy and can even form a love relationship with Joker. (That I thought it was pretty creepy and talk them out of it was besides the point)

QED: Synthetics doesn’t always kill organics, the opposite can be true as well, and so can the peaceful co-existence of organics and synthetics.

The reason why you can throw this fact in the face of Space-Hitler Junior? Because “ YOU AND YOUR CHOICES”, that’s why!


On March 17, 2012 at 4:25 pm

Look the endings were not what were promised. They clearly said the ending will not be a A, B or C ending which is what we got. In any case I understand the endings just fine. Just because people don’t like them doesnt mean we dont understand them. In the context of the series as a whole they do not make sense to me. Sovereign clearly stated they destroy organic life not preserve it. But hey ho. For the record it is plain rude to assume people dont get it just because the don;t like it.,


On March 17, 2012 at 5:07 pm

@Jason S.

Where did you get that??

Josh (a.k.a. SWJS)

On March 17, 2012 at 6:09 pm


Truth is a matter of perspective. From my perspective, I am telling the truth. My intention here has always been to try and help people see the endings from another perspective. If you’re so content with being disappointed, fine. No one said you had to listen to me. I do understand the ire of my fellow fans, but this article is innacuarte, and that ignorant yo dawg meme lowers the logical value of it by making a pointless joke.

1. So you’re saying you want the same old cliché “sunshine and puppies” ending. Sorry friend, but war doesn’t always work that way. Shepard was dying regardless, and is show to only be able to survive once. It also seemed as if he was fed up after all the stress of the war and just wanted to get it over with and join all his lost comrades in death. Your RGB statement also, once again, needlessly oversimplifies the ending and makes it look watered down, when that also isn’t true.

2. Here I can agree. A little more closure would have been welcome, but it isn’t needed. Stories like this allow the audience to form their own conclusions. Just because it’s a game doesn’t mean the game absolutely needs an action-packed sunshine and puppies ending. The one thing Bioware has been it’s best at is telling a great story, and Mass Effect 3 is no different. The major purpose of ME3 is to tell a great story, which it does.

I’m not arguing. I’m sharing my opinions with other people and entering in friendly debates of wit and logic. If I were actually attacking people, or arguing, there would be a LOT more insults, vulgar language, and other various childish comments being thrown back and forth. There’s a difference between having an edjucated discussion and being an ignorant supremacist troll.


On March 17, 2012 at 6:12 pm

@Jason S.

I get really sad when I see good stuff like that. It just makes my bitter disappointment in what we got and how it destroyed the whole franchise for me feel so fresh again.


On March 17, 2012 at 6:34 pm

@Josh (a.k.a. SWJS)

You should drop the “sunshine and puppies ending” straw man. Because it is just that, a straw man. Most of us went into this fully expecting Shepard to die.

Most people just want what was advertised by BioWare, an ending that reflects their choices, brings them closure and answers their questions. Ending on a railroaded sequence with a 3 button end-o-matic machine that leads to three 3 virtually identical endings (not taking about the speculation and implications here, but the visual presentation), that not only makes the player feel like they have destroyed the Mass Effect universe, but also raises more questions that it answered, and provides no closure.

This becomes pretty damnable when BioWare prior to release specifically promised that they wouldn’t “pull a ‘Lost’” and that the final choice wouldn’t come down to a “ending A, ending B, and ending C.” All of these have ended up being bald-faced lies.


On March 17, 2012 at 6:36 pm

Damn the lack of editing button,

“and provides no closure” such have been “provides none of these things.”


On March 17, 2012 at 7:21 pm

Let’s all be honest: if Shepard had survived, there would have been no whining about “mistreating players”. There would have been no controversy, no pages like this.

That’s what this is all about: no “happy” ending.


On March 17, 2012 at 7:47 pm

Quote from Josh (a.k.a. SWJS): “I’m stating the truth. The ending had pleanty of logic to it, just because you can’t understand it doesn’t mean it’s illogical.”
Quote from Josh (a.k.a. SWJS): “Truth is a matter of perspective. From my perspective, I am telling the truth.”
Relation between those quotes: Evading of falsification by bringing in an option which was not perceivable anyhow before and thus negating the meaning of the first quote by removing it’s base argument.

Quote from Josh (a.k.a. SWJS): “No one said you had to listen to me.”
Refutation: If one person is not meant to listen to you, why should anyone be? To me this statement seems like telling ‘I want only those answering me who share my view’.

Quote from Josh (a.k.a. SWJS): “but this article is innacuarte, and that ignorant yo dawg meme lowers the logical value of it by making a pointless joke.”
Refutation: Innucaricy is valuable if too much accuracy would confuse people or bore people before they finish the whole article. Don’t use it as a dysphemism. Also the ‘yo dawg’ jokes compares it with similar examples and lightens the drouth for those who are familiar with it.

Quote from Josh (a.k.a. SWJS): “Sorry friend, but war doesn’t always work that way.”
Refutation: War and mostly everything else does most of the time work like ‘the more you strive, the better the result you will get’. Getting very similar results anyhow is absolutely ignorant of how reality works.

Quote from Josh (a.k.a. SWJS): “A little more closure would have been welcome, but it isn’t needed.”
Refutation: If “Truth is a matter of perspective” then it would have been needed as often as someone is dissatisfied which in this case is about 10’000s of times.

Quote from Josh (a.k.a. SWJS): “I’m not arguing. I’m sharing my opinions with other people and entering in friendly debates of wit and logic.”
Refutation: You are sharing your opinions AND you’re arguing. Arguing is defending your poit of view in conversation. If these are debates of wit an logic is determined in the eye of the beholder.

Quote from Josh (a.k.a. SWJS): “If I were actually attacking people, there would be a LOT more insults, vulgar language, and other various childish comments being thrown back and forth. ”
Refutation: Some people actually find offense in your argumentation. So by going “Truth is a matter of perspective” you actually are attacking people. Attacking may also derive out subliminal messages and you scatter many of those..

Quote from Josh (a.k.a. SWJS): “There’s a difference between having an edjucated discussion and being an ignorant supremacist troll.”
Refutation: By insulting sooner counter-arguments you definitly prove you’re situated in the latter.


On March 17, 2012 at 8:09 pm

I like this human he understands!


On March 17, 2012 at 8:25 pm

I actually really enjoyed the ending…..this complaining is way overblown in my opinion.


On March 17, 2012 at 8:34 pm

We’ll keep passing this article around and keep saying what you’re saying.


On March 17, 2012 at 8:43 pm

Thank you! For understanding! It means so much! So few outside of the fans who are upset seem to get it. But — you are a true fan, you see what we see and you wrote exquisitely about it.

I will be sure to post a link to this article and share it when and where I can.

Again… Much thanks!!!

Gus (the Argentinian)

On March 17, 2012 at 9:17 pm

I just registered an account to congratulate you for this well written article. I couldn’t agree more with you.

A week ago, I left the game at the beginning of the London mission (had to be away from home for a few days). During my absence, I’ve read several tweets and articles regarding how angry the fans were because of the ending. I didn’t want to pay attention to the complaints since most of them seemed exagerated, but today, after having finished the game, it really felt like the dev team was on drugs when they created the part right after being hit by the Reaper’s beam during the charge to the Citadel.

As a ME fan, the way the ending of this awesome franchise was handled and presented left a bad taste in my mouth. It looked like the game was finished “in a hurry”, just to meet a deadline.

I don’t know what Bioware is going to do with this, but I hope they have learnt from their mistakes.


On March 17, 2012 at 9:19 pm

Agreed with every single word write in this article, i had just finish the game right now and seems like i fail in the mission, no matter how long was my times playing,now i everythings goes off, in a bad way.Common
Bio Ware i woldn’t play any of the 3 games if i knew this is how it ends. What about my decisions, my upgrades, my conrads, anything.I’m just so dissapointed that i’ll send my pre ordered game disk, and i hope never enter again in to a trap like this me i feel hardly betrayed.

Josh (a.k.a. SWJS)

On March 17, 2012 at 10:11 pm

Mosethyoth, I have to ask. Did that come out of your own knowledge, or did you look in a dictionary? If it’s the former, I’m impressed.

I’d also ask, when did I ever insult anyone? If I did then I appologize, for I didn’t do it purposefully or directly. Most of these replies were written late at night, and I don’t think clearly when I’m tired.

I’m not afraid to admit defeat or that I’ve been proven wrong, as I obviously seem to have obscured my point of view and come off as an idiotic hypocrite due to a lack of better judgement. It’s actually fairly embarassing.

Having made my point, or at least I hope I did, I’ll cease my end of the debate. Regardless of my attitude in this discussion, do know that I was only speaking my opinion. I also appologize for the “truth” comments, as my opinion is obviously not the truth. Perhaps I should stop having online discussions past 2:00am.

Being an ME fan myself, I do understand some of the reasons why fans are upset. Personally, though, I do believe the reaction to the ending was and is overblown. As it stands, however, they are entitled to their own opinions, and I respect that. I have no right to state or argue otherwise.

So to the people I may or may not have offended, I appologize for making a complete jackass of myself. I’ve already added my two cents, I needn’t further involve myself in the debate.


On March 17, 2012 at 10:27 pm

I must admit I was filled with a lot of anxiety as I started seeing the “Still a better ending than ME3″ jokes on FailBlog. Then again, even before that I had come to the conclusion that the ending would be like this: Shepherd is by him/herself at the end with “the button”, and just before pressing it is informed of the function of the crucible – to wipe out all sentient life, including the Reapers. What a choice that would be – free the galaxy from the *next* cycle, but at the expense of all of life (which was doomed anyway) in this cycle. While that would be an epic sci-fi novel, it would be crushing to have to make that choice and would be a dismal ending to the game – sort of a Masada-like story but you get to take the Romans with you.
I was so convinced that this would be the grand finale – and so scared that that was the reason that we never could find out exactly *what* the crucible did, that I was in dread of finishing.
I guess I didn’t *hate* the ending that I ended up with. I agree that in the end it felt rushed – TIM shooting himself was such an echo of ME1/Saren that I felt let down.
I wouldn’t have minded so much if there had been more exposition at the end – what the heck happened with each race? What happened to my friends? Did the fleets get sent back to crash on their own home planets, or is Earth going to re-build with a majority population of humans but also Asari, Krogan, Turians, Quarians, and Salarians who have now learned to get along and build a new, more cooperative universe? Instead, we just get “THE END”. Wha?
Ignoring the frustration caused by the lack of story resolution, I found the ending to be very moving, and the final revelation to be challenging, like many good sci-fi novels I have read. I didn’t want a dancing ewok party at the end, and I expected Shepherd to give “the last full measure of devotion” to save the universe. Earning the right to make a choice alone that affects the course of galactic civilization? Epic.
So, I agree with those that say that the ending was too abrupt. They seemed to try to make it seem longer by making you walk *really slowly* (was anyone else as annoyed by this as I was?) I also agree that your lack of ability to change anything by previous choices (like they promised) was a *huge* problem. (1) Udina back in control – ewww, (2) having to chose geth or Quarian? (actually I read in the comments on this article that it was possible to save both so I have hope on this one – hafta figure it out) (3) accumulating all that specific help on the crucible team – did it make any difference?, (4) destroying the collector base, etc., etc., etc.
A lot of people complained about DA2. I think that the real problem in that game was that it played a lot like the movie “Premonition”. All the bad stuff happens in the same way no matter what. There is no point in trying to investigate the killer at the beginning – your mom will always die the same gruesome way. There is no point to talking to Merrill – she will still have to murder her entire tribe at the end. There is no point to befriending Anders – he will still commit the same horrible crime at the end. There isn’t even any possibility to romance the only sane character in the story – she will still ignore you for the other guardsman. Having no ability to affect the major choices of your friends or influence the ending is soul-crushing. Either it’s an interactive adventure or it’s a fixed story where you get to kill things along the way with guns (or swords). Just figure out what it is, please. (Remember KOTOR or even Jade Empire. Sheesh!)


On March 17, 2012 at 10:29 pm

Thank you for the article, Mr. Lincoln. I enjoyed reading your opinions and it is nice to have the voice of the fans heard along with all the garbage coming from Bioware’s Astroturf PR damage control teams, who are posing as fans and unbiased journalists. You did the best job I’ve seen working with the canon that exists, where so many are eager to impose their imaginations and/or Bioware’s lies on other people.

Bioware screwed the pooch, regardless of jack booted DLC marketing ploys, by saturating the media with ultra hyped emphasis on the decision aspects of this franchise and then ending the trilogy with a non decision. They also crapped the bed by hiring EA to “finish” their game, making handheld mass accelerators sound like Star Trek phasers. Also, I miss the Mako. Nothing was more fun than running over uppity Geth with my truck-boat-truck, and it beat the heck out of space mining and the clunky horde mode that I’m being forced to play.

I still love the game and the franchise, but I am disappointed with this last minute switch to contemporary Japanese story telling.


On March 17, 2012 at 10:40 pm

Honestly, I thought I was in Deus Ex again. The first thing I did was try to shoot the kid, in the hopes of a “f*ck the police” ending. Then nothing made any sense. My theory is that multiple plot holes opened up, transporting party members, the Normandy, and swallowing up all the fleets.


On March 17, 2012 at 10:53 pm

@ JawaEstaban & linda li
Right on, you tell those hypocrites. Dragon and Josh are probably both stakeholders and sound like conformist malcontents who can only alleviate their own miserable suffering by lashing out at others. Like most hateful little SOBs, when you called them on their BS they accused you of verbally abusing them or trying to intimidate them and of being racist, homophobic, sexist, angry etc. They are literally trolls and the first thing they did was to call anyone with a dissenting opinion a “troll.” “That’s what bullies do. When you hit them back, they whine.”- Rick Santorum They sound EXACTLY like my communist teachers and my Black Panther/Brown Beret/Obammunist classmates, especially when they claim to be on the side of logic after having utterly shredded logic with a warp field.

The conformists have erected a multitude of blogs and web pages devoted to insulting the intelligence of the majority of Mass Effect fans who are reasonably ticked off at this radical departure from good science fiction story telling. Jawa said it perfectly: “Your counterpoint, as I see it, is that BW’s decision to throw the conventional story arc out the window for the last 10 minutes of a 120 hour trilogy is a good thing, because it’s a daring stroke of art that breaks with conventional wisdom. Translation: those who don’t like the ending are simply too stupid to appreciate it. All 50k of them.” This ignorant arrogance is a way of life for these people, and if you don’t bend over for the BS they want to cram in you, they attack your character. This is a standard method of the Democrat party, socialist party, Muslim Brotherhood, and every other counter-culture in history.

That being said, these “OMG, my Shepard died!” crybabies make me embarrassed. That guy’s time was up when he died the first time. Statistically, he should’ve died 20 times over before killing ONE Reaper. Bioware screwed a lot more than just a fictional character.

Josh (a.k.a. SWJS)

On March 17, 2012 at 11:20 pm


……………………………..I know I said I was done, but seriously, that comment…. I just… You know what, I’m not even going to bother. You want to act like a cross between Herbert Moon and Red Forman and make yourself a hypocrite. To each his own.

I don’t feel so ashamed of making an idiot of myself anymore though, so… Thanks for that.

Shutting up now.

Mike Doyle

On March 17, 2012 at 11:22 pm

thank you for this. its good to have the media on our sides. touched on all the key points why the ending was just crap


On March 17, 2012 at 11:49 pm

Good article, also read the Indoctrination Theory analysis which I also liked and really hope that will be the case. I’m pretty sure somebody commented on this already, but BioWare made a statement that it is infact listening carefully to players feedback on the ending on their forums. I originally didn’t think the ending was as horrible as everyone said it was, but then after deep thinking and trying to fit the plot holes it made less and less sense and just generated more confusion. One thing I also remember is that the conversation with Sovereign on Virmine in ME1 made us believe the Citadel was constructed by the Reapers, but the Catalyst in the Citadel controls the reapers, so who built who and why was this solution needed? Ok, I’m fine with that big question not being answered. What bugs me is that the Illusive Man (werd on that lolwtf out of nowhere) dies either way when I kinda wanted him to live. What else bugs me is (yeah, the Mass Relays do also) is that if the Reapers are destroyed (Best Ending?) then doesn’t that mean that all the preserved life is gone and forgotten with no history left? Kinda sad even though still nothing can be done about the life forms itself, would be alright if they could still be preserved.


On March 18, 2012 at 12:51 am


Rick Santorum must be in bad shape. That is certainly good news. It is good to hear that someone that is openly advocating the assassination of Iranian scientists and advocating atrocities that even George W. Bush could not imagine in a thousand years, is on the defensive. That is particularly pleasing to know, considering that Rick Santorum and his ilk are exactly the kind of people who called the slightest criticism of their ways, “support for terrorism”, “antisemitism” and so forth for eight years while at the same time murdering hundreds of thousands of people in the Middle East. You worry about the nonsense of ME3 and all those deaths for no good end, and yet advocate the actual killing and the prospect of killing of hundreds of thousands of human beings. Very interesting. Perhaps you should start a petition for including the “American War Party Race” in the next DLC.


On March 18, 2012 at 1:29 am

for a few days now I told myself: “these endings aren’t that bad, as people claim” but reading this article I now tell myself “why do I have to fill in what happens from where the story is left? why do I have to fill in even before that?”…I could take a half-happy ending if it was an official ending, but why do I have to to “create” what happens, of course the dark theme of the game does not allow an ending large scale feasts and celebration but still does Shepard really need to die? what happens to the crew members? to Normandy? to Earth and humans and all aliens? [SPOILER] getting the “destruction” ending with over 5k war assets and 100% galactic readiness, we can see Shep breathing among stone and cement rubble, none that can be found on the Citadel, does this make the indoctrination theory viable? did Shep never leave London, but was rather knocked unconscious and all those 3 endings were just dreams? even so, by any of those 3 “dreams” he would still die and so would million of life forms? did he fight throughout the series just to see the galaxy and all organics destroyed? did he do all this for the galaxy and it’s inhabitants to just die in the end?…this is emotional torture…yes I admit I want Shepard and his/her LI together in the end, alive /emotional_wreck_me …but these are not endings


On March 18, 2012 at 1:49 am

Personally… I blame EA. They most likely forced Bioware to expedite completion of the game or have it be scrapped from release entirely.

Would explain why there was the godawful push to buy DLC later on:

EA gets more money
Bioware has more time to finish the endings they wanted.


On March 18, 2012 at 2:18 am

I chose the destroy ending. And you know why? Because the Guardian was wrong. I destroyed the reapers to allow the unity and tolerance I’d been brokering to have a chance to succeed.

Because I believed in what I’d done. Just because some glowy thing tells you something will happen, doesn’t mean it will.

So I’m not dissapointed by that component. The destruction of the Relays and the Normandy bit – sure that was off. But why all the hate. Just think about what you’ve done for 3 games – the ending brings that into simplistic focus.


On March 18, 2012 at 2:26 am

the ending was mess! destroyed 5 years playing mass effect


On March 18, 2012 at 2:26 am

I support this article!

I thought this was a reallllly good perspective on this whole problem, whether you like or dislike the endings should give it a read.


On March 18, 2012 at 2:36 am

This is so true that it hurts. Really makes me think, how is it even possible that we, fans, or the author of this article who’s done an amazing job in sumarizing all our concerns, get it and BioWare folks don’t? How come we see how blatantly obviously contradicting the ending is compared to the previous THREE full awesome games? Ending of ME3 is almost identical to the very similar and disappointing ending of Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Are crappy and unsatisfying endings a new brandmark of EA? Or is something entirely different behind this? Well, those questions might never be answered, but let me tell you this. It will be an eternal shame if Mass Effect story goes down in history wrapping up poorly like this, full of empty notions and meaningless choices which don’t really differ from a wider perspective. It’s a spit in the face of hundreds of thousands of fans who have loved and supported Mass Effect throughout the years.


On March 18, 2012 at 3:57 am

Someone should send this article to Bioware. I agree 100% with all that is writen here. I certainly would like to see how the choices from the previous games changed things. The “i should go” at the end was epic..


On March 18, 2012 at 4:43 am

Well I accept no truly “ending in the end”, but you got to admit that BioWare fulfil what they say and deliver many “endings during the game”. For example turian-krogan conflict, genophage, quarian-geth conflict, miranda and her sister, jacob, these are parts of story which reach to first two games a was completely affected by player. And the ending in the end? Well it was more like closing the shop, showing crashed Normandy and saying “That’s it, guys.” Also main theme of the game wasn’t defeating Reapers, but “unite the galaxy”, which differ from Protheans cycle, where they enslave other rases and do not cooperate. Don’t get me wrong, I agree with article, but also don’t forget rest of the game.


On March 18, 2012 at 5:58 am


“…, but also don’t forget rest of the game.”

Problem is exactly that. People cannot forget the rest of the game. Though I would not call it a problem. It is a revelation. Of what imbeciles Bioware is collectively and how they try to picture the times they are living in with extremely bad taste.

Walking Wally

On March 18, 2012 at 6:30 am

I hope they right this listing ship soon, I never once wavered in my support of Bioware inlcuding bugs in DA2, bugs in SW:TOR, EA customer support frustrations, for the love of god I hope they remedy this game ending in a way it deserves.

This just stinks to high heaven of budgeting and run out of time issues.


On March 18, 2012 at 8:02 am

@Walking Wally

You can seriously only say that if you really really don’t understand what they were trying to do with the ending.


On March 18, 2012 at 8:06 am

This article is exactly how i feel about the game. after finishing it, i have not exactly been able explain how i felt about the game. i loved the entire experience and i cried after watching the ending, but it took me days to start to hate it. After reading this article, i now know where i stand on the issue.
I now really don’t like the fact that i have had to create theories to make the ending seem more, believable, like the relays. i came up with that they didn’t explode, but were overloaded and imploded, thus no super nova explosion.
If bioware can’t or won’t change the ending, at least give us some closure over some of these mysteries.


On March 18, 2012 at 8:08 am

alright i think i will never visit any of the ea funded gaming review sites ,starting from now this is my main gaming site just for there honesty.

Walking Wally

On March 18, 2012 at 8:22 am


No offense to you at all bud, but I can seriously say that, married 16 years to a graduates philosophy teacher I’ve picked up just a little bit.

I think you’re confusing fine art with a commercial product. There’s no crossover between the two, once you put your fine art into the public sphere it becomes a commercial product that consumers trust your word in what you’ll deliver.

We don’t pay to interpret a product, I didn’t pay 17k to “speculate” whether or not my car might drive me to work and back the moment I bought it.

You advertise sixteen endings, there ought to be sixteen endings, not one rushed FMV-sequence reused three times.

You advertise no A, B, C, ending there not ought to be A, B, C ending.


On March 18, 2012 at 10:05 am

@Wally That is odd, because the ending goes straight into the realm of philosophy. What happens when Shepard gets hit by Harbinger?
Does he really survive as it look on the face of it? Those beams have previously been established to destroy spaceships.
Does he die? Does he get ‘indoctrinated’ as some believe? Is the next scene real or a metaphor? if the latter what do the various actors therein stand for? How does it relate to the story we have been told over three games?

I’ve found very satisfying answers for all those questions, but inspiring the contemplation itself is to me what makes this ending so compelling for me.

If you’re basing your entire argument on that single quote which chances are you hadn’t even read before buying the game, that’s pretty weak.
This has nothing to do with it being fine arts or a commercial product. Is a film art or a ‘commercial product’? Did you write angry letters to Stanley Kubrick when the ending of The Shining didn’t explain what actually happened?

Your argument also falls apart if, for instance, you consider the entire assault on earth the ‘ending’ of the game. You get to talk to all the important characters, all races that are with you make an appearance.. what more could you want?

Walking Wally

On March 18, 2012 at 10:15 am

@Dragon Fine you’ve used the words film, Kubrick and the Shining.

Go ahead and read that bud.


On March 18, 2012 at 10:45 am

@Wally Lol, wtf? ‘YEAH,YOU SAID FILM! I GOT YOU NOW!’? Really?

I have a problem with that post; I can’t find the quote on the source link.. where did he get it?

Regardless, Mass Effect 3 (very elegantly I thought) brought all the themes of the series into a single final decision, which will shape the future of the entire universe! The final choice is fundamental to the interactive narrative and the fact that it IS a choice defines the questions the game raises with regard to intelligence, free will and tolerance. It doesn’t answer presume to answer it; it only raises it. And then it asks you for YOUR answer.

So the ending works primarily because it is an interactive narrative, rather than a film.

The rest of the post seems to be mostly ‘I want games to have happy endings and I haven’t played ME3.’
I don’t see why people think ME3 has a sad ending? That’s all in interpretation. I think it had a very hopeful ending.



On March 18, 2012 at 10:47 am

“How does it relate to the story we have been told over three games?”

There is the problem right there. It just doesn’t. It comes out of nowhere, it suddenly introduces the character of Space-Wizard-Hitler Junior and the concept of SPACE MAGIC that somehow can alter DNA in selected creatures on a massive scale. It clashes against the previously established tone, themes and rules of the narrative, and virtually ignores all your choices. It feels like the ending to another completely unrelated story. It would have worked better in a plot-driven story, but Mass Effect is at its core a character-driven one.

“This has nothing to do with it being fine arts or a commercial product. Is a film art or a ‘commercial product’? Did you write angry letters to Stanley Kubrick when the ending of The Shining didn’t explain what actually happened?”

That is just a blatantly false equivalent. Kubrick didn’t make pulpy space operas, and he never made a trilogy in which we follow the same characters. Neither did he make video games, nor did he promise the audience that their input would shape the story or outcome of his films. The closest movies that can compare to Mass Effect would be Star Wars or Star Trek, and I believe that Star Wars would have been tarnished forever in the fans’ memory if the ending was something taken out of 2001: A Space Odyssey. And while Star Trek tried to go in the direction of 2001 with the first movie, the fans hated it so much that they never attempted anything like that again.


On March 18, 2012 at 10:49 am

i think personal attacks need to be toned down here……..

but come on…normandy crew leaving you to die?….shepard not arguing with that kid?….all the endings being the same but in three colors?….war assets not counting for anything but pick a color?….

it’s like if i played Mass Effect 3…and went straight to the end my i would have the same choices same endings….

if i went to the end in Mass Effect 2 without doing anything… and my crew all died…


On March 18, 2012 at 11:06 am

People are trying to hard to convince others that there way of thinking is correct. Some like it some dont but there is no point arguing about it.


On March 18, 2012 at 11:11 am

If you went to the end of ME3 straight away, there’d be no crucible. The races of the galaxy would all be fighting their own battles. Shepard would have no authority to speak for any of them. If he’d even get that far.

I agree that the DNA thing is weird if taken literally. I think that one should have been handled slightly differently; though especially not by explaining it more.. that’d make it worse.

It relates to *everything* we’ve done in the previous games. What do paragon and renegade stand for? Order and chaos. You’ve been using those concepts all through the series. The genophage is about the same question; let the Krogan die out because they’re *potentially* a danger to the universe? Reprogram the Geth? Save the Rachni queen? They’re all aspects of the same question!

I don’t know, maybe a lot of players experienced Mass Effect differently from me, but I was definitely operating at a plane where this ending makes sense. Space magic or no (personally I think the Citadel at the end of the game is a metaphysical reality -Shepard is either dead or at least very much not well- and a metaphor for what will happen in the Mass Effect world. But those are the fun things you can debate about this!)

Can we at least agree this isn’t a case of objectively bad writing?


On March 18, 2012 at 11:13 am

“It relates to *everything* we’ve done…” in my previous post was in reference to “How does it relate to the story we have been told over three games?” by the way.

Walking Wally

On March 18, 2012 at 11:21 am

@Dragon No it’s not bad writing, it’s incredibly bad and lazy writing. and no offense, but I’d just leave it at that, you’ve said your piece, there’s no changin my mind and I’m not changin yours.

If you have to answer, I’d just like to ask this bud, what would be so bad about them adding more endings or changing them to fit your personal Shepard?

You want a metaphysical ending? Go ahead and walk straight into that beam, don’t argue with the kid, and the 3 colors are yours.

Then leave us to our endings that make sense to our Shepards.


On March 18, 2012 at 11:32 am

“If you went to the end of ME3 straight away, there’d be no crucible”

um..that was like a gameplay question….since it’s like what we do for most of the game and choices are part of gameplay…so why don’t my assets count in the london battle… and why do they count to unlock red,green,blue is what I mean…..

like you skip loyalty missions in Mass Effect 2…and we all die….but play MP and get it up to some number and i can choose red,green,blue?…


On March 18, 2012 at 11:39 am

So you ignore my arguments, declare it’s ‘bad and lazy writing’ without any arguments of your own and then say ‘let’s leave it at that?’
Stay classy.

If they’d picked a different kind of ending, that’d have been fine. If I thought it bad, wish-fulfilment (tbh, Shepard was doing ridiculous stuff the entire game) and leaving nothing up to the imagination, I’d hold BioWare’s writers in less regard.
I *wouldn’t * go around demanding they hand over artistic control and make the ending I want, damnit!!

BioWare gets to decide how to write a BioWare game. If it doesn’t suit your tastes, you can complain, stop buying their games, review the game poorly.. but you can’t *demand* they change it and expect to be left unchallenged.

I hope for you guys that BioWare can come up with some kind of DLC that leaves the ending intact and still solves the issues you have. Actually *changing* the ending from the conclusion of the story’s themes to instead a bunch of exposition about ‘what happened after’ would be a betrayal of their own creative integrity though. A huge sell-out.


On March 18, 2012 at 11:45 am

Starchild: See: Yodawg meme.

If people are constantly contradicting themselves then they are insane. The actual definition is something like attempting the same things and expecting different results.

What if this ending applied to Lord of the Rings?


On March 18, 2012 at 11:46 am


The problem is that the ending is so incoherent, so full of contradictions and so full of nothing or full of Bioware if you prefer it so. You are saying that it is an ending as offered by Bioware. So what? Do you really believe that turning everything on its head makes for philosophy? That people have done, but only the brightest of minds, not imbeciles at Bioware. And how can you ever, ever compare the work of a master of cinema like Kubrik to the work of imbeciles at Bioware. With the exception of “Eyes wide shut”, there is not a single ambiguous moment in any of Kubrik films. He struggled with the plot, and never overcame the contradictions and inevitability of the path he had set his characters on, and in the end what he came up with was the story of his own struggle with the medium of film in the Western world. That is a work of art. ME3′s ending is just bulls… . It is the work of those who cannot even remember what they said or did five minutes before. Everything falls apart at Bioware’s ending. You can say that is the story of Bioware, then. That would be well put. An exceptionally fittingly defining moment of the modern day philosophy behind what passes to some as art in America.


On March 18, 2012 at 11:49 am


That’s a good question. But don’t you get to see lots of the races you have in your assets in the battle for earth? Both in space and on the ground.

Other than that I think the war assets are used to represent how well Shepard has unified the galaxy against the reapers. If he hasn’t done very well, he can only pursue his own struggle and destroy the reapers. You can see in the cinematic that Earth is also destroyed when this happens.
If he’s done well, he gets to make a choice: destroy, or control. Control represents another paradigm. Another belief about the way to deal with synthetic life (one the quarians adhere to, as does The Illsuive Man). The earth is also a lot less damaged.
If he’s done really well, he has earned the right to directly represent and affect the species of the galaxy (as he is the one who has unified them against the Reapers): he can synthesize organic and synthetic life.
The Earth isn’t damaged from the blast.


On March 18, 2012 at 11:53 am

Well written article to surmize a crap ending! Dreaming/being indoctrinated is whats really going on just so you have to buy DLC to get the real ending? man if thats true BIOWARE will never get another penny from me. DLC that adds to a story is one thing but DLC that is the “true ending” that so many seem to think is coming….well thats just Corporate
Whore-mongering! I hope Bioware and EA’s stock has been going down the toilet. LOL


On March 18, 2012 at 12:00 pm

I’m not American.

But regardless of your opinion on how ‘artsy’, deep or philosophical ME3′s ending is; that was their intention.
So you’ll have to accept it as the quality that BioWare offers. It’s not lazy, it’s a choice.

Also I’m not about to make a qualified analysis on both Kubrick and BIoWare. They’re both creators whose work I greatly enjoy, but mostly for very different reasons.
I think it’s too early to evaluate the Mass Effect trilogy’s place in game design (and storytelling) history. Whether it turns out to be remembered as a stroke of genius or the worst mistake in history, it has to be allowed to exist so we *can* make that analysis later.

It’s a bit harsh to call these very hard working people who’ve created this vast universe and series ‘imbeciles’, don’t you think?


On March 18, 2012 at 12:02 pm

What a great article! Thank you so much for this!

Will B

On March 18, 2012 at 12:07 pm

This says it all. The media and especially Bioware/EA needs to read this article.

Walking Wally

On March 18, 2012 at 12:09 pm


God man, Bioware should hire you on the PR team, I swear. Everytime I come back to this tab you justify something else for this mistreatment of an ending.

The more you post the worse you look man, cause you seem to be the only one besides myself arguing this. You liked the ending? Then an article detailing why it was terrible isn’t going to help you any.


On March 18, 2012 at 12:25 pm

I’d prefer to be on their story team if it’s the same to you.

I agree it looks a bit silly when you continue to ignore anything I actually say in favor of just attacking me.

But I’m not trying to convince everyone to like the ending… Although I do hope some people will try to look more deeply into it and see what it’s about.. but if the game can’t do that, perhaps I can’t either.

That’s not what I’m trying to do though; I’m arguing that BioWare have the right to write the ending they want. The fact that you don’t like it doesn’t mean it should be changed. I don’t like the Star Wars prequels. I’m not demanding they be changed, either.


On March 18, 2012 at 12:27 pm


You shouldn’t write all of BioWare off as imbeciles. I think most of the blame can be put on Mac Walters, the lead writer who’s specific responsibilities was the opening and ending segments, which he felt should lead to “LOTS OF SPECULATION”, and Casey Hudson, the director, who according to the reports loved Walters ideas, and the two had therefore had the power to shoot down all internal criticism of them.

And Hudson actually made matters worse. Walters had originally planned more dialogue with the Catalyst to get him to explain his motives. Hudson had that cut out, stating that: “You don’t need to know the answers to the mass effect universe.”

“You don’t need to know the answers” and “LOTS OF SPECULATION” doesn’t really sound like the advertised “conclusive ending” that would “answer all your questions”, now does it?


On March 18, 2012 at 12:43 pm

And there lies a problem. The ending is not what was advertised and is actually the exact opposite. Has EA forced the rush on them all over it. Conclusive and speculation really don’t go hand in hand that well.

The Squiggler

On March 18, 2012 at 12:44 pm

I may not agree with all of the article , but most of it so I wanted to put some perspective behind it.

Over the past decade I’ve worked in two game studios, one tiny, and currently a higher-end studio with over 60+ artists. We’re not in Bioware’s type of games so I don’t know 100% their workflow.

That said, I can say with certainty in my experience, that sometime around when the ending sequence was in the pipeline, it drastically changed. Maybe the leak earlier in the year had to do with it, maybe not, we can’t know.

The photoshop picture of Tali is cutting a corner, we all do it, reusing textures, slapping something really fast together because you really are pressured by deadlines 24/7, especially when PAX, E3 and the like are closing in. You have to get it done, no questions.

Mass Effect is run on the Unreal engine which is pretty much a dream to work with in terms of what you can do with it. It sometimes makes your sculpts and textures a bit, off I could say, but you get these really awesome environments we see in the ME universe.

All that said, again, this ending is clearly rushed, from the odd texture/asset placement in the Citadel area if you noticed them, to the final film sequence. No cinematic director storyboards disjointed scenes in games unless it’s cut up and sewn back, their “work” has to show the player the actions of the characters in a realistic way.

The odd animation of Joker at the end flying the ship, the reuse of 3 sequences and more importantly the LACK of dialogue, which means you don’t have to do any lip-snych or bring the VA’s in for additional reading after the “original” script was recorded, again all signs of “Get this done, we have to ship.”

Just the 2c from a mild-mannered environment artist.


On March 18, 2012 at 12:55 pm

And that’s where I think the mentality of the gaming industry is wrong. Take Obsidian they were pressured into releasing KOTOR 2 and the ending of that was just as bad as ME3. The rest of the game was fine but then the ending lost all coherency. I have not bought another Obsidian game since then.

As a consumer I would be more than happy to wait that little bit longer to get a better product. Most of Mass Effect 3 is superb but endings that are rushed and leave a bitter taste do so for a long time afterwards. Perhaps its the big companies like EA that are the problem. But then Bioware are the ones who decided to sell. In any case if it was all just to meet a deadline then it shows that keeping customers happy is really not important. This in turn is surely short sighted and detrimental to future sales. Just my opinion though


On March 18, 2012 at 12:57 pm

A lot of commenters here are subject to conformation bias, they are actively searching a few articles like this one to prove their point. That’s ok, but some of them now are trying to tell the world every single fan hates the ending, and that is just a complete and utter lie. Look at this article at penny arcade for example:
The author makes an argument that is just as good (maybe even better) than the one made by the author of this article. I mean, it’s an opinion, nothing about the ending was “wrong”, yes it was a bold artistic decision but that doesn’t make it wrong. By some standards this ending could even be called brilliant becouse it left a lot to the immagination. I know I loved it a lot and I really thought it was much better than just showing everything. Almost every game hands it to you like that already, and endings like DA:O and Heavy Rain are predictable and just plain borring.

Whatever happens I just don’t hope artists get scared to do things differently. I truly hope for video games to only grow from this, I strongly fear the idea of fans and publishers pressuring artist to do what makes everybody happy. If videogames are to be seen as art it should try new and bold things that provoke audiences to think, and yes, also get angry. Eventually it is up to the artist to decide whether a decision was the right one or not? To me it should always be this way. Audiences should never be entitled because in the end the profession of artist exists, not solely to please people, but to also provoke thought and unleash an individuals deepest emotions. All emotions.


On March 18, 2012 at 1:19 pm

That really doesn’t alter the fact that the ending was not what they advertised it was going to be. Im pleased some people like it. Tell me though how a dlc affecting the ending with affect those that do like it. They don’t need to download it.


On March 18, 2012 at 1:25 pm


On March 18, 2012 at 1:37 pm

Who cares, I never give a bit about advertisement, everybody knows by now that games change over the course of their development. And that advertisment in the game industry is nothing but hype hype hype. Its hard for artists to not say anything that might change for the good of the game further along the development cycle. And I don’t think bioware promissed anything they just stated things that fans then take as promisses. But hey when the game came out everybody could look on the internet to see whether the promisses were true. But no, everybody just bought it and then you have these kind of consequences.

Really what do people complain about… It’s a forty hour game with 10 minutes of what people call the “ending” while the ending of the game started hours before that. I don’t really know what people want to see as an ending? I haven’t read any ideas that were not plain borring or cliche.

Bioware created an experience where we participated, but we never got to decide how the main story arc unfolds. Shepard will always fight saren, Shepard wil allways die in ME2 and he will always be on the citadel in the ending to choose the fate of “life” in the galaxy, and by doing so killing de mass relays and creating a new future for humanity.


On March 18, 2012 at 1:40 pm


Unlike the movies, where the salaries for the leading role characters run into tens of millions of dollars and the director gets further millions of dollars, the pay in video game industry is the pay of average worker. They are mostly programmers who know one compiled language like C++ and one scripting language, Python or Lua or … . The programs are not sophisticated at all. A lot easier to write than the time of DOS games. Now they have frameworks, game engines, sound engines, video engines, and characters and widgets that already know what to do or how to move. And because they are so cheap, there are practically thousands of them on big selling projects. They just like to be on the project doing what they like to do, coding and playing and having fun. The credits for Starcraft II runs for over half an hour if I remember it correctly. So, there is no genius involved. Very ordinary, easy to come by generic know how. No one can fault them for that and neither am I. Of course you can still find games where cars there look more like hovercrafts and the roads a general idea of direction, but some of them are so enjoyable to their intended audience at the same time that nobody gives a heck about that little technicality. So much so, that even the unintended audience finds joy in sharing play over and over again.

I dare you to find one ME player that considers ME as a shooting game, although the shooting makes up the bulk of the game. It fails miserably at being what people regarded it to be, in all of five minutes at the end. If you have another word except imbeciles for that, please offer it.


On March 18, 2012 at 1:41 pm

There is a new theory, which I’m actually believe. It’s the indoctrination theory, as fans calls it.
If that theory is true, than Bioware made a seemingly epic fail, into an unbelievable epic win.
The reason I’m supporting this theory is that the kid felt really off from the start.


On March 18, 2012 at 1:46 pm

I take it you consider the story of the rest of the three Mass Effect games imbecillic too?

If you want bad Mass Effect writing, try Mass Effect: Infiltrator.


On March 18, 2012 at 1:47 pm

(I should add that wasn’t made by BioWare or written by BioWare’s writers)


On March 18, 2012 at 1:49 pm

I agree with Squiggler. This couldn’t be deliberately messed up. Game which is based on repercussions was 99 % of time well written, subplots and 2 of 3 games were well ended and now it is F up nearly the end with no dialogue a rushed game enviroment.


On March 18, 2012 at 1:56 pm


I am not an American either.

Now you are asking for time for this game to be appreciated? Frankly, that is a grizzly prospect. A big cause for concern. The game can exist alright. I can do nothing about it. But not on my computer. Actually it failed to do so as of yesterday along with all the saved games.

(This and the post to Utritum).


On March 18, 2012 at 1:58 pm

Well the last song by Clint Mansell is so primitive with classic three chords it makes me believe it was made also in quite rush.


On March 18, 2012 at 2:04 pm

THANK YOU! Finally someone gets it. The fans don’t necessarily want a “happy ending”, they just want an ending where their choices actually mattered like the previous two games. In Mass Effect 2, whether or not your entire crew (including Commander Shepard him/herself) lived or died depended solely on the player’s choices throughout the game up until that point.

I (and a million other fans I’m sure) want an ending that reflects on (and even acknowledges) the choices I made and how they affected the galaxy. A “good” ending doesn’t have to necessarily be a happy one. A good ending makes sense in context with all the relevant details up until the conclusion and thus provides closure to a story, whether it was a happy ending or a tragic one.


Even before you reach the final assault in London, the Reapers have devastated places like Earth, Palaven, Thessia, etc, so people should be aware that fans aren’t just raging for a happy ending. People are raging because they were robbed of a choice in the end.

I wanted the possibility (key word being POSSIBILITY) of seeing the world coming together after an enormous threat and slowly rebuild itself or the possibility (again POSSIBILITY) of the entire world being destroyed and the Reapers winning. I wanted the possibility of seeing my Shepard (and Anderson) surviving the final mission and helping the world rebuild itself or being destroyed along with the rest of the galaxy because even they couldn’t handle the Reaper threat. Or even an ending where the galaxy was saved at the cost of Shepard (and perhaps even crew mates if certain actions weren’t taken during the game) sacrificing him/herself.

Instead the fans are cheated with three ending that are the exact same and are blatantly contradicted no matter how they chose to play the trilogy and that isn’t the way to end such an epic gaming series. Come on Bioware! Really?!


On March 18, 2012 at 2:07 pm

So could you try playing the ending again and now assume that, as would be quite logical, Shepard dies from the enormous blast and is in fact in purgatory.

The observations the indoctrination theory everyone keeps going on about makes are also quite interesting:


On March 18, 2012 at 2:08 pm

How did I even miss this one; Anderson says the following over the non-existant radio:

“I see something up ahead. Might be a way to cross over.”

Cross over? Come on, it’s obvious.


On March 18, 2012 at 2:09 pm


First off the Mass Effect series isn’t an attempt at making great artistic project. It was from the beginning a pulpy Space Opera in the vein of Star Trek and Star Wars.

Second, Artistic vision doesn’t mean anything, if you don’t have the skills to properly execute it. Rules for writing, such as “If you have established the tone and theme of your story, you should not try to switch it around at the last minute” exists because it has been proven time and again that doing so confuses and angers the audience. You can try to bend these rules, sure, but you should only try to do so if you are talented at your craft and really know what you are doing. BioWare clearly didn’t have the competence to do this.

And being edgy and different just for the sake of being edgy and different is just as bad. The audience are often smart than you give them credit for, so they WILL notice that you are being pretentious, and call you out on it.

Third, failing to fulfill your promises to your patrons, especially when you state you are making it for them, is just bad business, plain and simple. Especially for a mass marketed product like Mass Effect. When you tell that your ending will be conclusive, satisfying and reflect the player’s choices, you better put that before any artistic vision you might have.

Fourth, the cardinal rule of storytelling: DON’T MAKE THE AUDIENCE FEEL LIKE THEY HAVE WASTED THEIR TIME! A trick like the one pulled with the ending of Mass Effect 3 would have been easier to forgive in a movie, because they don’t require anything else of the audience than to sit down and pay attention for about 2 hours, so if that happened people wouldn’t be that upset. With a epic video trilogy like Mass Effect, where players have invested hundreds of units of currently and hours in gameplay, interacting with and shaping a narrative they where TOLD where theirs, the anger and frustration from the feeling that you pulled a bait and switch on them will be proportionally much bigger.


On March 18, 2012 at 2:12 pm

“currently” should have been “currency”.

Stupid spell checker.

Josh (a.k.a. SWJS)

On March 18, 2012 at 2:16 pm

Thank god I actually found a way to get my point across without looking like a total derpwad.

Penny Arcade wrote a counter article to this one. It’s impressively written, and completely puts down the logic of the fans who hate on the ending. I’m not implying that either side is right or wrong, but I highly suggest that everyone who likes the gamefront article to read the Penny Arcade article so that they can view the valid merits of the ending and look at the debate from the other side’s perspective. I am asking nicely, so please guys, before you start replying with nays and retorts, at least check it out, in the name of having an edjucated debate.


On March 18, 2012 at 2:16 pm

After seeing the way to ‘cross over’, Shepard deals with TIM and Anderson; one wants to destroy the Reapers, the other wants to control them. Aren’t they both parts of Shepard’s main conflict?

Then.. he is lifted up in bright white light.. and arrives before a for all intents and purposes deity.

And gets to make his choice.


On March 18, 2012 at 2:20 pm

While I can understand your frustation and arguments, in the end these are opinions/assumptions and not facts. They might be shared with a large part of the internet community, and if so, hopefully Bioware will learn from this, but every argument/assumption you put up can be countered with an different argument/assumption. Surely you see this. While some things are hard to defend there are also points where you could simply differ from opinion.

Bioware games have been discussed to death the last few years and often heavily critisized, yet their games keep selling, dlc too. Bioware makes great games but many people think (me included) that they could be so much better with seemingly little extra effort. Mass Effect 3 ending is a prime example of this. That said, I still enjoyed it a lot, the whole Shepard trilogy, and am satisfied with the ending. I hope more people feel the same way, or is everybody hating Mass Effect 3 these days? :p


On March 18, 2012 at 2:27 pm

“First off the Mass Effect series isn’t an attempt at making great artistic project. It was from the beginning a pulpy Space Opera in the vein of Star Trek and Star Wars.”

I guess the writers of Mass Effect don’t agree with you.
It not being a ‘great artistic project’ means it can’t be provocative? Intellectually challenging?

Gee, who died and made you King Of What Other People Should Make?

The Squiggler

On March 18, 2012 at 2:29 pm

I don’t want to comment too much, not sure how Bioware does their thing internally.

I’m just an anonymous guy posting, so just take of it what you will, it’s just advice.

Just responding @Ryo89, you have to separate fine art from commercial art. You’re spot on that ALL games change from the start to finish, hell, from the start to middle to finish and sometimes back over and over.

The distinction is whoever is speaking FOR the development team can’t willfully reveal features or content in or about the game and not deliver. “False advertising” gets thrown around more than you can believe at EVERY developer, big or small, because X fan thought this was going to be that, or “Well you said this but…”.

In this case, it is accurate, if Casey Hudson had said “We’ll deliver you an experience and ending that’s sure to be talked about.” instead of what he actually said, they would have been in the clear.

As for artists being artists in games. Personally, it’s a great line of work, but if I want to be “artsy” that’s reserved for my own personal work and if I’m a concept artist then to make environments and settings as unique and memorable as possible so the game “feels” like a world.

Bioware was already doing something incredibly different, they, so far are the only big-name studio to deliver an emotionally jarring sci-fi epic that people 20 years from now will still talk about as we talk about Star Wars now, but that’s IF they keep to their roots.

It’s incredibly easy to hide a rushed finale, reused assets, reused FMV under the guise of player interpretation, it literally is the ultimate corner cutting.

Think of it on pure technical terms, why are all three, (4 with the chest breathing) FMV’s essentially one recolored cut up sequence? Why are there no VA’s aside from Buzz Aldrin (Grandpa/Grandson)? Which was probably always intended to be in the game as an epilogue finale scene leading to that DLC advertisement.

You guys are incredibly smart, people back in 2001 would NEVER have caught onto the myriad bugs we have in games now. Your average gamer now knows what normals, diffuse, spec maps, tri-count, 512s, phong, sub-surface scattering are. Don’t take what you have now as measuring up to what you’ve been given.

98% of Mass Effect 3 is incredibly polished, yes there are bugs, low res-textures here and there, all games have them, just don’t let yourself be fooled by the very real deadlines and artists who’ve worked their asses off for years just not being able to meet them right on time.

Give Bioware all the praise they’re due, they fully deserve it, but don’t let that be an excuse not to criticize and ask for your full product.


On March 18, 2012 at 2:54 pm

It’s very rare to encounter an article which states all of my opinions very eloquently and precisely.


On March 18, 2012 at 3:06 pm


That is pretty rich coming from the guy ranting and raving against “Hollywood writing.”

We as humans have objective rules and conversions on storytelling because they have been proved to work best through the ages. I am merely restating them.

Josh (a.k.a. SWJS)

On March 18, 2012 at 3:07 pm

From the Penny Arcade Article, regarding the argument that “The Crucible is Magic”:

“The choices presented to Shepard at the story’s end have been criticized as being magical, but the game has had no problem presenting Prothean technology as being so advanced that it might as well be supernatural. The Citadel and the Relays are both Reaper technology that was constructed before the Protheans, and are both examples of powerful technology that is barely understood in the game’s universe. The abilities of the super-weapon at the end of the game continue the internal logic of Prothean and Reaper supremacy.

Hell, even Arthur C. Clarke noted that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” The Protheans are clearly sufficiently advanced. Even if they weren’t, it’s not like Biotics are ever covered with anything except a hand wave. You have to get those casters in the game somehow, right?”

Just one example of how well-thought-out the Penny Arcade article is. It also conveys my point of view almost perfectly.


On March 18, 2012 at 3:09 pm


I’m a writer. There’s one rule that trumps all other rules: if you want to, you can say ‘screw the rules’.

‘Work best’ depends on what your goal is. BioWare writers stated their goal was for the ending to be talked about… well, they certainly got that, didn’t they?

So why are you so hostile to interpretations that I and others propose? Obviously we find something compelling about the ending…


On March 18, 2012 at 3:11 pm

@utritum And.. Ranting and raving against hollywood writing?
Where did I do that?


On March 18, 2012 at 3:17 pm

see this

Walking Wally

On March 18, 2012 at 3:18 pm

@The Squiggler

Good points made. Funny when I bought it on release I actually was thinking of “Man I hated the Lost and Battlestar endings, I know they took their time instead of that s**t”

Nope, “Lots of speculation!”.


On March 18, 2012 at 3:44 pm


“I’m a writer. There’s one rule that trumps all other rules: if you want to, you can say ‘screw the rules’.”

But in the end it all comes down to selling your story to the audience, now doesn’t it? How would you feel if the response you got from the audience was that your work was a complete waste of time? Would you blame them for not “getting it”, or yourself for not conveying your idea and intensions well enough to them?

“So why are you so hostile to interpretations that I and others propose? Obviously we find something compelling about the ending…”

What can I say? Some people also unironically find something compelling about the Star Wars prequels and the Matrix sequels, despite them being highlighted as class-examples of bad storytelling that, if not outright killed, then at least tarnished their franchises forever. And those people almost always tend to be quite smug, pretentious and condescending about how they are “the only who ‘gets’ the true genius of the creator’s vision.”


On March 18, 2012 at 3:45 pm

Everything said here is gold. BioWare NEEDS to see this and do something about it.


On March 18, 2012 at 3:58 pm

am i the only one who wanted to see the war assets in action, i mean we collected all those troops and ships but we don’t even see they slightest of those war assets fighting, in mass effect 2 each squad member you had and each normandy upgrade you got did something or prevented someone or more from dying… other than that i agree whit the 5 reasons.


On March 18, 2012 at 4:03 pm

“‘Work best’ depends on what your goal is. BioWare writers stated their goal was for the ending to be talked about… well, they certainly got that, didn’t they?”

Now that I am thinking about it, why was the point about closure and conclusion brought up again and again in BioWare’s statements about the game, if this whole “LOTS OF SPECULATION” apparently was a thing discussed behind the scenes?

What kind of an idiot thinks that closure and speculation are the same thing? (Besides Casey Hudson and Mac Walters, obviously.)


On March 18, 2012 at 4:40 pm

I don’t know. Maybe they felt that ‘closure’ would be ending the Mass Effect universe as it has been in the series (through the destruction of the relays).

Personally I hated the Star Wars prequels and Matrix sequels. But I thought the ME3 ending was pretty awesome.
I understand why people don’t like it though. Precisely because the rest of the series is quite literal most of the time all the way through.
Still, I’m not trying to be smug or condescending, but I always perceived the Reapers as more of a destructive universal force rather than a sentient race. So I expected they wouldn’t have conventional motivations. The ‘space Child’ therefore didn’t come as that much of a surprise to me (not specifically that form, but I didn’t expect the series would end with the Reapers being defeated/winning in any conventional method that didn’t address their rather strange, undefeatable status in the universe).
But most people read the series quite differently, so to them this ending would be rather out of the blue. Apparently they also had expectations much more about what happened to their characters and team members rather than about what the hell the entire story is actually about ;)

And if I got such a reaction to my work I would be devastated.. which I imagine is what the guys at Bioware might be feeling right now.
I don’t think I would change it if I was in their position though… At least I wouldn’t edit out the philosophical part I would (I assume) have painstakingly developed.
Perhaps I would attempt to expand on the ideas or in some other way placate the irate fans without sacrificing my original ending… and consider how to handle such situations in the future.


On March 18, 2012 at 4:48 pm

Also, it does annoy me a bit that people keep saying there’s ‘plotholes’ and ask you to “explain” them if you like the ending. If you do, you get ignored.

I’m not sure if you noticed, but it’s pretty much impossible to publicly say that you like the ME3 ending right now without people questioning your intelligence (“Oh yeah!? YOU DON’T PAY ATTENTION! THERE’S PLOTHOLES!”) and outright insulting you. So I don’t think being smug and condescending is reserved to people who ‘just want to be different’ or whatever.


On March 18, 2012 at 5:13 pm

@ the squiggler who said “Think of it on pure technical terms, why are all three, (4 with the chest breathing) FMV’s essentially one recolored cut up sequence? Why are there no VA’s aside from Buzz Aldrin (Grandpa/Grandson)? Which was probably always intended to be in the game as an epilogue.”

Judging from the look of the MFV’s and some of the articles I read on the development of the ending, I think they actually had the ending everybody was expecting. The one in which everything was explained and where they had 16 somewhat different ending scenes. But when looking at it the team kind of discovered it didn’t really work. A game with a thousand variations can try to show everything, but it would probably never work, not in 16 slightly different endings. I think they then made the decision to cut a lot of scenes out and condense it to the crucible scene, the earth scene, the relay explode scene and the normandy scenes. Thus creating a more speculative ending. It is very well possible that the team discovered that the endings we have gotten used to with these kind of games just didn’t cut it for Mass Effect. The for you somewhat random sequence therefor became a deliberate choice. Really if they wanted a different version they could have done it within a few weeks. Bioware and EA do have the money for that.

A. Nuran

On March 18, 2012 at 5:58 pm

Every single shot right in the ten-ring.


On March 18, 2012 at 7:42 pm

best… and absolutely best part of this article, is the well presented arguments for why this game ended up sucking, combined with the fact that they said game doesn’t actually suck.

and it’s so true. it’s a great and fun game, but it’s just riddled with broken promises and let down expectations.

the fans aren’t entitled to anything…but we can sure as hell be angry about it. I’m angry, but i still enjoyed playing most of the game. and i will always remember enjoying ME3… and sadly i will always remember feeling like at the conclusion.

btw… nice send off at the end of the article.

billy bob

On March 18, 2012 at 8:07 pm

The Ending explaination was confusing yes, but not completely contradcitry like this people seem to keep repeating it is. Catalyst created the reapers to harvest the most advanced organics every cycle because, the syntheticsthat organics create would eventually result in the extermination of organic life. But by harvesting only the most advanced ones, and storing them in reaper form, they allow the less advanced organics to survive, beginning the cycle over again. he was killing the most organics at specific intervals so that all organic life would not be completely exterminated.


On March 18, 2012 at 8:15 pm

Exactly my thoughts. kudos for writing this.


On March 18, 2012 at 8:21 pm

Spot on article. Bioware slopped another round of laziness on one of its franchises (DA:2 being the other) with this pathetic ending. Without question, the worst ending of any trilogy I have witnessed (yes, beating out the Matrix). How on earth could Hudson and the rest of Bioware NOT notice that the ending is off, confusing, and a let down? Did no one pay attention? Seriously, they took the awesome vintage wine and chose to pee on it at the bottom.

I dont get it and dont understand how anyone who made this game could not see this coming from a mile away. The ending smacks of being rushed and hastily done with little concern of how it would appear. I am extremely dissapointed that they ended the series on this note and made so many mistakes with the ending. This Company knows better and, frankly, should be ashamed.

So laugh at my purchase of the N7 edition and the $$ spent there, but I will be watching any further Bioware products with an extremely wary and suious eye.


On March 18, 2012 at 8:44 pm

This trilogy series now reminds me of the Matrix Trilogy, Mass Effect1/Matrix1 WoW totally awesome. Mass Effect2/Matrix2, Holy crap totally awesomer. Mass Effect3/ Matrix 3 Wtf kind of stupid ass trash was that?


On March 18, 2012 at 8:47 pm

Now i’m not for one minute saying this is you but I am getting very frustrated at people calling the ones who don’t like the endings entitled or saying that they don’t understand the endings. I do understand it but I don’t like it mainly because it is not what we were led to believe would happen. This came from two separate sources within Bioware. We did not get what was advertised and from what I have seen of the original endings they were more of a fit to the rest of the ME experience.

The ending feels very rushed and I think it shows to be honest. Probably a case of EA applying pressure. I was speaking with a friend who initially liked the ending and liked the AI idea. An idea I am not totally against I might add. But when he realized all endings are more or less the same he was not happy at all. Choices and actions meaning very little being a big point of his bug bear. I have read everything you have written here and have enjoyed the arguments within but I need to ask something. Do you actually have any evidence outside of comments from Bioware that they planned this all along and that this was the ending that they wanted? I have my doubts about that and am certainly not believing anything they are saying at the moment as they are clearly not above lying. I also don’t see how fixed endings will bother the ones who like them already. You wouldn’t have to download them, if they became available.


On March 18, 2012 at 9:51 pm


It’s shepard taking a breath at the end that throws a wrench into EVERYTHING. I decided to put this first so that it might get read: If the ending is literal, Shepard takes a breath in the middle of rubble, which REALLY, REALLY cannot be interpreted to be made of blasted citadel. (Roughly 21:50 here: This means the end of the game cannot be literal. If it is the citadel (which you can clearly see it is not), then it has to have not been destroyed, and still be able to generate and atmosphere. But it isn’t the citadel.

Thus, the ending is a metaphor. OK, nice metaphor, but in almost all endings, that means that civilization is destroyed. If you get the right ending, Shep takes a breath. Now, Shep just woke up and is still in the middle of his mission!

There are two options: the ending is real, or it is not.

If it is real, then it is incredibly lazy writing. There are continuity errors galore (infinite ammo gun, missing squad members, Anderson’s whole mess in the citadel, blood disappearing when the starchild appears, Joker suddenly being in FTL/mass relay, squad mates suddenly on the normandy not dead or hurt), and Shepard is suddenly completely meek and out of character.

If it is not real, the story didn’t end. We don’t know what happened. The only thing I know, is that at the end of my playthrough, Shepard was still alive and buried in rubble. The rubble was almost certainly not Citadel rubble. Therefore, Shepard is lying, wounded, in a pile of rubble, probably sometime during the plot of ME3, presumably during the charge at Harbinger. Thus, to finish the story, DLC will be required. If its free, that’s ok with me.

I honestly don’t think you can say the ending was both REAL and well- written. There are too many continuity problems. I think you can argue that the end is symbolic (of Shep’s death or indoctrination) and well-written, but then it doesn’t provide any CLOSURE. What happened to everyone else? If shep wakes as he did in my playthrough, what does that mean? The writing leaves off at the height of the climax, if shep is waking up after being KO’ed by Harbinger’s laser. If shep doesn’t wake, and the ending is a metaphor… then… the reapers win? Is the final point of the series really going to be about the inevitability of fate? That’s essentially the opposite point.

Going on, your explanation about war assets is incorrect. There are a few binary states. Either the earth is destroyed, or it isn’t. There aren’t levels of destruction. If you are past a threshold in war assets, then red, blue, or green/white all result in an undestroyed earth. The super-best ending is red/destroy with very high assets. Then, the earth is OK, you see your squadmates exit the ship, and shepard takes a breath.


On March 18, 2012 at 10:03 pm

I am not disappointed by the ending per se. It was the complete LACK of an ending. Shepard is knocked unconscious and has an internal struggle fighting indoctrination. Either she wins or loses. If she wins she wakes up where she was knocked out….if the “ending” was inside her head arent the reapers still a problem? Or did something happen when the reapers failed to indoctrinate her? Im still confused on that. And like I’ve said many times: I think a happy ending should be damn near impossible for Shepard but for those of us who are willing to earn it it should be an option. Just fix it Bioware. Please and soon. At least announce something soon I’m just gonna die waiting :(


On March 18, 2012 at 10:27 pm

I’m still dumbfounded. I have tried to understand this ending and I have even try to put it out of my head. Even now when you actually realize how unclear and abrupt this ending was its hard to imagine how Bioware is going to make up for it. You cannot open Pandora’s box and just close it again. Right now I hope people write to EA/Bioware and forward this article so they at least can explain what made the do this. Honestly for the love fans had for this series I just want an EXPLANATION!


On March 19, 2012 at 12:14 am

I didn’t get any colored dialog options like on that pic. I just had to walk to whatever I chose… I do something wrong?!?!


On March 19, 2012 at 12:27 am


I just read the The Penny Arcade article and suggest that you read the article again. It actually confirms all the flaws and fallacies of the game, only to drop down the pants and shake it at the world: “You are talking about it, so it is the best compliment you can give a game maker ever and so it is a good game.”

So, from now on talking about a failure is the sign of the success of the failed? Maybe? If you want to look at it like that, then Bioware failed royally. For Christ’s sake, people have been talking about WWII for ever. Was the deaths of millions of people a success?

The article says: “Hey, you were not man enough or good enough to stay and fight and were forced to leave the earth at the beginning of the game, and so you had it coming from the beginning. Don’t complain.”. What kind of argument is that? A one man retreat to call for help means doomed to defeat?

The gratuitous grin that you just want a happy ending, is also so, so far off the mark that takes The Penny Arcade article into the shameless propaganda territory. There is no ending or closure in the game that is guaranteed to be the last one in the series. It says in effect that by chance of a stroke of genius, Bioware has created an idea so powerfull, i.e. the Reapers, that not even a fantasy game can do anything about it. I would call that an imbeciles huff and puff. Yeah, there is a number that is so big that people die just by looking at it. It is called Killion.

The imbecile in charge at Bioware has referred to the support of the New York Times and The Penny Arcade as proof of worthiness of the game. The moment New York Times was mentioned, I knew there was something beyond stink about that game.


On March 19, 2012 at 12:55 am

Maybe someone missed this.. but as much as I love Mass Effect 3, this one feels particularly shameless in how it tries to squeeze every penny possible out of us as a player. I did every single side mission and fetch quest in the game and still only got ~3800 EMS. As a purely singleplayer gamer, I’m forced to fork out 16 bucks for the multiplayer pass, an xbox live gold membership and put hours into multiplayer, or pay for mobile apps i don’t want just to get the full ending. Wasn’t $100 for the game enough? I’ll gladly pay for DLC or additional content if it adds to the game but to artificially force me to pay more to get the full game is just shameless and detracts from the experience.


On March 19, 2012 at 1:28 am

I hope there would be any DLC for ending!


On March 19, 2012 at 1:35 am

@ dragon
I admire and can understand your arguments on the endings. I too felt the same way during that night after finishing the game. I thought of the different meanings and symbols that were presented to me through that ending I experienced and the other choices I could of made.
However I did feel a bit ripped off initially, as all my actions through the series weren’t shown well enough through the assets system and the ending itself.
After researching through this controversy, I have come to the decision that this ending left me hollow. Questions arose in many areas of the ending, leaving me to create theories to understand some of them. And the lack of different and unique endings left me feeling a little saddened and annoyed, as I felt that I would experience something unique that only a fraction of ME’s player base would.

I’m not saying that it was a terrible ending, its just that the ending left its core fanbase cold with expectations that were advertised and not fulfilled.


On March 19, 2012 at 1:45 am

Good article though you say the child has no “cliche” reason when in fact it is said during the game that Reapers use “a Sympathetic Figure” to weaken peoples resolve and give in to Indoctrination…

Plus after ME2 ME3 doesn’t have enough interaction with Harbinger…

He knows what Sheperd can do, as if he wouldn’t chase Sheperd… Plus there should have been a sweet battle between them both… Similar to the Battle on Rannoch


On March 19, 2012 at 2:39 am

Thank you so much for this article! You and dozens of sites and youtube have voiced out concerns eloquently! Please keep it up!


On March 19, 2012 at 2:45 am

Well, I’m just saying what *I* think… not trying to say other people aren’t thinking about it, because they are. And probably a lot of people don’t like it if they did intend what I took from it. But I really enjoyed it and I’ve got good answers for all the ‘plotholes’, so I get really annoyed people keep shouting ‘It’s lazy!!’ ‘Terrible writing!’.

If it’s so terrible, why can I get so much out of it?

It doesn’t have to be EITHER real OR metaphor. We’ve got a word for that: metaphysical.

Look, Mass Effect has dealt with this stuff before. Project Lazarus? The bars in ME2 and ME3 are called ‘Purgatory’ and ‘Afterlife’.

And now here at the end we stand before the throne of God and His Reapers and get to decide the fate of the universe.

Shepard is the salvation of organic life through his sacrifice. Unless you pick destroy and get sent back of course. ^^


On March 19, 2012 at 2:48 am

very well written, honest and blunt. with humor.

how long did you spend on writing this btw? I don’t want to have ME ending change, rather, I prefer ME 4 to explain it all.


On March 19, 2012 at 3:19 am

Awesome concise article!


You are posting more than anyone else here defending this, to us, a lazily written and hastily put together ending. There are developer professionals posting on sites and blogs that from their experience it looks exactly like a rush-job due to budget limits.

Have you considered the possibility that you are semi-deluding yourself just a little bit? We all love 99% of the game, we can all agree on that, so let people criticize without jumping on every word they say and get closure. This is not a protest against Iraq/Afghan wars, or politics, or religion, it’s about consumer feeling like they’ve been lied to.If you’re fine with what you got, move on.


On March 19, 2012 at 3:26 am

I agree with this article wholeheartedly. Kudos, sir!


On March 19, 2012 at 3:32 am

Well in fact the situation with ancient AI is pretty clear. Simply reread the dialogue between it and Shepard:

– Why are you here?
– What? Where am I?
– The Citadel. It`s my home.
– Who are you?
– I am the Catalyst.
– I thought the Citadel was the Catalyst.
– No, the Citadel is part of me.
– I need to stop the Reapers, do you know how I can do that?
– The Reapers are mine, I control them. They`re my solution.
– Solution? To what?
– Chaos. You bring it on yourselves. The created will always rebel against their creators. But we found the way to stop that from happening. A way to restore order for the next cycle.
– By wiping out organic life?
– No, we harvest advanced civilizations, leaving the younger ones alone. Just as we left your people alive last time we were here.
– But you killed the rest.
– We have them ascend, so that they can make way for new life, storing the old life in reaper form.
– I think we`d rather keep our own form.
– No, you can`t. Without us to stop it, synthetics will destroy all organics. We`ve created the Cycle so that never happens. That`s the solution.
– The defining characteristic of organic life is that we think for ourselves, make our own choices. You take that away. And we might as well be machines just like you.(один из двух вариантов ответа Шепарда)
– You have choice, more than you deserve. The fact that you are standing here, the first organic ever, proves it. But it also proves my solution won`t work anymore.
– So now what?
– That depends on you.
– What do you mean?
– The Crucible changed me, created new…possibilities, but I can`t make them happen. And I won`t.
– Make what happen?
– What you came here to do, you want to destroy us. You can wipe out all synthetic life if you want, including the Geth and most of the technology you rely on, even you a part of synthetic.
– But the Reapers will be destroyed?
– Yes, but the peace won`t last. Soon your children will create synthetics and then the chaos will come back.
– Maybe…
– Or, do you think you can control us.
– Hm, so, the Illusive Man was right after all.
– Yes, but he could never have taken control, because we already controlled him.
– But I can.
– You will die, you will control us, but you will loose everything you have.
– But the Reapers will obey me?
– Yes, releasing the energy of the Crucible will end the cycle, but it will also destroy the mass relays. The paths are open, but you have to choose.
And that`s all, clear as the day. For those who still don`t get it:
Advanced civilizations willing to play God always create AI that willing to destroy not only their creators, but ALL organic life (Without us to stop it, synthetics will destroy ALL organics. We`ve created the Cycle so that never happens). The Reapers themselves do not try to exterminate anyone, they simply preserve this potentially dangerous civilizations and convert them into Reaper form. That way they give the way for new life to evolve. They also take control of rebelling synthetics, to make sure they won`t make any more destruction(why do you think they take control over Geth? They can handle reaping process by themselves). OK, you say. Then why was Shepard was allowed to go into the citadel and offered some options about Reapers fate? It`s even simpler: logics of the current cycle was broken (It also proves my solution won`t work anymore):
1) Quarians atacked the Geth. The creators rebelled over the created and were punished for that. However Geth were not willing to destroy any of life form at all. They simply wanted to be left alone. Until Sovereign took control of them in ME1.
2) The galactic council forbade any AI research (manufactured, cloned, genetically engineered) under very heavy consequences.
3) Shepard took major role in whole the act of logical disorder. First he made Legion his squadmate, then he brokered (or just tried) peace between the creators and the created and also persuaded the synthetics to join organics in war against the Reapers. And hey, the Geth were actually excited by this perspective. Also there are some words of EDI: Shepard, there`s something I want you to know. The Illusive Man has ordered my creation years ago. Jeff was the one who allowed me to think for myself. But only now do I feel alive. That is your influence.
All that caused Unhanded Exception in this ancient AI and he asked for operators help to solve the problem (as the developers are long time dead, lol). The Illusive Man with his ideas of Greater Good would never fit this role (He could never have taken control, because we already controlled him), while Shepard was the only person who made this all gears move, and was an ideal to fit (The fact that you are standing here, the first organic ever, proves it).
Actually it said: If you`re so clever then go and clear all this mess, take control of us and control situation in galaxy or destroy us and let the evolution decide, but I`m done! (The Crucible changed me, created new…possibilities, but I can`t make them happen. And I won`t). Of course the synthesis variant sucks anyway, however the ending dialogue is really clear. Of course still WTF with Normandy cannot be denied. This two minute movie kills whole pleasure gained from the game. IMHO most of the fans were satisfied with Fallout 3 like ending:
Liara T`Soni became very famous after publishing “Journeys with Prothean”/Died in final push to citadel
Garrus Vacarian became new primarch and created Shepard`s museum/Died in final push to citadel.
Genoe cure made Krogan very strong and as a result we had new galactic war/In Reapers War Krogan was almost extinct.
Etc. Something like that.


On March 19, 2012 at 3:47 am

I think the people who like the ending as it is, are mostly people hired by EA PR… Usually they only states, that they like it, but not giving understandable reasons (only that as an artistic product its a good ending… I wanted to buy a fully enjoyable game, not an absract painting), that the people who don’t like it are just haters and whiners (yeah, but I like and respect charity haters and whiners) and that only a small percentage of fans don’t like the ending… well only the small percent who already finished it :P So EA/Bioware instead of paying money to these professional commenters, to lessen the bad ending impact, go and redo it, or continue it as it was the indoctrination theory would be right.


On March 19, 2012 at 3:48 am

Ok, maybe there is some who try to find logic behind it :P


On March 19, 2012 at 3:54 am


I’m right where you are with the dialogue, I understood all of that on some level. But the Normandy is where it made no sense to me again.

Same with what some others were saying above, like Dragon, about the ending possibly being Shepard in the afterlife. This could be true, and he could wake up back on Earth again after the whole ordeal (from the God sending him back to his body), but….why can he only wake up if he chooses to Destroy the reapers?

That reason is still ambiguous, and further speculation seems like a reach. I respect that some people are making sense for themselves about the ending to this game, but I did the same thing for myself a while back with the Matrix sequels. Going back though, I realized that if they wanted to tell that story, they could have conveyed it much more clearly. ME3′s story isn’t as disjointed and random, but seems to have the same sort of God machine/abrupt ending as that did, which is probably why it’s not sitting well with me.

As Squiggler mentioned above, the clues seem to show that the end may have been rushed (possibly due to the leaks), and as someone else had said, with the golden team of EA and Bioware, for all we know, they could have made up some endings fairly quickly. I’m definitely in the camp that if they released alternate endings through DLC, that would almost be worse—how are you going to forget all of this insanity? Props to Casey Hudson, he really meant what he said… I just thought we’d be talking about our separate endings rather than not liking the one we got.


On March 19, 2012 at 3:55 am

Superb article, no question about that…

I think the main problem is with the complexity of symbolism involved in the ending… I think that the writers had really profound ideas (as they shine through here and there), but were told to make it simpler. Then it was too simple, so they made it more profound. Then again…
For the last two days, I tried to figure it out (as symbolism is my field of study)… And I think there were too many iterations described above. Way too many layers of significant and sometimes loosely connected ideas pressed into three options… Freudian superego // ego // id is the most obvious, order : chaos, paragon : renegade, fascism : anarchy…
The real problem here is not the “indoctrination”, it is contemporary society model of success – that is why all three choices are “win”, because you “won” the game, you made it to the end… There we have a difference between game and a story…
Btw, even if “indoctrination theory” were true, your choices still matter in forementionned pattern (see idealism). But for me it does not make sense, because of the synergy ending (and it IS synergy, not synthesis, as some reffer to it).


On March 19, 2012 at 4:00 am


Now that you have put it writing, it even makes less sense. The whole thing is chaos itself. You can control the reapers because you are the first one up here? How is that? If the reapers are so stupid and without will that their control can be handed over to a a gun slinging earthling, why all the fuss? The AI can not do, with the wisdom of ages and technology of millions of races what Shepard can? Just because this earthling dodged one bullet too many and was pulled up by the AI? Or the AI just wishes to retire and join its love interest somewhere in the galaxy, waiting for it to return for trillions of year, so that they can finish ME nth now? Is that how we are supposed to enjoy the ending? By contemplating how silly every consequence of the plot is?

Don’t let Bioware drag you down like this. Let them be the imbeciles they are, for what it’s worth.

Enough! I’m outa here.

Very good article. Thank you.


On March 19, 2012 at 4:02 am

To RealGeco:
Harbinger stated numeorusly that they are a whole nation each.
There reasons are incomprehensable. Yet Sheppard should understand AND support it, in a few minutes?
In the Prothean cycle there wasn’t any advanced synthetic lifeform, only VIs. So the Kid should have got an error than too. And a simply warning … if you build any synthetic lifeform we are gonna destroy you… from the Reapers with love… and whole things solved.
Why would any synthetic want to destroy ALL organic lifeform? They are all bugged? Because there is no logic behind it. Why would they allocate resources and process runtime just to kill the plants, animals, or any intelligent life which still incapable of spaceflight or FTL? They not even a threat. So the logic behind it, that the Reapers needed for who knows how many cycles to harvest all organics (effective slaugthering them) just to save them from synthetics they created, is giantly falsed.
If they want to give lesser species a chance to evolve, thats illogical too, than they should harvest not every 50000 years, but the moment the advanced species begin to occupy planets wich haven’t advanced yet.
The Mass Relays and the Citadel are there to create a certain path for the species to evolve. If they wanted to save them from selfcreated synthetics they should have posted a Citadel big signboard, saying “AI are BAAAD! Dumbasses!”
So I think the logic behind the end is still hugely flawed!! And thats a big disapointment!

Josh (a.k.a. SWJS)

On March 19, 2012 at 4:12 am


You do realise that you’ve only managed to take the article way out of context, misquote it’s meaning, and insult the writer’s intelligence, right?

I can do the same thing, watch:

The article uses a Yo Dawg meme to illustrate the failed logic of the Catalyst, when in reality the Yo Dawg meme is in of itself innacurate, as the reapers are not fully synthetic. The gamefront article essentially states “The fans are absolutely right to demand that Bioware change the ending based on their personal opinions.” What makes this side of the argument any better? People want Bioware to literally break down and completely redo the ending based on their personal opinions. I’m sorry, do you have any idea how ludicrous and narcissistic that sounds? Essentially they’re saying their feelings of the ending are fact and that Bioware owes it to them to fix it like they’re plumbers who installed a pipe wrong. They’re essentially stating their opinions as fact, something I was called out on and scolded for earlier! Please explain to me how the fans’ opinions are fact, and why Bioware is obligated to rewrite their endings. The way I see it, no side is right here, and each side is continuously digging its own grave.

It’s as if a mother spent all day baking a cake for her kid’s birthday party, only to have the kids spit it out in their face and send them back to rebake it because the icing wasn’t smooth enough, and then throws a tantrum when the mother rightly denies the kid’s demand.

As for the “happy ending” ideal being far off, that statement doesn’t hold water when I’ve seen several people directly state they’re entitled to an ending where their Shepard is retired on a beach with Liara and little blue babies.

Just as well, being a writer myself, it’s irritating to no end to see people draw the “I don’t like the end, it’s lazy writing.” card. It isn’t lazy writing just because it left you dissatisfied. There need to be actual reasons behind why it would be lazy. The Crucible is a Deus Ex Machina? That’s an example of lazy writing, that I can believe, but that was introduced after the first mission. As the PA article states, ME is pobably the first video game franchise to give us a complex story with believable characters. I would be inclined to believe the “we don’t want sunshine and puppies we just want closure” mindset if the article wasn’t right on another front: most gamers believe they’re entitled to a cliché, happy ending where all is hunky dory after they worked so hard to achieve such. I know better.

I can understand wanting closure, and not understanding how the Catalyst fits into the story, but everyone on this side of the argument is pulling the same old cards over and over, and really, it isn’t helping their case. In the end is still just boils down to “I hate the ending, it needs to be fixed.” I’m sorry, really, but insane troll logic does not strengthen an argument on shakey ground. If you don’t like the ending, that’s fine, I have no problem with that. I just wish people would stop hiding behind the majority and pulling the same old “Bioware is full of lazy writers.” crap.

Another thing PA was right on is that Bioware always had a linear story with many diverging paths, the entire way through. There have ALWAYS been moments where we all would end up at the same part. Mass Effect has always had a straightforward story, where we could chose most, but not all major decisions. Forgive the quote, but as Sovreign would have put it, “Bioware developed a story where we could interact and change it, but in the end the story followed a linear pattern that developed along the path Bioware desired.” Does it feel rushed? Yes. But Bioware obviously had something like this planned from the beginning. I would more regard the Crucible as a last minute discussion, but I could see the Catalyst AI being there regardless, it essentially being the originator of the cycle. That reveals the origin of the reapers, it NEEDS to be there.

This article is literally no better because it’s just playing favor to the fans who disliked the ending. It even directly states that the fans’ opinions are right and they should continue to be self righteous about it. I wouldn’t be suprised if Gamefront wrote it just to appeal to their readers, without even knowing what they’re talking about. Kalisah Al-Jilani tries to do the same thing, twice, and she get’s punched(or bullrushed) for it. The PA article is probably doing the same thing, since the ending likers need a place to flock to. The only difference is, the PA article has the decency to acknowledge the flaws of the ending, and counter the fans’ retorts with well-thought out points that, while opinions, are still acceptable in theory. This article simply just says “Yo dawg I heard the fans don’t like the ending because it wasn’t the ending they wanted to have ended with. They’re right! Here’s some memes to tell you how.”

Also, people who add on to the “lazy writers” accusation and turn to directly calling Bioware imbeciles: Why and how is this necessary or relevant? It’s just adding wood to the fire and does nothing but make the commentator look less intelligent. Yes Bioware wasn’t truthful at certain points, I can understand being upset over that, but pointless namecalling is childish and doesn’t help to convey an adult discussion. The people here frustrate me by doing these things, but I’m not pointing to each one and directly insulting them. It makes me look childish and doesn’t make me any more correct. I may be ranting at the moment, and I may disgree with the people here, but you don’t see me going Douchey McNitpick. Also, I would like to say now that I appologize for my harsh tone and this wall of text. I’m frustrated, obviously, and it’s past 6:00am, but really the more this goes on I feel that I must put my foot down and state my mind. I expect to get a lot of resentment and “Shut up ur just a troll.” comments in response to this, and I honestly wont mind that. I’m merely stating my opinion.

Before I close out I want to point out something I noticed. Would you agree that Mass Effect 3 had a “Mindf***” ending?

Assassin’s Creed(spoilers ahead), being a sci-fi game itself, was heavily being regarded as a series that was grounded in reality and faithfully represented key historical eras in human history. However, no one became this upset when the series introduced “magical” artifacts and an enigmatic and extinct race known only has “those who came before,” who are barely explained, can see into the future, and are given no origin at all. They’re merely hand-waved as “We simply, came before.”

Mass Effect on the other hand goes far enough in revealing the origin of the reapers, why they’re there, how they work, what happened with the protheans, what they were really like, and so on. Yes, there are a couple plotholes, such as why is the squad on the Normany and why is Joker fleeing, etc. But regardless, the entire game up through the ending explains FAR more that we give it credit for.

So don’t sit there and act like the majority of fans who demand the ending be changed are right and have the right for their negative opinions to be fixed. They’re no more right than the people who sit and defend the ending as if it’s perfect. Neither side is right, and whether or not their beliefs are justified remains to be seen. And for the love of god don’t turn around and reply with “It’s a consumer product, the customer is always right and we deserve better endings because we paid for it.” That’s just an excuse and doesn’t make your opinion any more correct or better. The disc is the product, manufactured for use by the purchaser. If it’s broken, or doesn’t work, then you can get your money back. Asking the developer to rewrite the last ten minutes of the storyline is ludicrous. It’s in the same vein of me coming out of the theater after seeing Twilight and demanding “Stephanie Meyer must rewrite Twilight with real vampires because sparkle vampires are ! She owes me that, I paid $6.95 to watch this movie!” That logic is flawed far more than the Catalyst’s logic.

In my opinion, the thing that is bothering me the most personally, is peoples’ childish logic of “I paid for it, I didn’t like the ending, I demand Bioware fix it now and make it better because I deem it so.” There is no actual, legitimate reason for anyone wanting the ending “fixed,” other than “I didn’t like it.” If the entire game’s story was like this, then I would understand it, and I’d even support it. But someone dislikes the ending and it’s Bioware’s sworn duty to rewrite it because they say so. I don’t think so.

Since I’m expecting a massive amount of hateful replies from fanboys, I’m going to stop there. That’s how I honestly feel about the situation, and my honest opinions. Make of it what you will. Kudos to those who read the entire thing. You certainly have more patience than I do.


On March 19, 2012 at 4:14 am

Well I was disappointed by the ending too. Maybe problem is that I`m in that 7 percent that just didn`t get WTF with Normandy. And of course I didn`t understand option of this “Synthesis”. The person who tried to exterminate Reapers during three games, has only one option: destruction and not some kind of synthesis. Yep, Reapers are dumbs anyway, however they have their motives, that is clearly explained. The only one that`s not clear for me: what were the motives of Bioware? Guess we`ll never find out :(


On March 19, 2012 at 4:37 am

Great article, such a shame to end a series like this on that note.

@Josh, I would agree with you on some points…but too many people make better points that fall within the game and gameplay…

Plus, The Squiggler and other artists have made solid points…the reused scenes and lack of voice acting…and the lack of the gameplay at that point…yea, they rushed the end due to a leak or budget.

But I love the rest of the game! GoTY until that point…

Josh (a.k.a. SWJS)

On March 19, 2012 at 4:48 am


You are correct sir. I appologize, I didn’t mean to imply others here never made good points. And many of these points I understand whole heartedly.My ire was more directed at the people who reuse their arguments over and over and pull out the same tired cards to prove their point. Especially the “lazy writing” card. No hard feelings, anyone. It’s just, really, the fanbase makes itself look like spoiled, self-righteous babies, especially conidering things like this ridiculous article.

And viper, thank you for responding in a calm and collective manner. I’ve never been so glad to be proven wrong. I’l definately sleep better this morning. :)


On March 19, 2012 at 4:49 am

To Dreamer: Try not to see Reapers only as the synthetics, but as an epiphany of an “order from above”. It is rigid, it is strong and all resistence is futile. They really tried to state the difference between EDI+geths and Reapers, but they failed – due to subtlety of the whole problem… The logic of The Catalyst is not flawed, it just wants you to take the arguments, scrutinize them carefully, and order them into many different levels. When EDI is “synthetic”, it meens something different than when Reapers is “synthetic”…
How do you think the galaxy would look like if the Protheans ruled? Nice Vierte Reich… The Protheans themselves would become “synthetic”, rigid, they would control everything and everybody from cells in bodies to the entire star systems. But this cannot last long – it will end on the other pole. Because the same goes, by the way, for the destruction… It is the side of unorganised, anarchistic life, krogan, arachni and so on… It is nature in its beautiful cruelness (godsess Kali comes in mind)… Again this chaos is cyclically reordered and… These two options are not that different when you think about it… Is it really that surprising that the endings are so simillar?
Then we have third option, synergy… Chaos that knows its limits, order that undergoes changes when they are needed. The eye of transcendence, if you will… And the most amusing fact is that the ending is still the same… But… Not quite. Even thought we are told that if we made the effort, we won the game – so they cannot tell us (as the story, and, above all, life itself could!): “Sorry, all your effort counts for nothing.” We had our end…
The synergy ends the cycle of chaos becoming order et vice versa… It transcends it – that should not mean it solves everything… It just opens new possibilities.
But all this the player need to discover for himself, maybe for his own benefit – its half the fun :)

To Josh (a.k.a. SWJS): I would sign what you wrote, but the article was not that bad…


On March 19, 2012 at 5:08 am

It´s our time, it´s our money.
Why should we not get the ending we strive for in the games.?

Or rather why whould i play the series again, when nothing matters in the ending?

Richard C.

On March 19, 2012 at 6:11 am


I _really_ hope the chaps at BioWare read this.

Longtime ME3 player

On March 19, 2012 at 6:22 am

Finally – an article that sums up the non-ending of ME3! I personally thought they must have fired the writers and had a new crew come in for the last 10 minutes of the game, or maybe they all took LSD and saw all those “pretty colors”.

Regardless, for all to be told that last two games, plus decisions in the current one, would shape the outcome of the entire franchise was bs. Total BS. I’m sorry, but after all the decisions, all the possible outcomes, I got a 3 possible ending scenario, all of which made NO sense was a major letdown. Will Bioware come out with a new ending? Do they care? After all the $$$$ made on this one series, you think they are hurting? No, they evidently wanted to wrap up a quickie on Shepard, bow out, and start another game to suck everyone in with (personal note, no, I won’t waste my time on another).

This game trilogy was amazing. We looked forward to each title coming out because the choices actually seemed to be affecting the outcome (do ME2 and don’t take time to get to know your crew and see if you survive!) That’s why, I think, there’s such a letdown after all the decisions, all the time playing, to get to the end of ME3 and we are left thinking W.T.F???

It is, in the end, just a video game. But this one rose so far above the rest in so many ways. Would I like to see Shepard beat the Reapers in the end, walk away alive? Well of course. I’m not watching art, I’m not watching a freaking movie – it’s entertainment. It’s been 5 years in the making so I WANTED a great ending.

Btw, did someone forward this to Bioware so THEY could read the article?


On March 19, 2012 at 6:42 am

OMG people, just look at the animation of Shepard’s character and face after entering the beam, it’s totally sh*tty and looks like made in 5 minutes by another studio. Don’t tell me you didn’t catch that.


On March 19, 2012 at 6:44 am

It’s not only the sheer scale of how lazy the ending was, it was the lack of respect that they gave to Shepard. Commander Shepard is one of the most iconic game heroes probably of all time, and instead of going out in a blaze of heroisim and glory he fizzled out like a limp balloon. The fans arn’t upset that he died, or that the ending was bittersweet. The problem was that they did no justice to Shepard, his team or the story for which most of us spent seven years dedicating our time to.

It really is a sad way to go out.


On March 19, 2012 at 6:56 am

I remember eagerly awaiting the third installment in an otherwise amazing trilogy. I even remember reading on the overall rating of 9.5, and the reader’s rating of 6.1 thinking, really? Impossible!

Then I started playing the game. Blown away from the beginning. The expression on her face when the little boy got killed at the very beginning of the game. To see Kaiden almost killed in the first mission – what a sickening feeling, I mean, would Bioware finally bring him back into the fray, then let him die at the beginning? And did you see Shepard actually grimace when being scanned right before entering the elevator at the STG base? Or the expression on her face when she had to pause with Grunt before his insane charge back into the rachnis? Or when Kai Leng was killed with a “THAT’S for Thane you SOB!” Watching Mordin trying to sing to himself as he gave his ultimate sacrifice. Facing no less than 6 grunts, a harvester, vindicators, banshees at the very end! And the list goes on and on.

This game was setting you up for such an (what’s the word here) epic ending. So many vignettes throughout this game just prepared you for an incredible climax.

So then you get to the last 10 minutes.


I mean, SERIOUSLY??????

Usually the replay on the ME francise is a lot of fun. To replay ME3 would just be……painful. Did I want, did I EXPECT a great ending? Yes, sorry but I did. I mean, we’ve all played this series for the last 5 years, played them over and over, thought and rethought what it might mean at the end if we rewrote the heretics or destroyed them. If we allowed the genophage cure to be saved or deleted. If we destroyed the Collector’s base or saved it, or allowed the council to live or die. Played through it several times saving all scenarios.

So Bioware, yes you screwed us all. I personally don’t know what you thought when coming up with your, I guess in your eyes, epic artsy ending. Personally I wanted an ending that would wrap up what I spent a lot of time on considering that YOU promisied it would be shaped by my personal decisions.

I don’t know, let me go back to playing, what, FFXI? It’s about as much torture.


On March 19, 2012 at 7:39 am

The reasons presented resume very well how I felt about the ending of the game. I finished it last night and now I feel mighty depressed.

It was such a let down. It’s like finding a pretty girl, have a nice romance, marry her, and on your wedding night find out that “she” has a . It totally nullifies everything that happened before.


On March 19, 2012 at 7:42 am

I was censored in my last reply. I wanted to say: …finding out that “she” has a d!ck.


On March 19, 2012 at 7:51 am

i love this article and i am excited that i am not alone with the sadness about the ending. i won’t re-re-re-re-quote why i think that ME deserves better, but i feel the urge to say the following to the people who thik that the ending as it is fits:

i personally had creeps, even cried at some points, felt anger and was shocked when i realized that i made a mistake i won’t be able to correct or that there’s a situation i have no influence on (hell, i cried like a baby when mordin began to sing and then died and nothing i could’ve done (except betraying the krogans, maybe) would’ve saved him.)
but then the end came and i was just like “erm.. what..? that’s it?” (and yes, that includes the plotholes AND the copy-pasted sequences, but i said i won’t go into details here).

for those, who think that there’s nothing wrong with the ending, i am happy. really, i am. i can’t understand it, but it is all right. but please, PLEASE let us others alone. there’s
no need to post walls of text again and again, that you’re ok with what you got. when you’re ok, then you don’t need to care about us. but WE are not ok. for you, there’s no advantage in trying to hold us back from getting what you already achieved and what we’re so desperately
wanting: satisfaction. but by arguing against us, WE are the ons who get put stones in our way to stumble on. so please, just be fair and let us our hopes to get what you already got.

i beg you.


On March 19, 2012 at 8:14 am

Its a very long but very interesting thread, about the status of the remake ending movement. I think its very informative and interesting.


On March 19, 2012 at 8:40 am

Bioware could learn a few things by paying attention to the ending of Red Dead Redemption.


On March 19, 2012 at 9:23 am

I don’t like the dehumanizing of BioWare developers that goes on in that thread, Reader. They make a distinction between ‘corporation’ and ‘people’ that simply doesn’t exist.

But hell, I completely disagree that the ending is bad; or at least that it’s so bad that it should warrant this kind of response.. so I’m probably not one to talk.

Lajun la Cajun

On March 19, 2012 at 9:34 am

Frackin’ spot on article!!

Why oh why did they have to put in that stupid kid and color wheel choices, one movie cut up, character assassinations on the characters….damn

Which one of the writers thought it’d be a good idea to reveal the Reapers as this kid?

What the hell was so wrong about theReapers being enigmatic and the equivalent of cosmic locusts that ate and bred and ate and bred?


On March 19, 2012 at 10:17 am

fail with me3 ending, failing with swtor, not liking where this is going

Tali (@Locolobo_2)

On March 19, 2012 at 11:41 am

@Josh, I understand that the whole Prothean/Reaper stuff is so advanced it’s like magic stuff… Okay, maybe… but the way they delivered it didn’t feel right in the end with the Crucible… And plus, why would the “Catalyst” (Citadel/AI) have an electrical field (for lack of better words) thing that allows you to control the Reapers, or a tube that completely allows all Synthetic life (and some tech) to be destroyed if it’s destroyed..? When the Citadel was created by Reapers, and they didn’t think any organics would make it up there.. (which is what the AI said), why would they have built these things with the Citadel? It doesn’t completely make sense to me… when everything else in the ME world made good sense (or at least had good arguments.)


On March 19, 2012 at 12:02 pm

Can’t agree with most points.

1. I finished game once. My experience was unique and fulfiling.

2. Shep came here to destroy reapers, do impossible. It wasn’t possible by normal means, so they hoped Crudible could do something that would stop Reapers. There wasn’t ‘good’ ending where Reapers get turned into icecream. Everyone knew missions would likely fail, they repeated it over and over. You get there, and you can finish it. But there is no happy ending to pick.

3. Funny that noone picks on ton of other errors/holes, like those related to bionics. Yes, it doesn’t make much sense outside of Joker picking your squad up sometime. But unless you’re nitpicking bastard, it doesn’t matter. It’s supposed to show ‘humanity lives on’, and to let player relate, they used familiar people, your squad. Be happy, you allowed them to survive.

4. If geth ever reached conclusion that all organics are danger to them, they would attack them, wipe them out. They to prevent more danger, they would wipe out all life from galaxy. Who knows, maybe then they would move on to new one. As creator(s) or Reapers likely were in such situationa and barely survived, they see it as unavoidable threat. So if advanced enought civilization can create synthetics that would result in extinction of *all* live in galaxy or even beyond, it’s possible to conclude that killing off every advanced civilization each cycle ultimately prevents total galactic extinction. Now, no average living being can be tasked with cleening up house every cycle and doing next to nothing in between, so it’s logical to create syntheticks for this purpose. But to not let them think like ‘pure’ synthetics, they are being made out of living organisms, whole civilizations.

And if you don’t like this reasoning – if for them 2+2=5 then their decisions don’t have to make sense to you.

5. Agree, kind of. Watching(not only looking at them) credits pays off. It concludes game, sends thanks and all. Stargazer is small return step, and then back to game. You died, but you know, DLC so there you are back on your ship. Interactive scene is fine, shifts every while between ‘you’ve failed’ and ‘you can do it’. I like it.

Tali (@Locolobo_2)

On March 19, 2012 at 12:40 pm

Also, @Josh, I think these links can give good argument to the “bad/rushed writing” argument… And believe me, I don’t want to believe BioWare can be blamed of this… I like BioWare, and I do love Mass Effect still, (although, I do want optional endings added in). However, these are well written ‘essays’ or arguments.

Tali (@Locolobo_2)

On March 19, 2012 at 1:12 pm

@Josh, Why should there not be an optional additional ending? All it would do is satisfy both sides of the argument, and both sides could have what ending they want… The only people it might dissatisfy, are the ones who think Bioware should be stubborn about it and “stick to their guns”. The thing is that Bioware says they enjoy listening and cooperating with their fanbase to create the experience the fans want. Why should they stop that now? Why not “stick to their guns” with their original motto of staying close to the fans?
Also, I wish the comparison of games to movies and other art forms would kinda stop. Yes, games can be a form of art. However, games are a form of art different from those that exist. Games are interactive, and so present a different kind of entertainment than movies. From the start, you pay for a movie with the intent of seeing something that only the writers/directors had part of. The reason why so many people feel like they should at least be listened to in ME’s case, is because they’ve helped shape it the entire time, and have even been told so.

Tali (@Locolobo_2)

On March 19, 2012 at 1:13 pm

And @qq
Biotics are explained.. As well as pretty much everything else, either by a codex article, or a side mission in one of the games.


On March 19, 2012 at 1:22 pm

I think the article is *mostly* spot on, though I think it should be mentioned that the artists/developers at Bioware are people just like us, they’re fans/gamers too.

This article from a little ways ago can help you get some perspective. I think if, anything, we can help with, is to stop this “every 2 years, every 3rd quarter” EA/Activision/etc mindset that they force studios to push these games out before they’re comfortable putting them out.

I think if Mass Effect 3 was delayed maybe 6 months or so, we would not be discussing this, maybe the ingame journal/quest tracking might be the thing we’re upset about.

As it is, from all the points made by gamer fans and developer fans within the industry, it just feels like they were pressured by EA who really do not care about the games just about pre-order sales, dlc sales and their quarterly report.


On March 19, 2012 at 1:23 pm

My high school offered a science fiction literature class. When I took it, I started to notice a pattern in the stories we read. The short stories all had ambiguous, open-to-interpretation endings that often left the plot unresolved. The full length novels, on the other hand, definitively resolved the plot. It seems to me, the biggest problem with ME3′s ending is that, after 3 games and countless hours, we get an ending more appropriate for 5 minute story.

The thing about short stories is, they can’t develop an extensive backstory or character depth to the same degree as full length ones. That makes it difficult for audiences to get invested in the characters or plot. That’s not to say that short stories are bad, however. This lack of attachment, combine with the short length, makes a short story the perfect place to end abruptly and ambiguously in order to make the audience think.

The Mass Effect series, however, is anything but short. ME3′s ending is simply out of place. While the ending has obviously made some fans think, many of us are upset because we expect to see the stories we’ve watched and put together over the years finally come to a close. Instead, we’re left scratching our heads over what the ending even means.

Madk old Kahar

On March 19, 2012 at 1:47 pm

Yeah, total let down. Well rounded write up and actual. I will be the first to say that Im glad I borrowed a friends PS3 copy. If they fix it they can have my 70.00 if they dont, Ill be waiting till it hits the 10.00 bin at WalMart.


On March 19, 2012 at 2:19 pm

Biotics are explained but only to degree where it gets hard. Exposure to eezo causes biotic powers. TRhat’s supposed to be harmful, and yet whole races have inborn powers. Whole spiecies have inborn biotic powers, that would mean they live on planets made out of eezo, but they don’t. People born in space station/colony shouldn’t have biotic powers. How the hell material transfers it’s properties trough exposure? Farming biotics would be way to ‘cultivate’ eezo substitute.
Or don’t get me started on biotic barriers. They create gravity field, and yet bullets weaken it. Bullets can’t weaken gravity, thwy would have to possess own huge mass and that wouldn’t weaken barrier gravity field, only counteract. And bullets are shot with lowered mass to get better speed, and recover mass as it flies.

There are tons of holes covered by magic phrace “mass effect” and nobody digs them. Yet they complain how unrealistic is that some people are where they are, in finishing sequence. Cerberus Dragon arriving to do his job exactly at same time as Shep is fine. Thane – professional assassin talking to enemy instead of just killing him.

Game is made of holes. Deal with it. All games are.


On March 19, 2012 at 3:10 pm

One would have expected that a game released after all four fallouts would realize that giving a feedback about important choices is what players love. And some of the choices vere -damn- hard (thing genophage). Fallout has also shown it’s not so hard to provide it. So why not ME3?
Thanks for the article, very well written.


On March 19, 2012 at 3:34 pm

Just finished ME3. Did not watch any spoilers before, so… imagine my surprise. I haven’t actualy finished it per-se… I alt+tab’ed to windows when I got the 3 choices from the “kid”, to search the net for mistakes I’ve made playing that lead to me to that point… imagine my surprise again.

The last click to finish the game is still waiting… I think this was my only ME3 play-through.

The article sums up most of the stuff that come to mind and adds some.
Awsome article. Linking this to everyone who played ME3.

Josh (a.k.a. SWJS)

On March 19, 2012 at 3:52 pm


Bioware was trying to do something new and different, rather than conform to the usual style of videogame writing. There are three endings where the galactic community is allowed to prosper and live on, one allows EDI and Joker to be sexually compatable, and another even spares the destruction of the citadel and mass relays.

If you really want a bad ending, try and get the ending where the crucible doesn’t even fire and the reapers win. Or better yet, try and get the ending where the crucible misfires and wipes out every living thing in the galaxy. At least there are endings where Shepard becomes a hero and a legend, and galactic life continues on without the threat of extinction. Your crew and squad are even shown to live, even if they’re stranded on an uninhabited Garden world(which is symbolic of The Garden of Eden).

There are 16 different takes on the ending, depending on your choices in the past three games. You can either stop the cycle, make synthetics and organics sexually compatable, and ensure the future survival of all your crew, squad, and the galactic community. Or you could have the crucible misfire and wipe everything out. Yes, the endings are all similar, but there are SIXTEEN different branches of it ranging from “Everyone lives happily ever after.” to “All life in the galaxy is obliterated.”

So the ending you got disappointed you because Shepard didn’t get to retire with Garrus, or they don’t have an hour-long cutscene of exposition about “Where they are now.” That’s no reason to demand Bioware completely redo it to where it satisfies you. You want Bioware to change the ending based on your opinion of it. Look at yourselves. You’re boycotting an amazing game that you loved up until the last ten minutes, just because in your opinion the ending wasn’t exactly what you wanted it to be. People are SUBMITTING COMPLAINTS TO THE FEDERAL TRADE ADMINISTRATION. Complaints that aren’t even fully legitamate.

Yes there are plotholes, yes there are problems. All games have these, no game is perfect, no game deserve a perfect score. And just because you weren’t satisfied with the ending doesn’t mean that your opinion is law and that Bioware should rewrite it. That is why this entire debate is flawed. The writers aren’t lazy, Bioware isn’t Satan, and even though Mass Effect 3′s ending didn’t leave you satisfied, that doesn’t mean it’s bad.

The best sign of good dramatic writing is that it gathers emotions from you, whether they be positive or negative. A space opera is a dramatic sci-fi setting, therefore the only thing it does is achieve it’s goal. The writing here is superb, I would dare go so far as to say it is the best in the gaming industry. Mass Effect brought out all emotions in me, from happiness to sadness. I for one was delighted there was no “I’m fine everybody let’s go get drinks.” ending. Bioware actually wrote a believable ending. The Crucile and Catalyst are technology that is advanced far beyond our comprehension.

Just because it can’t be explained doesn’t mean it’s magic. As a matter of fact, in the words of Arthur C. Clarke: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Hell, if you went back to mideval times and showed everyone an iPhone, they’d burn you at the stake for witchcraft.

This entire boycotting thing is ridiculous. Why can’t anyone see that? Why does everyone think their opinion is law and that they deserve the exact ending they wanted? It makes even less sense than they claim the ending does.

Josh (a.k.a. SWJS)

On March 19, 2012 at 4:47 pm

Addendum: “It’s not only the sheer scale of how lazy the ending was, it was the lack of respect that they gave to Shepard. Commander Shepard is one of the most iconic game heroes probably of all time, and instead of going out in a blaze of heroisim and glory he fizzled out like a limp balloon.”

This is another train of thought that personally irritates me. We live in an age of action and Michael Bay explosions, therefore many believe a story isn’t good if your Hero isn’t shooting something or blowing something up. For some reason it is law that a badass must go out in a blaze of action-packed exploding glory.

It is not lazy writing if a badass doesn’t go out like a badass. That cliché is tired and overused in media today, and it’s such a norm nobody is ever exposed to truly good writing. Shepard gave his live to save the entire damned galaxy. If that isn’t heroic or honorable, then I’m Queen Elizabeth. The way Shepard went out made him believable as a human being. It shows that he can’t always be a badass, that he’s human. A soldier, like everybody else. He was weak, he was dying, and he was burned out. Good writing is first established when you can make characters that are relatable and believable. Up until the end of Mass Effect 3, Shepard is revered as this huge hero that can do anything and talk anybody down, effectively making him a Black Hole Sue. I was pleased to see that ME3 finally recognized that in the end he was human, and after sacrificing himself to save all galactic civilization, I couldn’t think of a more honorable or heroic way for him to go out.


On March 19, 2012 at 5:31 pm

And just because people are happy with the ending does not mean the people who aren’t should have a voice. I really, really like the game up until that point but three choices that more or less have the consequences is in my opinion not good writing. But each to their own. I do question how Bioware would not have seen this coming.


On March 19, 2012 at 5:34 pm

Apologies i meant:

And just because people are happy with the ending does not mean the people who aren’t shouldn’t have a voice.

Josh (a.k.a. SWJS)

On March 19, 2012 at 5:49 pm


And they are entitled to speak their voice. I’m not saying they shouldn’t voice their opinion. I’m saying it’s wrong to deman Bioware change the ending based on their opinion. Most fans have even admitted they disliked the ending because it wasn’t what they expected. That’s fine, but it doesn’t give them the right to demand Bioware change it because they didn’t like it. That’s where the problem is.


On March 19, 2012 at 6:22 pm

I think its a lot to do with that people feel its not what was promised. I agree there to be honest. The series as a whole lost replay value due to it not mattering what you do. I know some of us feel lied to. Bioware are defending it and that is their right. They would never admit if it was rushed although it feels like it was. I agree though that some have gone to far. Especially complaining to the law.


On March 19, 2012 at 6:30 pm

I stayed up to 6:00AM last night to finish ME3 before Monday. I loved almost everything up till the last five minutes. This article almost perfectly explains everything I felt was wrong with the ending.

The indoctrination theory is a very good one but it doesn’t work. Remember on Thessia when you find the beacon and the Prothean AI? Once Kai Leng arrived it sensed that he was indoctrinated and shut down, but it DID NOT SENSE INDOCTRINATION IN SHEPHERD on Thessia or on the Cerberus base! The indoctrination theory relies on the indoctrination process starting at the beginning of the game, it doesn’t progress fast enough to get so advanced during the 5 minutes Shepherd is lying in the mud after Harbinger zapped him.

Which is a pity because the last 10 mins being a hallucination would have been awesome, if the ending videos had reflected this. Consider only 2 choices: control the reapers or destroy them. If you choose control, you get a nice happy ending with everyone surviving etc… but, if you choose destroy you’d wake up to a reaper who would comment on you resisting right before killing you. The implication being that either way you’ve failed and everyone dies. Certainly a mother of all plot twists.

I don’t expect Bioware to change the ending, what’s done is done. I am however very disappointed by the lack of closure both or clarity with and without the indoctrination theory. To quote my reaction after the ending video, “This is BS!”


On March 19, 2012 at 6:41 pm

@Solidus: Well said, my friend.

And still those walls of text are posted. Again and again.. I don’t get it..


On March 19, 2012 at 6:46 pm

My god, you people are saying exactly what i was thinking!
People don’t seem to understand that i did not want a perfect happy ending, but rather i just wanted a coherent understandable ending that made some damn sense!


On March 19, 2012 at 6:46 pm

ah and btw: we don’t the hell DEMAND, we BEG for changes, dammit. i hate it that ppl call it that way, like we would run around with a crown and a sceptre ordering what who has to do…


On March 19, 2012 at 7:10 pm

Loved the article, Ross… and the fact that you speak to thousands of fans who are being completely misunderstood over this “cheap” ending controversy. Since ME1 I’ve completed every aspect of the games (DLC included) as Paragon… but after just finishing ME3… my ending seemed pointless. As if everthing I’ve done was all for nothing