BioWare should release an alternate ending to Mass Effect 3

Obviously I’m going to talk about the ending of Mass Effect 3 in here, so spoiler warning.

I actually loved the ending of Mass Effect 3. Seriously, I really did. I loved that Shepard got dealt a bad hand and didn’t know how to deal with it. I loved that the Crucible was a bust and the Catalyst was a jerk. I loved that the choices I made mattered despite the fact that the ending cinematic didn’t spoon feed me exposition explaining how they mattered. In the end, Shepard realized that no matter how many aliens he had sex with, no matter how many reporters he punched, some things were just bigger than he was, and there are times when certain elements are outside of your control. I’m happy with that, and I’m happy that BioWare didn’t actually screw that up with the Extended Cut.

But, at the same time, I totally believe that BioWare should create and release an alternate ending that completely changes everything.

Unless a new ending is offered by playing DLC, every piece of additional content is essentially a needless prequel, fleshing out a world that’s about to be wiped clean. According to BioWare, next week’s Leviathan DLC is “Set during ME3’s harrowing Reaper invasion,” and it “tasks Commander Shepard with tracking down an elusive entity that, according to legend, may wield the power to defeat a Reaper.”

But… it doesn’t. Everyone knows it doesn’t. There’s no way the weapon thing Shepard is looking for will wield the power to defeat a Reaper because, otherwise, that would totally change the ending of the game, and BioWare likely would have revealed that intention months ago. You know that the beacon or signal he going after is going to be a trap, or a ruse, or something else that doesn’t end with Shepard strapping a giant cannon onto the top of the Normandy and blasting apart ancient robots.

Sure, it’ll be fun, and it’ll flesh out the galaxy or the history, and it’ll give us an excuse to dive back into a universe we’ll likely never get to explore again for several years, but so what? We already know how it ends. It doesn’t matter.

That’s why BioWare should be open to releasing downloadable content that provides a completely new ending to Mass Effect 3--not because Mass Effect 3’s regular ending is broken or needs fixing, but because it is the only way downloadable content will actually matter. It has already confirmed that it’s working on a ton of post-release content, and it’s likely that a majority of it will be new plotlines for DLC, so it might as well make it take place near the end of the campaign, instead of randomly shoved into the middle.

What if the entity Shepard finds in Leviathan actually does have the power to defeat a Reaper? That would change everything. Maybe it would allow them to actually win the war instead of just hitting a green, red, or blue galaxy-wide reset button.

On that note, what if Shepard decides to just fight the Reapers head on? What if he’s allowed to just… run? What if he could infiltrate some weird Reaper base and upload a virus, Independence Day style. Would these be better than the ending that shipped with the game? Not likely. Would they be worth playing to see other possible options? Absolutely. Other options can be added post-release that change the conclusion, because it’s not like save data from ME3 is going to transfer over to whatever comes next.

Allowing DLC to change the ending of Mass Effect 3 would fix this, and everything else. Fans of the original ending can ignore the new mission or the new continuity if they want, just as they ignored any alternate storylines in their main campaign. It really wouldn’t be much different from choosing to kill or save the Rachni in Mass Effect or deciding who lives or dies during the conclusion of Mass Effect 2. Meanwhile, those that complained about the conclusion can finally get what they want: a new ending, be it a happier one, a sadder one, or simply a different one.

But more importantly, creating DLC that could have the potential to drastically change the end of the game wouldn’t hurt anyone. It wouldn’t be sacrificing the writers’ artistic vision or giving in to “fan” pressure--it would just be doing what Mass Effect has done from the beginning: Giving players more choice.

Honestly, even if people unanimously loved the ending of ME3 I’d still be lobbying for this. If BioWare opens itself up to releasing ending-changing DLC then the content can actually mean something, otherwise everything has to be set back to the way it was at the beginning at the end, and that’s just sort of a waste.

You know that kid at parties who talks too much? Drink in hand, way too enthusiastic, ponderously well-educated in topics no one in their right mind should know about? Loud? Well, that kid’s occasionally us. GR Editorials is a semi-regular feature where we share our informed insights on the news at hand. Sharp, funny, and finger-on-the-pulse, it’s the information you need to know even when you don’t know you need it.


DLC Mass Effect


  • Exiousa - September 2, 2012 11:48 p.m.

    How would DLC affect an alternative ending when none of what you do in the game affects the outcome anyway??? You just get varying colour co-ordinated video endings! I did not mind the ending, but definitely felt it was the lowest point of the game. I played ME 1 and 2 quite a few times through, enjoyed them and liked how varying things changed story wise, while small, was still there depending on my choices! ME 3 loses this what you do affects something style of storytelling! It is an incredible journey and Bioware have nothing but praises from me on the journey itself. Unfortunately letting the publisher dictate when the game was to be out and not constructing as their own video advertisement states "every decision you make affects the outcome!" Please that surely breaches some kind of false advertisement! If they had told EA to shove it and they will release it when it was ready, then it could have been far more well received! My main point, no matter what DLC is coming out unfortunately they will not create more endings, not when they already had the chance to do so in the main game, they won't do it now! Thank god I never bought it and they won't get a penny from me on this title itself as I really could not bring myself to that ending again, having only played it on my friends console.
  • Gamer_Geek - September 1, 2012 11:50 a.m.

    I really liked the ending of Mass Effect 3, but was disappointed that you couldn't continue with the game. I wanted to go and explore new worlds and planets, and complete extra missions to gain new weapons and Unlockables.
  • ericthesmith - August 31, 2012 7 a.m.

    I was worried when I read the title... but the points are solid. I felt the same exact way about ME3's ending. And I fully agree that unless it actually gives you the chance to change the ending, further DLC will be pointless.
  • code_r - August 29, 2012 3:29 p.m.

    Mass Effect 3 is hideous garbage and nobody sane should hand over money for any more DLC. Thematically revolting was the best description.
  • P0ck3tC1am - August 29, 2012 12:30 p.m.

  • exsea - August 29, 2012 8:23 a.m.

    there used to be a time where i cared for an alternate ending or at the very least an extended ending. the extended ending kind of tied up everything "significant" but does not reflect the many decisions made in the game. would have liked a "fallout 2"-ish extended ending but i guess after seeing the extended ending i felt like i couldn't care less. i feel like i've moved on from a relationship that went bad. it was a beautiful relationship and the extended ending is the closure i needed for me to move on. ME is an awesome series, despite buying the game, it still belongs to EA/Bioware. they've already "done their part" by giving the players an extended ending. i know that to many it is not enough but to me, if they actually come up with an alternate ending, its like saying "oh sorry our ending sucked, let me retcon the entire thing". this is going into the realm of fan fiction. if you like the indoctrination theory, feel free to believe that it was all an indoctrination. no one is stopping you. i know you people really love the game, so do i, but like a "parent" one day we have to let our kids go and grow up. EA already made their extended ending choice.
  • scott-wilcox - August 30, 2012 2:50 a.m.

    I agree, I played the Leviatahan DLC kinda hoping it had a chnage to the ending but it didn't but I wasnt dissapointed for I am a trye fan of the franchise. I think EA rushed Bioware with game and hence you had a crappy original ending with holes but the director's cut was a nice fix.
  • scott-wilcox - August 29, 2012 7:53 a.m.

    I just finished Mass Effect 3 with the new Leviathan DLC and it although the DLC was fun to play it had no change to the ending. Was there something I missed?
  • FierceVoltage - August 29, 2012 9:35 p.m.

  • BladeX42 - August 29, 2012 12:27 a.m.

    One thing too say fallout 3
  • RedOutlive. - August 28, 2012 9:31 p.m.

    Damage was done already. Even if they released an amazing plot twist ending people will still remember the abomination of the "intended" ending, BioWare screwed up. In some occasions you only get one chance, that was when BioWere blew theirs.
  • DASHONFIRE - August 28, 2012 4:55 p.m.

    Remember the old days when there was no such thing as DLC, when a game was released that was it? I have not had a chance to play Mass effect 3 yet but disappointing ending or not, it should not be changed. If that was how Bioware wanted to end it then leave it be. Gamers are so ungrateful these days, they just whine about anything and everything.
  • leonardo-j-ceballos - August 28, 2012 5:17 p.m.

    Sure do! Remember when Beyond the Dark Portal was released and made the Human ending to Warcaft 2 the official one, but also retconned the fact that though the portal was closed the rift remained? Ahhhh the good old days...that were exactly like the current ones. Besides, did you read? He said "add endings" not "change endings". I am also fine with the extended cut endings, but agree that DLC would be more meaningful if it could impact the campaign. PS: This gamer of "these days" started on an Atari 2600, and an 80/86 IBM PS/2.
  • owen-chisholm - August 28, 2012 5:33 p.m.

    "remember the good old days when there was no such thing as DLC..." followed by "gamers are so ungrateful these days, they just whine about anything and everything." really bud?
  • madestro - August 29, 2012 9:51 a.m.

    "I have not had a chance to play Mass effect 3 yet but disappointing ending or not, it should not be changed" Stopped reading after this. People should really try to know what they are talking about before posting on the web
  • ParagonT - August 30, 2012 8:59 a.m.

    Remember the good old days when being "ungrateful/entitled" didn't mean that you will bend over backwards for companies? Remember when it actually meant it's definition? Ah... I miss those days too... Now all you hear is egotistical players calling others ungrateful or entitled that we would dare stand up for what we believe we paid for. Goodness sake, the thought! Your absolutely right! We deserve to be shafted by companies, and just take whatever they give us, then also place no responsibility on them while being blessed by the fact that they gave us anything at all! They're saints right?!

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