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Mass Effect 3 endings - how to get the best ending in Mass Effect 3

Mass Effect 3 endings
(Image credit: EA)

The Mass Effect 3 endings caused controversy when the game originally launched, with some feeling that after years of making decisions through the entire trilogy of space adventures, the choices on offer didn't accurately encompass the journey they had taken with Commander Shepard. The Extended Cut update attempted to address this by making adjustments and incorporating an extra outcome, which is presented in the Mass Effect Legendary Edition, however after everything you've been through to reach that stage the ending pretty much boils down to a single choice. Ultimately, deciding on which is the best of the Mass Effect 3 endings is a matter of personal preference, but we've got the lowdown on all of them so you can make an informed choice.

The Total Military Strength you've managed to amass will directly affect the Mass Effect 3 endings you have available, as with a TMS of less than 1750 you will only have one possible outcome – either the Destruction ending if Shepard destroyed the Reaper Base at the end of Mass Effect 2, or the Control ending ending if Shepard saved the Reaper Base. At a TMS of 1750 or above you can choose between those two options, and at 2800 or more the third Synthesis ending is also available. You can check your TMS value by accessing the War Terminal within the War Room on the Normandy, so before you start Act 3 and pass the point of no return you should ensure you've reached the level you require for your choice from the Mass Effect 3 endings.

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Mass Effect 3 Total Military Strength - how to increase TMS and change ending options

Mass Effect 3 endings

(Image credit: EA)

Your Mass Effect 3 Total Military Strength is based on a combination of the crew, weapons, ships, armies, items, and technology you gather throughout the campaign, known collectively as War Assets. Some of your TMS comes from previous missions you completed and squad members who survived the events of Mass Effect 1 and 2, so it pays to play through those two games first and carry over your save – if you jump straight into Mass Effect 3, you'll be at a disadvantage and will have to work harder to build up the necessary TMS.

In the original Mass Effect 3, your Total Military Strength was determined by multiplying your Effective Military Strength (the sum of your War Assets) by your Galactic Readiness, a scale from 50-100% which you could increase by playing multiplayer matches and using companion apps. As there is no multiplayer or apps linked to the Legendary Edition, Galactic Readiness has been removed from the equation and your Total Military Strength is just your Effective Military Strength. To maximise your Total Military Strength and open up the best Mass Effect 3 endings, you should carry over a save from previous games, complete as many side missions as possible, and use Mass Effect 3 planet scanning through the Galaxy Map to collect additional War Assets to bolster your forces.

Mass Effect 3 ending - Destruction (Red)

Mass Effect 3 endings - Destruction (Red)

(Image credit: EA)

For this first Mass Effect 3 ending, take the right hand path in the Crucible towards the red light then repeatedly shoot the panel on the machinery to send out a destructive blast across the galaxy and wipe out all synthetic life including the Reapers. At lower Total Military Strength this will destroy everything else too, though if you're prepared enough then it's possible to save Earth, the Normandy crew, and Shepard. This is the only ending choice where Shepard can survive.

Mass Effect 3 ending - Destruction (Red)
TMSEarthNormandyShepard
<1750*VaporizedEveryone diesDies
1750-2049VaporizedEveryone diesDies
2050-2649RavagedSquad survivesDies
2650-3099SavedSquad survivesDies
≥3100SavedSquad survivesSurvives

* this choice at <1750 TMS is only available if Shepard destroyed the Reaper Base at the end of Mass Effect 2

Mass Effect 3 ending - Control (Blue)

Mass Effect 3 endings - Control (Blue)

(Image credit: EA)

This second Mass Effect 3 ending is available by taking the left hand path in the Crucible, towards the blue light then grabbing the two beams. This will cause Shepard to sacrifice themselves to merge with the Reapers, taking command of their forces and leading them away. There is no way to save Shepard in this scenario, and the only difference with increased TMS is that Earth is spared from taking any significant damage.

Mass Effect 3 ending - Control (Blue)
TMSEarthNormandyShepard
<1750*RavagedSquad survivesDies
1750-2349RavagedSquad survivesDies
≥2350SavedSquad survivesDies

* this choice at <1750 TMS is only available if Shepard saved the Reaper Base at the end of Mass Effect 2

Mass Effect 3 ending - Synthesis (Green)

Mass Effect 3 endings - Synthesis (Green)

(Image credit: EA)

Should your Total Military Strength be at 2800 or higher then this third Mass Effect 3 ending is also possible, by heading along the central path in the Crucible towards the main beam of energy. Shepard will take a run up and dive into the beam, sacrificing themselves to merge all organic and synthetic life in the galaxy. This renders the Reapers obsolete and prevents further attack, though again there isn't any way to keep Shepard alive and only one outcome can be achieved where everyone else is saved by being synthesized.

Mass Effect 3 ending - Synthesis (Green)
TMSEarthNormandyShepard
<2800n/an/an/a
≥2800SavedSquad survives and are synthesizedDies

Mass Effect 3 ending - Refusal

Mass Effect 3 endings - Refusal

(Image credit: EA)

This fourth Mass Effect 3 ending was added to the game later, allowing you to refuse all three of the previous outcomes by telling the Child "I reject these choices!" Shortly after, the Child says "The cycle continues" and Reapers can be seen wreaking destruction outside the Crucible before the main beam goes out. A message of hope from Liara is later shown being broadcast to an underground bunker, recounting the war with the Reapers, and the Stargazer states that this knowledge was used to protect future civilizations.

Iain is better known to many as ‘Mr Trophy’, due to his slightly unhealthy obsession with amassing intangible PlayStation silverware, and he now has over 200 Platinum pots in his virtual award cabinet. He does not care for Xbox Achievements.