The Mass Effect 3 endings were altered after the game was released, but they had changed even more before the game came out - and now we have our first look at one shape they could have taken.
A new video documentary from People Make Games dives into the story behind the original Mass Effect 3 endings, their updated extended cut counterparts, and how a slew of ex-BioWare developers still differ on whether changing it in response to community demands was the right thing to do. The whole thing is worth watching, but one of the most fascinating parts is when BioWare Montreal animation director Dave Wilkinson narrates a previous version of the ending that never made it into the final game.
The biggest difference is that the Catalyst, which takes the form of a war dead child who has haunted Shepard's dreams, is entirely absent. Instead, Shepard uses his cybernetic implants to jack directly into the Citadel, and inside its virtual space he converses with "the god of the Reapers" - or something like that, it's been a long time since Wilkinson worked on the project and the details are understandably a bit fuzzy.
This Reaper queen was sealed away in the Citadel because she felt they couldn't sustain their cycle of repeatedly tearing down the galaxy, and that they needed to evolve. This conversation would lead to the final ramification of your Renegade/Paragon choices: the Renegade option would see Shepard jacking out of the system, blowing the hell out of this key part of the Citadel, and destroying both the Reapers and Earth in the process. The Paragon option would have Shepard take control of the Reapers instead of the queen, and use the Reapers to be "a power for good."
The third option - AKA Synthesis, or the Green One - would be open to everybody: Shepard works with the Reaper Queen to "use space magic," combining the best parts of synthetic and organic life all across the Milky Way. This ending would eventually show an Asari-like synthesized parent and child sitting on a hillside together sometime in the future, echoing the ultimate "Stargazer" scene in the final product.
Some details stayed consistent, though bringing in a sympathetic Reaper and more directly linking the choices to the Renegade/Paragon system may have made for a very different experience. With Mass Effect 5 on the way, perhaps some of these disused ideas will get another chance at the spotlight.
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