It’s been officially announced by Bioware that there will be an alternate ending to Mass Effect 3. I completed the game a couple of days ago and I have to say I’m not sure how I feel about a DLC changing the story. I admit that I was left feeling a little hollow by it – I’m desperately trying to avoid spoilers here so forgive me if I let anything slip – and kinda sad, but that’s only because it didn’t end how I wanted it to, especially as I’d slogged my way through the first two games, and, strictly speaking, the third.
But is that Bioware’s fault? Do I get an alternate ending because I didn’t like the end to Gladiator? Or a re-release of Episodes I & II because they’re shit? No. And I’m not sure it should be so for video games, especially one as narrative driven as Mass Effect. I was gutted that the Chief didn’t make it home in Halo 3 but Halo 4 justifies that decision by Bungie & 343 Industries.
I admit that Mass Effect 3 has its problems and the ending is confusing but that’s as much my fault as it is Bioware’s as I didn’t pay attention to every conversation and cut scene across the three games which all point to what really happens, and sets things up for a future game. If I’m honest, the cut scenes were usually an opportunity to catch my breath and take a whizz because I’d been holding it in for hours of intense game play. There’s more than a few gamers who did pay attention to every word uttered and every nuance of the cut scenes and still didn’t get it, but maybe that’s Bioware overestimating what translates in a video game, rather than it being a bad game or a bad ending. Video games aren’t yet interactive movies. They’re not far off though.
But more than anything it sets a dangerous precedent for video game developers. ‘Don’t like the ending of this game? Well for just £8.99 on top of the £39.99 you’ve already paid you can change it to something a bit more palatable.’ On the other hand it demonstrates Bioware’s commitment to their fan base and the Mass Effect 3 franchise that they’re willing to go back and flesh things out a bit. I just hope they don’t charge [too much] for it.
Depending on who you talk to it’s either a ‘alternate ending’ which I think is a mistake, or a clarification. Adam (@ATT64) from War More Radio shared the video below with me which explains everything to the point that I don’t know if I need the DLC. But of course I’m going to get it anyway… To be clear, I’m not defending Bioware as I shouldn’t need a video or, in fact, a DLC to understand their game. It should have been thoroughly tested by people who were Mass Effect virgins. I think it’s a classic example of being too close to it to see the problems. But this video does make things make sense. It doesn’t remedy my sense of loss but it gives me hope for either future DLCs or Mass Effect 4 which is, inevitably, in development. Especially in light of the ending I chose… Nuff said.
And remember, if you haven’t finished Mass Effect 3 and you intend to, please don’t watch this video, it’ll ruin it.