Mass Effect 3 Ending Thought (100% Spoiler Free)

I just had a spare thought today rewatching all the endings and the super duper secret ending with over 5,000 assets:

If you're not smart enough to understand the genius of the ending in Mass Effect 3, that's fine, but don't let that lead you to demand something from Bioware that you don't need/deserve. Bioware is a team of people from (probably) a lot of differing opinions and backgrounds and there was probably a ton of discussion that went into the decisions at the end of Mass Effect 3. But just because you don't like it, or don't get it: don't bother me with your inability to understand it and clog up Bioware's time with some petition.

Not everyone needs a happy ending in life.

The ending of Mass Effect 3 is about warfare, futility in the face of an unstoppable adversary, and having no good choices in war. Not about some pre-conceived notion of victory. The point Bioware makes is the same that Linkin Park made 10 years ago in their debut album: "In the end, it doesn't matter".

All responses are welcome, but this is my opinion on the subject.

NOTE: WE DO START DISCUSSING THE ENDING BELOW, SO BELOW THIS POINT IS NOT 100% SPOILER FREE, BUT A SPOILER-FREE TYPE PRODUCT SUBSTITUTE.

Edit// I am super grateful for all the responses, I don't think I ever intended for the language in this post to sound so offensive. I didn't do a great job making my point. I do stand by my original post to say that petitions for this are dumb, but the GB community has provided some insight that I hadn't encountered before. I'm really interested to see of Bioware will hold their ground or not in the coming months.

25 Comments
26 Comments
Edited by UnlivedPhalanx

I just had a spare thought today rewatching all the endings and the super duper secret ending with over 5,000 assets:

If you're not smart enough to understand the genius of the ending in Mass Effect 3, that's fine, but don't let that lead you to demand something from Bioware that you don't need/deserve. Bioware is a team of people from (probably) a lot of differing opinions and backgrounds and there was probably a ton of discussion that went into the decisions at the end of Mass Effect 3. But just because you don't like it, or don't get it: don't bother me with your inability to understand it and clog up Bioware's time with some petition.

Not everyone needs a happy ending in life.

The ending of Mass Effect 3 is about warfare, futility in the face of an unstoppable adversary, and having no good choices in war. Not about some pre-conceived notion of victory. The point Bioware makes is the same that Linkin Park made 10 years ago in their debut album: "In the end, it doesn't matter".

All responses are welcome, but this is my opinion on the subject.

NOTE: WE DO START DISCUSSING THE ENDING BELOW, SO BELOW THIS POINT IS NOT 100% SPOILER FREE, BUT A SPOILER-FREE TYPE PRODUCT SUBSTITUTE.

Edit// I am super grateful for all the responses, I don't think I ever intended for the language in this post to sound so offensive. I didn't do a great job making my point. I do stand by my original post to say that petitions for this are dumb, but the GB community has provided some insight that I hadn't encountered before. I'm really interested to see of Bioware will hold their ground or not in the coming months.

Posted by NTM

Yeah, I don't think it's a bad ending, not enough to be changed necessarily. The thing is though, with the way it ends, it makes it really hard to care about the choices you've made before it, 'cause no matter what you do, it'll always end the same way. I think, aside from the hokey sounding dialogue from the old man after credits, the ending was powerful. Whether it made me feel great after seeing it all, isn't what matters I guess. The best way to put it for me personally is, the ending felt like a nightmare about the end of the world, but with beautiful melancholy. If that makes sense. To say the ending was bad isn't the correct way to say it, but to say it was completely satisfying isn't right either.

Posted by Jaytow

@UnlivedPhalanx: People have the right to petition for whatever they want, it doesn't mean they're going to get it.

Posted by UnlivedPhalanx

@NTM said:

Yeah, I don't think it's a bad ending, not enough to be changed necessarily. The thing is though, with the way it ends, it makes it really hard to care about the choices you've made before it, 'cause no matter what you do, it'll always end the same way. I think, aside from the hokey sounding dialogue from the old man after credits, the ending was powerful. Whether it made me feel great after seeing it all, isn't what matters I guess. The best way to put it for me personally is, the ending felt like a nightmare about the end of the world, but with beautiful melancholy. If that makes sense. To say the ending was bad isn't the correct way to say it, but to say it was completely satisfying isn't right either.

I actually actively stewed on the ending and decided that I was upset at it. And I think that's probably the greatest victory of all. Videogames rarely drive such emotional responses. Also, I disagree, I liked the stargazers, it's a pretty safe, ambiguous way for the franchise to continue.

Posted by UnlivedPhalanx

@Jaytow said:

@UnlivedPhalanx: People have the right to petition for whatever they want, it doesn't mean they're going to get it.

We can only hope. There are a lot of good examples of companies ruining products over pressure from either consumers or stockholders. Still, your point is certainly valid.

Posted by Jaytow

@UnlivedPhalanx said:

@Jaytow said:

@UnlivedPhalanx: People have the right to petition for whatever they want, it doesn't mean they're going to get it.

We can only hope. There are a lot of good examples of companies ruining products over pressure from either consumers or stockholders. Still, your point is certainly valid.

I agree, the only way they should release post endgame DLC is if that was the plan from the start not due to pressure.

Posted by NTM

@UnlivedPhalanx: No, I wasn't saying what they were saying was bad, or the moment, I was saying that the way the old man talked was a little hokey, like when he says "One day, my sweet", and so on. I found the stargazer part interesting. By the way, I didn't fully understand it though. Aside from some saying it has to do with indoctrination or whatever, if not, was it like the far future of how things had turned out because of Shepard? Also, why does the kid say "Tell me another story about the Shepard."? I wasn't saying it was bad.

Posted by NTM

OH! I just read, and I should forgive, because I said it sounded bad, but at the end, the Stargazer (the old man) is voiced by Buzz Aldrin. Cool huh?

Posted by UnlivedPhalanx

@NTM said:

@UnlivedPhalanx: No, I wasn't saying what they were saying was bad, or the moment, I was saying that the way the old man talked was a little hokey, like when he says "One day, my sweet", and so on. I found the stargazer part interesting. By the way, I didn't fully understand it though. Aside from some saying it has to do with indoctrination or whatever, if not, was it like the far future of how things had turned out because of Shepard? Also, why does the kid say "Tell me another story about the Shepard."? I wasn't saying it was bad.

As far as understanding the nature of the scene, we have to reflect on our current knowledge of history... how much do we really know about leaders as little as 1,000 years ago? The point of the scene is that no matter what you chose, life moves on (life finds a way, if you will) and your exploits have become that of legend. You become The Shepard of the Human race.

Posted by NTM

@UnlivedPhalanx: Alright, that's kind of what I was thinking. Thanks I guess, though... that doesn't necessarily confirm it. Ha ha, that's fine though.

Posted by haggis

I didn't think the ending was bad in itself, I just wish they'd given us a different presentation for each choice. In the end, they're simply too much alike. And I wish they'd given us more on what happened to the other characters. I think most of the complaints about the ending are overblown. For the most part, it was fine. I'm not convinced that the ending doesn't make sense--I think some people just didn't get what they wanted. Though I don't think it's right to say they "aren't smart" enough to get it. I think they get it. They just don't like it.
 
It's not a "genius" ending. It was very functional, and not much more. There's been little "genius" in Mass Effect. I thought the ending was strikingly emotional and poetic, especially for a shoot-em-up space opera story. I didn't think the philosophical themes were deep--I don't think they were really meant to be--but they were subtly expressed and tastefully handled. Which is saying a lot for a genre and medium that tends toward the theatrical and explosive. The best moments in the game were--as several reviews pointed out--the quiet moments. So I'm satisfied with the ending, even as I think it was still botched in some ways.
 
If others want to lobby for a different ending, that's fine with me. I doubt they'll get it. What I would prefer is a few missions that flesh out what was happening elsewhere while I was busy making the big decision. Tell me what happened with some other characters, maybe even some of the immediate aftermath of my decision, and then I'll be happy.

Posted by UnlivedPhalanx

@haggis said:

EXCPT: What I would prefer is a few missions that flesh out what was happening elsewhere while I was busy making the big decision. Tell me what happened with some other characters, maybe even some of the immediate aftermath of my decision, and then I'll be happy.

Now that, I would enjoy seeing immensely. Especially with the whole Normandy-is-in-flight-at-the-end plot hole. I think you might be on to something there.

Posted by Pinworm45

Actually, I DO have the right to make a petition asking for whatever the fuck I want. I don't know about you, but I live in a country that gives me the freedom to express myself. Bioware has the equal right to tell me to fuck off, or not listen, or listen to their fans.

Posted by haggis
@UnlivedPhalanx said:

@haggis said:

EXCPT: What I would prefer is a few missions that flesh out what was happening elsewhere while I was busy making the big decision. Tell me what happened with some other characters, maybe even some of the immediate aftermath of my decision, and then I'll be happy.

Now that, I would enjoy seeing immensely. Especially with the whole Normandy-is-in-flight-at-the-end plot hole. I think you might be on to something there.

One of the big story-related problems I have with video games is an unwillingness to go third-person (narrative-wise, not perspective). Especially in an RPG like Mass Effect with a large cast. There's no reason why we shouldn't go off as one of the supporting characters for a mission or two here and there. These are huge battles with lots of things going on. Why limit us to only playing as Shepard/? But that's a longer discussion about developers and the odd limits they place on themselves to conform to the "idea" of what an RPG is. I highly doubt they will take this route I suggest because the entire series has been Shepard-only. 
 
 Imagine how much better ME2's ending would have been if we had to control the other teams sent off during the suicide mission, and had direct control over their fates, rather than just some decision we made further back? ME3's ending would have benefited from the same: I think it's confusing to some people because we only see it from Shep's perspective, and he/she's too close to it to see the big picture. I don't need a new ending, just more details.
Posted by UnlivedPhalanx

@haggis said:

@UnlivedPhalanx said:

@haggis said:

EXCPT: What I would prefer is a few missions that flesh out what was happening elsewhere while I was busy making the big decision. Tell me what happened with some other characters, maybe even some of the immediate aftermath of my decision, and then I'll be happy.

Now that, I would enjoy seeing immensely. Especially with the whole Normandy-is-in-flight-at-the-end plot hole. I think you might be on to something there.

EXCPT: Imagine how much better ME2's ending would have been if we had to control the other teams sent off during the suicide mission, and had direct control over their fates, rather than just some decision we made further back?

I hear you, but I think the end result of this is that your decisions feel more impactful? I think not having the ability to save everyone directly makes the stress of those decisions more tactile....and least in my mind. I think that's also a good point in the ending to 3, is not having really any direct ability to save everyone. Just a thought.

Edited by Swoxx

I think the concept of the ending is absolutely fine, great even. The execution however, is poor. Too much left unanswered for being the conclusion of a trilogy.

@UnlivedPhalanx said:

@haggis said:

EXCPT: What I would prefer is a few missions that flesh out what was happening elsewhere while I was busy making the big decision. Tell me what happened with some other characters, maybe even some of the immediate aftermath of my decision, and then I'll be happy.

Now that, I would enjoy seeing immensely. Especially with the whole Normandy-is-in-flight-at-the-end plot hole. I think you might be on to something there.

This is the biggest problem I have with the execution, All of this should have been addressed.

Posted by SpaceInsomniac

@UnlivedPhalanx said:

If you're not smart enough to understand the genius of the ending in Mass Effect 3, that's fine

you have thousands of other dumb people on your side.

The point Bioware makes is the same that Linkin Park made

That's a good comparison to make.  I absolutely feel that the ending of ME3 is every bit as intelligent, well-written, and entertaining as a Linkin Park album. 
 
That said, I loathe Linkin Park.
Posted by UnlivedPhalanx

@SpaceInsomniac said:

@UnlivedPhalanx said:

If you're not smart enough to understand the genius of the ending in Mass Effect 3, that's fine

you have thousands of other dumb people on your side.

The point Bioware makes is the same that Linkin Park made

That's a good comparison to make. I absolutely feel that the ending of ME3 is every bit as intelligent, well-written, and entertaining as a Linkin Park album. That said, I loathe Linkin Park.

Sadness. I feel like their debut album was pretty good. Admittedly, they are no Kamelot or Dream Theater....but I think that debut album was alright.

BUT.....That was the 90's......I'm not sure if you just made me sad or feel old.

Maybe both.

Edited by SpaceInsomniac
@UnlivedPhalanx said:

@SpaceInsomniac said:

@UnlivedPhalanx said:

If you're not smart enough to understand the genius of the ending in Mass Effect 3, that's fine

you have thousands of other dumb people on your side.

The point Bioware makes is the same that Linkin Park made

That's a good comparison to make. I absolutely feel that the ending of ME3 is every bit as intelligent, well-written, and entertaining as a Linkin Park album. That said, I loathe Linkin Park.

Sadness. I feel like their debut album was pretty good. Admittedly, they are no Kamelot or Dream Theater....but I think that debut album was alright.

BUT.....That was the 90's......I'm not sure if you just made me sad or feel old.

Maybe both.

Actually, it wasn't the 90s.  Their debut album came out in 2000.  I think Linkin Park just came around the time I was getting a bit older, and turning away from angst-filled alternative metal.  Your Linkin Park was my Nine Inch Nails, Deftones, Tool, Filter, Gravity Kills, God Lives Underwater, etc. 
 
Now I feel old. 
 
And while I'm not a fan, I'm not saying they're objectively a crap band, or anything.  That was just a fun way to disagree with you for suggesting that anyone who doesn't agree with you is an idiot.
Posted by iFail

@UnlivedPhalanx said:

The ending of Mass Effect 3 is about warfare, futility in the face of an unstoppable adversary, and having no good choices in war. Not about some pre-conceived notion of victory. The point Bioware makes is the same that Linkin Park made 10 years ago in their debut album: "In the end, it doesn't matter".

Well, I for one find that kind of putting a huge damper on things. In essence, Mass Effect for me was running around shooting dudes and making important decisions. Heck, once you strip away the shooter aspects, all it is is a decision making simulator, perhaps even moreso in ME3 than in the previous games. The whole premise of you fucking about in space is "Hey Shepard, run around and make decisions so we can fight reapers." To have a great trilogy in a compelling universe end so abruptly, in a way that pretty much says "No, none of the decisions you made matter" is kind of disappointing. I kind of wish they'll revisit this someday.

Edited by Sooty

@UnlivedPhalanx said:

If you're not smart enough to understand the genius of the ending in Mass Effect 3, that's fine, but it doesn't give you the right to petition to change something that doesn't need to be changed based on your lack of understanding. Just because your petition has thousands of signatures, doesn't mean you're right. It means you have thousands of other dumb people on your side. If you don't believe me, look at what happens in Congress every day.

The ending of Mass Effect 3 is about warfare, futility in the face of an unstoppable adversary, and having no good choices in war. Not about some pre-conceived notion of victory. The point Bioware makes is the same that Linkin Park made 10 years ago in their debut album: "In the end, it doesn't matter".

I don't have a problem with the ending because of the choices all having rather bad outcomes. I have a problem with the ending because it's executed poorly and feels tacked on to the fiction.

Also, lack of closure, plot holes, copy/pasted ending cinematics (for the most part) and everything surrounding the star child is retarded.

Posted by UnlivedPhalanx

@SpaceInsomniac said:

@UnlivedPhalanx said:

@SpaceInsomniac said:

@UnlivedPhalanx said:

If you're not smart enough to understand the genius of the ending in Mass Effect 3, that's fine

you have thousands of other dumb people on your side.

The point Bioware makes is the same that Linkin Park made

That's a good comparison to make. I absolutely feel that the ending of ME3 is every bit as intelligent, well-written, and entertaining as a Linkin Park album. That said, I loathe Linkin Park.

Sadness. I feel like their debut album was pretty good. Admittedly, they are no Kamelot or Dream Theater....but I think that debut album was alright.

BUT.....That was the 90's......I'm not sure if you just made me sad or feel old.

Maybe both.

EXCPT: That was just a fun way to disagree with you for suggesting that anyone who doesn't agree with you is an idiot.

On the contrary, I fully believe in people to have the ability to write protests, march in the streets, etc. I just think that this particular issue, is reprehensibly stupid. The beauty is that everyone is entitled to think how they want. And thank you for not saying Nirvana. I saw them classified as metal once on iTunes....that bugged me.

Posted by UnlivedPhalanx

@iFail said:

@UnlivedPhalanx said:

The ending of Mass Effect 3 is about warfare, futility in the face of an unstoppable adversary, and having no good choices in war. Not about some pre-conceived notion of victory. The point Bioware makes is the same that Linkin Park made 10 years ago in their debut album: "In the end, it doesn't matter".

EXCPT: To have a great trilogy in a compelling universe end so abruptly, in a way that pretty much says "No, none of the decisions you made matter" is kind of disappointing. I kind of wish they'll revisit this someday.

I think the feeling of helplessness is part of the greatness of the ending. I mean, how many other games have made you feel that way in that impactful of a way?

BUT, I do agree that all three endings are just too similar, I hope that is for canonical reasons only.

Edited by haggis
@UnlivedPhalanx said:

@haggis said:

@UnlivedPhalanx said:

@haggis said:

EXCPT: What I would prefer is a few missions that flesh out what was happening elsewhere while I was busy making the big decision. Tell me what happened with some other characters, maybe even some of the immediate aftermath of my decision, and then I'll be happy.

Now that, I would enjoy seeing immensely. Especially with the whole Normandy-is-in-flight-at-the-end plot hole. I think you might be on to something there.

EXCPT: Imagine how much better ME2's ending would have been if we had to control the other teams sent off during the suicide mission, and had direct control over their fates, rather than just some decision we made further back?

I hear you, but I think the end result of this is that your decisions feel more impactful? I think not having the ability to save everyone directly makes the stress of those decisions more tactile....and least in my mind. I think that's also a good point in the ending to 3, is not having really any direct ability to save everyone. Just a thought.

I didn't say anything about saving everyone. If they're going to die, that's fine. But I think it would be great if I could experience that alongside them (or, playing as them) rather than as a cutscene or as ... well, nothing. Most of the characters in ME3 ... we don't know anything at all about their fate. Because we're artificially bound to Shepard, we don't see these other character resolutions. I think it's a missed opportunity.
 
@UnlivedPhalanx said:

I think the feeling of helplessness is part of the greatness of the ending. I mean, how many other games have made you feel that way in that impactful of a way?


The only problem with that is that the biggest selling point of the series has been about all the choices we make, and how they impact how the story plays out. Which is why I think most people are (somewhat legitimately) pissed. It's not unreasonable to point out that the ending they gave us does in some ways invalidate the entire selling point of the series--ie., the choices. It was all Look at all the choices you made! And now it's all NONE OF YOUR CHOICES CHANGES ANYTHING! I think that's an exaggeration, but there's a grain of truth to it. I actually didn't mind it all that much, save for all the endings being essentially the same and not actually closing off any of the characters.
Posted by UnlivedPhalanx

@haggis said:

@UnlivedPhalanx said:

@haggis said:

@UnlivedPhalanx said:

@haggis said:

EXCPT: What I would prefer is a few missions that flesh out what was happening elsewhere while I was busy making the big decision. Tell me what happened with some other characters, maybe even some of the immediate aftermath of my decision, and then I'll be happy.

Now that, I would enjoy seeing immensely. Especially with the whole Normandy-is-in-flight-at-the-end plot hole. I think you might be on to something there.

EXCPT: Imagine how much better ME2's ending would have been if we had to control the other teams sent off during the suicide mission, and had direct control over their fates, rather than just some decision we made further back?

I hear you, but I think the end result of this is that your decisions feel more impactful? I think not having the ability to save everyone directly makes the stress of those decisions more tactile....and least in my mind. I think that's also a good point in the ending to 3, is not having really any direct ability to save everyone. Just a thought.

I didn't say anything about saving everyone. If they're going to die, that's fine. But I think it would be great if I could experience that alongside them (or, playing as them) rather than as a cutscene or as ... well, nothing. Most of the characters in ME3 ... we don't know anything at all about their fate. Because we're artificially bound to Shepard, we don't see these other character resolutions. I think it's a missed opportunity.

@UnlivedPhalanx said:

I think the feeling of helplessness is part of the greatness of the ending. I mean, how many other games have made you feel that way in that impactful of a way?
The only problem with that is that the biggest selling point of the series has been about all the choices we make, and how they impact how the story plays out. Which is why I think most people are (somewhat legitimately) pissed. It's not unreasonable to point out that the ending they gave us does in some ways invalidate the entire selling point of the series--ie., the choices. It was all Look at all the choices you made! And now it's all NONE OF YOUR CHOICES CHANGES ANYTHING! I think that's an exaggeration, but there's a grain of truth to it. I actually didn't mind it all that much, save for all the endings being essentially the same and not actually closing off any of the characters.

Something tells me you might be right about DLC or separate titles bridging the gaps here before they start a new trilogy (presumably on next gen hardware).

Posted by haggis
@UnlivedPhalanx: One thing I haven't seen many point out about the ending is that it leaves a HUGE issue that needs to be fixed (the relays), a lot of people isolated from their homeworlds (stuck in orbit with lots of warships around a devastated Earth), and a potentially disastrous political crisis. Sounds like a great setup for another trilogy to me.