mass-effect-3

In Defense of Mass Effect 3’s Ending

November 20, 2007, the release of the original Mass Effect. March 6th, 2012, the release of Mass Effect 3, the last of the trilogy. Every single day between those two dates, BioWare was lauded for creating a universe rich with personality, lore, and substance. This was a franchise that some were calling “the Star Wars of our generation.” Not exactly a small claim.

All of a sudden, when Mass Effect 3 ended the story, irate gamers flocked to the message boards demanding a new ending, clamoring for change. A fan poll went up on the BioWare Social Network asking about the ending, and as of this writing 89% of voters thought the endings weren’t up to standard. Of course, there is nothing official about this poll, as it’s just fans on a message board, but it’s still interesting to note. Some examples of comments:

They have to change this. I can’t deal with the idea of going through three 30+ hour games only to have my character die at the end of it all, or end up forever alone. It’s just stupid.”

The endings suck total donkey balls, but I do not necessarily want brighter endings. I just want BETTER endings.”

The endings are an absolute disaster that mar a clearly otherwise excellent game and go as far to mar the entire trilogy reducing the desire to want to replay. No happy ending or even semi-happy ending where Shepard at least ends up with the Normandy crew on Earth is absolutely ridicolous.”

These endings that Bioware thought of are bold, they have taken the risk of offending fans by creating endings that are non-conventional….. By defeating the Reapers and their purpose, YOU END A CYCLE THAT OCCURRED FOR THOUSANDS OF YEARS, THERE ARE BOUND TO BE SACRIFICES AND CONSEQUENCES.”

Those last two comments are the one I want to focus on, because the ending of this trilogy is NOT the abomination that this small percentage (yes, small percentage, as 25,000 of 3.5 MILLION COPIES SOLD IN A WEEK is 0.71%) of overly vocal critics would lead you to believe.

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*******OFFICIAL WARNING OF OBVIOUS MASS EFFECT 3 SPOILERS. SPOILERS AHOY!*******

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The entire Mass Effect series culminates in a battle for survival against The Reapers. Losing the war means galactic extinction. EXTINCTION. The stakes are higher than any battle before or after. There is no future after this loss; the galaxy as these characters know it would be gone. With stakes this high, winning must be achieved at any cost. There can be no happy ending here, something has to give. In the case of these endings, Shepard is forever separated from his crew (if he doesn’t die), and the Normandy crash lands on a lush, beautiful planet ripe for habitation.

People are saying that there are unanswered questions: what planet did the Normandy crash on, why did the mass relays have to be destroyed, and more. If this were being argued in a court of law, and these points were made, I’d have a simple retort: objection, relevance.

These questions don’t need to be answered. These worries are based on expectations that shouldn’t have been there in the first place. These angry fans decided before they played the game that it should end with everyone happy and reunited on a rebuilt Earth, in no way was it set in stone. They weren’t in charge of writing the story, so their assumptions are irrelevant.

Think about how this really ends: Shepard knowingly sacrifices himself for the greater good. The Normandy crash lands on a planet that can sustain life, as you can see by the plant life and running water. After the credits, a human man, known only to us as Stargazer, talks with his child about what happened. Shepard gave his life in order to give those he cared about A FUTURE. He gave them the ability to rebuild, the ability to flourish, and the ability to live again in peace without interruption. Shepard him/herself KNOWS that’s what he/she’s giving them, as we can tell by what he says to the Catalyst:

But you’re taking away our future. Without a future, we have no hope. Without hope…we might as well be machines, programmed to do what we’re told.

Sacrifices have to be made for the greater good, so Shepard choose to give him/herself in order to restore the galaxy’s future. It may not be the warm, fuzzy ending some came to expect, but it’s still a bright future for those that survive.

Would it have been nice to see Garrus finally buying that drink for his commander? Yes. Would I have liked seeing my Shepard settle down with Ashley after a grueling war? Of course. But this was not the kind of conflict where those best-case scenarios could happen. Something had to give. In this case, it was the hero, a hero we as players spent three games crafting in our own image, making the impact of the sacrifice that much bigger.

Furthermore, I think the aforementioned mini-epilogue with the Stargazer at the end is far more important to the end of the trilogy than people realize. A man regales his child/grandchild with stories of “The Shepard,” a larger-than-life hero who delivered the galaxy from extinction and gave them the lives they live now. This Stargazer obviously knows a good amount about Shepard, so only one logical conclusion can be made:

The Stargazer is Joker.

If that’s true, and Joker is the one telling these stories, then this scene establishes that Shepard’s sacrifice was not in vain; that the handful of people who landed on that planet in the Normandy were able to rebuild their lives anew, starting the next great galactic civilization…only this time, there will be no Reapers breathing down their necks.

While it may not be the 100% happy ending the forum denizens may have wanted, the end of Mass Effect is in no way “stupid,” “an absolute disaster,” or even “donkey balls.” It is the way Mass Effect should end: a hero who, already having given so much to protect the galaxy, gives his/her life to save it forever.

Jason Fanelli oozes the blood of a gamer, having played games for over 20 years. Follow him on Twitter @bigmanfanelli for more irreverent banter you may not agree with. He’s all for good games discussion.



51 comments
Avid
Avid

Wow. You have missed the point of dissatisfied gamers almost entirely. It's not the lack of a happy ending, it's the lack of a sensical ending (starting with reaper child and culminating with 3 choices that are so similar as to be the same one with tiny variations and ending with how joke got the ship and previously stranded on earth crew to this jungle planet). The created always rebel against the creators so you created something to kill us potential creators so we don't get killed by those we may create? And you're still here. And the geth are helping the quarians re-adapt to Rannoch. And EDI is helping us kick some butt. And that's Joker? The one who ran from the fight, apparently, he repopulated a planet with a skeleton crew of dna? Unless you think synthesis is hopeful. You know, the ending that says in order to have peace every living creature must be a homogenous group, throwing away their differences and merging them all into synthetic/organic hybrids? Basically, to have peace, we can't have differences of species/color/religion/culture/dna/etc? you know, the ending offered as the greatest reward? Have you played the game or are you just trying to ge attention? Or maybe you missed the fact that we were promised divergent endings based on decisions and got three based on, what was it? EFFECTIVE Military Readiness?

Markthesuth
Markthesuth

All they needed in order to turn this ending into an awesome one from a crap one is a final montage of a predicted future based on the decisions you make much like fall out new vegas does. for example: The krogan race flourished and eventually made a new home on ... their society was based on eves advice and eventually they were made members of the council or: The krogan race eventually became extinct due to the long lasting effects of the genophage. the last krogon breathed his last breath and cursed organic life stating "blah blah blah" I think this is what people are looking for and from a programming perspective would have been very easy to do.

Simon
Simon

I will agree with Sarah on her last point, the one about the final, existing endings turning into one. Still, having read this it makes me look at the ending (yes, I haven't gone through it more than once yet, so I don't know which one I got. At the end Normandy's door unlocks, so my guess is it's Shepard's survival ending) in a new perspective. Thanks for, not clearing this up, but writing how you see the game.

Kitt
Kitt

Boo. I don't agree with the protests for a change to the ending, I think that ship has sailed but you've also missed their main points. Only a small minority are asking for a happy fluffy bunny ending, nearly all the people complaining are asking for an ending that is well written, makes sense within the lore of the universe and doesn't have plot holes you could fly a geth dreadnought through. At the moment the series really lacks that. Mass effect 3 is a beautiful, thoughtful, exciting and emotional journey of a game with an abrupt and poorly thought out ending. It's a shame and I think BSN hysteria aside, I think the complaints and dissapointment of die-hard fans should be taken seriously, even if they are denied the action that they are demanding.

Bob
Bob

Why is the Normandy even doing travelling FTL speed?

Conn Cooney
Conn Cooney

We deserved better, I hate people like you who try take the moral highground. People did not like the ending, It was out of synch with the good writing of the other games, Im just hoping against hope that the indoctrination theory plays out. Without hope..... You know the rest!

Afotey Annum
Afotey Annum

Excellent summary. Personally, i think the gamers decrying the ending are spoiled brats, the lot of them. I love stories in which im forced to think for myself. What a novel idea; i get to deduce! Kudos to Bioware. 

Tyko Brian
Tyko Brian

HELL YEAH the ME3 endings need to be altered. I mean let's look at ME2...there was a whole range of endings... from perfect "everyone survives" ending to disastrous "everyone dies" ending. And these are based on actions made by Shepard throughout the entire game such as how much ship upgrade has been made or completing loyalty missions etc. But in case of Me3 it's not like that... I won't say more so people don't get spoiled. The ending of Deus Ex Human Revolution is a pretty good example. . A tragic ending such as Shepard and the galaxy's resistance efforts becoming futile and reapers completing the cycle of extinction as usual is by no means a ‘bad’ ending: it’s expected. In ME2 the worst possible outcome was done so dramatically that it was one of my favorites and I was highly impressed how they presented it. But in case of ME3... well for minimal spoilers... let's just say, it's almost... almost as if the ending disregards your decisions throughout the game (let alone the trilogy) and it is almost entirely based on some actions in the finale... What I thought Bioware was promising us was that when a tragic ending would take place we would realize that we should've taken a particular action or done some things differently in the game, or in ME2 or hell, in ME1... so then we would replay perhaps the entire trilogy to get the endings we want... . And people who are saying perfect endings would make the series too much of a fairytale, well RPG's don't force people into any endings... so it could've been at least included. Now I know it is highly unlikely that in a reaper invasion a perfect can be achieved…but first let me tell you what I mean by a perfect ending. My version of “perfect” ending is that no major characters (including Shepard, of course) die: they can be handicapped by the war- I have no problem, and no home planet is completely destroyed- there can be huge losses that take decades to rebuild, though. I would’ve loved it if Bioware included it and made it EXTREMELY, EXTREMELY difficult to achieve it like for example the player would have to take a particular route and do numerous things in a particular way spanning the entire trilogy: and they would only realize what needs to be done after several playthorughs of the trilogy! This “perfect” ending could’ve been something to boast about to your friends and be proud of: an ultimate achievement. . And also there could’ve been other bittersweet endings like the perfect ending I mentioned except Shep’s love interest dies to help Shep achieve it… or the perfect ending I mentioned except Shepard sacrifices himself to achieve this, and the galaxy remembers him as the ultimate hero. And to be honest… the way Bioware presented the three endings… well for minimal spoilers- let’s just say they have some tragic elements in common which I’m sure gamers would’ve preferred to  dodge… and also visually, the endings are very much similar… the absence of epilogue also creates a need for closure: which was VERY necessary. Personally, I think another reason I’m absolutely hating the endings is because after several playthroughs I’ve realized that no matter what I do, I can’t stop some very very important unwanted outcomes. . I don’t think there’s an excuse for blunders like this… if Bioware could’ve created two awesome games like ME1 and ME2 and if they could put up a fabulous show in ME3 till the ending as well then what on Earth happened in the ending?? By not giving people the choice or the scope to craft their own closing of the trilogy, they have to some extent destroyed the RPG elements of the game. And well, as the ending is the last thing people will experience, this will be etched in their memory… . Shepard endured and sacrificed so much for the sake of the galaxy and by no means (s)he had voluntary support from  the council. Hell, (s)he was even put to trial for genocide!! So what does this self- sacrificing heroic figure get in return in the final chapter of the battle?? (S)he deserved a proper ending, not a good ending, not a bad one but a one that reflected his choices through the trilogy!! And I think even his/her demise wasn’t well presented… Shepard deserved better!!! As a Shepard myself I demand it!! If Bioware had to release the game five years later to make things right, fans would’ve understood. But nooooo… they rushed and now we have this… . After playing through ME3 I have to constantly chant to keep myself loosing my cool, “The journey is more important than the end…”, “The journey is more important than the end…”, “The journey is more important… . WHY BIOWARE, WHY?????????????????????? :’(

Jetstorm
Jetstorm

I was wondering what you thought of it Jason, glad you liked it too! I for one loved every minute of the game and the ending!

Nyquil9
Nyquil9

By Catalyst I mean Crucible.

Nyquil9
Nyquil9

Well said. The Catalyst only offered hard choices. You have the choice of not doing anything, but that is essentially bringing up the "Game Over" screen. It was not a magic machine that turns everything back into the way it was. All it did was avoid complete extinction of advanced organic life in the galaxy. It served to break the cycle by destroying the system of relays and the Citadel which basically served as a magnet for intelligent life in the effort to cull it into extinction. The difference is that the cycle is broken. And no matter what happens, organic life will not be destroyed in another 500,000 years. You really have to experience the Ashes DLC to understand the magnitude of that achievement. Javik demonstates that there have been many Shepherds, a long line of them, going back for millions of years, piecing together the knowledge to create the Catalyst. Your Shepherd is the culmination of a struggle by organic life that has been going on over a timeframe that is difficult for us to comprehend. As for the personal epilogue, the extended opportunity to speak with your crewmates is pretty much some harsh foreshadowing. The moment you speak with Anderson is acceptance. I was satisfied saying my goodbyes, and I appreciated the comm officer's convenient means to do so. I read on Penny Arcade that you have to think of all of ME 3 as "the ending". If you do this, you might not feel so worked up about it. "This war will not be solved by conventional means". It is said again and again. Only transformation on a galactic scale could truly bring all of the horror to an end.

PeL0
PeL0

What happens to the galaxy after Mass Relays were all destroyed? In ME2's arrival DLC, it was stated that destroyed Mass Relays might destroy the whole systems that they are located in. So everyone dies anyways? We don't give a shit about Shepard dying. We want a closure, an ending that makes sense, answers all questions, and puts the choices we made throughout the trilogy matter. ME3 Ending is the fail of the year.

Riv
Riv

That's the reason that people are arguing, you know. I know that it's an epic ending, I know there have to be sacrifices, and I know that something always has to give to defeat a force as great as the Reapers. I don't have a problem with Shepard dying as much as I do with all of the Mass Relays being destroyed. I mean... wtf is up with that? Is it even POSSIBLE to build up the technology that's needed for rebuilding them, for continuing a life in intergalactic space? Yes, I'm DEFINITELY shooting for an ending where Shepard doesn't die. That's a given. But don't you think that, with a game this huge and amazing, the choices you make, the sacrifices you make--shouldn't they all add up to something unique for each gamer? The ending, even if it's SAD (Shepard dying, etc.) should give the sense of an ENDING. Something satisfying for the player. The ending of Mass Effect 3 just left the player with a whole set of new and frustrating questions, and I don't think it's fair of BioWare to leave them all hanging like that. That whole stargazer "someday" makes me feel like shit, quite frankly. Like... this whole thing was just an old man telling a story to his kid? Damn I felt like I WAS Shepard, kicking ass and taking name accross the galaxy. That was the incredible part of the game! The fact that this whole new way of LIFE was established, the potential, the different species... absolutely everything. It just leaves me with a sort of sick feeling in my gut. So what I'm trying to say is yes--go ahead, make an ending where the relays blow up, where Shepard dies, where the crew is stranded on a planet or any combination! but I think there should be at least one ending which the fans can work for. One ending which leaves the galaxy with something better than it had before. Because frankly, Shepard destroyed the galaxy almost as certainly as the Reapers would have. Without the reapers, the universe isn't going to reach the same potential that it could have. Everything that you worked for through the entire game doesn't apply. Everything's gone the second you work that weapon. I'm not saying it's a bad game--hell, I absolutely love it. That's the problem. I've loved this game for years and have followed it through completely dedicated to my choices, accepting the consequences. I want an ending that I can accept. I want an ending which makes me feel like Shepard did something GOOD and right. If the Reapers destroy everything, the galaxy will rebuild and flourish. Now that incredible potential is gone, and all that's left is some person on some planet which might be Earth, telling a kid about this story that might not have even happened. It's disappointing to say the least, and it makes me want to kick a wall. DAMN it!

Dead Legendary Shepard
Dead Legendary Shepard

How much did they pay you to tell us the ending of ME3 was good? Everybody is entitled to have an opinion. My opinion is simple -> I have spend approx. 30+hours for each ME game and for what? For such a cheap@ss stupid ending? PLUS, I expected different endings, since there are so many choices to be made in your overall adventure. But the reality is that there is only 1 ending (don't you dare say otherwise, for the paragon has blue light effect when the crucible fires, renegade red and synthetic green -> WTF? CHEAP!! ) I was planning to make a marathon, from ME1 to ME3, well you can forget about that. Knowing what awaits me, no thx, I will not waste another hour in this so called 'Star Wars of this generation' IMO EPIC FAIL! To bad, I really loved this serie, now I actually became a crusader to talk trash about this serie. To those who loved this ending, LUCKY YOU! For you don't have to deal with the feeling of disappointment. Ok I admit it, maybe my expectations were to high, but that's not my fault, it's Biowares fault for delivering a game that's full of background info (like the codex) and well developed characters. I expected an EPIC ending like the Final Fantasy games (the old ones, cause XIII stinks), the perfect red cherry on the cake. Instead I got a bully blowing his pubic hair on the cake -_-*

Beal
Beal

A sample size of 25,000 for a population 3.5 million can yield 99% confidence +/- .81. So, if say 89% of 25,000 respondents express an opinion that can be extrapolated to the whole population with considerable confidence.

Amelia
Amelia

Come on...real life sucks the way it is. Of course I want a happy and ending, because in real life I would never get it. The game series were freaking awesome but the ending was depressing. No, I can't say the ending was bad, shitty or whatever. It was deep and all that but it was limited. And Bioware usually leaves the choices up to the player. Mass Effect 2 had that and that's what made the game so fucking epic. You could save everybody or you could let everyone die. Mass effect 3's ending is supposed to be ambiguous with a special meaning, supposed to make the player think and guess. If I wanted that, I would watch a Bunuel movie. Maybe it's just my opinion but that's how I see it.

Patrick Krüger
Patrick Krüger

I finished ME3 yesterday and I also could have imagined a better ending. Im not 100% sure on my opinion right now, but here are two points i want to add: 1. I picked synthesis as i found this to be the best choice (can´t understand why so many are saying "destroy" would be the best). In that case there is ETERNAL PEACE between organics and synthetics, so there is also PEACE with the REAPERS. As we know, the reapers are a very old and very intelligent race which also may know how to REBUILD the MASS RELAYS. So by picking the "synthethis" ending i can´t see why the Galaxy should be screwed. 2. Despite that, i still don´t like the Normandy´s crash, especially when my team (especially Garrus and Tali, which even ran towards the conduit with me) starts exiting the ship. I find this unlogical, as they all went with me back to earth and, as it already has been said, the Normandy flies back to assist the fleets. For now that´s all I have to say atm. Without doubt the ending was epic. Wether I like it or not...well this is somethign i will have to think about for the next days.

JaredLOdom
JaredLOdom

it's not about her sacrificing herself.... how do you people not get that... it's about the victory is not a victory. it's bowing down to the opposition. Shepard would NEVER choose those three choices (at least mine wouldn't) Shepard would choose a 4th option: REFUSE. She would tell the Star Kid that we will not accept their help, that it's OUR place to protect OURSELVES. and then we'd fight it out with the Reapers. if we have enough War Assets we'd win, if not enough, we lose, and the cycle keeps going.

Patrick Krüger
Patrick Krüger

I finished ME3 yesterday and I also could have imagined a better ending. Im not 100% sure on my opinion right now, but here are two points i want to add: 1. I picked synthesis as i found this to be the best choice (can´t understand why so many are saying "destroy" would be the best). In that case there is ETERNAL PEACE between organics and synthetics, so there is also PEACE with the REAPERS. As we know, the reapers are a very old and very intelligent race which also may know how to REBUILD the MASS RELAYS. So by picking the "synthethis" ending i can´t see why the Galaxy should be screwed. 2. Despite that, i still don´t like the Normandy´s crash, especially when my team (especially Garrus and Tali, which even ran towards the conduit with me) starts exiting the ship. I find this unlogical, as they all went with me back to earth and, as it already has been said, the Normandy flies back to assist the fleets. For now that´s all I have to say atm. Without doubt the ending was epic. Wether I like it or not...well this is somethign i will have to think about for the next days.

Claymation39
Claymation39

Oh also, on the first day 3,000 people spoke out about the ending, on the third day it was 9,000, its the seventh day and we're up to 30,000. I don't think that number is ready to stop growing yet. By the end of the month, we'll probably be up to more than 100K

Claymation39
Claymation39

Im totally ok with sheperd dieing. This was like watching the movie Armageddon and Bruce Willis sacrificed his life to save earth. What Im not ok with is the lack of information after Sheperd dies. That's like shutting the tv off right after Bruce Willis hits the detonator. Here's where Im curious. Everywhere I look there is a mention of 17 endings. When I read the strategy guide there are only 16 endings. Now what if the idea of the indoctrination theory is true. What if we the gamers haven't found the 17th ending yet. My theory and I will test it out is that there is a 17th ending already on the game disk that explains it all and the other endings gave you clues to achieve the 17th ending. 1st clue - saving anderson is a renegade option 2nd clue - destroying the reapers is a renegade option what if you were to play the game on a first or second play through, achieved the 5k fleet and played 100% paragon, then when it came time to be indoctrinated, instead of choosing any of the paragon choices, all of your actions and speech choices were renegade .... because... these are the actual choices you need to pick, anything else will give you one of the other 16 endings.

Wikkr
Wikkr

Way to jump on the bandwagon and label our points as 'irrelevant'. If you look into the subject your reporting on youll realise that were not unhappy that the game ended with shep dieing. That was a possibility in ME2 that many people played through specifically to see. The dissapointment is that until the last 10 minutes mass effect 3 is an epic finish to an epic series. then out of nowhere you are presented with 3 options which all lead to the same thing more or less with the main difference being the color of the beam that destroys the relays. It comes from nowhere, ignores the story built through 30+ hours in each of the games to give you an ending with no closure for the characters whatsoever. I fully expected death to be an option. I was looking forward in a twisted way to seeing each of my team fall to reaper forces. I still have the me2 save waiting with all the wrong choices to see the 'bad ending' but this is irrelent now. No matter how you played the series it ends the same way. which is what has truely upset the fans. Bioware ended the saga sure. But they left more plot holes then they did answers. Why was the normandy running before that energy pulse was released? How did the crew members who where deeply entrenched in reaper occupied london end up back on the normandy? How did anderson end up ahead of shepard when he came through the portal after him and the platform he ends up on has only one entrance? What is with the teaser at the end where you see shep partially buried in rubble start to take a breath? If the citadel was alive all along how did the protheans manage to sabotage it to stop the reapers from comming in me1? i could go on all day pointing out unanswered questions bioware have left for their fans. You say they arent relevant but if the story isnt relevant then why did we play this game?

Kimjk5
Kimjk5

You sir....are fucking retarded for justifying an ending that bears no real differences in the three different options given to you nor does the ending give u the satisfaction of letting you to believe that all the decisions you have made with your character from the past 2 games actually had an impact on the ending of the story. No sir, you are retarded for saying the ending was justified

Zanada
Zanada

I stopped reading at (only 0.71%). Only a small amount of people have even finished the game and it's just come out in some countries. There are terrible games that never get this much attention in their lifetimes, and you're going to dismiss 25,000 people on one forum alone? How many people do you think will be in front of their tv disappointed, but don't visit gaming websites? Another gaming "writer" trying to kiss up to the companies. Fans know who to actually listen to, and it's each other.

Scott Meyers
Scott Meyers

I would like to use your objection for the whole damn ending. Objection: Relevance. The fans love this game because of the characters, not some game producer's dim witted idea of the proper philosophical response to a galaxy-ending existential threat. You and BioWare are the ones missing the point: there is more to living than surviving. Get off your high horse.

EngineSkull
EngineSkull

Despite what the wankers are saying, the ending to ME3 was epic. Ridiculously epic. The entire game was exactly how I was hoping it would be. Do you guys really want a Dragon Age ending where everything ends like a fairy tale? Screw that. The problem here is that everyone wants this normal fairy tale crap, they don't want to think about it. They want someone to explain to them what is happening every step of the way, like in Star Wars or Lord of the Rings. Here's the deal. The relays get destroyed due to the massive amount of energy required to send the signal across the galaxy to control/end synthetic life. If you know anything about physics...like at all, you'll know that this kind of energy expulsion would certainly destroy it's catalyst (not THE Catalyst, using strict definition). Look at the end of the Arrival DLC in ME2. Same thing. So it makes perfect sense. Is organic life really doomed? Shit no! There's an entire planet covered with people and Reaper tech. 510 million square miles of surface area to salvage tech from. You really think they won't rebuild the mass relay network? Let's not forget that in one ending, synthetic life is saved. What's to stop them from rebuilding the relays, now that they're peaceful? I forget which, but either Shepard or Joker mentions the Normandy returning to fight with the Sword Fleet after Shep lands on Earth. Once the Crucible fired up, Joker probably did the logical thing and got the fuck out, since nobody knew exactly what was going to happen once it was activated. Also makes sense. As far as we know (at least in my ending), only Joker and EDI survived the Normandy crash. This seemed a bit weird since she was on my party at the end, but who knows what she did once I went traipsing around the carcass-filled Citadel. Anyway, she is highly advanced synthetic technology. Timelines triangulated from the video logs in the Cerberus base suggest she MAY be primarily Reaper tech, so there is a distinct possibilty that she can not only help create oragnic life, or semi-organic life, by bumpin' uglies with Joker, but perhaps alter genetic code to prevents things like stacked chromosones. Reapers are very old with some very advanced tech, so it could work. Plus, as any biologist knows, whole species can flourish from only a few starting members. Oh, and we don't have any idea how many people are on that planet. We can confirm 2. That's it. So really...umm...shut up? Also, he's probably telling the story in such a manner that it sticks. This is how it was done when ancient mythologies were spread. 'The Shepard' sounds more epic than 'Commander Shepard' in such a context. I love how a lot of people think all THREE THOUSAND CHOICES throughout the games MUST impact the ending. Do you REALLY think ALL of your choices are going to influence the last 10 minutes of the game? OH HAY GUYZ IT'S ME, CONRAD VERNER. JUST UHHH SAVIN' THE MASS RELAYS N' SHIT. SUP. Get real. One more important note...it YOUR Shepard. It's Mac Walters' story. Claiming that 'It's not my ending despite my thousands of hours of careful neckbearding' makes about as much sense as me complaining that it can't be MY FemShep because MY FemShep would have WAAAYY bigger boobs SO WTF BIOW-EA-RE, HOW DARE YOU!!!!!!!! You guys need to go read The Belgariad/The Mallorean by David Eddings so you learn how to recognize a truly epic story when you see it.

David Matthew Sellers
David Matthew Sellers

Shepard should be a possible ending....not the only ending...I am personally ok with Shep dying...I am upset with the Stargazer character not knowing the story of him...if I/he/she has to sacrifice ourselves then the guy should know all about us...With that said I do believe this was and is the best franchise in all of gaming...I am a grown man and felt like a kid on Christmas Eve on March 5th, but I gotta be a little honest I am disappointed....and why does he have to die? My main Shep survived Mindoir and the Blitz not to mention the suicide mission...why couldn't he control or destroy the Reapers without dying...and the last scene with the Normandy was upsetting...Shepard could have been with them...somehow but it is an EPIC game and trilogy but just a sub par ending...wish more choices or no choices at all

Mike Šplechta
Mike Šplechta

Wow, don't get me wrong, I enjoy reading articles of people defending ME3's ending, as long as they are logical, but this article in the ending's defense has absolutely no merit. I don't really have to explain since Sarah already explained everything that's so wrong with this article. I think fans who are angry that Shepard died are ridiculous. I was saying all along I'd be happy with an ending that resulted in Shepards ultimate sacrifice in order to save humanity, but there are just too many loopholes and unanswered questions that the ending just doesn't really make sense. Something that Sarah didn't mention was in regards of Stargazer being Joker, I think you're also forgetting about Liara's time capsule, which clearly tells the story of Shepard and his heroism. I get that you're trying to defend the ending, but when you're doing that, you need to do some research. It also sounds like you've never played any of the DLCs, specifically the one that tells just how IMPORTANT mass relays are.

Chucklez12
Chucklez12

Honestly, I thought this article made some great points. Having Shepard sacrifice himself for the greater good of the galaxy provided great closure to an epic trilogy. Investing so much time and emotion into Shepard and his comrades would have felt a waste if it was all sunshine and flowers when they prevailed. Sara - "1. Destroying the mass relays strands the entire galactic military on the ravaged Earth and ends inter-galactic travel forever which cuts off trade routes to what civilians are left on other planets in other solar systems. This is not the "greater good" and certainly not providing any future for the galaxy." - Having the mass relays destroyed does strand the entire galactic military on earth and everyone else across the universe is on their own, but inter-galactic travel is not impossible to recreate. Having the entire galaxy's technology on earth enables the possibility of reestablishing inter-galactic travel. Having already been created before, the mass relays can definitely be recreated. "2. The Stargazer ending makes no sense. They are on the same planet the Normandy crashes on. Is your crew going to be solely responsible for repopulating an entire planet for the future? No one else can travel there without the relays, so good luck with that." - First of all, the environment shown in the stargazer scene shows the planet is capable of sustaining life. There were no references in this scene that identified which planet the stargazers inhabited. It very well could be the same planet the Normandy crashed on, but seeing that Joker was the only human on the ship and there was an adult and child (both human) in the stargazer scene, it is implied they either met up with other survivors, or the humans were on an entirely different planet. Either way, this scene provided excellent closure and allowed the player's imagination to put the pieces together. This scene was also clever because the concept allows a smooth transition into the additional game play. Personally, I enjoyed the power given to the player to decide the galaxy's fate. It gives the player motivation to endure the adventure all over again. However, I wouldn't mind a set conclusion.

John
John

Spoilers!!!!!!! Only gripes I have about the ending is WHY is the Normandy using a Mass Relay?!?!?! They were supposed to be on Earth with the rest of the galaxy fighting the Reapers. Another one is why is Ashley getting of of the Normandy after the crash???? I had her in my squad during the last mission, shouldn't she have died with me since everyone else died too? She just magically got beamed up into the Normandy ala Star Trek? I would've rather had the ending show all the species trying to co-exist on Earth. I also expected Shepard to die too, the developers were pretty adamant on this being te end of Shepards story.

BiologistShepard
BiologistShepard

"the handful of people who landed on that planet in the Normandy were able to rebuild their lives anew, starting the next great galactic civilization…" False. For a game built upon a solid foundation of feasible science, if this was indeed the case then it tripped up big time. Even the entire crew of the Normandy from ME1, ME2, and ME3 combined would not be a large enough gene pool to establish a stable population. Inbreeding takes a serious toll on any population smaller than several thousand, and as such we classify animals as "endangered" even if there are several thousand heavily protected individuals left. In other words, if they were truly stranded there, they would have died out. It's as simple as that. There isn't going to be some sort of adam and eve story here. Sad, but true :(

Sarah
Sarah

"Think about how this really ends: Shepard knowingly sacrifices himself for the greater good. The Normandy crash lands on a planet that can sustain life, as you can see by the plant life and running water. After the credits, a human man, known only to us as Stargazer, talks with his child about what happened. Shepard gave his life in order to give those he cared about A FUTURE. He gave them the ability to rebuild, the ability to flourish, and the ability to live again in peace without interruption...Sacrifices have to be made for the greater good, so Shepard choose to give him/herself in order to restore the galaxy’s future." 1. Destroying the mass relays strands the entire galactic military on the ravaged Earth and ends inter-galactic travel forever which cuts off trade routes to what civilians are left on other planets in other solar systems. This is not the "greater good" and certainly not providing any future for the galaxy. 2. The Stargazer ending makes no sense. They are on the same planet the Normandy crashes on. Is your crew going to be solely responsible for repopulating an entire planet for the future? No one else can travel there without the relays, so good luck with that. 3. Why was the Normandy not fighting Reapers in low-orbit on Earth and fleeing through a Mass Relay instead? They should not have been affected by the explosion. "Something had to give. In this case, it was the hero, a hero we as players spent three games crafting in our own image, making the impact of the sacrifice that much bigger." 3. Except Shepard doesn't die in one scenario, so what happens with that? "The Stargazer is Joker." 4. The Stargazer says the stories of Shepard are lost in time (basically). If this was Joker, he would certainly know Shepard well enough for the story to be his telling and not just a legend passed on through generations. I don't see how it CAN be Joker. "It is the way Mass Effect should end: a hero who, already having given so much to protect the galaxy, gives his/her life to save it forever." 5. Again, with the relays destroyed, everyone is stuck and there is no option for a better future or for rebuilding. Shepard can die. The endings don't need to be happily ever after. That isn't the problem people have. All my careful choices should /not/ lead to three almost identical endings (in terms of what cutscenes you're shown). In fact (not my idea, but I like it), there should be NO CHOICE at the end of ME3. It should be the final outcome of all the choices you made before, good or bad, win or lose. That is really all we want.

Spyridontrilogy
Spyridontrilogy

It's actually a recent occurrence (last hundred years or so) where people began to put the actual climax of their story at the end.  I don't understand why people can't understand that their choices DID matter in the end.  Who went to war with you, who survived, who died, and how they remember Shepard all are influenced by how you played.  These anti-ME3 people can get as high and mighty as they want, but the fact is they are upset because there wasn't an extended conversation at the end between all the survivors basically praising Shepard.

Dead Legendary Shepard
Dead Legendary Shepard

Oh btw, I signed up to that poll to share my vote, we're almost 37k and rising. 'We are many, we are one, we are LEGION!'

Dead Legendary Shepard
Dead Legendary Shepard

I like your 4th option, I would have chosen that one aswell. At least doing that way your war assests DO matter...

Dead Legendary Shepard
Dead Legendary Shepard

"Another gaming "writer" trying to kiss up to the companies. Fans know who to actually listen to, and it's each other." Wow... epic words man *high five* I also believe that there are MANY people who won't come to gaming forums to express their disappointment.

Madestro
Madestro

Since M already covered your stupid assumptions about the relays (I'll just say they can't be rebuilt, nobody knows exactly how they work, same with the citadel, they were made by the reapers to develop organics along a predefined path) I'll go over the other dumb shit you posted about the Normandy and how it is supposed to be fighting in space and then Joker just got the fuck out. Ok then how in hells did EDI get up there ? There's no "beam me up Scotty" here or else why would Cortez and the damn mako have existed ? If she was with you in the final battle she would've been blasted to hell by Harbinger. I didn't want all my choices to influence the last 10 minutes, I wanted them to influence the whole game and I wanted to see HOW does the damn 5k war assets I got played in the final battle, why did I save the quarians or the geth ? It doesn't matter I can play mp and get the same number for my damn war assets.

Spyridontrilogy
Spyridontrilogy

I love how everyone is complaining about the mass relays blowing up because it's basically the end of interstellar travel and everyone's stuck forever. By that reasoning, since mass relays had to be built at one point (they aren't just THERE, they don't exist naturally), there's no reason why society won't rebuild to (eventually) travel through space again.

M.
M.

You mentioned the Arrival DLC. That actually brings up another really good point/problem with the ending of ME3. Blowing up the Mass Effect Relay in Arrival killed everyone in that system. You just blew up EVERY relay in the galaxy. By Arrival's logic, everyone should be dead. I don't know about the rest of the fans, but blowing up the relays made me feel like I was doing more harm than good. All those aliens that can't eat the same food as humans are probably going to starve to death. I gave the Quarians back their planet and then took it away. I don't want a happy ending, where Shepard survives and lives happily ever after. I wanted an ending that actually made me feel like those sacrifices were worth it.

Claymation39
Claymation39

here's the problem with your post, none of it can be confirmed without an actual ending.

Claymation39
Claymation39

I agree. People who are defending this ending are making accusations and creating an ending in their own head. The ending is sub par because it is completely ambiguous.

Mike Šplechta
Mike Šplechta

Eh, some valid points here but you also have to realize that Mass Relays were built even before the protheans, but extremely sophisticated races. Though you may think that's something that is easily replicated, it most likely wouldn't happen in their lifetime, which means the other alien races that couldn't survive on Earth, would all die out.

Josh Clah
Josh Clah

Actually you can sustain a population with only ABOUT 16 males and 32 females. Not thousands. (the exact amount is disputed by researchers)

Sarah
Sarah

Forgot to mention that the people complaining now are only the beginning. The game only came out a few days ago. Everyone who played the pre-released copies were already complaining, and the number of people dissatisfied with the ending will only grow as more people finish it. Not everyone is lucky enough to have a spring break that coincided with the release date. There are also people who may agree and choose to not be vocal about it and that is a shame. I am normally a person who simply accepts and doesn't complain, but this ending deserves to be fought for.

HeroicSock
HeroicSock

Ok, there are plenty of other's I could rant at for their, 'OMG hating the ending is so mainstream, gj Bioware!' approach, but your opinion must have been in the deep recesses of your arse to be full of such sh!t. Fans of the series got the shaft, no doubt about it. The endings themselves are terrible, but it's an amalgamation of cheap explanations that annoy most. The 'magical ghost who takes on the image of the Child that haunts Shepard's dreams who controls the reapers' is incredibly tacky and lazy. Instead of staying on Earth and altering the story so that you work to defeat Harbinger on his arrival (even if you had to die in the process), you are beamed to 'where it all began' on the Citadel. This is less heroic, but hey, it might be going somewhere. Then, upon slumping forward, probably dead, he magically ascends to the top, where he is not only in space (lolnosuit) but is now only suffering from his previous injuries. The options you then take are horrendously out of synch with the rest of the games. The 'Destroy' option is short sighted and betrays Shepard's leadership and foresight by destroying relays and ignoring subsequent consequences. The 'Control' option does this and more. Being selfish and allowing life to continue as it was doesn't give an ending, it makes Shepard a Reaper (to an extent) and will force him to use them at a later date - merely postponing the inevitable so that the universe is not destroyed entirely. This is not a Shepard choice at all, it is a weak call that offers no explanation. The 'Synthesis' ending is also clearly the canon ending, with the way the other two endings are akin to Anderson's shortsighted ideals and The Illusive Man's power hungry ones. It goes against everything that Shepard has stood for - individuality, and makes everyone part-synthetic. How does this give any closure? It means, oh, we won, he died, we're a mixture of them and us, where are we. Where's the final battle? That shitty Destroyer run over to console amidst waves of enemies? Running towards it and nearly dying? TLDR ; The ending is terrible. For a game like Mass Effect, I refuse to settle with an ending that is non-sensical and makes Shepard look like an ass. Shepard has no heroism and dies a tool. For a whole game that dictates how unconventional means can't defeat the reapers, I laughed since Shepard does exactly that, with no flair or individuality and chooses one of three endings - none of which end in victory or an ending that is remotely satisfying.

NachoMan
NachoMan

It is safe to asume the destruction of the mass relays in ME3 is "controlled" as oposed to "caused-by-an-asteroid", some kind of damage can be asumed, by looking at the normandy, but nothing dramatic. And what about all the fleets and races strnaded on earth? the turinas and quarians starving to death? well, you are forgetting quarian liveships, capable of producing dextro-amino food. It may not be enough to sustain everyone, but then again, it's not like the fleets didn't take any heavy casualties while figthing REAPERS. The earth population was decimated, so there is room for a a billion people of combiened races (remember, the quarian migrant fleet houses 17 million quarians, being the largest fleet in the galaxy outside of geth). What about the quarians, stranded from their homeworld? yes, it is a shame, just like every member of the fleets stuck on earth. However, there is a quarian population on Rannoch. Admiral Raan tells you the geth are helping the quarians set in the Homeworld, so yeah, no mass extintion for the quarians, and some or most of them still got their world back. The only problem I see with the ending is the normandy fllying away, with everyone miraculosly inside, or at least one of the guys I took with me. It can be explained, maybe the normandy did a pickup while Shep was crawling through the Citadel. The 2 guys you take with you on the last mission could have survived, just like many alliance soldiers did, after they sound the retreat. It could be that the normandy was part of the ships that tried to delay harbinger, and failing that, picked what was left of the squad and got the hell out of there, not knowing wether Shep made it or not, but knowing there's nothing they can do for him/her. Still, it would've been much simplier to just have the normandy crash land on Earth.

Lupin Wuffy Chevalier
Lupin Wuffy Chevalier

 No the problem is that it is NOT ambiguous. It flat out looks you in the face and goes. "Haha It was all for nothing EVERYONE DIES."

Chucklez12
Chucklez12

I never claimed it would be that easy or even that they would succeed. I was just saying the recreation of the mass relays is not impossible. Im sure the different races have some idea of how the mass relays work giving them at least some chance of reconstructing them.

BartStolk
BartStolk

has anyone even considered indoctrination ? cos frankly the choices given with a hint of lie . turn into , paragon control the reapers , or the lie : we control you . merge biological and synthetic lifeforms . sounds more like allow us to harvest and you will ascend . as in give up the fight and let us do it . or fight us as a renegade and destroy the reapers and the geth + EDI wich ends with sheppard taking a breath in a charrad armor burried in rubble . most likely infrond of the beam In London. the lies are obvious . Sheppard starts seeing or dreaming about a young boy , who turns out to be the catalist ??? thats bs . also consider the fact pre game ending you were knocked unconsious. also consider the fact that there whole survival depended on that huge device , wich according to the protean VI , won't work without dark energy or dark matter ..... so shoulden't the citadel be moved to the system you pick up Tali in , in ME2 . then added on top of that . i personally took my romance interest with me to charge the Beam that leads to the citadel . and someone on the comms says : there all dead . so why does she step of the normandy on that new planet ? whats more is the stargazer says that there is One more story to be told .

simon
simon

Why is it a shame? I agree that voicing opinion's a good thing (usually), but yelling can often turn to unpleasantries...