Mass Effect 3 Ending: Why All Your Choices Don’t Matter

I have loved the Mass Effect series since it started. I read a few of the books and thought the world their team crafted was amazing. Then I saw the spoilers for the ending of Mass Effect 3 and now I am not sure what to think. This was a big budget sci-fi Space Opera like an interactive Star Wars where the developers gave you the illusion of choice.

They gave you some choices through all the games but in the last minutes of the trilogy all that choice ultimately means nothing. As someone who wants to write I can appreciate the bold move but as a player it punches you in the gut to realize nothing you did mattered.

One of the weird parts about the endings was seeing the Normandy in the Mass Relay Network with some of your crew when they were just on Earth with you minutes before. The way it the endings were presented doesn’t make any sense because having the Normandy not on Earth at that moment should not have happened.

Joker and EDI wouldn’t have left you in the middle of the biggest battle in galactic history and how the hell did the people you just saw at the London staging ground make it back to the Normandy. That would mean they all left you high and dry in the final minutes of the war. That alone makes the 3 different coloured light endings feels hastily slapped together.

I think the ending on some alien planet was meant to show who survived and that was all but after all this time of following their stories to know that everything you did to craft that was jettisoned out the air lock makes it feel hollow. Having the Normandy on some random planet felt like so inconsistent with the characters and something to have there to show that your team survived, be damned consistency or coherence.

Even if BioWare could fill that peace in to show how that happened, not having it in the game when you first played makes the gap that much more inexplicable. There are huge gaps in that and the star child ending.

I think that if BioWare was determined to destroy the galaxy they created then they could have done a few simple things in-game to make if feel like the galaxy wouldn’t be cut off from each other forever, that they would adapt and that the world we all spent so much time engaged with would continue in some shape or form.

If there was a mission about scientists looking to end their reliance on the mass relay network that would help make you the player feel given time everyone on Earth could go home instead of feeling like everyone would be cut off from each other and trapped in the Earth local cluster.

The space child was inferred a bit in the game but I think if they had filled it in more across the more of the game then at least the player wouldn’t feel as though it came out of nowhere because that is what it felt like to me. It felt like a course correction for the why and the gaps in the ending are evidence of that to me.

My problem is that no matter what you do galactic civilization is nuked, full stop. You can stop the cycle but only by destroying the Mass Relays and returning hundreds of worlds to the galactic dark ages. It would be as if you took away all cars, highways, and could only travel by foot.

So everything that we the player have grown to love is gone. Now I understand why they would do it but for the player it makes me feel as if nothing I did mattered and for a game about choice that isn’t the best way to end it.

The choices they gave you for Shepard to die and control the reapers, for Shepard to die then have organic and artificial life merge, and to destroy all synthetic life were all imperfect.  I don’t think that the endings were bad per say but how they were executed in the context of the game was.

That makes them feel worse than they were. A little more follow through from the outset to make sure that the consequences of each choice wouldn’t be the end is what was missing for me. When you think about the endings each has vast consequences but the way it was presented makes it feel all the same and that is something that should have been mitigated in some shape or form.

I loved the universe that BioWare crafted, it was epic, it was memorable but so much could have been done to make the endings better than they were. I still love the game even if the execution of the endings left a lot to be desired, ap here’s hoping for some DLC (and I still want a movie).

One thing playing the game after this ending feels hollow knowing that no matter what you do, all the species are screwed.

I totally agree with most of what Jeremy Jahns is saying in this video:

  • magnetite

    Hate to break it to you, but they specifically said that previous choices affect the game as a whole. Not the ending. The ending is based off of EMS, not previous choices. If you didn’t play the first two games for example, your EMS will be really low and you won’t get a good ending where Shepard lives.

    Otherwise, if they took every single choice in the series and had it affect the ending, this game would literally have 500 different endings.

    Even taking just the minor ones and basing it off of the three options at the end, you’re looking at almost 80 endings.

    As for the ending not making sense or being put together over the course of a short time. The ending has been in place since summer 2011. Everything from the Illusive Man sequence to the much hated Godchild. The game went into beta in January 2012. If there was as many issues with the game as people claim, the beta testers would have picked up on it, and they would have issued a stop shipment message to the team and delayed the game to fix the errors. Obviously they didn’t, so maybe the ending isn’t as disjointed as people claim it is.

    I mean, a lot of people who don’t understand the ending are taking it literally. The developers have said the ending is just one of the many non-literal parts in the game. As in what you saw during the last 20 minutes, may not have been what actually happened.

    Call it a dream, hallucination or whatever, but the answers to explain the ending are in the game.

    As for the mass relays getting destroyed, Sovereign itself said that by using those relays, you develop on the path the Reapers desire. The mass relays are Reaper tech, so they had to be destroyed.

    It has been established that they do have FTL, but would take a while to get around. Still, it’s kind of like a galactic dark age for everyone. That was the price for attempting to beat a hyper advanced machine race which is billions of years more advanced than you (according to what’s in the game).

  • Hmm well this was written before the extended cut ending, until that showed up everything was somewhat vague and left to interpretation. Boy was I pissed about it until the EC helped to show us a future. My issue with the original ending was always that it felt like they slammed the door shut on the Mass Effect universe. Sure could they tell stories before the end, yes but without feeling like there is a future for the Mass Effect universe it can be hard to really try to get invested in it, cause the book seemed closed full stop.