Mass Effect 3: Ending

Mass Effect 3 Spoiler Warning
This post contains massive end-game spoilers for Mass Effect 3. If you have not played the game yet, and you wish to do so in the future, turn back now, before you find out how much the ending really sucks. And trust me, it sucks a plenty.

What can I say about the Mass Effect 3 ending that was not already said. How can enumerate the massive failure it was without repeating the stuff you already head dozens of times before. I could write a few thousand words on this, but it would all be redundant. It would all be stuff you heard before. I’m late to this party and I feel like whining about the ending now would just be beating a dead horse. Beating it inexpertly, long after other people displayed a world class skills at the same beating.

I really don’t think I could do a better job at this than Shamus Young did on his blog and in his Escapist column. I don’t think I can count the plot holes better than Angry Joe did in his video:

Hell, I think this video by MrBtongue is possibly the best analysis of the ending I have seen on the internet so far. It’s kinda long, but watch the whole thing – he makes a lot of excellent points:

There is just no way I can top that, so I won’t even attempt. It suffices to say that I think the ending was the worst video game disappointment of the decade. Yes, it was worse than Duke Nukem Forever, because hell – I did not expect Duke to be anything but a novelty anyway. Mass Effect on the other hand was excellent game series. Hell, Mass Effect 3 was an excellent game, right up to the ending.

What was the main reason why it didn’t work for me? I already told you what I loved about the game the most: the Tuchanka and Ranonch quest chains. Why? Because they were awesome. Because they were complex. Because they forced you to make difficult, morally ambiguous choices. Because they neatly closed long running story arcs from two previous games.

Of course I loved the other things about the game too. I loved drunk Tali. I loved Blasto. I loved Liara’s time capsule scene. I loved playing chess with Traynor. I loved letting Garrus win at shooting cans and letting him brag about it. And while I was completely creeped out by Joker’s romantic fling with EDI’s plastic body, I consider it one of the fun parts of the game. But what I enjoyed the most was curing Wrex’s people and giving them a chance to rebuild their civilization. I loved giving Quarians their home world back, and planning to build a house there with Tali. That was what I was hoping to see in the end: the Krogan developing high culture, the Quarians flourishing on their home planet… And maybe Tali in a bikini or something.

Why did I hate the ending of the game so much? Because it made my favorite parts of the game not only irrelevant but meaningless. Will Tali ever get to build that house she wanted? Doesn’t matter – she is either dead, or stuck on some jungle planet with Joker and EDI, and out of supplies to fix her suit when it breaks. Though she will likely starve to death first, seeing how Quarians (much like Turians) can’t eat our food, and even if they could the bacteria in it would probably kill her. Similarly Wrex, will never get to see the children he sired and he will never get to lead his people, because he is either dead or stuck on Earth.

The entire galactic civilization is over. Everyone is stuck on their planets without any hope of reconnecting with loved ones, ever. Even assuming some civilization could rebuild or repair the Mass Effect relays, it would take them countless millennia spent in relativistic speed flight, to reach former colonies and re-establish communication with all the stranded worlds.

This is possibly the worst ending in the history of horrible endings

This is possibly the worst ending in the history of horrible endings

I’m not really upset that the ending is sad. Sad endings are not bad – I often prefer tear jerkers to happy endings. But the last few minutes of ME3 are not really sad – they are stupid. They invalidate everything you did in the past 3 games, and make it meaningless. All that effort to unify all these diverse people under one cause, all the wars you end, the agreements you broker – it’s all null and void, because at the end you blow up the galaxy and strand everyone anyway.

Out of all possible ways to end this game, Bioware chose this and I just can’t fathom why. Why couldn’t ME3 end the way Drangon Age: Origins did. That was a perfect ending if I have ever seen any. Mine was actually happy ending because I took Morrigan’s deal and my Gray Warden got to live happily ever after. But if you chose to tell Morrigan to fuck off, you could have a bittersweet ending too. One that worked. One that gave you closure. One that did not completely wreck the setting and mock all the work you did to improve it.

What’s your take on the ending? We had some brief discussion on this in the forums, but let’s have a proper one here. What killed the ending for you? How would you improve it? Let me know in the comments.

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12 Responses to Mass Effect 3: Ending

  1. Liudvikas LITHUANIA Google Chrome Windows Terminalist says:

    Sad endings are fine and I would have preferred an ending where reapers win any time over this crap. The next cycles civilization finding Liara’s time capsule would be a perfect ending and we should have had an option to get that kind of ending. As of now while the Liara’s scene is touching, it leads to nothing. So we should be able to fail if we fail to unite the galaxy and in that case get the ending of some alien opening the capsule and hearing Liara speak about Shepard. The End. Credits roll. I cry.

    As for the happier endings bioware should first retcon everything that happens on earth. Yes, the citadel section is the worst, but even before that there are massive problems.
    Like I arrive at Sol system and fleets report in and I think – “Whoah I’m gonna see some personalized battles based on my playtrough now.”, instead it goes nowhere from there everyone watches the same damn thing.

    Secondly they should retcon reaper motivation, in ME1 when I talked with Sovereign I had goosebumps running down my spine, when I talk to magical catalyst child I think – “Who the fuck is he?”. In ME1 reapers were beyond our comprehension and that was it, we had to stop them and that was all that mattered. Vigil on Ilos perfectly summarized the situation – “We do not know, but in the end what does it matter, your survival depends on destroying them, not in understanding them.”.
    I would be fine with not finding out any of their motivations, but now we get this bullshit excuse – “No, no, it’s fine we want to protect you, so we are going to kill you.”. Makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?

    Thirdly, while I would prefer not having crucible at all, retconing it would be too much to ask and I can look over it during the game, since the rest of the game is so good. But that’s no longer possible in the end, therefore it shouldn’t work as some sort of space magic, it should be well explained. But if it’s not too much to ask, then get rid of it. The story should be about the galactic races of underdogs banding together, overcoming their differences and destroying the reapers, not finding some space magical gun.

    Fourthly, I want to speak to reapers again, is it too much to ask?

    Fifthly, bring back Morinth and Kal’reegar. Killing one in an e-mail and bringing other back as a named banshee is cold.

    Sixthly, model Tali’s face, do I have to learn 3d modelling myself for f’sake.

    Lastly, I’m done having rational arguments. I’m gonna get myself a body pillow with Tali on it and I’m gonna cry while cuddling with it.

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  2. Morghan UNITED STATES Safari Linux says:

    I’m glad I did the Jack LI game first. I can at least pretend that breath led to a reunion. I think I would have been depressed as well as pissed off if I had played my Tali LI first. Well worth the few bits of extra dialog I watched on YouTube to not have that piss-poor ending with her and not even be able to lie to yourself and say it could work out.

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  3. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    @ Liudvikas:

    Yeah, the whole thing with Tali – what the hell were they thinking. I mean, I get it – the gimmick with not showing her face is kinda understandable. I’m sure that bunch of fan boys would be like “that’s not how *my* Tali looks like” or whatnot. So fine, don’t show her face. But what the hell were they thinking when the Photoshopped that stock photo?

    You want Tali’s face? Ok, fine. I’m gonna type woman into google images, pick the first thing that shows up, then use the clone tool to remove two fingers and MASSIVE LENS FLARE! Seriously that picture was seriously lazy.

    I mean, they really did a great job with Liara and Jack. They had really detailed and expressive faces. I sort of feel cheated that they decided not to do that for emotional scenes with Tali. :(

    And yeah – the Crucible was a massive fail. How exactly was the design incrementally built throughout the cycles? I mean, engineering just does not work that way. I think Shamus Young made the best analogy comparing it to building a pistol: so first civilization builds a trigger, without really knowing where it will go or how it will interact with the rest of the machine. The second cycle builds the iron sights without really knowing how the barrel will look… The third cycle designs the magazine without knowing what ammo will be used, etc.. It just does not make any sense.

    @ Morghan:

    It could totally work out with Tali. The codex entries said that Quarians can more or less survive on Ranoch without their suits due to unique radiation, and ecosystem features that are hard to replicate in space. Most of the Flotilla is composed of ships built by other races, that would need to have their life support systems completely rebuilt at a great cost to even attempt to emulate Ranoch’s very peculiar environment – which is why most Quarians choose to live in the suits.

    Once you defeat the Reaper on Ranoch, Tali takes off her mask to enjoy the sundown with you. So if you built the house there like she wanted to, she could potentially live there without the suit. Also, she mentions her immune system has adopted to your germs and she no longer gets sick after sex so yeah – you could totally settle down on Ranoch. The food might be a bit expensive to import at first, since Sheppard would not be able to eat anything native due to that dextro thing but other than that there is no reason why it couldn’t work.

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  4. Morghan UNITED STATES Safari Linux says:

    Sure, if Tali weren’t stuck on some random planet while I’m laying in a pile of rubble on Earth, and the relays (or even normal FTL travel which is based on Mass Effect technology) were still working.

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  5. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    @ Morghan:

    Damn it, did you have to remind me? Now I’m sad and disappointed again.

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  6. Morghan UNITED STATES Safari Linux says:

    I’m hoping for a fan patch, that’d be enough to convince me to buy a video card for my PC to play ME3 with a decent ending.

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  7. Liudvikas LITHUANIA Google Chrome Windows Terminalist says:

    @ Luke Maciak:
    The worst thing is that if you type “Tali” into search on deviantart you would get many many much better looking interpretations of how she looks.
    One example: -290554560

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  8. Liudvikas LITHUANIA Google Chrome Windows Terminalist says:

    @ Luke Maciak:

    P.S. Does anyone else just love Jacks new haircut?

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  9. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Google Chrome Linux Terminalist says:

    @ Liudvikas:

    I know. This one is good too.

    As for Jack, she died in the suicide mission in ME2 and after I saw the bullshit ending I just could not make myself to play again with default-shep to see her. Screenshot?

    I tried googling, but there are a lot of mods and fan made haircuts out there for her it seems. :P

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  10. Liudvikas LITHUANIA Google Chrome Windows Terminalist says:

    @ Luke Maciak:
    Here’s a video of first meeting with her:

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  11. Steve CANADA Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    @ Luke Maciak:
    My favorite romance was with Jack – very poignant. Tali’s was cute – Jack’s was powerful. She is so broken, it is a very well done scene – and well acted.

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  12. magnetite Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    The ending is not meant to be taken literally. If you see the ending at face value, then yes, it’s quite incoherent. However, some of the people who worked on this game said that certain parts of the game have non-literal meanings. They also stated that the answers to what the ending is are in the game if you’re looking for them. I did a slow playthrough of the entire trilogy over the course of a couple weeks. Based on all the evidence I found, the ending is an indoctrination attempt. Before anyone says Bioware didn’t intend this, Shepard is showing every single symptom of going through an indoctrination attempt throughout the ending. Read the codex to confirm this. How is the ending not an indoctrination attempt if he’s showing every single symptom of the indoctrination process?

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