Mass Effect 3 Spoiler Thread

That's how life is in general from where I'm standing.

Two caveats: 1.) I'm not a Mass Effect fan, but I'm interested in how this story got wrapped up; 2.) I watched the endings on YouTube, so I might have missed a piece of information from earlier in the game. But:

Spoiler:

There seems to be a lot of upset about the mass relays being destroyed, but that's not what I thought happened. It looked like the relays were used to transmit the results of Shepherd's decision throughout the galaxy, but I didn't see or hear anything that specifically said the relays had been destroyed. I interpreted the colored shock wave and all of that as being the synthesis, destruction, or control information being spread at faster-than-light speeds rather than as some kind of apocalyptic chain reaction.

Just a thought from an outsider.

ClockworkHouse wrote:

Two caveats: 1.) I'm not a Mass Effect fan, but I'm interested in how this story got wrapped up; 2.) I watched the endings on YouTube, so I might have missed a piece of information from earlier in the game. But:

Spoiler:

There seems to be a lot of upset about the mass relays being destroyed, but that's not what I thought happened. It looked like the relays were used to transmit the results of Shepherd's decision throughout the galaxy, but I didn't see or hear anything that specifically said the relays had been destroyed. I interpreted the colored shock wave and all of that as being the synthesis, destruction, or control information being spread at faster-than-light speeds rather than as some kind of apocalyptic chain reaction.

Just a thought from an outsider.

In the scene right before the final choice...

Spoiler:

the little kid runs through your possible choices, and then at the end says something like "whatever you do, releasing the power of the crucible will destroy all the ME relays."

ClockworkHouse: I have to say that it seemed fairly ambiguous in the game.

Spoiler:

In my ending I got the impression that only one of the options would destroy the Relays (I think it was the option to destroy the Reapers, but i might be misremembering). I also think this was different than the destruction of the Realys ala Arival (i.e. crashing an asteroid into it and destroying it catastrophically) and they weren't going nova and destroying solar systems.

Stele wrote:

In the scene right before the final choice...

Spoiler:

the little kid runs through your possible choices, and then at the end says something like "whatever you do, releasing the power of the crucible will destroy all the ME relays."

Well, that would explain that, then.

I did load up the saves and choose the ending I meant to choose...

Spoiler:

Destroy the reapers. And hey, what do you know, my Shep is still alive in a pile of rubble on Earth.

Really does lend more credence to the hallucination/indoctrination theory of those final scenes.

Heck when you reload the auto-save of the Citadel mission it starts you at the point you are on the ground and the soldiers are saying no one made it to the beam. Then somehow you and Anderson are both there? The whole thing is very odd.

I am an entrenched 'end of stuff hater'. I hate the end to Lost, and found the end to BSG deeply unsatisfying.

That said, I really don't understand where all the hate for ME3's ending is coming from.

Spoiler:

BioWare has been building towards this ending THE ENTIRE TIME. Going all the way back to the first game, there have been hints about Shepard's place in the universe and the intense feeling of building towards something grand.

What's the 'sunny' win condition here? The Crucible burns out all the Reapers, Shepard gets to live happily after ever with Liara and make blue babies, and the Krogan and Turians and Salarians and Asari all skip together into the future holding hands? Wee? That's such a lame-ass action movie ending.

Instead, they offered you a real, meaningful choice with profound consequences. It's something NO OTHER FORM OF ENTERTAINMENT does. I didn't get to choose how Lost ended. I didn't get to tell Ron Moore how to end BSG. I *did* get to decide how the universe of Mass Effect plays out into the future. For me, at least.

I love the image of Joker reaching up to give EDI a hand out of the Normandy. It's a beautiful moment, a symbol of everything I personally have been fighting for in these last three games. Yes, the relays are destroyed. Yes, Galactic Civilization as it was is essentially over. But the 'cycle' Catalyst talked about is over. And there's a chance to start anew.

It's why I got weepy at the end of WALL-E: I fundamentally believe science and technology are extensions of our humanity. The end of the Mass Effect series is incredibly hopeful and transhumanist, speaking to a time when the distinction between man and machine is meaningless. If that's not a happy ending, I don't know what is.

Michael Zenke:

Spoiler:

Actually, destroying the Reapers or controlling them only ends Catalyst's solution. It doesn't have any impact on the larger cycle that Catalyst is trying to deal with. Synthesis offers a plausible way out (Catalyst's subtle suggestion) but the outcome of it is unknown. Essentially, the end of ME3 as it is settles nothing, which is no way to end anything.

LarryC wrote:

Michael Zenke:

Spoiler:

Actually, destroying the Reapers or controlling them only ends Catalyst's solution. It doesn't have any impact on the larger cycle that Catalyst is trying to deal with. Synthesis offers a plausible way out (Catalyst's subtle suggestion) but the outcome of it is unknown. Essentially, the end of ME3 as it is settles nothing, which is no way to end anything.

Spoiler:

It ends the Reaper cycle and sets up a radically different Galaxy, that's a pretty important difference.

I <3 Zenke.

While there are still aspects of the endings I didn't enjoy such as:

Spoiler:

1.) Why was the Normandy in FTL space when everything blew?
2.) Why did Garrus and Tali get on the Normandy and leave me? Don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled they survived but I would think Garrus and the woman who loves me would have charged with me and try to get to the citadel.
3.) The old man's voice at the end was TERRIBLE
4.) I could have told you 5 years ago that when the series was over, Shepard would be refered to as 'The Shepard' in any retrospectives.

I've been coming around on the ending. I still don't enjoy how abrupt it seems but there's precedence for big status quo changing ends to sci-fi epics.

While the plot holes and the seemingly out of character actions will continue to bug me, I think this is something I can live with. Or, more importantly, something the universe can live with. And yeah, while it sucks that some people might be stranded places (again), loss is part of victory sometimes. Life goes on. Shepard says you're welcome. =)

Spoiler:

And besides, they're synthetic now. They can survive a thousand year trip back home =)

Michael Zenke wrote:

I am an entrenched 'end of stuff hater'. I hate the end to Lost, and found the end to BSG deeply unsatisfying.

That said, I really don't understand where all the hate for ME3's ending is coming from.

I don't think its about a happy ending, more like an ending which makes some sense and builds upon what came before it.

The ending:

Spoiler:

You take the teleporter up to a graveyard of dead bodies, supposedly meant for harvesting. That room just happens to lead into the very center of the Citadel. Smart choice by the Reapers I guess. It is just like they want you to find it (This fits pretty well with the dream theory, but not with the actual ending)

Then you meet some weird out-of-nowhere "AI" who chooses to show itself as a child you have dreamed about, for some reason. Trying to impact you emotionally I guess.
An AI who created the reapers/is the reapers, who apparently can control the Citadel, which makes major parts of ME1 rather confusing (since ME1 tells us how the Protheans successfully disabled Reaper control over the Citadel - the whole reason they had to invade "manually").

Apparently the AI child has seen you coming, and prepared 3 options for you. How nice. One of which involves rewriting DNA and making everyone to cyborgs through a green explosion. Really?
The choices makes no sense, clearly the child AI still believes the Reapers to be the best solution for his imaginary problem - a problem which doesn't make much sense in the light of ME3 either.
If the child AI doesn't help Shepard in the end his beloved cycle of Reaper destruction could continue. He could make sure the Crucible wouldn't work for future generations and everything would be fine (from his point of view). The whole Crucible is kinda silly on its own. How do you build a weapon where you know a major compartment is missing, and have no idea what that is.

I wouldn't mind a dark ending, with Shepard dying, Earth getting burned to the ground etc. As long as it made sense in the story that was created throughout ME1,2,3. And involved slightly less Space-Wizard-kids.

And I'm even ignoring how the Normandy manages to escape, after saving Shepards teammates on the ground. Which makes no sense either. Why would he run from the battle in the first place, that is out-of-character, and even if he wanted to, how does he have time for it.

MojoBox:

Spoiler:

We don't know that it actually does that. It ends the current Reaper cycles, but it doesn't indicate whether or not this is a definitive solution, since the Reaper cycle was apparently a solution already tendered to a problem seen by AI. There's no telling whether or not a new Reaper cycle will re-establish itself in the future. There is no closure on the immediate future, either. We don't know whether or not your friends on the Normandy survived, let alone what happened to everyone else.

This is just from the destroy perspective or the synthesis perspective. For the control perspective, Shepard's becoming essentially the new Catalyst doesn't say anything about what he'll do with the Reapers going forward.

Essentially, the three decisions being graphically similar emphasizes a key point: the ending to ME3 settles none of the truly important questions we would expect from the series denouement.

Some more derp on the ending and symbolism

Spoiler:

In both the 'Synthesis' and 'Control' endings you see Shepard dropping her gun, which maybe represents giving up?
Shooting the power tube thing doesn't make a lick of sense anyway in the context of how a machine like that works. Shooting it is just a rebellious act, not succumbing to Saren's path (synthesis) or The Illusive Man's path (control).

LarryC:

Spoiler:

I agree with your points about the lack of a conclusion for our allies, and that's all pretty lame. But as for the rest of it, you're basically asking for ME3 to wrap up, what exactly? Everything for ever and ever?

Kyrieee:

I like that interpretation more and more, but I can't fully commit to it because of it's purely speculative nature, for now anyways.

MojoBox wrote:

LarryC:

Spoiler:

I agree with your points about the lack of a conclusion for our allies, and that's all pretty lame. But as for the rest of it, you're basically asking for ME3 to wrap up, what exactly? Everything for ever and ever?

Spoiler:

It should at least wrap up 1) What is the goal of the Reapers 2) How do you stop them (or do not stop them if that is your choice) and 3) What is the immediate consequences for the galaxy and its races (such as being stuck in the Sol System?).
The ending does try to explain some of these I guess, it just explains them in ways which makes no sense, contradict the last 3 games and involves space magic.
When everything goes unexplained it doesn't seem 'dark', it just seems like Bioware didn't really think their endings through, and were more focused on red/blue/green explosions.

And it lacks some wrap-up for your team members for sure. Something which both BSG and Lost do reasonably well imo, despite their endings receiving a lot of hate.

Spoiler:

Well I think issue one was covered, though I'm still not sure if I'm disappointed with that or not. I would have definitely liked more time to pick Catalyst's brain and find out more about the roots of the Reapers.

Issue two the answer is most definitely "Space Magic!" but that was what the Crucible was the entire time. As for issue three, agreed. There is plenty of information for us to speculate on the consequences of your actions, but for a game that's supposed to be about such things, the ending is lacking in that regard.

I'm hoping for DLC to expand on all of these topics, but I think that's a poor solution on BioWare's part.

Edit: I said before I'm happy with the ending, and I am, despite all the flaws. Gamers have a flair for the dramatic and people rending their garments and saying this invalidates the entire series, I'm just rolling my eyes.

One thing that bothers me about the ending:

In ME1, it's stated several times that the Reapers are so intelligent and technologically advanced that we can't possibly comprehend their reasons for periodically culling all intelligent life from the galaxy. There's a reason for it, but even if we knew what it was our puny meat-brains still couldn't understand it. The giant terminator baby in ME2 was pretty stupid, but it still fit in with the idea that the Reapers that are a threat that we can fight but never fully understand. Then, in ME3

Spoiler:

we find out that they're giant space janitors, tasked with mopping up the galaxy after each inevitable organic-synthetic conflict. Suddenly we know their purpose, and it is not only very simple but also pretty damn stupid.

muttonchop wrote:

One thing that bothers me about the ending:

In ME1, it's stated several times that the Reapers are so intelligent and technologically advanced that we can't possibly comprehend their reasons for periodically culling all intelligent life from the galaxy. There's a reason for it, but even if we knew what it was our puny meat-brains still couldn't understand it. The giant terminator baby in ME2 was pretty stupid, but it still fit in with the idea that the Reapers that are a threat that we can fight but never fully understand. Then, in ME3

Spoiler:

we find out that they're giant space janitors, tasked with mopping up the galaxy after each inevitable organic-synthetic conflict. Suddenly we know their purpose, and it is not only very simple but also pretty damn stupid.

More theory

Spoiler:

Indoctrination makes the victim think the Reapers are right, that there's a good reason for what they're doing so that you help them (seemingly) willingly. What the kid says doesn't have to be their real motivations, just what Shepard hears to be convinced. Though I admit that this is getting super speculative.

Ending, save game file

Spoiler:

When you've beaten the game, there's a flag in the save game called "Live to fight again"

Kryieee:

Spoiler:

Interesting, post reaper invasion reclaim earth DLC?

And does anyone know if:

Spoiler:

Shepard lives only in the Destroy the Reapers ending?

I can't remember what I've read now about that

To your second question: yes.
To the first: DLC that only works with one ending seems implausible, but who knows.

kyrieee wrote:

Ending, save game file

Spoiler:

When you've beaten the game, there's a flag in the save game called "Live to fight again"

According to the strategy guide and some online sites, keeping a Prejack Paddle Fish alive (can you get one other than carrying it over from ME2?) until the end of a New Game+ gets you something special...

kyrieee wrote:

To your second question: yes.
To the first: DLC that only works with one ending seems implausible, but who knows.

Yeah I know, but I wouldn't put it past BioWare to say "No, only this one ending is Canon." But then maybe not, we'll see.

Something like the DAO text epilogues for your teammates, or even the other galactic races in general, would go a long way to clearing up the ending.

Michael Zenke wrote:

I am an entrenched 'end of stuff hater'. I hate the end to Lost, and found the end to BSG deeply unsatisfying.

That said, I really don't understand where all the hate for ME3's ending is coming from.

Spoiler:

stuff

My opinion on some of that...

Spoiler:

Building to this since day 1
---------------------------
if you mean a big, costly war with Reapers and that Sheperd would play a key role, then yes - but they way the game ends is COMPLETELY out of the blue - I could be wrong but there's no game lore or hints that even vaguely point towards the fact that there's a virtual god hiding out in some room in the Citadel that nobody's bothered to check before.

There ARE hints to AN ending in ME2 ("Dark Energy" is referenced at several points, most notably in the planet going nova before it's time in Tali's recruitment quest) but all that seems to have been completely thrown out. Probably no coincidence that this would have been around the time Drew Karpyshyn was no longer writing for the Mass Effect games.

What's the 'sunny' win condition here?
----------------------------------------
Don't think anyone neccesarily wants everything to be all sunshine and puppies. But (just of the top of my head) I would have loved, LOVED! to see a scene a few years down the road with things getting rebuilt and the surviving friends (Liara with child in tow) visiting the memorial set up to Shepherd, Morden, the other fallen heroes of the Reaper war...each character getting a "what happened next" blurb Fallout style.

But nope...everyone's doomed to a slow and painful death. VICTORY!

offered a choice with meaningful consequences
-----------------------------------------------
Not really. I don't know if you've watched the other endings but they are IDENTICAL. Literally the same scenes with the only differences being the colour of the explosion and the people who step out of the crashed Normandy (Joker, then EDI if alive and then your love interest I think). Then the same cringingly cheesy post-credit "tell me another story about the Shepherd Grampa" nonsense before dumping you back to before the Cerberus base mission ready for the DLC.

Also if that space magic DNA fusing nonsense is the 'canon' ending I'll eat my non existent hat. HOW WOULD THAT EVEN WORK. I don't expect hyper-realism in my space opera but at least TRY to come up with something that could be explained away by some sort of techno-babble. But nope...the robot god child will change the DNA of the entire universe with the mighty power of GREEN.

Chance to rebuild anew
---------------------------------
Well, I mentioned this further up thread but without the Mass Relay every space faring civilization is pretty much screwed - assuming the explosions were controlled and not the same as the one in The Arrival, in which case everyone is dead already.

Especially the poor fools stuck in the resource-drained Sol system - the only life sustaining planet being the one currently ON FIRE.

I guess the primitive races of the NEXT cycle might well be perfectly happy but screw those guys.

I really wouldn't be this incensed about it if it weren't for the fact that EVERYTHING else was just pitch-perfect for me. For the first time EVER Bioware seemed to have gotten the "desperately building your forces against a seeminly unstoppable foe" completely right with some real tear-jerker stuff and fist pumping "YEAH!" moments. The pacing is great, the sense of looming desperation and tension was excellent. I couldn't easily predict who would live or die in any given scenario. Even the ending right up to the scene with the Illusive man was perfect.

Then they just threw it all in the bin in that last five minutes. Absolutely heartbreaking.

oilypenguin wrote:
Spoiler:

And besides, they're synthetic now. They can survive a thousand year trip back home =)

Spoiler:

Isn't there just as much chance that all your new synthetics have simply replaced the reapers. Because you were superior than the old machines, they upgraded by assimilating the new organics to take the place of their inferior forces. Or did every single piece of reaper tech in the entire galaxies get destroyed in the blast? Considering the ambiguity of the end, I would think this option sets up for the biggest WTF moment for the next ME game. You have to face and fight the threat that continues to exist, but now it's the one you played as and grew to love instead of unknown monsters.

Michael Zenke wrote:
Spoiler:

Instead, they offered you a real, meaningful choice with profound consequences. It's something NO OTHER FORM OF ENTERTAINMENT does.

Yes, the relays are destroyed. Yes, Galactic Civilization as it was is essentially over. But the 'cycle' Catalyst talked about is over. And there's a chance to start anew.

Can you explain this a little more, because it feels a bit contradictory to me.

Spoiler:

On one hand you say there is a meaningful choice with profound consequences, but then everything you list is what the ultimate consequences are no matter the choice. The cycle may, or may not, be broken but it's at a huge cost. And really, it's hard to envision starting anew like it was just a flesh wound. It's going to have to be without many of the races in this universe. (Well, unless BioWare is going to confirm my belief and say that the only reason humanity was accepted into galactic society was due to oogaba. Thus creating a huge silicon breast fad which every species had to have on females and, ironically, saving silicon based lifeforms from starvation in the new dark ages.)

I think the main reason people are upset at the end is not only how it treats this universe, but the lack of resolution it conveys. Lots of dark things happen throughout the game. You see the toll of war effecting both Shepard and others caught up in the surrounding conflicts. You resolve issues for the war support that you never notice besides a green bar filling up. You run into characters from previous interactions, only to have them disappear or even die. There are moments of humor and fan service, but it gets swept under the gloomy blanket when you are reminded that all life could be extinguished soon. Even planet scanning is turned into a dangerous, game ending event instead of a tension break from heated combat. Then, when the moment finally comes to either be the cathartic hero (paragon) or the self-preserving cutthroat (renegade), you get forced into making an odd choice that feels like smashing a square peg into a triangle hole. It has big picture, direct effects and big picture, indirect effects that seem out of place for a finale in a trilogy.

This leads me to believe that originally, both of the these games were supposed to be ME2. It makes more sense. ME2 brought in a new cast that I didn't really get to connect with as much as I wanted. It had a really weak plot that was very thin compared to ME. It ended on a note that didn't really put the player agent into a sense of actual dread due to successfully stomping out the reapers plan again. ME3 lets us reconnect with those in the now complete suicide mission and finish some of their character arcs. It expounds on other ME2 characters and gives a further connection to be explored even more. ME3 ends in a what would be the lowest point of this universe. The conflicts shift from a looming threat of extinction to what would be a bunch of warships/troops in one area and attempting to keep them from tearing each other apart in order to survive. We would see if Shepard's psyche can hold up and how the decisions brought his/her friends closer or drove them apart. But this would mean that Bioware wants to do more games in this specific ME universe, and I think it's clear they don't. They want a blank slate. In order to do that, it had to be euthanized. Some are okay with that and will think its better for the future, to allow others to move forward and grow. Others will be sad, miss something they connected with heavily, and wish that it didn't have to end this way.

Spoiler:

They still have conventional FTL travel, and it's not like every planet in the local cluster has been mined out. It's the start of a whole new galactic civilization without the Mass Relays. I don't see why "everyone is doomed to die slowly". And they also have the Citadel right there at their disposal! Colony Ship anyone? (assuming it wasn't destroyed in your ending. I don't recall it blowing up or anything in mine.)

stevenmack:

Spoiler:

Worse or better than Reaper Baby? I'm blocking them out equally so it's getting hard for me to tell.

On an unrelated note, Jennifer Hale's acting during the end of the game was pretty damn good.

MojoBox wrote:
Spoiler:

They still have conventional FTL travel, and it's not like every planet in the local cluster has been mined out. It's the start of a whole new galactic civilization without the Mass Relays. I don't see why "everyone is doomed to die slowly". And they also have the Citadel right there at their disposal! Colony Ship anyone? (assuming it wasn't destroyed in your ending. I don't recall it blowing up or anything in mine.)

Spoiler:

The citadel is toast in the green and red endings. It seals itself up and survives in the blue ending I think.

LarryC wrote:

stevenmack:

Spoiler:

Worse or better than Reaper Baby? I'm blocking them out equally so it's getting hard for me to tell.

Oh a thousand times worse than that. The CONCEPT of that ending was fine, even if the execution was ...lacking.

kyrieee wrote:

On an unrelated note, Jennifer Hale's acting during the end of the game was pretty damn good.

She's got some absolutely awesome stuff throughout the game...

Spoiler:

The bedside prayer for Thane was a highlight, also the sheer contempt in her voice when she meets back up with the scientist from Project Overlord at one point stood out for me as well.

Michael Zenke wrote:

I am an entrenched 'end of stuff hater'. I hate the end to Lost, and found the end to BSG deeply unsatisfying.

That said, I really don't understand where all the hate for ME3's ending is coming from.

Spoiler:

BioWare has been building towards this ending THE ENTIRE TIME. Going all the way back to the first game, there have been hints about Shepard's place in the universe and the intense feeling of building towards something grand.

What's the 'sunny' win condition here? The Crucible burns out all the Reapers, Shepard gets to live happily after ever with Liara and make blue babies, and the Krogan and Turians and Salarians and Asari all skip together into the future holding hands? Wee? That's such a lame-ass action movie ending.

Instead, they offered you a real, meaningful choice with profound consequences. It's something NO OTHER FORM OF ENTERTAINMENT does. I didn't get to choose how Lost ended. I didn't get to tell Ron Moore how to end BSG. I *did* get to decide how the universe of Mass Effect plays out into the future. For me, at least.

I love the image of Joker reaching up to give EDI a hand out of the Normandy. It's a beautiful moment, a symbol of everything I personally have been fighting for in these last three games. Yes, the relays are destroyed. Yes, Galactic Civilization as it was is essentially over. But the 'cycle' Catalyst talked about is over. And there's a chance to start anew.

It's why I got weepy at the end of WALL-E: I fundamentally believe science and technology are extensions of our humanity. The end of the Mass Effect series is incredibly hopeful and transhumanist, speaking to a time when the distinction between man and machine is meaningless. If that's not a happy ending, I don't know what is.

I agree... BUT

Spoiler:

The ending of ME3, if you look at it in isolation, is a fantastic concept. And it certainly boldly goes to where no other main-stream space-faring games have gone before. The idea of reapers being cyclical agents of millions of years working on behalf of 'the end result' (the conduit) of the previous technological singularity is pretty brilliant. And in all of the three "good endings" you do truly beat the cycle (not as much so in the paragon option interestingly enough), giving the universe and the future another shot and hope at basically not reaching the technological singularity that resulted in creation of the conduit and the reapers. The fact that you can have an ending of a video game evoke discussion and thoughts about things like technological singularity, a scientific event horizon, is really really awesome.

Even not looking at it in isolation, I can see how people may argue that the game has done a fair job building up to the concept of technological singularity. However, I disagree. Yes, the ending fits logically with some of the plot points stamped throughout the progression of the series, but suddenly introducing a relatively high-concept like 'technological singularity', as a Deus ex Machina device of all things, simply does not fit in at all with the overall tone and the overarching theme of 'hope' and 'fighting for the galaxy' that the game spends enormous effort establishing a bond with during the entire series.

The ending could have worked, but they did NOT do a good job. Some fan that was quoted in a recent Forbes article regarding this issue put it best. Mass Effect 3's ending is like if you had the Star Wars movies wrap up at the very end with the ending for 2001: A Space Odyssey.

The writers' concept behind the ending is an excellent one, and certainly ambitious. The execution.... not so good, and imo, I don't even really think there was a way for them to make this ending work for this series.

Deep Thought: 42.