Any fan of the Mass Effect series will tell you that the original ending for Mass Effect 3 was terrible. It truly was, and anyone who argues the counter should be thrown out of the airlock or into a pit of hungry varren. When the blandness of the ending was revealed, the Mass Effect fan base exploded with rage against the developers at BioWare, demanding a fix, creating alternative endings and theories, and sending blue, red and green cupcakes to BioWare that all tasted the same.
After many mixed signals and the kind of hiding in the corner that could be expected from an MP claiming Justin Bieber tickets on his expenses, the team behind Mass Effect announced a free ‘Extended Cut’ DLC, which was released on June 26.
This article endeavours to be as spoiler-free as possible, however, like food made in a factory that processes nuts, nothing can be guaranteed. Either way, continued reading is not advised unless you have completed the Mass Effect 3: Extended Cut DLC, or at least the original Mass Effect 3 ending.
While angry fans calling for a different ending were labelled by some as petulant and entitled, many of their concerns were entirely legitimate; none but the more idealistic expected an ending where Shepard retires on a tropical Island with the crew of the Normandy. Fans simply wanted answers to fill the gaping plot-holes: why did the Normandy leave Shepard? Who is this blasted child? And why the hell am I not drowning in my own tears yet? Here, the Extended Cut does a lot to explain everything. The additional dialogue and cutscenes explain who the child is, why your team left you, what exactly ‘synthesis’ is. It also dismisses the ‘Indoctrination Theory’ (which, by the way, remains very compelling and can still fit within the canon). The fans, in a manner of speaking, got what they wanted: an explanation.
The most important thing about the new ending, however, is the closure granted to the player. The ten-odd extra minutes of cinematics and dialogue give real impact to your choice of what to do with the Reapers, along with a healthy dose of nostalgic and soul-crushing emotion. In addition to this, none of the endings pander to the idealists. The new ‘fourth’ ending throws in an interesting curveball (protip: to get the fourth ending, shoot the child in his stupid face), and in the only significant canonical change in the DLC, the mass relays are not destroyed. The survival of the mass relays is important since without them, there is no inter-system travel, essentially dooming the surviving races to starvation and destroying the wonderful, intricate universe BioWare have created.
Not everyone is happy with the ending, of course, but not everyone was happy with the Harry Potter ending either. However, it seems the issue has been put to rest and the Extended Cut has received mostly positive reviews. The closing of Commander Shepard’s story begs the question: what next for the Mass Effect franchise? Surely three games, four books and a selection of graphic novels are not enough for such a fantastic brand. This question, funnily enough, may have been answered by the Extended Cut itself; some hidden files within the DLC data hinted at a future DLC package called ‘Leviathan’ focusing on a Reaper gone rogue.
It seems that EA have not learned to listen to the fans and have ignored the other main criticism of Mass Effect 3, that side-quests not focused on the war effort seemed superfluous. EA then planned a separate DLC involving Shepard. For now, however, Mass Effect fans whether they be Sheploo or Femshep, Paragon or Renegade, can sleep easy knowing that the galaxy is safe from the Reaper threat once more.