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  1. #1
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Lambchops's Avatar
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    Mass Effect 3 - How Would You Have Ended It? (Spoilers abound obviously!)

    I'm aware there's a massive thread on Mass Effect 3's ending but I'm hoping to ask a different question that what was good/terrible about it. I apologise if this sort of ground has already been covered but aforementioned massive thread is indeed massive and I fear reading it all may have a horrible effect on me!

    So rather than bash/defend the ending I'd like to ask the question; what would you, dear RPS reader, have done differently?

    Having already said that I didn't want to go into what worked and what didn't I'm going to do so myself, if only to frame how I'd do it differently. I shall try to be brief!

    Worked

    Bleakness - I thought ME2 suffered from a lack of it and was glad Bioware had the balls to be bleak this time. It's fighting against insurmountable odds, if destroying the Mass Relays causes a massive loss of life but leads to survival then, well, that's the way it would have to be.
    Self sacrifice - It could be seen a mile off but it's fitting.
    Desperate last throw of the dice feel - nailed it I reckon.

    Problems

    War Assets - Tied to an aribtrary number rather than having some sort of effect related to what assets you had/didn't seemed to render the whole thing a bit moot in my book. A shame after how well ME2 handled that sort of thing, I wasn't expecting control of troop placements or anything (that's a job for the Admirals) but I wanted to see something tangible.
    Ancient race zooms in at the last 5 minutes to offer choice - just no. Always such a disappointing way to end a sci-fi saga. The reapers were fine as a mysterious threat without having to find out what their purpose was.
    Ending that makes no sense considering character's actions in game - The control ending ranks up their with Deus Ex: Invisible War's templar endings. It just makes no sense joining what you have unequivocally shown no sympathy for throughout the entire game.

    How I Would Have Done It

    So on to the meat of it. What would I have done? Well, the problem of war assets is an easy one to solve. Just needs some more cutscenes showing parts of the battle going well/badly depending on your assets. If you go into the final battle with very little fleet support there could be a super bleak ending of the crucible getting destroyed en route. Not enough assets working on the cruible could result in it not working effectively come the final decision. Plus I'd have liked to have seen/read reports of the battle for the Citadel. Have evacuation from the citadel be effective/disastorous depending on the strength of the Citadel defense force (it seemed like a completely wasted effort doing all the side missions related to that!).

    So that just leaves tidying up the narrative. Obviously you need someone to explain the choices at the end instead of "the catalyst" and who better than arch-nemisis The Illusive Man. It's implied throughout the game he knows something more about the reapers than he lets on to you so he seems the perfect foil (especially given his indoctrinated state) to serve up a destroy/control choice. This obviously ditches the synthesis ending, no great loss in my mind as the theme of synthetic vs organic was explored well enough in the Quarian/Geth part of the game. Obviously to make this an actual choice you'd have to give Shepard the potential to be more sympathetic towards it througout the game (suggest that controlling the reapers may not be such a bad idea but the Illusive Man isn't the one to do it/has the wrong methods) so that it actually makes sense as a choice (to me it was the ending I wanted to choose but couldn't as it just didn't make sense as I'd been shoehorned into arguing against it throughout the entire game). Then just alter the Illusive man showdown to have him explain that the Crucible can either be used to control/destroy the Reapers and that he was the one to control them, you talking him down/killing him (whatever suits your Shep) due to his indoctrination and then making the choice yourself.

    From then on I'd have the endings follow very similar paths, with the destroy ending resulting in Shepard's self sacrifice (the Crucible would fall apart after firing) and the control ending resulting on Shepard having to remain locked into the Crucible, lest the reapers start doing their own thing. To make it a tough choice I'd have the illusive man try and sell the control ending by suggesting how Shepard could use the reapers to prevent the races from getting out of line and keep the peace etc. So it would essentially become a choice between heroic self sacrifice, leaving the galaxy to it's fate and own free will or staying alive and having the chance to influence things for the better; which I think is perhaps a more interesting thing to consider than what was offered up by the actual endings plus perhaps helps to offset the bleakness of the destruction of the mass relays a bit more (much as I liked the bleakness I thought the unsatisfactory consequences of a lot of the endings just compounded it a bit too much).

    Then I'd cut to scenes of whichever friends survived (which would be closely tied to success with war assets) contemplating victory.

    It's not perfect and wouldn't please everyone, such is the way of endings, but for me it would deal with a lot of the problems with the endings, while making only minimal changes to the rest of the game, which was pretty damn excellent (my favourite bit being walking in on Garrus and Tali engaged in some romantic action before the final mission!).

    So if you could make your own ending to Mass Effect 3 what would it be? Would you only make minor changes, or would you ditch the whole thing in favour of singalong number with dancing leprechauns? Let your thoughts be known.

  2. #2
    Lesser Hivemind Node Bhazor's Avatar
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    The instant it added precursors it pretty much had its ending.

    Precursors are revealed to have created mankind, they are revealed to be slavers/exterminators of life, then they come back and are either a) destroyed in a hilarously anticlimatic way or b) a lantern jawed hero joins them and becomes their ruler.

    Precursors are rapidly becoming the magic sword/lost prince of sci-fi. So predictable you can only hope their inclusion is somehow ironic or post modern. Of course it's Bioware so they played it straight.

  3. #3
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    This ending happens regardless of paragon/renegade or readiness.
    Scene: Shepard on the Citadel. Cut to Shepard drinking with Anderson.


    Anderson: I'm amazed we managed to pull it off, especially after all the trouble we went through before now.

    Shepard: Yeah. I'm just glad it's over. Hey, I wonder what happens to people that were indoctrinated now that the Reapers are gone for good?

    Anderson: I was wondering the same thing. I guess we shouldn't worry about it too much, without the Reapers controlling their thoughts, they'll probably all just go back to normal.

    Shepard: No I must stop the Reapers!

    Anderson: No Shepard, you are indoctrinated.

    And then Shepard was back on the Crucible but with a robot face. Also a fourth option to kill god child. Like that's all that ending does.

  4. #4
    Network Hub ShowMeTheMonkey's Avatar
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    All I wanted in the ending was some sort of squad decisions like ME2, but in a more awesome way.

    Imagine a part where you had to pick a sniper to cover you (Obv Garrus) and you were talking to him whilst you covered you. Also seeing other squad mates fighting in the distance and completing other objectives.

    Just an expansion on the choose characters to help you (IE using a biotic barrier in ME2). That's all I wanted. Just that...

  5. #5
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    That makes a lot of sense when you consider that since this is supposed to be the finale, they can go right ahead and kill everyone in your party.

    Except they can't, because downloadable content.

  6. #6
    Lesser Hivemind Node Flint's Avatar
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    In short, my ideal ME3 ending would focus on closure and the result of your choices during the series, and leave out all the sudden plot twists and wild speculation bombs. The ending is as bleak or happy as your decisions would make it.

    In more detail:
    • Scrap the majority of the ending as it is now in terms of the plot; no exploding relays etc, no starchilds, no sudden plot twists. The general gist could be kept intact (Shepard fights through London to reach the Reaper-destroying McGuffin). The only plot-relevant encounter that's kept is the TIM encounter, even if in a changed location if necessary.
    • Have your gathered war assets show up during the final fight in London. Whoever decided to aid you in knocking down the Reapers would be there, doing their thing as Shepard's assault squad makes its way through the warzone.
    • Have your whole party involved in a similar way to ME2's suicide mission, including the variables and possibility to die/fail.
    • War assets directly determine the extent of losses against the Reapers during the battle, and thus the main mood of the ending: very minimum asset run would end with the Reapers winning, maximum asset run would end with a victory with 'minimal' losses, some grades in-between the extremes.
    • Have Shep fight against/encounter the Harbinger in some manner, whether as a boss battle, a dialogue encounter or as a major element during some part of the London assault. Harbinger's the closest thing to the face of the Reaper forces and he/it has already established a relationship of sorts with Shepard during the last two games - having the two meet for the last time (in a better way than quick laser beam you don't even know is shot by Harbinger until you read about it online) would only feel right. Have closure in that part as well.
    • No random plot twist at the end, no last-minute major choice that completely overthrows everything you've done. If the Mass Effect series has always been about choices, then let the conclusion of the final game be the result of everything you've chosen throughout the three games. There's no need for a sudden gamechanging twist at the very end, especially since it just pulls off the carpet out of everything you've done so far. Whether the ending is bleak, happy or bittersweet should be the result of how you've played the entire series, not because of a dialogue option two minutes before the credits. And you don't need the Reapers to have some grand special role in the world that suddenly makes them necessary. The series is a grand space opera, let's just have a straight-up galaxy-eating big bad we need to beat because it actually works far better for the setting than any special twist motivation.
    • Fallout-esque account on the aftermath of your actions regarding major characters and the races of the galaxy. Did the Krogan start conquering the galaxy again? Did the quarians and geth reunite fully? Did the asari ever recover from the destruction of their civilisation? If my squadmates survived, how did they continue on their lives? Etc etc. If we fought for the future of the galaxy and thought hard about the choices regarding it, then I do want to know what went on afterwards.
    • I personally have no opinion on whether Shepard should live or die in the ending, either way works for me. That was never a bugbear for me.
    • Bonus change: include a more suitable Faunts song in the credits. Das Malefitz is swell but it it isn't epic/ending-y enough.


    And no, I don't expect the ending DLC to include any of this. What's happened happened, this is my ideal fantasy ending.
    Last edited by Flint; 09-04-2012 at 05:50 PM.
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  7. #7
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Tikey's Avatar
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    My Paragon ending would've involved Shepard just putting on a helmet, jumping into space, punching Harbinger in the face and then rodeo ride him against the other reapers. Once destroyed. Shepard would ride Harbinger into the sun.
    The Renegade ending would be the same but Shepard also wears a cowboy hat.

  8. #8
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Lambchops's Avatar
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    @ Flint

    I like the majority of that (particularly the War Assets/involving the whole party) with perhaps the exception perhaps of the epilogue bit. I've never been a massive fan of that sort of thing to be honest. While in your style of ending i'd definitely like to see which of my squadmates survived but as to their futures and to things like the whether the Krogan start making a nuisance of themselves I'd rather not have it spelt out in a "some time later" epilogue. It's enough that I'm aware of these questions, answering them doesn't feel like something that should be part of the story.

    But that's just my personal dislike of "sometime later" epilogues, which annoy me even more in games than books as I feel that they have been taken out of my hands.

  9. #9
    Lesser Hivemind Node Flint's Avatar
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    Yeah, that's just matters of personal taste colliding - I've always been a fan of that sort of "sometime later" epilogues myself!
    Give me steam and how you feel to make it real.

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    Shepard wakes up on Eden Prime realising the whole thing was a dream after the first beacon exploded,

    I quite liked Drew Kershaws intended ending I really would like to know why they didn't stick to that seeing as it actually answered some of the questions from the Mass Effect 2 and tied back to previous mysteries.

  11. #11
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Heliocentric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by goatmonkey View Post
    Shepard wakes up on Eden Prime realising the whole thing was a dream after the first beacon exploded,

    I quite liked Drew Kershaws intended ending I really would like to know why they didn't stick to that seeing as it actually answered some of the questions from the Mass Effect 2 and tied back to previous mysteries.
    Not a dream, a premonition, then he gets sectioned for worrying about space cthulhu and he escapes the asylum when the reapers attack and goes to a cinema and watches the holovid based on his own mad ramblings.
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  12. #12
    Network Hub FunnyB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Heliocentric View Post
    Not a dream, a premonition, then he gets sectioned for worrying about space cthulhu and he escapes the asylum when the reapers attack and goes to a cinema and watches the holovid based on his own mad ramblings.
    Been watching "In the mouth of madness"?

  13. #13
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Heliocentric's Avatar
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    The catalyst would not have been the citadel, the VI on the cerberus would have owned up to lying to cerberus despite apparently being hacked because he leaned on translation errors to 'not objectively being a lie'.

    The reapers take the citadel to earth and camp out. Then 3 or so totally divergent missions would be suggested from a possible set of 12 based on the state of the galaxy from your endevours.

    Each would lead to totally divergent final choices, maybe you sod the catalyst and drive the crucible into a small sun to kickstart it. Maybe you realise the reapers ai is transmitted from the real reapers who exist beyond the gates which you detonate. Maybe you perform an operation to set yourself or the Geth as the AI or edi in command of the crucible and bypass the need for the catalyst.

    12 endings with a half dozen variants.
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  14. #14
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    Simply put, don't bother explaining the Reapers. Leave them as old and mysterious. Have Shepard making a final slog to activate the catalyst with Harbinger demanding she stop. Have him leave a final warning that the Reapers are the organics' salvation, that there is a bigger picture she is missing.

    Catalyst is activated. Reapers are not destroyed, simply deactivated. Back on Earth, there is celebration tinged with uncertainly against a backdrop of huge, dead Reapers. Galaxy saved... but who knows what is to come?

    Or something else entirely. I'm not too bothered The main thing is, don't end with the phrase 'the created will always destroy the creators', because that really fucked things up for everyone

  15. #15
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus soldant's Avatar
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    My ending would have been:

    - War Assets determine the ending; if significant assets then ending is good, if piss-poor there's nobody left to enjoy the victory
    - No explanation for the presence of the Reapers, or their motivation, they remain enigmatic
    - Crucible is a superweapon, like we were led to believe all along
    - Epic fight against Reaper agents on the Citadel/Crucible in the style of the ME2 suicide mission
    - Shepard dies in the end, no exceptions, no sequels


    Alternatively, go back with the original Dark Energy idea.


    With all that said though, I can sort of understand why the War Assets weren't more important: everyone was bitching about needing to fill the bar up (particularly with MP) to get the "best" ending. You can't complain that the bar wasn't important enough and complain that the bar is too important. Also the original ending wouldn't have changed the fact that most of your decisions channel into the War Assets bar, not a sequence of cutscenes at the end. It seems clear to me that the final ending was always going to focus on Shepard alone, sort of a "Squad got me this far, now it's all up to me" sort of thing.

  16. #16
    Lesser Hivemind Node Juan Carlo's Avatar
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    I would have ended it exactly like it ended, only to piss people off even more, rather than having the credits and post script I would have scripted an extra line of nonsense dialogue and had the game blue screen mid-line, forcing you to restart your machine (which would be my homage to the final episode of the "Sopranos"--which I thought was awesome).

    Either that or I'd have cmdr shepherd transport to the Citadel only to discover that the head reaper looks exactly like Jon Hamm and the only way they can save the galaxy is via hot man on man action (so, yeah, in this version the ending would basically just be like a 20 minute gay hentai game, complete with "Indigo Prophecy-esque" thrusting quicktime sequences and everything. It would be awesome, not the least because it would piss off all the people who whine about gay characters in Bioware games).
    Last edited by Juan Carlo; 10-04-2012 at 05:31 AM.

  17. #17
    Lesser Hivemind Node Juan Carlo's Avatar
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    PS: Tikey wins the thread.

  18. #18
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Juan Carlo View Post
    PS: Tikey wins the thread.
    Seconded.

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  19. #19
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Wolfenswan's Avatar
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    I would have been perfectly fine with an epic (EPIC) space-kitsch ending, especially if you made all the "right"/"best" decisions during the game.
    You know, that moment in a movie when a lines are crossed and everyone becomes an utter badass no matter how whiny they were before. Liara wrecking havoc, Legion descending with his Alpha Buddies in the midst of the enemies etc. etc.

  20. #20
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Kadayi's Avatar
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    I kind of think the entire 3rd act suffered a bit and needed to be reworked as a whole.

    Firstly I'd of avoided the false fight with Kai Leng. I'd rather it were a case you got there and either were too late, or there's a cutscene intervention that explains Cerberus seizing the data rather than pulling the rug under you with that no win fight.

    Secondly with the attack on earth and the battle I'd of made a bigger deal in terms of seeing and experiencing the payoffs of your various decisions both in terms of the orbital battle, but also on the ground. I can't say I cared that much for the last words stuff to your companions right in the midst of the battle. It felt a little too jarring to be doing that whilst every second is costing ships and lives. I'd of happily dropped that entirely.

    Casualties. I don't think anyone in the final stretch needs to be sacred (not even LI). I'd go so far to say that in the worst of endings (dependent on EMS and other factors) you might witness the Normandy get carved up as easily as those shuttles during the escape from Earth at the very beginning of the assault. Just watching your ship and it's crew (aside from the away team) just get taken out abruptly would be a great shock to the system moment. Sure you could have a few likely escape on life boats. But the idea that they're with you in the fight one second and then space debris the next would be huge OMFG moment.

    Finally I'd of excised the entire god child element. I'd of had the ending be the confrontation with TIM, however I'd of built it up more in terms of the getting there (I was expecting something akin to the citadel assault in ME1 tbh) with Anderson being your squad mate (echoing the beginning of the game) and have the whole encounter play off in relation to to how little/how much credit you'd given cerberus. In fact it might well be that mad as he may have become TIM can bend the reapers to his will (a nice visual demonstration of that would be a good jawdropper maybe crashing two of them into each other), alternatively he's just become a sock puppet for Harbinger. No crazy boss fight, just you either going Rayland Givens on him or talking his into seeing the error of his ways.

    Definitely remove that awkard 'I was born in London you know' like from Anderson (whom are they trying to kid Keith David?). Also no explaining the Reapers (we don't need to know their exact motivations). Though an appearance by Harbinger either through TIM or projection, outlining the necessity for the Reapers to continue their harvest in order to combat the 'Dark energy' and thus trying things back to the original plot line wouldn't go amiss. Press button & omit wave that disabled Reapers shields and guns and leaves them helpless to the firepower of the fleet. Much destruction. Shepard standing there clutching his/her gut wound watching it all play out. Cut to black. End credits.
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