The Law Is No Shepard In Mass Effect 4


Just a snippet about something that was more or less a given, but I think it’s worth stating and knowing for the record that the next Mass Effect will entirely and definitely steer clear of Commander Shephard. The controversial outcomes of Mass Effect 3 do leave some room for ‘what happened next?’ investigations, but the three-game plot had tied itself in so many knots by that point that a totally clean break for the next set of Meffects is only sensible.

While Bioware refuse to be drawn on anything else about what we’ll for the sake of argument call Mass Effect 4 will concern, ME3 lead writer Mac Walters told Complex that “the idea is that we have agreed to tell a story that doesn’t relate necessarily to any of the Shepard events at all, whatsoever.” That ‘necessarily’ perhaps leaves room for little fan-nods to past events, but now I’m analysing individual words in someone else’s quote and that way madness lies.

Speaking of madness, Walters also comments on ME3’s notorious ending. SPOILER ALERT FOR BOTH MASS EFFECT AND BREAKING BAD HERE, but his comparisons to Breaking Bad’s finale rather suggests what Bioware’s official canon outcome for Shepard is, despite vagaries left by some of the ending sequences. Also a good thing, say I.

Walters was in the public eye to promote Dark Horse’s latest Mass Effect comic series, Foundation, by the way. There have been earlier ones which I haven’t read. Should I? I should mention that I do tend to be fairly lore-averse.


  1. Anthile says:

    I suppose that makes room for Commander Catard.

    • brassdragon says:

      Bioware seems eager to rewrite history and gloss over one of the most fascinating creative failures in game development. Please note: I’m not saying you should agree that it was a failure but the reaction was definitely unprecendented. Surely it warrants a better discussion than ‘fans are just entitled whiners who wanted a childlike happy ending’?

      When Bioware addressed the complaints with their Extended Cut, they did far more than just give ”closure” to Shepard’s sacrifice. They were under huge pressure to stick with their original artistic vision and their statements reflected this, but when you zoom in, you see they -did- retcon and change things in their Extended Cut.

      Most significantly they retconned any implication of a galactic dark age and the Normandy being forever stranded on some garden world:

      – In the Extended Cut scenes, the Mass Effect Relays no longer explode like Death Stars like in the original ending but ‘rupture’ gently.
      – The Normandy’s tail end isn’t sheared away by the ‘space beam’ as it was pre-EC but just grazed and we see it take off afterwards

      Although the popular opinion seems to be that the fans just misunderstood a poorly executed epilogue, there is some circumstatial evidence that Mac Walters and his team wanted to imply that the Galaxy was in shambles after Shepard did his/her thing. For instance:

      – In the documentary iPhone app ‘Mass Effect the Final Hours’, we see a flowchart of the game’s narrative during development, which includes: link to

      – Mac Walters himself said before the release of ME3 that there would be no DLC post-ME3 because “it would be just boring looking at a wasteland. That would be the DLC if we did it after.” (link to

      – Why does the Normandy crash on some garden world, what’s the point of that scene? Originally, the scene appeared a heavy handed allusion to Adam and Eve, a clean slate, a fresh beginning for life in idyllic but primitive circumstances. The final epilogue scene is also set on this garden world only untold centuries later when a child is talking wistfully about space travel, as if that wasn’t possible before. Of course, the Normandy just takes off in the Extended Cut which begs the question, why bother with a crash landing at all?

      Also note that ME3’s tone was -extremely- bleak and although the other games had horrifying moments, they did not have the oppressive hopelessness of ME3 (and indeed, the success of the upbeat Citadel DLC shows how much fans wanted some lightness to offset the grimdark.) I could see the creative team getting carried away by this vision of carnage and apocalypse and not thinking the impact of a muted and pessimistic finale through.

      Although they will likely never come out and admit this, I suspect their authorial intent was influenced by the backlash.

      Seeing Mac Walters boil down the backlash to ‘well, they weren’t ready for Shepard going out like Walt White’ is, frankly, at odds with his company’s reponse and actions (retcons, DLC choices).

      In conclusion, I don’t trust Bioware to honestly discuss their vision of Mass Effect. The backlash has caused too much caution, siege mentality and reinterpreting history. Their lack of openess is very understandable but I think it’s a loss.

      It’ll be interesting to see how Mass Effect 4 steps out from under this cloud of controversy.

      • HisDivineOrder says:

        I agree with your assessment of the story as it led up to the final moments of the game. They definitely went in and edited the story to make it more “friendly” and less “extreme.” They didn’t want to be limited in what they did with the next game, I’d imagine.

      • roethle says:

        Wow someone went to art school.

      • pez2k says:

        Wow, and I thought that I was misinterpreting the ending of ME3 first time around. It struck me that the whole point of the three mostly identical endings was to show how inevitable it was that the Reapers would win and the spacefaring species would be mostly wiped out. The real victory was that the next cycle would no finally longer be under threat, but wouldn’t have the mass relays to help them out either.

        The Extended Cut did indeed completely wipe that notion away, including changing the Control ending from merely sparing the Reapers and telling them to go away and never come back, to making them clean up their mess so everyone can live happily ever after. If I’m honest, I actually preferred my original interpretation, it was a lot more memorable and fit the tone of ME3 more.

        • joshuareynolds23 says:

          Thats not really the control ending The control ending is more saying that shepard being the new head reaper has the control over them all but he’s not the same shepard you remember he’s like a dark god ruling over this galaxy making sure no one crosses the line and keeping his version of peace

      • mouton says:

        I can’t blame Bioware for being less open from now on. Whether someone liked ME ending or not, the backlash was a good argument against engaging with fans ever again.

        • SpectralThundr says:

          Here’s the thing. Don’t market your game for 3 titles saying your choices matter when in the end they don’t. Bioware did it to themselves. Much like the Dragon Age 2 failure. They were encouraged by the community to not go the route they did with DA2, did it anyway, and then were shocked that most people thought it sucked compared to Origins and the sale numbers back that up.

          Seems to be a running theme for Bioware the last few years, over promise, under deliver, then act shocked that not everyone still holds Bioware on some sort of pedestal.

          • mouton says:

            Perhaps I am weird but I take pre-release marketing, promises and claims with a considerable pinch of salt. Perhaps that is why I did not feel hurt and betrayed, like many fans apparently did.

      • Cam says:

        I think painting the majority of the initial controversy as “players didn’t want a sad ending” is incorrect. The biggest part of the controversy was how badly executed the ending actually was. We can pretty much say the “destroy the reapers” ending was the true route, but instead of making actual alternate endings(which the developers actually promised gamers for a long time), they just changed the neon-color of the explosion as if they wrote the whole thing at the last minute. That, and even the events leading up to the ending were convoluted, and just plain weird.(also inconsistent with the rest of the game)

        If, instead of going with those weirdly made cookie-cutter endings, they had just conveyed the concept of a galactic dark age in the first place(as they apparently planned it anyway), or if they simply made the endings feel like they mattered in any meaningful way to the story, then there wouldn’t be the backlash. Gamers weren’t clamoring for some kind of “beat the reapers with friendship” ending, many just honestly didn’t like the confusing cluster**** of an ending that seemed completely like an afterthought for a series that spans 60+ hours.

        But for some, apparently voicing their disappointment with an ending that ultimately came down to “different colored Deus ex Machina explosions”, on a series many spent nearly $200 on, makes gamers “entitled.”

        • Cooper says:


          I was really happy with the bleakness of the game. It showed a kind of authorial determination that I welcomed.

          I liked that the intended ending was “and it all goes to shit”. I don’t need nor want a ‘happy ever after’ ending. There was a weight to what they were trying to do that neat closure and return to normalcy wouldn’t have.

          However it was shit. It was a bad ending, in so many ways.

          I want an ending to ME3 where things go to shit, but where it makes some kind of sense for narrative and character.

          For me, the ‘added’ ending where you ignore the three choices is the closest to that. Liara’s recorded message to the future as the circle of destruction continues, beyond even Sheperd’s power to stop, works as a bleaker ending in the way none of the original ones did.

          • brassdragon says:

            I agree. The added ‘Refuse’ ending in the Extended Cut is probably the most poignant and consistent with the general bleakness of the last installment.

            Not an enjoyable conclusion but I can appreciate it more than the alternatives which, to me, feel like discussing terms of surrender with the big bad (despite the Extended Cut re-recorded voice acting trying to make Shepard sound more skeptical and adversarial.)

        • The Random One says:

          ” But for some, apparently voicing their disappointment with an ending that ultimately came down to “different colored Deus ex Machina
          explosions”, on a series many spent nearly $200 on, makes gamers “entitled.”

          Voicing their disappointment does not make them entitled. Demanding that the ending be changed makes them entitled.

        • TangoDown332 says:

          @ Cam I agree completely probably the most comprehensive breakdown of fan satisfaction over ME3 I have seen in my opinion.

      • realitysconcierge says:

        I’m not sure this had anything to do with Commander Catard.

      • Big Murray says:

        In Mass Effect threads, why is there always a person who does something stupid like reply to the top comment for no reason other than because he thinks his butthurt is relevant and deserves to be at the top?

        • airmikee99 says:

          That’s not specific to Mass Effect threads, it happens everywhere for any topic.

        • brassdragon says:

          That would be me, my stupidity visible near the top. No hidden agenda, just a rookie clicking in the wrong place. Butthurt levels: minimal. Sorry for the inconvenience.

      • patstew says:

        Was the original ending really that bad?
        The idea that the reapers were the product of some ancient race’s AI gone crazy was hardly out of the blue, since AI’s going crazy has been a theme all the way through the trilogy. The three main ending choices also reflect themes that ran through the trilogy. Destruction is siding with the organic militaries, control is siding with Cerberus and synthesis is siding with Saren/the geth/the king-of-the-reapers. Synthesis is obviously the choice that the king-of-the-reapers (‘Star child’), as that is what he was pushing Saren towards, and what his visual presentation of the choices to you indicates is the ‘best’ option.
        Which one you choose shows which side in the game you found most convincing. What convinced me that the ending wasn’t so bad was seeing someone argue that ‘Control is obviously the best option, because you can use the reapers as a force for good’, whereas to me it was obviously the worst option. In other words, I think the point of the trilogy was to attempt to indoctrinate you into 3 different ideologies, then see what you choose.
        Evidently it failed though, given the outcry.

        • Cockles says:

          Not that anyone really cares by now, but spoilers ahead…

          I found the “AI’s go crazy” idea the hardest thing to digest. Firstly, it is a bit of an overdone cliche in sci-fi, which is not necessarily a problem when told well in a story, but in the case of Mass Effect it was not told well at all.

          Considering the geth apparently only rebelled in self-defence plus it was possible to reunite them in peaceful co-existence, it seemed a bit silly for the game designers to then tell me that, atcually, the created will always rebel against the creators. Plus there was EDI.

          Poor storytelling tells things rather than shows them and if the theme is that AIs will take over then why not make that the running theme of the entire game? Deus Ex HR was a much finer version of highlighting a conflict, having you operate through it and then have some kind of effect on the outcome (even if it was a bit lame just pressing a button and the general plot was convoluted and not always interesting). At least I had seen the evidence from all sides in their argument, Mass Effect didn’t do this because it didn’t know what it was “about” until the last minute.

      • noodlecake says:

        Sheesh. You’ve thought a lot about this. I just played the games, thoroughly enjoyed them, was a little let down by the ending of the third but appreciated the series and then I forgot about it and got on with my life.

        • Cockles says:

          Different people like to talk about different things to varying levels of depth, depending on their interests.

    • jamesmac81 says:

      i personally don’t think its a good idea to remove an iconic person from the franchise of mass effect. for many, it would feel wierd, especially if they were to bring up the past events in the next game and not mention the one who brought everyone together, and ended the war. its like a metal gear solid game without a snake. to be honest, it seems as if they just want to sweep this game under the rug, and never bring it up again, seeing the backlash they got from players, who were upset at the ending, because of them not keeping their promises. im sure there’s alot of pressure on bioware due to this messup, as they continue the franchise. lets just hope they don’t mess up mass effect 4. i kinda wonder how many would buy me4 knowing that shepard is no longer the main character.

  2. Gap Gen says:

    Better Warp In Saul?

  3. DapperDirewolf says:

    Can’t wait for a new game in the series. I love the universe, the lore, and everything else that somehow isn’t included when talking about ‘the universe’. I want to see more of the Turians, which are one of the coolest looking alien races in anything, ever.

    • Cytrom says:

      Too bad all the alien races and humans starved to death around the devastated Earth, and most of the galaxy was annihilated with the destruction of the mass relays. So even if you could travel around the galaxy (which you can’t without the mass relays according to the estabilished lore) you would only see stardust.

      The Mass Effect 3 ending literally destroyed the whole galaxy and the whole mass effect lore with it. Thus anything they would make that isn’t a prequel would break the canon.

      They’d be better off making a similar, but new “brand”.

      • Gap Gen says:

        They could in principle make a prequel set when humans are first expanding into the galaxy, avoiding the difficult “whole wormhole network destroyed” problem.

      • FunnyB says:

        Did they destroy the Mass Relays though? At least in the Synthesis ending I think it was implied that everything was repaired (talking about extended ending of course).

      • ulix says:

        Actually, ships with Mass Effect drives can travel from one end of the Milky Way to the other in roughly 25 years. Since Sol is near the center, many ships could reach their home planets within 10-15 years. Provided they don’t run out of fuel, of course. Which they would.

        • Jackablade says:

          They can mine for fuel though, can’t they? Wasn’t that one of the things that we did all that scanning for?

        • JakobBloch says:

          Um earth is on the edge of the milky way, pretty far out on one of the arms. Also for long term space travel there are other concerns. You will need to make sure you have supplies: Food (hydroponics can manage some of that), fuel and spare parts. You will have to make sure you get to places where you can replenish these. You will also have to make sure you get to places where you can discharge your drive core (or whatever it is they do). This is less of a problem for small ships and there are enough gas giants to make it easy enough to find. I would say with these factors any travel time would probably be 2-3 times longer than just distance. This still means that getting to ANYWHERE in the galaxy could be done well within the lifetime of a human and Asari won’t even go from maiden to matron.

          • Moraven says:

            It would be like Voyager!

          • Numerical says:

            The Milky Way is a barred spiral galaxy some 100,000–120,000 light-years in diameter. The Sun lies between 25,000 and 28,000 light years from the Galactic Centre. So we are not on the edge by a long shot buddy.

      • Asurmen says:

        I thought that in the Extended ending, the relays were intact but offline? As for devastated Earth, I got the impression that the Reapers had attacked the military first and then gone for major population centres first. I’m sure it said in the game that it would take 10 years to depopulate the planet. That gives plenty of scope for agricultural areas left alone and the technology to make the protein isomers for the Turians and Quarians.

      • Iokanaan says:

        they could also go for the time travel option, which could be a prequel and sequel at the same time. they wouldn’t even have to deal with every possible outcome of ME3. it’s sci fi, a little time paradox never hurts.

      • jalf says:

        Too bad all the alien races and humans starved to death around the devastated Earth, and most of the galaxy was annihilated with the destruction of the mass relays. So even if you could travel around the galaxy (which you can’t without the mass relays according to the estabilished lore) you would only see stardust.

        Huh? Where did you get the “annihilated most of the galaxy” thing from? The fact that there still was an Earth at all strongly implies that the destruction of each mass relay must have been a fairly controlled event. Not something that wipes out a solar system.

        As for starvation, keep in mind that each race only sent their military, so at worst, their entire military would starve to death. They’d still have plenty of people left at home.

        And even then, I highly doubt it would be such a big issue. Earth was a fairly popular/well-connected planet, no doubt having quite a few aliens living there in the first place. No doubt they had the ability to feed a significant number of aliens, and growing more food should not be impossible either. The Quarians sent pretty much everything they had, which likely included their agricultural ships — capable of feeding millions of Quarians, while many of the actual Quarians stayed back on Rannoch. Turians and Quarians can eat the same food, so all in all, I’m sure there would be a rough transition period, but mass starvation seems unlikely.

        While I understand (and agree with) the decision to avoid Shepard for the 4th game, it does pose the obvious question “how do you *avoid* touching on universe-shattering events such as those that Shepard was at the center of?” Pretty much anything else would seem kind of insignificant by comparison. “Oh, we’ve been sent to stop a war between the Krogan and Asari? Eh, I guess that’d be nice, but really, who cares when other people are literally saving every sentient being in the universe?” “Stop an assassin? You know, *some* heroes spend their time fighting an ancient race of sentient machines. But sure, I’ll go save this one guy from getting killed”.

        Also I’m saddened that Bioware continues to try to tell themselves that “the upset about the ending was just because people aren’t grown-up enough to handle the main character dying”. ME3 wasn’t a Walter White moment, it was more like Walter White dying because suddenly, with no warning, a giant walrus burst through the floor and ate him.

        • Zekiel says:

          @jalf The “everything in the solar system gets destroyed when a mass relay explodes” thing is referring to the Arrival DLC for ME2 – which is what happened to the poor old (evil) Bataarians when Shepard blew up the relay that the Reapers were trying to come through. As I understand it, there was no suggestion in the DLC that this was an unusual relay – thus establishing the priciple “destroy relay, destroy system its in”. Thus when the original ME3 ending showed the relays being destroyed, fans who were paying attention understandably extrapolated that every system with a relay in it had been destroyed.

          Of course that doesn’t seem to be what the writers intended to imply, (and it certainly wasn’t shown – but then what was in the original ME3 ending?) so its just a case of lazy writers who couldn’t keep the lore straight. For other examples of this see, the massive contradictions in every Mass Effect space battle ever between how space combat works, and how the Codex says it works. Grrr.

          • jalf says:

            The “everything in the solar system gets destroyed when a mass relay explodes” thing is referring to the Arrival DLC for ME2 – which is what happened to the poor old (evil) Bataarians when Shepard blew up the relay that the Reapers were trying to come through

            Sure, I know. But presumably different methods of destruction yield different results. The Batarian thing was a big huge meteor crashing into a relay. The destruction was caused by the thing physically being torn apart.

            The ME3 ending seems like it was either the relays either overloading, or triggering some self-destruct mechanism (the latter seems likely in that they were able to propagate the signal to other relays, taking down the entire network). This wasn’t caused by physical damage, but by the relay basically operating as intended: reacting to an incoming relay “signal”. It seems plausible that this would lead to a more controlled release of the relay’s energy. (Heck, we *know* that the destruction was not similar to the Batarian one: the latter did not spread to other relays.)

            If you want a real-world analogy then consider the difference between what you get if you manage to actually ignite all the fuel in a car’s fuel tank (big boom), versus what normally happens when the car is involved in a crash (a lot of bent metal, and not much more than that). The method of destruction matters. :)

            And even in (one of) the original endings, we do see at least one brief glimpse of a post-relay Earth (the pile of rubble stirring if you chose the destroy ending) – plus of course the survivors on the Normandy clearly being on a non-vaporized planet (not to mention the bit with the child and the old guy looking at the stars). All of this pretty strongly implies that whatever happened to the relays, they did not wipe out a star system each.

        • newc0253 says:

          I agree. If Bioware’s “ideal” ending is a future where everyone in the galaxy has glowing green lines running under their skin, then I don’t reckon they’re in any position to compare themselves to Breaking Bad’s ending, nor lecture others about not “getting it”.

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          Ninja Dodo says:

          I didn’t play Arrival, but even with above explanation of relay destruction I don’t see how you could get “most of the galaxy was annihilated” from the ending of ME3.

      • DapperDirewolf says:

        The universe is too rich to simply abandon. Sure you could argue it would be ‘milking it’, unless they did something really good.

        Also, a prequel to the ‘end of life as we know it’ storyline would be entirely possible; of course the protagonist could never really make any significant, race-destroying decisions and such.

        Even a Mass Effect 4X game would make my day. I want to command a fleet of Turian warships!

      • Big Murray says:

        It’s always seemed rather stupid that people cling to this thing about everyone starving. You live in a world with faster-than-light propulsion, bio-engineeered telekinetic warriors and lab-created viruses which can limit the reproductive potential of an entire species to within a set percentile boundary, but OMG THE FOOD IS THE WRONG KIND THEY CAN NEVER FIX THIS EVERYONE DEAD EVERYONE STARVES IT IS CANON END OF STORY FIN.

  4. Shezo says:

    the only reason why i’m waiting for ME4 its multiplayer, which is kinda funny.

    • nrvsNRG says:

      Thats totally understandable.
      ME3 Multiplayer was loadsafun (and still is). Lets hope they stick to the working formula they have created and just improve on that.

    • Tom Walker says:

      I’ve actually gone back to this recently after having abandoned it about the time that things like XCOM and Bioshock Infinite came out.

      It’s still fun, but you can’t get a game on Gold difficulty any more. Unless you want to try it solo, of course. Good luck getting through Wave 1.

  5. stahlwerk says:

    She’s called Shepard because she unites people. In the end she sacrifices herself.

    Next time, I hope Bioware chose to be a bit more subtle with the abrahamic (sp?) allegories.

    • Nim says:

      I’ve got to come clean on this one.

      I have never under my 4 Mass Effect 1 runs or 5 Mass Effect 2 runs ever considered that. But it makes sense now.

      • Gap Gen says:

        Also the Reapers refuse to let the humans go, so she drowns them in frogs and blood and then kills all their children.

        • RobinOttens says:

          Also Shepard goes to recruit twelve apostles party members in the second game.

          Oh wait, never mind, yours wasn’t serious. Or did I miss that entire quest line?

        • Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

          Krogans are kinda froglike, and using them to swamp the Reapers on Palaven probably ended up with lots of blood.

          Autocorrect fun: Koreans for Krogans and Palaver for Palaven.

    • mouton says:

      I maintain nonetheless that Legion’s sacrifice was even worse in terms of Jesus-cloning. It was surrounded by a lot of “does this machine have a soul?” mumbo-jumbo deliberations and his death was completely unnecessary.

  6. Crane says:

    Putting “spoiler alert” certainly warns people who haven’t completed Mass Effect that they might be due a spoiler for games in the series the article is about, but it’s hardly going to make them stop reading if they haven’t watched Breaking Bad! And if they’ve played Mass Effect and know how that ends, then what you say gives a pretty fucking big clue to the end of Breaking Bad.

    • Stardreamer says:

      Please everyone stop talking about Breaking Bad. Please? It’s the new ‘Fifty Shades’; Media Darling, probably overblown shit. There’s no need for it to be pop culture topic No1 especially not now it’s just flaming finished, either. How about you watch Babylon 5, eh? That’s what *I* call awesome TV! No? Wrinkled noses and eww noises?


      • Gap Gen says:

        “probably overblown shit”

        Yeah, who needs to watch it to form an opinion? Screw those people. Clearly it can’t be better than Babylon 5 or whatever.

        • Stardreamer says:

          Forming an opinions is fine. Constantly telling everyone about that opinion is obnoxious. It’s why most sane people hate Religious Callers.

          When you hear the same opinion coming from all sides that gets even more obnoxious. Just getting a bit sick of hearing the phrase “Breaking Bad” followed by breathless exhortations to watch it.

          • Gap Gen says:

            Well, it is good. You should watch it.

          • nrvsNRG says:

            The praise it gets (for once) is well and truly deserved.

          • Grygus says:

            They know about something good and they’re trying to share it with you. You’re not under attack. The problem here is 100% your attitude.

          • Gap Gen says:

            (Note: I completely understand the feeling of resistance when people try to get you to watch a show. I was mainly teasing with my responses.)

          • joshuareynolds23 says:

            Star I have watched it your not missing out on too much. In my opinion its a Really Really overhyped verision of weeds about meth.

      • Crane says:

        Hey don’t blame me! I don’t even like the fucking show; I got sick of all the constant gloom after the second season and never watched any more.
        I’m just saying that since it IS the current elephant in the room, spoiling the ending in an article about Mass Effect where no-one would expect to find it seems rather unfair.

        • Stardreamer says:

          Wasn’t directed at you, Crane. General rant at the phenomenon. Just saw red for a moment.

      • Werthead says:

        They literally cannot stop:

      • dethtoll says:

        Not having watched a single minute of the show I won’t comment on its quality but I do have to admit if I had a superpower of my choosing it’d be to banish people into whatever TV show they won’t stop talking about. Doesn’t sound too bad at first blush until you realize Walking Dead Season 4 just started and Game of Thrones Season 4 isn’t far away.

        • DrScuttles says:

          Just wishing The Walking Dead TV show on anyone is torture enough, let alone having to survive in its fiction.

          • joshuareynolds23 says:

            Your wrong the people on that show are incredible dumb. they never look down are always getting ambushed and never see that obvious plot twist right around the corner I can no longer watch the walking dead because they are so bad at it. It’s like none of them have ever seen anything about zombies in their in show universe

      • jalf says:

        Here, this is for you: link to :)

    • Gap Gen says:

      Spoiler alert: Mass Effect’s ending is nothing like Breaking Bad’s.

    • mcindex says:

      Wait a minute, Crane, are you saying that at the end of Breaking Bad, Walter White leads a ground assault on an ancient alien artifact, speaks to a holographic star child then sacrifices himself to destroy/control/bond with an giant genocidal evil race of sentient machines?

      • stahlwerk says:

        If you phrase it like that, they are actually more or less* identical.

        *)for generous quantities of less.

    • Sorbicol says:

      Without wanting to sound factious, the premise of Breaking Bad is that he starts cooking meth after being diagnosed with terminal cancer. I’ve never watched the show but I can take a pretty educated guess as to how the show ends given those circumstances. No?

      • Grygus says:

        Basically. But the attraction isn’t the plot anyway; as with most really good shows, it’s the characters. Watching Walter White turn from an unassuming dork into an antihero is approximately three-quarters of the attraction; watching the other characters watch the same thing is almost all of the rest of it.

  7. Gittun says:

    I find it interesting that he seems to be saying that people had a problem with Shepard dying at ME3’s ending. I can’t speak for everyone, but personally I was fine with that part. Shepards story was done, her/him dying in one last blaze of glory fit just fine in my opinion. It’s the other parts of the ending, especially before the extended cut that I had a problem with.

    It’s obviously not going to changed in any way at this point, but I hope they learned some thing from this for future games in the series.

    • TechnicalBen says:

      Yep. No one. Literally no one said they had a problem with Shep dying in any of the possible endings. It shows how out of touch you can get when your team is isolates or put on a pedestal.

      It was the destroying of the entire universe and setting that put people off. It would be like if in StarWars the destruction of the Death Star destroyed the galaxy, which could still be spun out (continue the story in a another galaxy. But no room for that option here. Or if in StarTrek they destroyed all of subspace, so no more space ships.

      The other part was taking all the player agency away at the end. When most people would “continue the fight” even if they lost, the only 3 options you had were “give up and become a coloured goo, oh but you choose the colour”. I know there was more to it than that, but it was the sudden tone shift that did it for most.

      But that’s what you get when your story hangs on the premise of “the entire galaxy will be destroyed”. Set better plots and story arch, and you don’t write yourself into a corner. :P

      • Viroso says:

        I was okay with Shepard dying AND universe destruction. Destroying Mass Relays I’ll admit isn’t satisfactory, for me it seems unrelated to everything that’s happened in the games. I don’t see a point to their destruction, but I’m okay with it. Maybe ME4 set in a destroyed Earth with tons of aliens would make for an awesome setting, if they went for an ending where there are no Mass Relays.

        What bothers me is that the ending didn’t make sense. Synthetics killing organics to protect them from synthetics is contradictory. Reapers said they wanted to prevent synthetics from destroying all organics, but they had control of the Geth and made the Geth attack organics. They even had control of the organics, they say as much themselves.

        Then there’s the other problem of Reapers trying to kill Shepard for the entire game, and actually succeeding, and then at the very end save her and let her choose what to do with them. Immensely stupid.

        I really wish they had stayed away from this organics vs synthetics crap. It’s hardly the main focus of the three games, it’s just one of many side stories.

        I think the truth is they had no idea what to do with the ending, how to explain the Reapers and their motivation, how to explain a way to destroy the Reapers, so they came up with that bad ending.

        • Grygus says:

          Exactly. The fact that the ending was grim was no doubt a problem for some, but if that was the only problem they would not have gotten the backlash they did; the backlash was because the ending was incredibly poorly written.

        • Cockles says:

          I’m with you. Basically, they had no idea was Mass Effect was about but it was like Eastenders in space, which was fun. When it was decided that this massive soap/space opera needed a central theme at the end, it kinda fell apart. Probably would’ve been best to have never explained the reapers motivations and gone along a different track for the last scene.

    • I Got Pineapples says:

      For a company that has managed to burnt off as large a an amount of good will as Bioware has and a lot of that being based on their writing and story decisions, they’ve been kind of quick to attribute the blame to the audience for the response they got.

      • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

        Too true I loved 1, even the lunar buggy bits. Then 2 came along and did away with most of the bits I liked, oh well. Never played 3 or gotten more that half way through 2.

        If they made a new game like the first I’d be on it like a rash!!!

        • mouton says:

          All of their games had good elements, I’d rather they combined those instead of cloning old templates.

    • Lanfranc says:

      I essentially have three problems with the ending, and they’re mostly about narrative craftsmanship:

      1. It introduces a hugely important character literally in the last ten minutes of the whole series. That’s like writing an entire murder mystery novel and only introducing the actual murderer on the final page.

      2. It reduces one of the awesomest villains ever, the “I am the vanguard of your destruction” Reapers, to a bunch of vacuum cleaners with an on-off switch.

      3. It doesn’t even take the ending that we do get seriously. Choose the destruction ending, for instance? Then we should talk about how that could mean the destruction of an entire sentient species, the Geth, or for that matter EDI. And the other endings have similar issues – slave binding the entirety of synthetic life to serve organics? Or forcing a synthesis of the two upon an entire galactic population, many of whom are certain to be unwilling? There are some very serious issues here that just aren’t remotely taken seriously.

  8. GallonOfAlan says:

    Will it have the same scope for entitled whining about the ending as the previous installment?

    • Gap Gen says:

      This is the internet. Anything is possible. We can start right away if you want to.

    • Shezo says:

      you said the magic E-word!

    • ulix says:

      How is complaining about an ending that just doesn’t make any sense according to the established canon and setting-logic “whining”?

      • SkittleDiddler says:

        News flash: a different ending wouldn’t have made any more sense, because the story arch was so exasperatingly muddled by the end of part 3 that no amount of coherent writing could have saved it.

        Anyway, people love to complain. No matter how good an ending we could have theoretically gotten, there would be at least one crabbypants on earth that felt justified in bitching about it.

        • Don Reba says:

          One crabbypants sure is better than a fan revolt.

        • Ernesto25 says:

          screwoffreg that is all.

        • Grygus says:

          People pretending that all the gamers who merely wanted an ending that made logical and narrative sense are equivalent to someone actively looking for something to complain about has been the second-worst aspect of the ending of Mass Effect 3.

          • mouton says:

            The people who just wished for a more logical conclusion sure got drowned out by the emotional lynch mob.

    • Nim says:

      I feel like the people who paid for it, are unhappy with the results and can’t get their money back are entitled to whine for as long as they like.

      Not me though, I never paid for or played that crap.

      • Don Reba says:

        I’m still waiting for it to be released on Steam.

      • ulix says:

        It’s an amazing game in almost every regard, for 95% of its time.
        It’s just that the last hour or two negate a lot of the preceding awesomeness and are really, truly bad.

    • Ernesto25 says:

      screwoffreg, that is all pretty much said why we would hate the ending 1 year before it was made , i certainly didn’t buy the game and think “oh boy i can’t wait to say how bad this is and so bad ill never play the series again”

      • ulix says:

        While I was playing the last mission of ME3, during the battle on Earth, I still tgought, after reading a bit about the fan-outrage about the ending (without spoiling it beforehand):

        “What the hell are people complaining about? The game was fucking amazing.”
        And it was. Up until the point Shepard steps into the beam to be teleported onto the Citadel. That’s where it gets crap. And still is (although less) crap, even after the Extended Cut.

  9. Unrein says:

    How adorable to compare their writing to Breaking Bad’s. Just precious.

    • Don Reba says:

      The Breaking Bad ending was pretty mediocre, so at least they are sort of similar in that respect.

      • Unrein says:

        It was definitely a tad limp an ending, but overall wrapped everything up in a fitting manner – which, in my eyes, ME3 decidedly failed to do.

  10. ix says:

    This must be a prequel to make any sense (or alternate universe lines or whatever), but the hook they had with the whole trilogy thing will be hard to replicate. Perhaps this installment will allow you to play as one of the other races?

    Oh and more awkward and non-sensical sexy times, perhaps.

    • ulix says:

      With the EC DLC the Mass Relays weren’t destroyed, just severely damaged.
      It is mentioned that they start rebuilding them immediatly.

      So it could actually be set after the EC endings.

  11. SuicideKing says:


    You don’t just name something after one of the greatest sci-fi literary sagas ever written.

    Aismov was a genius…this is borderline insulting.

    • Werthead says:

      “You don’t just name something after one of the greatest sci-fi literary sagas ever written.”

      True. But they namd it after Asimov’s FOUNDATION, so that doesn’t count ;)

      In seriousness, FOUNDATION was a great, er, foundational text of modern science fiction and space opera, but it has been massively supersceded by what’s come since (just as it supersceded EE Smith’s stuff). You look at more modern SF writers like the late, great Iain M. Banks, Dan Simmons, Alastair Reynolds, Lois Bujold and then look at FOUNDATION and it has dated horrendously. Fun, sure (well, the first three, not the latter four which were just garbage), but very much of its time and not really one of the ‘greatest SF literary sagas ever written’.

    • The Godzilla Hunter says:

      I believe you mean one of the greatest trilogies ever written. Because only three books were ever written. Such a great author would never, you know, completely ruin his series by adding extra books to a finished series that basically made the first three pointless.

    • SuicideKing says:

      Interesting, I actually liked the others as well. Have to read the Prelude.

      Of course, i’m not including anything after Foundation’s Edge.

  12. newguy2012 says:

    Given how many holes and bad mechanics there were in ME3 I hope they just start something new, in the same universe. Hopefully the mass relays are not destroyed, and the universe can live on somehow. Also hope the Reapers are never spoken of again…

  13. Stromko says:

    This whole comment section is a SPOILER area, right? I don’t know how we can talk about what we think of Mass Effect’s continuing (or not) continuity without spoiling things.

    To sum up my take, if ME4’s it’s not a prequel, then some form of retcon has to happen or it will fail. ME3’s ending put the setting to bed, which may indeed have been the point.

    Personally, I’m hoping the Reaper Indoctrination fan-canon was onto something, because none of the obvious and ‘actually’ canon endings presented to Shepard would create an interesting universe to play in. If any of those official endings count, we have a universe where either all synthetics are dead which makes a rather unusual and I would say inferior sci-fi setting, everyone’s synthetic and having a hippy robot love-fest with significantly less room for conflict, discord or drama, or everyone’s dead which is kind of hard to build great stories around unless you’re Grim Fandango.

    I mean for Pete’s sake, in my ending, to cite one example among many, Joker can walk now and has a hot android girlfriend (e.g. he is boring now, EDI is boring(ly hot) now, and the same can be said for the rest of the happy universe. Would love to live there but would hate to visit y’know?). Having said that, it does seem likely if they want a dark, mature story rife with conflict they’ll go with the ending where all the synthetics are dead and Joker’s a broken shell of a man both inside and out– ouch, but, really that bad ending is the only option if they want much room for good storytelling without breaking continuity or just telling us the terrible ending was a terrible hallucination (see fan-canon above, or rather go google it because I don’t know how to hyperlink text).

    • Laurentius says:

      Control ending has a good potential. Maybe human race dominates Galaxy as IM wanted to ? OR even better Shephard is now a Big Brother as his will is now order of the Galaxy, or maybe she will start expermeneting now on all races simiiliar to god-emperor od Dune ?

      • Yglorba says:

        The underlying problem is that, more than any of the individual events, the ideas behind ME3’s ending were profoundly stupid and uninteresting. The way it talked about the inevitable effects of “synthetic life” felt like reading a bad fan-fiction written by a high-school freshman — the entire time the little kid was talking, I was just torn between collapsing laughing and facepalming; it felt actually embarrassing, it was so vapid.

        I mean, I’ve heard vapid meaningless faux-philosophical speeches from more than enough JRPG villains, sure, but this one was so completely out of left field — and its authors were so clearly proud of it, completely unaware of how vapidly hollow it was — that I guess it embarrassed me a lot more than it otherwise would have. Anyway, I think that they’re right to recognize that that ending rendered the game’s canon essentially radioactive and that the best thing to do is just dump it and focus on something else.

  14. steamcamel says:

    I’m pretty okay with this. Despite the excellent performance by Jennifer Hale, Shepard was bland, generic and uninteresting.

    • ulix says:

      Which was the point. Gives the player more room to project his/her own personality into the character.

      • Yglorba says:

        I’ve always felt that that’s the stupidest approach to main characters ever invented.

  15. Astalnar says:

    Mass Effect 4: The Ire of Shepard
    The Reaper Shepard comes back from beyond, because he found out about some usurper that wants to take all the fame and glory for himself. Shepard is determined to test this nascent hero. In order to do that, he unites the galaxy in the fight against this threat to his everlasting glory and tries to defeat it.
    The new hero, unaware what is happening struggles to against the odds.

    • mcindex says:

      I would play it – it would be interesting to take a KOTOR 2 approach, a new character striking out on their own, but still feeling the world very much affected by Shepard’s path, much as how the Exile always felt the presence of Revan. Or it could end up like The Bourne Legacy and just be shit.

  16. Werthead says:

    Hopefully this further indicates they are going with the prequel idea. At one point they did say they were considering a prequel option, and one of the options was a story set during the Racni Wars, presumably not involving any human characters whatsoever. That would certainly be very interesting.

  17. Doghaus says:

    Cautiously interested. I absolutely loved Mass Effect 1 and 2 and wouldn’t stop bleating on about them and then Mass Effect 3 came along and I kind of hated it (for more reasons than just the *spoiler* shit ending).

    On another note, I think they should make a game set in the Mass Effect university with Dragon Age style squad-based tactical combat. I would buy that, and it would fuse the best bits of two games. The story and setting in Dragon Age were mind-numbingly boring and all the characters were incredibly irritating, whereas Mass Effect has a fascinating universe full of interesting characters but the combat’s a bit crap.

  18. Chaz says:

    Better not read any of this. I’m still playing through ME2!

    All I can say is, I hope that they’ve removed that tedious planet scanning from ME3. Yet another one of those things that has me staring at the screen in disbelief thinking; with all the millions they had to make this, that was the best idea they could come up with? Did a group of seasoned professional game developers actually sit there and look at that; and think it would be fun! It was boring after the first few clicks on the first planet. Several systems and countless clicks later and it feels like a brutal form of psychological punishment.

    • Grygus says:

      It is not entirely removed as an idea, but the mechanic is very much improved.

  19. Corporate Dog says:

    The comics weren’t bad. As best I can remember their plots…

    One series was an ME2 prequel of sorts, which focused on Liara giving a ‘strange bedfellows’ assist to Cerberus, as they tried to obtain Shepherd’s corpse. It also goes into more detail about how she became the Shadow Broker.

    Another series focused on the Illusive Man in his pre-Cerberus days, and explained how he first crossed paths with the Reapers, got the glowing tech eyes, etc.

    Yet another series served as an ME3 prequel, covered the Battle for Omega, and explained how Aria lost the station to Cerberus.

    And then there were a series of ‘Origin’ comics, which told pre-Shepherd stories about the various crew members on the Normandy.

    The various novels weren’t awful either. As with the comics, they serve to flesh out things that might have been mentioned briefly in the games. They also help crystallize your dislike for Kai Leng, which makes his defeat in ME3 that much sweeter.

    • Cockles says:

      That would probably help understand Kai Leng but in the context of the game Mass Effect 3, he was one of the most boring parts of it. It looked like a 12 year old boy drew a space ninja who had no personality, no clear or obvious motivations and was just a one-dimensional uninteresting villain. It would’ve been much better if one of your old crew took that role, or someone you had already tangled with in some manner. Bit of a shame really, there was good potential to have a decent rival that players could actually feel threatened by or be interested in.

  20. Tom Walker says:

    Ah, that’s a shame. I was looking forward to seeing what ludicrous explanation they would come up with for how Shepard could still be alive after [SPOLIERBUTSURELYANYONEWHOCARESWOULDKNOWBYNOW] I had him disintegrated and scattered across the breadth of the universe.

  21. Premium User Badge

    Ninja Dodo says:

    I liked all of ME3, including the ending. I first played it after the Extended Cut was already out so I can’t comment on the release version and I didn’t play all of the DLC, but did play Leviathan and From Ashes, so your mileage may vary.

    Don’t know that I would be interested in a chronological sequel. Something parallel to or preceding the main series has more potential I think. Someone once suggested a detective game about C-Sec on the Citadel. I would play that. A game about Garrus’ Archangel days would be good as well… basically Batman with sniping (and calibrating).

    A new squad shooter with talking would also be great but I feel like there’s potential in that world that doesn’t necessarily map to the same gameplay patterns.

  22. jalf says:

    I would love to see a game set in the aftermath of ME3.

    Say, the different races are barely keeping in touch using the handful of quantum entanglement thingies they each have (each of which only connect to a single point, so messages would have to be relayed a lot to get to the intended destination). The mass relay network (or a replacement) is slowly, barely coming online (perhaps opening travel to a small fraction of the galaxy, perhaps with new nodes gradually coming online throughout the game); Earth struggling to keep all the non-humans stranded there alive and well, and everyone struggling to rebuild.

    Could be fun.

    And imagine playing as the first ship sent along a newly repaired relay, effectively reestablishing contact between two races.

  23. Ajh says:

    If they wanted to do a prequel there was some sort of dustup when humans found the relay something about turians and wars…that would be interesting.

    Or they can set something in the far future when they’ve rebuilt relays?

  24. Corporate Dog says:

    Surely, you mean Generic Space Marine Protagonist N7?

  25. matte_k says:

    Maybe something set during the First Contact War? Lots of potential to mine there, discovering alien races and tech for the first time, large scale combat zones, a clear cut enemy…For the record, I did quite enjoy the trilogy and whilst finding the original ending a bit vague, the finality of it was commendable in an age where publishers like to milk the sequel cow. The extended cut functioned much like Harrison Ford’s narration in the original Blade Runner Cut, i.e. exposition to fill in the gaps that people didn’t quite get. I did read somewhere that one of the character writers went on record to state that most of the staff got locked out of the scripting of the end, around the point of the “holo-goodbyes”. If true, that does explain a certain…flatness to the dialogue after.

  26. Zenicetus says:

    Count me among those who would like to see a post-ME3 series. There are too many known endings (and multiple choice endings) for the different factions in the original trilogy. I don’t want to play some new hero who has to deal with a faction like the Quarians in a prequel or parallel storyline, when I know what the resolution of their conflict with the Geth is. Or similar situations with the Salarains and Krogan. There is plenty of room for writing new stories based on the state of the galaxy, post-ME3. They just have to pick a canonical ending and go from there.

    Unfortunately, I suspect they won’t be able to resist fan-service with a prequel, or parallel storyline, where you get to meet Wrex again. Or Wrex’s great-grandfather or something.

    Whatever they do, I just hope that in the next game series they let you actually command a starship during a battle, instead of just using it as a set decoration for soap opera interactions with the crew. All those cool weapons and command consoles, and you never got to do anything with it, except give Joker a few orders and then watch a cut scene of a mini space battle.

  27. soopytwist says:

    ME 4 should be set 200 years after 3. Then you can get rid of most of the established characters apart from the long living species such as Liara and Garrus…..damn, I just realised I miss them.

  28. soopytwist says:

    Also, to establish a history at the start of the game (no importing saves this time) you could be playing a new N7 recruit who’s in class at some training academy and the answers you choose to questions posed by the lecturer determines how the rest of the game plays out – based on the choices you made as Shepard in the original trilogy.

  29. Spleen says:

    Let me play as a Reaper and I will be happy.
    Set during the time of the protheans, You, playing as Reaper number 9998524, must end these foolish organics before they unknowingly doom the universe with their… organic ways?

  30. Smaug says:

    Yes! The third one seemed like a shoddy wrap-up of previous games plot-lines. Also really tired of hearing the name SHEPHRD over and over over a over thousand times.

    • ulix says:

      Most of the storylines were wrapped up just fine. Especially the two biggest issues of these games (apart from the Reapers), the Quarian/Geth-conflict and the Genophage plot both had good resolutions.

      Until the ending of course, which may (or may not) have negated the resolutions you chose before.

  31. whoisnot says:

    Oh, the ending, again? Instead of explicitly joining this side or that, let me tell you (perhaps again) how I would’ve wrapped it all up, relying on the Leviathan DLC as well, not just the base games. It should give you an idea how excited I am for ME4. ;]

    Imagine this: In the end, Shepard turns out to have been genetically and cybernetically designed and built by Leviathan’s kind, through various agents (such as the Illusive Man!), as a sentient, free-willed “virus”, the final weapon with which to infect and take control of the Reapers (who could be boarded as ships – remember Saren’s travels!) And when Shepard conquers a single ancient Reaper from inside (well, no tricolor ending for you!), Leviathan’s kind releases 1000s of Shepard clones (both females and males).. the single player game ends… and the real MMO war begins.

  32. U-99 says:

    What I would like to see in ME4: How the fleets from all galactic nations, gathered in Solar System, will survive the lack of food and other supplies, given that mass relays are destroyed and they have no place to go, except scorched Earth. And Shepard also gone – so no force to keep them calm and cooperative. Real massacre between former allies. The horror, the horror.

  33. NotGodot says:

    Remember when Weekes said that video games could literally never be anything other than shallow wish fulfillment and that Obsidian was too pretentious because JE Sawyer said that some of that wish fulfillment was creepy?

    Yeah fuck him.

  34. ulix says:

    Maybe the main character will be a Turian generic space marine? Because there’s lots of them in the incredibly bloated Turian military.

  35. JohnnyMaverik says:

    I just want to be able to play as a Krogan… or a Hanar… but that’s probably a bit much to ask for really -_-

    • Thrippy says:

      Well, I don’t need to ask what your Galactic Readiness is. Krogan Shaman, Soldier, Warlord, or Vanguard can be found in ME3 multiplayer. All of the DLC that add multiplayer characters are free.

      Hanar have no hands but biotics could do without omnitools and weapons in a pinch.

  36. jimrox says:

    Everywhere I look I see positive and negative remarks about ME. I for one thought the series was great. Most people complain how everyone is stranded on earth and will die and take so long to travel home. While this is true what if the next set of games is the rebuilding. They have enough intelligence combined with species to go section to section planning how long and how much fuel and how much food move over time to slowly rebuild. During this rebuilding process all kinds of things can happen. I would think this is somewhat in line with how bioware is thinking because it can open many doors to go many ways. During this rebuilding you can run into different people or species and see how Shepherd affected them to give continuity of your decisions. If I was writing it I would go that route but we will have to wait and see.

  37. TheFinisher says:

    I love bleak hopeless stories, but the trilogy’s original ending really didn’t make sense. The ending suddenly dwelt heavily on topics like trans-humanism which were only a small part of the theme mix as it was through the rest of the series. It seemed like an ending to another story, though I don’t know what story that is.

  38. WardenCommanderCortanaCroft says:

    I honestly have no idea where a mass effect spin off could go, and still have no idea whether I want to be a part of it. When I first heard about Mass Effect 4 I was overjoyed, until Bioware announced Shepard would be no part of it. I was pretty confused to be honest, I thought ‘Hey! Mass Effect is Commander Shepard. Commander Shepard is Mass Effect.’ I couldn’t imagine a mass effect universe based game without my lovable Shepard and her squad mates. And I still can’t.

    I never thought Shepard would be the main character, of course not. But I thought she’d/he’d be in there somewhere (Surely there’s some room for some Shepard love?). And I definitely never thought Shepard’s story would end there and then, on the Citadel with her friends soaring away on the Normandy unsure whether or not their Commander was alive or dead.

    Of course when the time comes and Mass Effect 4 is released I’ll probably be ready to fork out £50.00 just to see what Bioware make of it, whether I’ll be pleasantly pleased or absolutely empty is yet to be seen.

    All I can really say now is- Bioware, try and not screw up.