Mass Effect 3 Ending – Why I Feel the it’s ‘Epic – Poetic’
The Mass Effect 3 Ending. Oh boy.
Just completed the game a few weeks ago. Like many of you, I was speechless, in a bad way. The Mass Effect 3 ending felt incomplete.
In fact, I felt a little emotionally unstable for a moment (lol, call me emotional…I like immersion)…then I came onto the internet and realised that I’m not the only one who felt this way.
But just awhile ago, I had an epiphany that seem to help me come to terms with the ending. Just wanted to share with you guys and hope that maybe it’ll provide some form of closure.
One word: Scale.
I felt that those of us who weren’t happy with the ending had one main issue: closure. Interestingly, it’s not about the proverbial ‘happy ending’. Would be nice, but it seems many were ok with sacrifice, etc, but there wasn’t proper closure.
This is where scale comes in.
I felt that the story tellers have failed in one aspect, and that is that they didn’t make us understand/grasp/feel the fact that this wasn’t just about the survival of the current cycle. There were some attempts, like how when talking to the reapers and leviathan is that there is no war, there’s only the harvest, with emphasis on the fact that we’re like cattle waiting to be harvested, and our pathetic attempts at waging war like nothing more than the occasional kicks of defiance by said cattle. As we all know, few people internalized that into the narrative.
Also, remember, even the Crucible was the combined effort of an unknown number of lost cycles.
In other words, this ending was millions, maybe even billions of years in the making, with the species of each cycle only adding to the crucible design.
Remember the derelict reaper from Mass Effect 2? That was 37 million years ago. That’s 740 cycles of life extinguished. 740 cycles of world ending trillion population genocide – at MINIMUM.
We have fantastic stories in just this one cycle. Imagine the loss of thousands, tens of thousands of cycles. Talk about the lack of closure. Imagine you gathered the whole galaxy and trillions died just to add piece 96 to the 5000 piece jigsaw that is the crucible.
Now that’s what you call an incomplete ending, and a true ‘for the greater good’ sacrifice.
It’s About Something Bigger Than Your Story
In other words, this fight is not about the normandy gang. it’s not even about humans, turians, etc etc. It’s about life (organic/synthetic/evolution wadeva your choice). Universal life.
Like what Eve said about how ,”Living in the dark makes one appreciate the light”, one might also argue that the experience that makes every little decision we make important to us is to set us up for the ending crunch time.
And for the endings…if you look beyond the colour and Shepard’s death, you are given the choice to dictate a new start to ALL LIFE in the galaxy. Whether it’s the utterly destruction of all synthetic life if, the control of the reapers (I’m assuming to become like a guardian of the galaxy), or your decision to sacrifice yourself to help jump a million years of evolution and prevent the ever repeating cycle of bloodshed between synthetics and organics
So it’s not Tali, Ash, James, Zaeed, Samara/Morinth, Humans, Turians, Salarians, Asari, etc etc.
It’s millions (billions?) of years of pain and sacrifice, trillions upon trillions of lives. Oceans, worlds, of spilled blood (notice the ‘waterfall’ on the citadal?)
In the end, it’s victory, for life. A new beginning. A new chapter of life in the milky way.
I don’t know about you, but once I scaled up a bit and looked at the bigger (huge…actually) picture…I can appreciate the Mass Effect 3 ending better.
The scale of sacrifice that has gone into preserving life is…out-of-this-galaxy-staggering.
We now live in a time where every individual is important. You’re the Star. You’re the Hero. You’re not a cog in a machine – You’re THE machine.
The Mass Effect 3 ending does something extremely uncomfortable to people – It puts you down. It humbles you. It makes you a simple figurehead of a ridiculous story of sacrifice and humble cog making. You’re simply turning on a switch to a thing that’s the culmination of millions, possibly billions, of years in the making, and with each cycle, trillions of lives are sacrificed, with each cycle only contributing a small piece to the giant Crucible puzzle.
It’s quite an honour if you think about it. Millions of species’ (not lives – ENTIRE SPECIES’) of sentient beings that have sacrificed themselves to put you into a position to chart the future of all life.
IMHO, the Mass Effect 3 ending then, is damn bloody epic, humbling, and is quite god damn poetic too.
All I can say is…wow. Well done Bioware.
What About The Small Things That Are Important?
Trust me when I say I feel you guys. When I experienced the Mass Effect 3 ending for the first time, I was utterly mortified. Part of me went ‘wtf just happened?’ and another part of me felt like I just got slapped and shit on.
Everything you worked for, big and small, all wiped out – just like that.
But again, scale.
If you talked to Garrus, you should remember the later conversations about the need for dictators and how shitty it feels when cold, hard decisions need to be made based on numbers.
There was a phrase I read a long time ago, can’t remember it exactly, but it basically says that you’re put through shit to grow and mould you into a better person, preparing you for what you’re meant to be. Borrowing from that line of thought, all the things you have done would have prepared you for making the decision at the end, which are essentially maintaining the status quo, destruction, revolution or evolution.
One must remember that everybody has their own reasons for making a decision. Let’s take destruction of the reapers. Some may choose that out of hate, while others choose that because they don’t want to sacrifice themselves, since control and synthesis is 100% self sacrifice and destruction still leaves the chance for escape. Then some might choose control, preferring to be the guardian of the galaxy (who knows, there might be something even worst than the reapers, like keeping nukes as a deterrent) or simply because they’re inspired to be like the Illusive Man.
Same ending, different intentions and meaning.
My point is, though the ending might seem simplistic (and maybe even an insult), because of the scale and the weight of the decisions, you would be the perfect candidate to make the decision that impacts all life from here onwards…ALL LIFE FROM HERE ONWARDS….because of everything you’ve worked for.
IMHO, much better than leaving that decision to some immature anti-hero-loser. Shinji-ikari anyone?
– The focus to make the game more accessible to noobs probably cost them the ending.
– Like I said, attempts to bring about the true sense of scale that was originally intended was insufficient.
– As morbid as it already was, the characters still felt a little ‘optimistic’ when taking unto account the true scale of sacrifices across countless cycles.
So really, for me, the Mass Effect 3 ending felt ‘off’ because the sense of the scale of pain and sacrifice that was created in the story was not big enough for the ending.
Hope you guys appreciate what I’m saying.
I can sleep better now lol.
PS. My Problem With The ‘Indoctrination Theory’
I’ve been reading about this indoctrination theory for the Mass Effect 3 ending and I must say, its arguments are pretty solid…but I have my doubts because 1. It’s run by EA and 2. A lot of the evidence can also be narrowed down into ‘nitpicking’ on devices used purely for dramatic effect.
There are very good videos on this theory though, go on to youtube and search ‘indoctrination theory’.
Just wanted to add that while the indoctrination theory sounds fantastic, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was simply a victim of deadlines and budgets…Which will mean their argument about ‘artistic integrity’ is BS. Bioware’s able to make fantastic games without EA. If only they had the freedom and balls to not bother about deadlines like Valve and Blizzard.
Oh and btw, if you bought the Mass Effect 3: Final Hours app, you’d know that speculation after the ending was part of the plan. There’s a sketch for the game’s ending…complete with: “But why did Shepard have to die? LOTS OF SPECULATION FROM EVERYONE”
But, they’ve just announced the ‘Extended Cut DLC’. I guess we’ll find out what really happened and find out if Bioware’s been trolling us all along.
Note: I didn’t talk about certain weird discrepancies like why joker was leaving the system and how some of the team managed to get onto the Normandy and other ridiculous plot holes….that’s for another discussion.
Mass Effect 3 Extended Cut DLC Review