Tue. May 30th, 2023
You get to see a little more of this crew in the new extended cut endings... just a little bit.

You get to see a little more of this crew in the new extended cut endings… just a little bit.

Bioware / EA

“I want details.”

This line is one of the new player-selectable dialogue options available during a climactic conversation in Mass effect 3‘s Extended Cut DLC content. But it can also represent the thoughts of many fans who felt it Mass effect 3The original ending options were too bare-bones and nowhere near meaningful enough for the conclusion of an epic three-game story that could easily run over 100 hours.

Fortunately for both Shepard and those fans, the new content in the Extended Cut provides plenty of new details about the ultimate fate of the galaxy. It all comes without fundamentally changing the different ways fate can break out. The DLC probably won’t please everyone, but I feel like the Extended Cut is how the game should have ended in the first place.

Spoiler note: While the rest of this story will take pains not to reveal some of the key details of the new content in the Extended Cut, it will necessarily MAJOR SPOILERS for those who haven’t played the Extended Cut yet (or beat the original game for that matter). Stop reading if you want to start fresh.

First, let’s stop all the talk that Bioware “succumbed” to anger fans by changing the ending it was originally intended for Mass effect 3. The main plot points of the ending in the Extended Cut still shuffle almost exactly as they did in the original game – depending primarily on the decision Commander Shepard makes in a consequence-laden conversation with the Reaper-controlling catalyst. Whether you decide to destroy the Reapers, control them, or create a synthesis of all organic and synthetic life, there’s nothing in the Extended Cut that feels fundamentally different than before.

(Actually, the Extended Cut introduces a new storyline branch that sort of wraps around the important decision referenced above, leading to an entirely new conclusion for the entire series. I won’t go into details here to avoid spoiling the surprise – you can spoil it yourself here. Suffice it to say, I consider this short, clever plot twist more an “alternate reality” than an actual altered ending forced on players by Bioware).

While the plot points haven’t changed, their presentation in the Extended Cut makes all three main ending paths much more narratively satisfying and easier to understand. The additions begin even before you are forced to make that decisive choice. New conversation options allow Shepard to challenge the catalyst on everything from the origins to the motivations. The resulting back-and-forth becomes pleasantly philosophical about the nature of war and of life itself, while also fleshing out crucial plot points left unexplained in the original endings.

The Extended Cut also does a much better job of explicitly laying out the consequences of Shepard’s various choices before she has to make them. By adding and changing just a few lines of dialogue (by inserting new video at crucial points), the player gets a much better idea of ​​exactly what will happen on each of the three paths Shepard encounters… and why she would choose one fate over another.

Don't worry, the Extended Cut endings largely maintain the general tone of unavoidable fatalism displayed in this screenshot.

Don’t worry, the Extended Cut endings largely maintain the general tone of unavoidable fatalism displayed in this screenshot.

But the most significant changes in the Extended Cut come after the last crucial decision is made, when players get to see how the galaxy has fundamentally changed with Shepard’s choice. In the original version, many players complained that the only substantial difference between the three endings was the color of the relay-destroying beam propagating through the galaxy. That is no longer true in the Extended Cut. It uses lengthy voiceovers from key franchise characters and short visual vignettes to show and narrate how the galaxy looks very different under each branch of the storyline.

While each of these epilogues shares some common imagery, as well as some overlapping dialogue on themes of loss and resilience, players can’t complain that they’re just recolored versions of the same basic ending. I was particularly struck by a new no-dialogue scene where a human and a synthetic fight side-by-side against the Reapers. This scene plays out slightly (but noticeably) differently under each of the terminal branches. It offers a parsimonious and effective look at how Shepard’s decision directly affects how the war will end for millions of soldiers.

Bioware has wisely resisted the urge to pacify angry fans by creating new, “happier” endings to replace the original game’s slightly depressing and fatalistic tone. Still, there’s something even more satisfying and hopeful about the Extended Cut endings, simply by adding specific knowledge about how the galaxy will continue to evolve after all the sacrifices Shepard and her crew have made. It’s a bittersweet, consistent tone that fits the larger arc of the Mass effect games more than the abrupt finality of the original endings.

If there’s one complaint I have about the Extended Cut, it’s how the game’s save structure forces players to trudge through the extended boss battles for at least 45 minutes or so every time they want to see one of the extended endings. It would have been nice to have the option to save the game right before the last conversation with the Catalyst, so players can check out all the new content a bit more efficiently. As it stands, I might suggest impatient players to just head over to YouTube to see the extended endings instead of wasting so much time replaying the exact same battles.

I’m sure some will be unhappy with the additions Bioware has made to the Extended Cut. The conclusion still seems to refer minimally to some rather significant decisions made earlier in the series, which was a major complaint for many protesters. And there’s still that cryptic final shot of a stargazer and his son talking about traveling to the stars that has frustrated so many players.

But it’s hard to complain about Bioware’s sincere attempt to add more backstory and context to an ending that it admits lacked both qualities. This is the kind of elaborate, well-rounded conclusion that the Mass effect series always deserved, and I can only assume it didn’t come sooner thanks to deadline pressure.

By akfire1

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