A lot of anger expressed on the internet on Monday, and, yes, it had something to do with Mass Effect 3. Now it seems fans are angry about the ending, so angry in fact they have already started an online petition to have it changed. Honestly fans, it’s getting to the point where Bioware won’t be taking your feedback seriously if you just keep clawing at every aspect of the game out of hate. I wouldn’t be surprised if Bioware filters their mail for criticisms written in polite tone only (even though Casey Hudson says otherwise). But I’m sure everyone is tired of hearing Mass Effect 3 complaints and news outlets reporting about ME3 complaints so let us move on to game endings themselves.
Kotaku posted an opinion piece about having narrative patches that function similar to gameplay patches. Have the gaming devs revamp the ending by replacing the original with the new. This may seem like a quick fix for Bioware’s current game, but I have a couple of problems with this proposal. The first is having segmented narratives. If I play through a game and finish all the way to the end, that should be that. I don’t want to buy more DLC — because let’s face it, there is no way in Hell this is going to be free to the masses — especially ones that give the “true ending” or helps conclude the original narrative. That is just laziness on the devs or the publishers behalf. The second problem is game devs catering to gamers for a “better” ending. Gamers aren’t writers (not all of them at least) and devs shouldn’t write another ending to make specifically them happy. If there was a purpose to the end, whether it be the death of a major character or having the bad guy win, then leave it be. So what if it’s an ending that won’t win popularity points? What’s done is done. However, there is a problem with my second point. I’ll use Mass Effect 3 as an example. Since a large chunk of money from EA was involved in the making of this game, EA does have the right to ask Bioware to change the ending in DLC. Even though Mass Effect is Bioware’s baby, EA is the one who paid for the house and the food and has every right to ask for something different. Will EA do such a thing? Who knows.
In the case of Mass Effect, however, a rooted problem started to sprout since the beginning of the series. Since Mass Effect is built around the idea of player customization, both from the look of Commander Shepard to the dialogue options, players also get a sense they are in control of almost everything. It shouldn’t be too much of a surprise many of them expected some type of end that fit according to the way they have played from the previous Mass Effect games. What is surprising is how many of them expect Bioware to tailor the ending to their liking. It’s absurd, but it shouldn’t be unexpected. Having a story where players interacts with multiple options that affects the story outcome questions who exactly is the author of Mass Effect. You or Bioware? (The answers Bioware, but you choose the route of your story version.)
The opinion piece bought up Bethesda’s Fallout 3 and the fan outcry for another ending. In the original ending to Fallout 3, the player dies or the story just ends and the player cannot further their adventures of unexplored territory in the Fallout universe. Game director Todd Howard responded to the criticism of the original ending: “Based on the feedback I’ve seen, most people [were] pissed off that it ends, not the ‘ending’ itself. Maybe that’s one and the same, I don’t know. We really underestimated how many people would want to keep playing…” In the end, no pun intended, it was more of a gameplay problem than a narrative problem. I didn’t have trouble accepting my character’s demise to save the Wasteland, especially since I would be able to see daddy Liam Neeson, but I still wanted to explore more of the world of Fallout and the original ending could not accomplish that simple request. In the case of Fallout 3, I’m fine with game devs changing the story’s ending to satisfy gameplay issues.
I’ll be the first to admit I haven’t played enough games that end terribly. Maybe Bulletstorm or Enslaved, but their endings weren’t that bad. If you want a bad ending and don’t mind the change in medium, I would have to say Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was a terrible final book to the Harry Potter series. I’m in the minority, of course. Between the glossed over deaths of characters that I really liked to the shitty use of deus ex machina, Deathly Hallows final conclusion felt empty for one fan who grew up with the books. But I can’t change the ending to that book, or Dumbledore’s subtle homosexuality, and I don’t think I want to. If anything, it really put into perspective what good narratives are and how most gaming narratives are aiming for the best. Luckily, nothing in the gaming world have been as bad as Harry’s final adventure (at least from the games I’ve played).
Even though I haven’t finished Mass Effect 3, I am interested to hear other people’s perspective on its ending. Advanced warnings of spoilers, please. What makes the ending so terrible? Is there a way it can be salvaged in DLC, even though I just said it was a bad idea? Is it just the ending that is terrible or the narrative leading to end? Leave your thoughts in the comments.