Erik Kain

Erik Kain, Contributor

I write about video games, nerd culture, and the gaming industry.

6/26/2012 @ 1:19PM |20,733 views

What The 'Mass Effect 3' Extended Cut Means For The Future Of The Gaming Industry

BioWare’s long-awaited Mass Effect 3 extended cut may be a disappointment for many fans of the series, but it may also be a turning point for gamers and the gaming industry.

The Mass Effect 3 extended cut is out, and my co-blogger Paul Tassi has an excellent run-down of both the good and the bad in the new, or rather extended, endings for the game. He notes that while the new cutscenes do answer some questions they still suffer from the same problems the original endings suffered from.

Worse still, the Indoctrination Theory turns out to have been little more than wishful thinking.

Here’s Paul:

Personally, I’m disappointed in the content itself because deep down I always believed that Indoctrination Theory was the ace in the hole that would turn a bad ending into a brilliant one. All we got was a slightly clearer picture of the aftermath of the original ending, which is still fundamentally flawed in many ways. Yes, it was way, way better than what happened initially, but the fact that A) it took Bioware a mulligan to improve upon it and B) fan written endings remain far more compelling alternatives, I don’t think this can be called a success.

As expected, among the community there are those that are saying this is “good enough” and those raging with anger that it isn’t what they wanted. I’m somewhere in the middle, but what’s clear is that this is the end for Mass Effect 3. No amount of further protests would serve any sort of purpose. This is the final fix, and though it might just be a band-aid on a bullet hole, it’s an improvement.

I basically agree. And as Daniel Nye Griffiths points out, you can’t please everyone. When you try, you often just end up pleasing nobody.

At this point holding the line basically means holding the wallet for BioWare fans upset with the Mass Effect 3 ending and extended cut.

It’s great that the developer chose to meet fans in the middle on this issue, but it’s unfortunate that the endings themselves turned out to be so lackluster (note, I’ve only watched them on YouTube – I really have no desire to “play” additional cutscenes.)

Still, there’s really very little that continued protests could achieve at this point. Better to focus on broader consumer advocacy within the gaming industry than to stick stubbornly to a game whose final chapter has been penned (at least until more DLC comes out, or new titles in the franchise.)

Indeed, this entire saga may end up being a healthy one for the industry, opening a new chapter in gamer/developer/publisher relations. It’s remarkable that BioWare and EA even did this much, even if the endings themselves ended up being something of a letdown. Game consumers have realized that they are entitled, and that it isn’t a bad thing, to quality games. They’ve become more organized and smarter, whether or not these new activists represent a very large slice of gamers.

Meanwhile, BioWare is taking fan feedback for Dragon Age 3, so hopefully some of the problems in its predecessor and in Mass Effect 3 can be avoided.

Some fans will be too burned to go back to any BioWare title, of course, but it’s just as likely that the developer will have learned a thing or two from its ME3 and DA2 scrapes and bruises. Will it be enough to return the Dragon Age franchise to its more celebrated origins? Will that old magic that once made BioWare games so unique somehow resurface?

We shall see. In the meantime, there’s plenty of other games to keep you busy.

Fans of BioWare have no excuse to skip out on The Witcher 2.

Here are all four extended endings.

New Refusal Ending (and David Thier’s favorite:)

Control Ending:

Synthesis Ending:

Destroy Ending:

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  • techJ techJ 1 month ago

    While I don’t have any problems with the trilogy by itself, I do think the marketing was pretty bad, and I think there has needed to be better consumer advocacy as far as what devs say and what you actually get.

    In the future though, ME will have the benefit of not being judged by the hype given by the devs/pubs and bed judged completely at face value.

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  • What a disappointment. Well Bioware, you figured out how to turn an insultingly awful ending into a merely bad one. Congratulations. That’s improvement, I suppose, but you wont win any of the dedicated player base back that made you such a success in the first place.

    As I said before, the ending would never have solved all the problems with ME3. It was never going to change the fact that the interesting side missions of ME2 became half of a fetch quest in the third game, or that the team was anemic, tiny, largely less interesting than the previous games, and got smaller if you didn’t want to give EA more money for content already on the disc. It wasn’t going to change the fact that this game basically gives the finger to fans of the previous two games by invalidating most, if not all, of your carefully horded choices. It wont change the fact that the last words in the game are “buy our dlc.” None of that was going to change.

    But a truly good ending could have made people look past these flaws, and make the game actually deserve some of the 9-10 reviews shoveled its way. Instead, we simply got less ambiguity on a very bad set of endings. Its nice that there is actually some difference in what happens now, but that is about it. There is so much lost potential even in these new endings, and they still miss the point of Mass Effect so hard they may as well headbutt a hammer on the other side of the room.

    Just as an example, would it have killed you to show a krogan riding some kind of dinosaur mount if you did that fetch quest, and not show it if you didn’t? Where were the rachnai in all this? Where were the geth primes marching across earth in support of the humans? Would it have killed you to put a prime laying down covering fire in the ending battle scene that dies if you choose the destroy option, but lives if you choose the control or synthesis option? But only if you saved the geth? And that’s just off the top of my head. If they wanted this refusal ending to matter, why not add an option where if you get a truly obscene amount of galactic readiness, say literally everything and end the game at 100% readiness, then you get to win on your own strengths rather than relying on the crucible. This devastates earth, but Shepard lives and you destroy the reapers as a unified galaxy on your own rather than with the help of the same creature that was trying to kill you in the first place.

    The whole point of Mass Effect, all the way back to the original game, was that your choices matter. Unity matters. Against the cthuloid horror of the reapers you would need every hand to win. But in the end, none of that matters. The rachnai are indoctrinated weather you save the queen or not. The krogan continue weather you cure the genophage or not. The illusive man continues on his path of insanity weather you destroy the collector base or not. Even if you save the geth you wind up destroying them in 3/4 endings anyways.

    The whole organics/synthetics split was never the main focus of the game, and as such the endings still fall flat. Where is our climatic showdown with harbinger? Not there. Where are our legions of unified aliens and synthetics? MIA. Does the gameplay change if you save more races? Do you finally get to fight alongside a unified galaxy? No. You still get to sit back and just watch color coded endings, which are still basically the same ending 3 different ways. Not exactly a great end when we were promised vastly divergent endings based on choices going back three games. Its nice that we now know more about what happened, but expanding a turd doesn’t make it a diamond. At best, it spread the smell out so that it doesn’t stink so bad in any one area.

    You can go to youtube and find any number of better endings than this. The indoctrination theory is just one of those. Hell, we could probably build a better ending for each option in the bad ending, and have EACH of those be better than the whole of the extended cut. As it is, this is very likely the end of Bioware. EA has proven once again that they have no idea how to make RPGs, and I suspect we will soon see the start of Bioware’s long slow slide into irrelevancy. Between Dragon Age 2 and Mass Effect 3, the trust of too many fans has been trod upon. And that disgusts me, because they should damn well know better by now.

    There is a very slim hope for Dragon Age 3. But frankly, I wont be the one trusting to it. I bought Mass Effect 3 and was burned. I bought dragon age 2, and it was awful. I had my intelligence openly insulted by people working inside Bioware itself. Even if Dragon Age 3 is good, I wont be able to trust those reviews because THEY REVIEWED ME3 WELL TOO, and the ending ruined the entirety of the series for me. Best case scenario, I pick it up cheap later on if its universally hailed as amazing. If they do a similar job on DA3 as they did on ME3, I wont pick it up at all. And that’s a shame, because it was not terribly long ago that Bioware was still my favorite group of world-builders.

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  • Rob Munsch Rob Munsch 1 month ago

    Daniel: I can’t contest any single point you raise, and your last paragraph sums up where I am right now exactly.

    Looking at this version of Destroy, though – whomever recorded it saved the Quarians and the Krogan, and possibly the Geth, but definitely played Multiplayer and had a high Assets score – if this had been in from the start, I would have had questions. I would have not been completely satisfied. I would have suspected that there was a lot of rush at the end, where all the things you describe were cut in favor of dev time for Multiplayer. Things that would have added life and made it seem like, duh, your decisions and all the fetchin’ you did actually made a difference, instead of seeming like you could have skipped half the run-around sidequests. Instead of making it seem suspiciously like those sidequests were there to pad game time on a pretty short game…

    But I don’t think we would have seen quite the reaction we did.

    There’s some really key changes in that ending that go beyond “expansion.” After defending their Artistic Vision to the high heavens, -they retconned some of the key points of their own endings.- And they have the Retakers to thank for it, directly.

    - The Relays were “severely damaged,” says Hackett. Orly? Cause in the game I played, godboi makes it plain that they’re destroyed, no matter what, and the Citadel gets blowed up too.

    This is retconned completely out. Having been on the BSN forums since the week after the game was released, I know that those issues are the root of many of the issues smart thinkers had with the endings. Races stranded, populations starving, galaxy-wide infrastructure destroyed; dependent colonies and worlds starving to death or lacking imported resources. Stone-age catastrophe. While telling us all we Just Didn’t Get It out the side of their mouths, Bioware went ahead and -fixed those glaring illogical holes.- The citadel survives; the Mass Relays survive. No mass starvation, and the cutscenes plainly show everyone going home.

    Now, how they do this is with a lot of muttering into their beard and shuffling their feet, mind you. Hackett has to stress several times how things are only damaged and can be rebuilt; we see several static shots of people returning to their homeworlds. How exactly they do so is glossed over, mrf hrrmph ahem AND THEY’RE HOME! But it acknowledges the problems with “and all the relays are wrecked,” and changes it.

    There’s still a “breath” ending, and the possibility that if you max out everything you can, maybe you have some slim hope of surviving.

    One hysterically funny edit is Joker manning the controls of the Normandy as the explosion chases him. There are two changes:
    - He’s moving much slower, not the frantic AHMIGAD we saw in the original ending.
    - He doesn’t look behind him! Another bit of silliness fans called Bioware out on. And again, they pretended that it all made sense and would be explained…. and quietly edited it out.

    I’m almost afraid to watch the Blue and Green now. I am going to tentatively guess that Green has Joker healed of his brittle bones, not hobbling out of the Normandy wreck as a cyborg synthesis brittle bone borg, as he does in the original.

    Bioware needs to give some credit where credit is due. They fixed some of the most glaring errors with the ending, as pointed out by customers, while spending a lot of time and effort belittling people for “not getting it” and stating that they stood behind the endings as they stood. Well, apparently not.

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  • Han Asra Han Asra 1 month ago

    Yes, the main focus of the game never been organic vs synthetic in the first place. It was Eezo. Eezo is the force, the spice, the warp of ME universe. In the first game we are being shown how eezo change the shape of many species. This is continued down to ME2 with their dark energies. But suddenly in the middle of the third, they toss it all like garbage, using the theme of defend earth, organic vs synthetic as their main theme.

    This is why ME3 isn’t worth the saving anymore. The bad writing is just horrendous if you ask me. Right in the middle of the game, you are shown with glaring lore-hole (A dreadnought in earth atmosphere while somebody back in the first and second state that no ship ABOVE frigate class capable of entering planet’s atmosphere because of their sheer weight)

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  • Erik Kain Erik Kain , Contributor 1 month ago

    The belittling part is unfortunate, though not surprising given recent ad campaigns.

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  • Erik Kain Erik Kain , Contributor 1 month ago

    Great comment, Daniel. A lot of trust has evaporated over this, which is too bad but totally justified. I guess I’m just not at all surprised that the new endings don’t satisfy gamers who wanted their choices to matter more.

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  • Ann Aguirre Ann Aguirre 1 month ago

    This is my primary complaint about the direction Mass Effect 3 took. They were building a story arc in the first two games and then just derailed from it in a messy, illogical plot shift. They have violated the tenet of Chekov’s gun:

    “If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired. Otherwise don’t put it there.”

    They had a gun on stage in ME1, and then in ME3, it turned into a starchild.

    The extended endings don’t ameliorate the lack of logic that plagued it from the first. Though it might be a massive middle finger to the fanbase, only the Reject ending makes any kind of logical sense. As someone else noted, it’s unfortunate that they retconned some of their mistakes without ownership. They’ve quietly swept under the rug part of the plot points that didn’t track, but haven’t addressed the circular logic behind the Reapers’ new mission in life. When you ask the starchild for clarification, he essentially tells you his creators are from Canada and shut up, you don’t know them, you’ll never meet them, and THERE’S NO TIME. Seriously? This is what passes for worldbuilding?

    I have no rage. I’m amused at this point. So… thanks, I guess, for attempting to make your game sensible. Gold star for effort.

    For actual quality, however? I think I’d rather play some German imports. Adieu, Bioware. You were my favorite game company, once.

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  • Rob Munsch Rob Munsch 1 month ago

    Erik, the Refusal ending… that’s just…. i don’t know if I even have the words to express this well enough…

    For legions of dissatisfied customers who believed in the game of choices we were sold, the Refusal ending starts out looking like exactly what everyone’s been asking for. I can just picture all the Retakers restarting the endgame, getting to that point, and…. having the option to reject the Godboi! Rallying enough of the Shepard the writers have given us over three games to take a stand against the Deus Ex (see whut I did thar)!

    Is there any way for those legions of players didn’t get excited when they find this? That feeling of rekindled hope, that Bioware really listened and was up to something brilliant all along – along with the Harbinger voice speaking in place of the Godboi, just as all the Indoc theorists predicted?

    And then the kick in the nuts. Nope, wrong choice, screw you, everyone dies, you fail, nothing’s changed. Now go back and choose one of the ridiculous three Bespoke endings like a good fan and stop calling yourselves customers, and pay no attention to how we’ve -still- never even come close to addressing how this ending directly contradicts everything Casey Hudson said about how the endings would be.

    It’s nothing but a mean-spirited, petty taunt. Sure, they’ll PR the hell out of it – all in good fun! We’re acknowledging the devoted fans! What, you can’t take a joke? – but at the heart of it, it’s a kick to the crotch to the Retakers. The funny thing is, it starts out being 1000% better than the other three plagaraised idiocies we’re stuck with, before yanking the rug out from under itself.

    It’s mind-boggling. Before seeing that, I was prepared to write the whole thing off as ego and, frankly, embarrassment that so few failed to fall for the slap-dash stew of ripoff concepts the ending is comprised of. They made it clear they’d never admit to any misstep, any poor decision along the way.

    But going out of your way to make a voiced cutscene just to slap folks in the face is really pushing the envelope. I think you’re right; this does set a precedent for the customer-company relationship in gaming, and BWEA has made it clear that they’re going to downplay it as much as possible.

    Just wow.

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  • Ribz Ribz 1 month ago

    I like to say it as: “If no red, green, or blue, then screw you.”

    Erik, I agree with the sentiment that no further protests are necessary. I think that now’s the time to chill out (of course, after the purging of emotion in response to the extended cut; I am not unjust), then after thoroughly judging it, add BiowEAr’s reaction alongside their recent track record (i.e., anything they’ve done post EA) and then extrapolate from there.

    After applying this approach, I can’t help but think that DA3 will suck: I think they’ll pull an ME3 again and make DA3 have aspects of the first and second games in the series, but it’ll mostly be built around the second, just like how ME3 was basically an upgrade to ME2. EA will continue to pressure Bioware to “broaden the market,” and in their efforts to appease fans of the original, they’ll make DA3 a more complex version of DA2, yet it will still be dumbed-down compared to DA1. It’s almost guaranteed that there will be day 1 dlc, though I’m not sure it’ll be as egregious as “From Ashes.”

    I prefer this cynical point of view, because when the moment of truth finally arrives, I can only be pleasantly surprised.

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  • Erik Kain Erik Kain , Contributor 1 month ago

    A bit of rage and indignation is healthy. It’s the festering folk need to avoid.

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  • Erik Kain Erik Kain , Contributor 1 month ago

    Well said, Rob.

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  • Equinoxe Equinoxe 1 month ago

    I did not find the refusal ending as agravating. At least you could refuse the red, green and blue cookie. Sure, it led to the death of all and everybody. I guess I was able to distance myself emotionally far enough from the frenchise to not care as much anymore. It’s like the death of a good friend. You grieve and mourne, and then you move on. I never expected the extended ending to be any kind of resurection. That would have meant to rewrite the whole game, including changes to such silly things like the cloned rachnii queen. That was never going to happen. Time to move on. And away from Bioware.

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  • ethangach ethangach 1 month ago

    I’m in a similar boat.

    Hopefully, no matter what most people feel about the extended scenes, they’ll stay positive on the fact that BioWare made a good faith attempt to assuage some people’s disguntlement, so as to encourage companies to do these kinds of things in the future when appropriate.

    Unfotunately, BioWare is still part of EA now. I’ll miss the Dragon Age 1/Mass Effect 1 days.

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  • Erik Kain Erik Kain , Contributor 1 month ago

    Well I’m going to start playing Dragon Age Origins next week…

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  • Is it your first time playing DA:O, or are you just having another go for fun?

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  • Contractor Contractor 1 month ago

    I remember buying DA:O back in ’09 knowing literally only two things about it: that it was high fantasy and it was made by BioWare. Such was the magnitude of my trust and consumer confidence in the developer. No more.

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  • Nah, I am done with EA/Bioware. I have lost all faith in them…. They are sold-out and soulless these days….

    How the mighty have fallen….

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  • Erik Kain Erik Kain , Contributor 1 month ago

    First time!

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  • C.Byrne C.Byrne 1 month ago

    You’ll love it, you might want to do some checking here if you are playing on a PC;

    Some DLC items can be downloaded and manually installed, and unlike DA2 they don’t affect the games balance. You should also check the patches page, as there is an issue with one of the armour sets not being complete in the game without a small patch.

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  • It’s a fun game, although the only really good DLC IMO was Witch Hunt, especially if you romanced Morrigan during the main quest.

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  • Erik Kain Erik Kain , Contributor 1 month ago

    Well, I almost never buy DLC…

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  • Erik Kain Erik Kain , Contributor 1 month ago

    Thanks! I am playing on PC, so that’s good to know.

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  • C.Byrne C.Byrne 1 month ago

    Get the Ultimate Edition of Origins if you can find a copy. This includes all the major DLC and the expansion, and works out as a lot cheaper than trying to buy even one or two of the DLC packs on their own.

    Stone Prisoner was the ‘Day One’ DLC for Origins, but it was free for anyone with a new copy of the game (it might still be). While you can still play without it (as I did for two months) it is very well done while not being essential.

    If you had the Blood Dragon Armour in Mass Effect 2 you can also get it for a (registered) copy of Dragon Age.

    The other DLC is throw away, meaning that some of it passes the time while others are rather painful in all the wrong way. However managing to complete some of the achievements in the DLC’s will give you some new items for subsequent playthrough’s of the main game. (Lilianna’s Song can net you one of the best leather armours in the game).

    Don’t bother with the ‘Feastday’ DLC’s, it adds nothing but the ability to mess around with your influence with party members – which I’ve always considered to be an important part of the game.

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