Mass Effect 3 to get free “Extended Cut” DLC to “clarify” its nonsense ending

This article contains spoilers for the ending of ME3. Also sarcasm, dead science fiction authors, links to gourmet food and a reference to equine emissions.

After all the disappointment, anger, speculation, fans getting shat-on by the gaming press, charity donation drives, cupcake deliveries and heartbreaking testimonials over Mass Effect 3′s lazy, rushed, incoherent, nonsensical ending that’s only “deep” or “profound” if you’re a drooling slack-jawed simpleton, BioWare yesterday issued a press release detailing what they’re going to do about it. That’s assuming your definition of detailing means “vague and non-commital”, though I’ll cut BioWare some slack seeing as they’ve only just announced it.

Their response to fans is Mass Effect 3: Extended Cut, a piece of free DLC containing “additional cinematic sequences and epilogue scenes” that “will give fans seeking further clarity to the ending of Mass Effect 3 deeper insights into how their personal journey concludes.” BioWare’s Dr Ray Muzyka is quoted as saying “we think we have struck a good balance in delivering the answers players are looking for while maintaining the team’s artistic vision for the end of this story arc in the Mass Effect universe.”

An FAQ put out by BioWare after the press release explains these additional scenes don’t mean we get any more choices besides the three colour-coded fever dreams we currently have. The reason for this is BioWare “strongly believes in the team’s artistic vision for the end of this arc of the Mass Effect franchise. The extended cut DLC will expand on the existing endings, but no further ending DLC is planned.” They “remain committed” and are “proud of the artistic choices we made in the main game”, and quite rightly so since 99% of the game is great. However they “are aware that there are some fans who would like more closure to Mass Effect 3″ and this DLC aims “to offer fans additional context and answers to the end of Commander Shepard’s story.”

You know this would be fantastic news if it weren’t for that pesky “artistic vision” phrase. Funny how Dr Muzyka claims its the team’s artistic vision when certain allegations (obviously denied by BioWare) suggest producer Casey Hudson and lead writer Mac Walters wrote the ending without any consultation with the rest of the writing team, effectively sidestepping the peer review process applied to every other line of dialogue in the game. Whether that’s true or not doesn’t matter anyway since the ending itself is – to put it as mildly as I possible can – profoundly disappointing. Were I less tactful I’d bring up that old saying about turds and why applying Brasso to them with a soft cloth is an exercise in futility. Since I’m not a games journalism professional I can go ahead and call it what it is: a gobbet of congealed horse spunk hanging like a repulsive stalactite from the face of an otherwise beautiful game.

If I may address Casey Hudson and Mac Walters for a moment: the problem is not that the ending needs “clarification”. I’m a reasonably intelligent person and no stranger to lofty science fiction concepts – my bookshelf includes works by Arthur C. Clarke, Philip K. Dick and Alistair Reynolds, to name but a few – so I can see what you were trying to do with the ending. You wanted a reconciliatory conclusion keeping with Shepard’s role as a galactic peacemaker – whether by hook or by crook – instead of a simplistic “kill the baddies, save the universe, everybody lives” finale. You also wanted to incorporate some transcendental themes ala Deus Ex or The Matrix to elevate Mass Effect above the pulp level of ray guns and spaceships. Finally you wanted to create a brave new galaxy in which future civilisations could develop along their own paths free of all Reaper influence, hence blowing up the Mass Relays – the Reaper’s most effective tool of control.

The problem is that the execution was more ham-fisted than Hammy McHamhands, the Ham Golem of Hamtown, trying to have sex with a field mouse. One of the biggest reasons for this, besides Walters’ and Hudson’s reach exceeding their grasp, is that it’s an abrupt tonal shift from the 2.99 games that come before it. If Mass Effect’s universe is a soft chewy filling of space opera nougat surrounded by a thin crunchy shell of hard sci-fi chocolate, Mass Effect 3′s final five minutes is a spoonful of Casu Marzu flung into the mix. You can tell us how Casu Marzu is a gourmet delicacy for refined palates, made from the finest ewe’s milk in Sardinia, until you’re blue in the face. It’s still decomposed cheese teeming with maggots when what we expected was another tasty chocolate and nougat treat. Perhaps you could have tried luxury Belgian chocolate instead? It would have mixed better with the rest of the ingredients. If you want to serve the literary sci-fi equivalent of Casu Marzu, Balut, Kopi Luwak or some other weird gourmet dish to a recipient that has no say in the matter, write a sodding novel instead.

BioWare says we can expect this free downloadable lecture explaining how we’re all uncultured plebs sometime this summer, which gives them a few months to work on it. I’ll be satisfied enough if it manages to elevate the game’s current shoddy, out-of-left-field, ridiculous ending from the level of “dead puppy in a steaming puddle of vomit” to merely “disappointing and bland”. The worst case scenario is BioWare’s attempts to clarify things will tear open the numerous plot holes wider than a certain notorious picture of a man pulling apart his own anus. I hope beyond hope that being forced to explain the ending makes Casey Hudson and Mac Walters come to their senses about how fucking stupid it really is, resulting in something that wouldn’t be laughed out of an infants school-level creative writing class. Given how fervently BioWare are clinging to the “artistic vision” defence however I probably shouldn’t be so optimistic.

At least it’ll be free.

Matt McDermott

About Matt McDermott

Matt is the irresponsible degenerate behind bitscreed.com.