Over 20,000 BioWare fans unhappy with Shepard’s fate and why that’s bonkers.
Controversy and Mass Effect 3 seem to have gone hand in hand as of late and the latest complaint about the sci-fi sequel involves its multiple endings.
Now obviously we won’t detail what potentially happens at the end of the acclaimed release, which we awarded 98% last week, but there’s a poll on the BioWare Social Network which allows players to vent their frustrations on what many are calling an “unsatisfying conclusion” to the trilogy.
At time of writing 88% (22878 votes) want the option of a brighter ending, 9% (2275 votes) think the endings are fine but wish for one critical component to be changed and only 2% (631 votes) think the endings are fine as they are.
You can visit the spoiler-rific poll here.
Whatever you think of the branching endings, they have at least provoked a lot of chatter amongst fans. In our opinion whatever ending you get absolutely makes sense in the grand scheme and leaves the series in a very interesting place for the inevitable sequel, while offering sufficient closure.
It’s not like Mass Effect 2 had a great ending or anything, a finale which included fighting off a two-storey tall Terminator torso, and we suspect that the real reason people are unhappy is that the ending of the third game radically alters the sci-fi universe’s status quo.
That’s something to be celebrated in a modern game franchise.
Usually developers do everything they can to keep franchises going long after they’ve hit their peak, but with Mass Effect 3 BioWare has created an experience which will change the franchise forever, with consequences which completely change the DNA of the series.
If that’s worth complaining about then it’s a very sad day for our hobby. Nobody complains about the endings of games in similarly successful franchises such as Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed, but that’s usually because series of that ilk don’t have story at their core and players don’t care about the characters involved – at least not enough to engage with them outside the game experience. Not only that, but most AAA releases usually have such middle of the road endings that you’re just glad that they’re over, but if anything Mass Effect 3′s finales makes you feel hungry for more. For an experience that can last around twenty hours that’s something to be celebrated.
BioWare games naturally stimulate debate, commentary and controversy purely because they tackle story in a way other developers don’t emulate. Admittedly EA has made the most of their abilities as of late, facilitating lots of DLC deals with drink, toy and book manufacturers, not to mention a crucial character only featuring in a piece of day-one premium content, but those matters aside without securing any additional content Mass Effect 3′s campaign on its own is a fantastic achievement, which does offer up a daring conclusion to a story-arc which has been going for five years.
So the game is fine, but what about the nature of this poll itself?
At GamerZines we strongly believe in the sanctity of artistic impression when it comes to game design and requesting a developer to change the ending of any campaign really goes against that view. It would be easy to argue that if Mass Effect 3 was a small ‘indie’ game nobody would be kicking up a stink, as you’d expect a bite-sized experience to offer a controversial ending, but because it’s a big-budget release it can’t defy expectation. The most expensive games this industry produces should hinge on accomplishing something different and move our medium forward, instead of following the established precedent such as good, bad, and indifferent endings, which the most successful option in the BioWare poll suggests. That’s over 20,000 voters for those keeping check.
In many respects the developer is a victim of their own success. They’ve gotten so big that they can’t do anything substantially different from what they’ve done before, as they risk upsetting their established fan-base, or at least those who voice their opinions loudest.
Obviously it’s very important that gamers can voice their views directly to a developer, but sometimes we all need to take a step back and realise what exactly we’re complaining about.
Do you want developers to produce sequels with stories that challenge your preconceptions, or do you want the same kind of tedium time and time again? Feel free to leave your answer in the comments.
Update: Well judging from the comments it seems a lot of readers aren’t happy with the Mass Effect 3 ending. Perhaps another perspective on Shepard’s final hour is needed:
Tags: Mass Effect 3
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