I Like the Way Mass Effect Ends

There has been a huge shit-storm in Mass Effect fandom over the way ME 3 ended. I can’t say I’ve been on the forefront of these… discussions, but some of my friends have been affected by the depression and have kept me informed on the hopes and fears boiling within the community. Like I said elsewhere, I think the particular ending(s) have little to do with the high emotions; I think the fans are mourning the passing of the entire series.

I for one, liked the way the game ended. Oh, I was appropriately devastated for some hours after the finale. I poured myself a glass of wine, then another, and another, and stared at the empty street from the window of my upstairs apartment, thinking heavy thoughts and listening to the distant echoes of my sleepless city. The climax didn’t fail to trigger strong emotions. I was sad and proud, and strangely exhilarated. But I was not depressed.

The pessimistic, fatalistic outlooks at the future for the setting that people I talked to seemed to be focused on pissed me off for some reason. Perhaps because the rabid optimist in me can’t stand the atmosphere of hopelessness and starts suffocating quickly. I am, of course, tempted to sit down and write at least one possible happy end scenario in the form of a fanfic, but tied up as I am with Ghost, I don’t think I have it in me to take on such a serious project. But I believe that the survival of the setting is not only possible: it’s a good way into probable.

Now, there are two ways to look at both the endings and the outcry of the fandom. The cynical perspective sees the devs rubbing their hands: they made the ending less than satisfactory in order to release other, better endings in the shape of costly DLCs and make even more money. The optimistic, and need I say, my perspective sees the devs making  their final stand, and finishing their work of art the way they see fit, damn it, not they way the fans wanted it.

I suppose the truth will come up in the following months.  While I am optimistic, I am not so blind as not to be braced for the possibility that I’m wrong. If a DLC with an alternative, happy ending appears in a month or so, it will be clear it had been planned all along; if it appears in three to six months, it will be clear that the devs decided to seize the opportunity after facing the violent reactions. But if it doesn’t appear… then I’ll be satisfied.

6 thoughts on “I Like the Way Mass Effect Ends”

  1. Hi! (Am not stalking you, honest, just checked in your lj account and happened to follow the trail of breadcrumbs here.)

    I’d be curious what positive outcomes from the canon ending you see probable. I can definitely see some possibilities (when I am not being pulled down the rabbit hole of other people’s unhappiness with the game), but I’m interested in what your thoughts are.

    1. Hi, and welcome!

      (For others who happen to be reading, MASSIVE SPOILERS ahead. As in, much more massive then before. Also, warning for incoming wall of text.)

      I don’t know what’s considered to be the “canon” ending, but both Control and Synthesis have some redeeming qualities. The only redeeming quality of Destroy is the possibility that Shepard survived, but who knows, perhaps a living Shepard is as much of an asset as an entire fleet of friendly reapers or the Citadel.

      My moral compass lands firmly on Control because that saves the Citadel. See, the Citadel *is* a mass relay. With one to study, and pressed by dire necessity, it is conceivable that the assembly of all the different aliens in the Sol system might be able to replicate the relay technology in the foreseeable future. Not to mention the millions of inhabitants of the station. So that’s what I consider the “good” ending.

      The friendly reapers are a *huge* asset. Just think of all the knowledge they possess, possibly including the relay technology and apparently, the means to cover interstellar distances much faster than the known FTL technology allows, *without* the relays. (Witness the fact that they needed only years to reach the Galaxy by “conventional” means after the Citadel became unavailable. When talking Dark Space, we’re talking not interstellar, but intergalactic distance scales.)

      With the Citadel and the reaper fleet, I don’t think the destruction of the mass relays will have anything but most immediate consequences.

      As for the matters of… food, really – that’s kind of silly, if you’re asking me. First of all, some kind of food-replication technology is strongly hinted, so I don’t think anyone within the reach of a ship or any facility designed to house more than one species, is in danger of starving. Even if you take that out of the equation, on Earth, you have the entire quarian Flotilla and they could probably provide for their turian comrades until better solutions are found, what with the assumed losses in the battle and so on.

      The distant planet where the Normandy is stranded is trickier in this case, yes. But putting the destiny of entire worlds, fleets and the setting itself on the same page with the destiny of the Normandy and her mixed crew is… kinda petty? I won’t even enter the whole chirality issue because that *really* sets me off. Suffice it to say, even on a levo planet such as ours, there would be some things to provide nutrition to a dextro creature.

      On to another thing – actually a whole different class of things – that most people seem to either have missed, or simply keep forgetting: the Quantum Entanglement technology. This is completely, utterly and totally unrelated to the mass relay technology and wouldn’t be affected by the destruction of the relays. The immediate consequence is that, despite the loss of the ability to travel, the means of communication over *any* distance scale remains. Take the Destroy scenario: if Shepard lives, they can talk to their LI on the Normandy. (Phew, right?)

      Related to that is the Real Life fact that the still purely theoretical QE technology could be used for something even better than interstellar travel: for teleportation. I’m not kidding. In a setting on the overal technological level of Mass Effect, this is entirely feasible, and without the relays, the surviving civilizations would be more than motivated to dive into alternative means of transportation.

      In conclusion, these are the hooks on which the setting can comfortably cling even after the devastation:

      * The Citadel and the possibility of replicating the MR technology
      * The reaper fleet and their means of travel at RFFFTL (really fucking fast FTL)
      * The QE communications and possibly the QT technologies
      * And in the meantime, food replication FTW.

      Hope this gives some hope. If not, well, last I heard, there *will* be DLCs that provide “closure.” Not sure how solid that rumor is, but I’m cringing already.

      Thanks for posting, Clio.

    2. Good points.
      The case could be made that it would actually be better for the galaxy to lose the mass relays and other “Inherited” tech. I’m thinking of the ME2 conversation with Legion about how “the geth will make their own future” and some other hints that relying on the existing relay network has not necessarily been good for innovation.
      I admit caring about the fate of the Normandy crew vs. the rest of the galaxy is petty, but, well, those are the characters I’m most attached to, after all.
      Regarding “closure,” I don’t feel the need for a screen informing me what happened to each and every major character–I can figure that out for myself.
      Thanks for the food for thought. I’m still working out in my head what I think “should” happen, and playing with different variations in fic.
      Nice website, by the way. :)

    3. Yes – you could look at the end as a new beginning. A way to reset the setting, so to speak.

      And don’t take me wrong – I wouldn’t want anything bad to happen to the crew of the Normandy either. But you know, next to the destruction of the relays and devastation all around… the levo-dextro-food thing didn’t even cross my mind until I heard others mention it.

      Thank you for the kind words. :)

  2. Pingback: Closure | Smehur

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