Mass Effect 3: Beyond the Ending

mass effect 3 ending

Enough time has passed that most people who wanted to beat Mass Effect 3 have done so. That being said, full-warning: I’m going to talk about that infamous ending.

It’s an understatement to say there’s plenty of drama surrounding the ending of Mass Effect 3. Everyone seems to have an opinion or theory—or if they prefer, as the Internet is wont to do, rage against Bioware and the gods old and new. I’ve never been one who puts much import on endings, but even I had to admit that the final 5 minutes of the game blew chunks like an AI star-baby still on the teat.

However, I want to go past the ending of Mass Effect 3 and think about a different aspect: its universe. It is the universe—the collective lore, science and culture that Bioware created that—drew me into the series in the first place. And now that the rage and frustration at the penultimate scene has subsided (the whole Stargazer sequence post-credits didn’t bother me one way or another) I’ve realized that the ending of Mass Effect 3 was incredibly intriguing.

Working under the assumption that the events on the Crucible did indeed happen, the choice on the Crucible/Catalyst dramatically changed the universe. Well, two of them did. Synthesis and Destroy choices had the secondary effects of also destroying the mass relays.

Put aside your hatred of Starchildren, your beliefs in indoctrination, and your anger at binary choices aside for a moment and consider this: thousands of warships were in orbit over Earth. Depending on the player’s choices, you could have virtually the entire Quarian population and a substantial amount of Krogan, Asari and Turian warriors.

And you just blew up their ticket home.

Now, in Mass Effect lore, the races are still capable of achieving faster-than-light travel on their own, but only in a ridiculously diminished capacity. Light may travel fast, but considering the scope of the universe—and these races’ homes are scattered all over the universe—it would take lifetimes before any of them return home. In other words, they wouldn’t be able to return home.

Mass Effect 3 fleet

These guys are going to be here for a loooooonnngggg time

Beyond the thousands of individuals now trapped above Earth, also think about interstellar trade. Think about immigration patterns. Think about how all those people that fled from their homeworlds from the Reapers and are now thousands of light years away. All of this is now thrown off.

How long could the peace Shepard nurtured last? It’s something interesting to think about, and I think it’s a line of thought that gets lost in the conversation of the ending’s failures (which, to be sure, are many). It’ll be interesting to see what the Extended Cut brings to the game, but regardless of what happens, let’s not forget about the great lore that Bioware has created over the years.

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