Now that the controversy surrounding the game has died down somewhat, let’s explain the various endings to Mass Effect 3. The original Mass Effect trilogy was a role-playing action series that put players in control of Commander Shepard, a veteran soldier in an intergalactic war. The series is set far in the future and revolves around a conflict with the Reapers, a synthetic race trying to wipe out all organic life. The Mass Effect trilogy was designed with player choice in mind, allowing gamers to choose the look and gender of Shepard, and have a key decision they made in one game would carry on throughout the series.
If a major character died in the first Mass Effect, for example, they wouldn’t return in the second title for some players. The Mass Effect trilogy was a hugely ambitious franchise that featured acclaimed storytelling, voice acting, and gameplay design, but the controversy surrounding the Mass Effect 3 ending can’t be ignored. Disappointment over how Mass Effect 3 brought the story to a close escalated fast, with fans demanding BioWare change it, with the developers later releasing free DLC that expanded and slightly fleshed out the original Mass Effect 3 ending.
The Mass Effect 3 ending controversy is still a raw topic to some long-time fans of the saga, but let’s revisit the ending choices the game offered players.
Mass Effect 3 Destroy Ending
The ending of the game finds Shepard presented with three choices by the Reapers architect Catalyst for activating the Crucible. The first choice allows players to destroy the Reapers while also wiping out all synthetic life in the galaxy. On one hand, this choice guarantees the Reapers will be eradicated but it will also kill friendly synthetics like the Geth. It’s a tricky moral choice to make.
Mass Effect 3 Control Ending
The second option is the Control ending, where Shepard takes control over the Reapers. This requires the character to surrender their human form and become an A.I., allowing them to use the Reapers to police the galaxy. Of course, with Shepard becoming something of a god-like being, there’s a chance he/she could turn evil in the future too.
Mass Effect 3 Synthesis Ending
The last of the three choices presented by Catalyst is synthesis, where both organic and synthetic life throughout the galaxy would be fused with elements from each other so they can exist in harmony. In theory, this is the most peaceful Mass Effect 3 ending, though it leaves plenty of plot holes and feels like a lazy deus ex machina. It also raises the moral question of whether Shepard has the right to make that call for the entire universe.
Mass Effect 3 Refusal Ending
Another Mass Effect 3 ending allows players to refuse all of the options presented to them, effectively allowing the Reapers to win. It’s a dark ending and a little out of character for Shepard, since the character is essentially giving up instead of finding a way to stop the Reapers.
Cutscenes follow each Mass Effect 3 ending to reveal the consequences of the options players select, with other criteria such as their Effective Military Strength playing a part in the ending cinematics too.