Feature Part 3 – Let’s Talk Mass Effect 4
Still here? Now that’s dedication. If you have no idea what I’m on about with that statement, you may not have read the previous two parts of this feature, which you can find with the links above. Be warned, there’s a lot to read…
So now is probably the part which most of you have been waiting for, considerations for a sequel. Enjoy!
A lot of people argue that a sequel is the only way to go, so it’s only right that I explore that option too. I can see where callers for a sequel are coming from, I just don’t personally agree with it. But, I’m happy to explore it all the same. We have a lot less to work from on a sequel, and to be fair, a lot more possibilities. Even with the addition of the Extended Cut, a lot of people felt the ending of ME3 was too open, that it left too much unanswered. But there are still four main ways the storyline ended. Spoilers ahead people.
–GRATUITOUS SPOILER BREAK–
This isn’t the end…
So you’ve either played ME3 (good for you) or you don’t care about spoilers (I don’t understand you). Even with the ending of ME3 boiling down to four main choices (three if you didn’t fare too well), there’s still a massive amount of difference between each of the endings, each with it’s very own unique possibilities. For those that can’t remember the details, here’s a brief summary of each ending (including the Extended Cut DLC, we don’t speak of ME3 before it…). It’s also worth noting that alongside these choices, you have individual choices that caused race extinctions or controls to throw into the mix, namely the Geth and Quarian Fleets, the Krogan Genophage and the Rachni Queen’s survival to name few high profile decisions.
Obviously these are my opinions on the various endings, you’re welcome to have your own, as always. We’re all human here… probably.
“The war is over… the Reapers have been defeated. Against all odds and in the face of the greatest threat this galaxy has ever known, we survived. We suffered many losses. The relays are severely damaged. But we won.”
S*** gets real. Synthetic life is destroyed, and depending on your galactic readiness score before triggering the Crucible, the detonation has varying amounts of impact damage on the Galaxy. In the case that your readiness is too low (how did you even manage this?), the outlook on the future looks very bleak indeed, with most of the civilisation in the galaxy being wiped out.
If you opted for Destroy with a higher galactic readiness, synthetic life is still wiped out: however, the physical damage to the galaxy as a whole is much lower. The Mass Relays are damaged, but not beyond repair, according to Hackett’s summary of the storyline, with repairs to infrastructure, technology and worlds all possible. This leaves us with a new galaxy to explore, but be warned: later generations can still build synthetic life, and the chaos will start again, only this time the Reapers won’t be there to “save” organics. In reality, this ending will most likely lead ultimately to all organic life being wiped out.
With a high enough readiness, it is possible that Shepard survives this ending, but that’s not exactly relevant to this article, because we already know Shepard is out of the picture. Gone. Forever. Definitely. Sadface…
“Eternal. Infinite. Immortal. The man I was used these words. But only now do I truly understand them. And only now do I understand the true extent of his sacrifice.”
Shepard seizes control of the Reapers, losing his/her connection to the races of the galaxy but still acknowledges and remembers their existence. Synthetic life is spared, but ultimately the game is the same. The possibility for war is still there, and it may well end up being another straight up fight to the death until Shepard is forced to begin the cycle again. This ending can also split off into several possibilities.
Similar to Destroy, the amount of damage inflicted on the galaxy in the Control ending depends largely on the galactic readiness when the Crucible is triggered. Too low, and there will be heavy damage across the galaxy, with high readiness causing little to no damage. The relays and Citadel are still damaged or destroyed, but once again are repairable. The actions of the Reapers here depend on Shepard’s Paragon/Renegade score: Paragon Shepard will help the galaxy rebuild, repair and protect the civilisations as a Guardian and peacekeeper, allowing the races to make their own decisions, where a Renegade Shepard seemingly rules it as a dictator and tyrant. So it’s not all sunshine and bunnies.
This is one of the three endings that definitely 100% results in Shepards death. Not that ME4 cares apparently, but it’s worth noting.
“I am alive. All of us, synthetic and organic, have been changed. The war is over, and the Reapers are helping to rebuild. Where once they threatened us with extinction, they now bring us the collective knowledge of the cultures that came before.”
Post Extended Cut, this should be the only option that you should go for. The option is only unlocked at a high galactic readiness level, but this is the main wildcard of the three actual choices, and is the main reason a sequel is so hard to guess at.
All synthetic and organic life is combined into a new form, changing the DNA of organics with full integration. Organics achieve the perfection of synthetics, while synthetics achieve the understanding of organics leading presumably to peace and harmony in the universe. The relays are still damaged, but prove easy to fix with the help of the Reapers, who are also affected by synthesis: in fact, all life gains the collective knowledge of the cultures previously harvested by the Reapers.
This is most likely the best ending outcome for each of the three, with coexistence, peace and progression for the entire galaxy, along with a new final alternate solution to the Reaper cycle.
Oh, and you guessed it, once again Shepard is oh so very dead for this ending too.
“I’m Commander Shepard, and I’m the most indecisive person on the Citadel.”
After the Extended Cut DLC, it is possible to opt out of the decision. This simply turns us into another cycle that lost the war to the Reapers. Don’t do it. Why the hell would you do this anyway?
If you do opt for this one, guess what? Everybody dies in our story. Big surprise. But a cycle after ours succeeds where we fail. Presumably. But who cares? You fought for three games and didn’t manage to finish what you started. Good job.
So with each of these four endings all having separate paths of their own, there are a lot of loose ends to consider. So how will Bioware bring these all together?
Destroy, Low GR: The galaxy is ruined and a bleak future lies ahead of you. Relays and infrastructure have suffered major damage. The Reapers and all synthetic life are dead though, so there’s that. A new solution has not been found, chances of cycle recurrence: high.
Destroy, High GR: The Reapers are dead, along with all synthetic life in the universe. The relays are damaged, most of the galaxy is intact, and you can rebuild. A new solution has not been found, chances of cycle recurrence: high.
Control, Low GR: Shepard controls the Reapers for good or worse, in a mostly destroyed galaxy. Paragon Reapers will help rebuild and enforce freedom and the right of choice, Renegade Reapers will just destroy anything that doesn’t toe the line. A new solution has not been found, chances of cycle recurrence: medium.
Control, High GR: Same as above reputation wise, but with an intact galaxy. A new solution has not been found, chances of cycle recurrence: medium.
Synthesis: Organic and synthetic life merge into one, with shared knowledge, including that of several hundred cycles of culture. The optimum solution to the Reaper cycle.
No Choice: You died. A new clean slate cycle for Bioware. Well done.
When I first looked at it, I couldn’t see any way to tie them together. At all. Even if you did somehow manage to tie up Destroy and Control, Synthesis provides a massive wildcard: with the first two possibilities, there is a chance that the cycle will restart, not straight away but eventually, thanks to the inevitable reoccurring war with synthetics. But Synthesis blows this idea out of the water, as all the races of the galaxy, organic and synthetic are merged with a unique understanding and new boundless amount of knowledge. Peace and coexistence seem like the only way forward for this universe. Right?
“Yes but some of the details have been lost in time. It all happened so very long ago”
But there is still hope! A post credits scene of a stargazer and a young child discussing stories of “the Shepard” may give us some sort of clue as to Bioware’s plans for the future. The dialogue itself suggests that the conversation is happening after the stories have disappeared into myth and legend, perhaps after a few thousand years.
If this is the case, and I’ll admit, it’s a long shot, then the possibility of tying up all the loose ends from the ME3 storyline may seem a little more realistic. After so much time, and the loss of memory concerning the details, the dialogue and story options can be a lot more forgiving in terms of sticking to ME3s ending.
For example, after such a long time, are the Reapers still active across the galaxy? Have they been sighted recently? Perhaps, as mentioned above, “The Shepard” and their “Reapers” have fallen into myth and legend, only to be briefly mentioned in dialogue. In addition, a few thousand years would be enough for anyone to repair the damage (albeit to different extents), so this helps us tie the various ending parts together and starts to form a basic start for a new sequel based story.
Once more, Synthesis may prove to be the only wildcard in this possibility. If the races are united in coexistence thanks to their new found understanding, what could possibly trigger a war? And surely, with their collective knowledge and understanding, along with that of countless other cultures from the harvested Reaper cycles, they’d have by far surpassed the possibilities of the other two endings. Then again, perhaps I’m thinking too far into this…
So, we’ve considered how Bioware could potentially tie up the loose ends of the ME3 ending, and hopefully got some of thinking back to your own ending and how it might tie in. The last part of our feature, released tomorrow, will focus not on how, but what the sequel might see happening.
As always, thanks for reading!
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