Why Bioware’s ‘ending’ to Mass Effect 3 was ingenious and how EA’s greed possibly ruined it

Now before anyone questions my Mass Effect loyalty, I’ve played ME1 three times and ME2 five times, so yes, I am a fan. With that out of the way, there has been a lot of backlash lately about Mass Effect 3’s ending; many people are up in arms claiming there was a “lack of ending” and no closure. Others have stated that your choices through the first 2 games don’t have an impact on the third, or at least the ending, either. The final  quarrel, was the fact that there was Day 1 DLC that was supposedly included in the game, but removed in the 11th hour to generate more revenue.

When I started my initial playthrough (which was 2 days after the official release), I had a lot of the negative feedback stuck in the back of my mind. Although I didn’t know what the ending was at the time, I knew people were angered at it. Upon finishing the game 32 hours later (I don’t understand how people finished it way faster, but then again I took my time), I was actually quite content with the “ending.” I took what people said and ranted about and really mulled over it for a bit. The ending to me was brilliant, but there was still unanswered questions and a lot of grey area.

Something about the “ending” didn’t seem right, things were out of place so to speak. The first notion of this was that in my final choice, controlling the Reapers looked like the Paragon option and destroying them was Renegade. The second was how Captain Anderson was able to get the Citadel controls with there being only one path to it. I would have seen him as he made his way there. Another question I had was that when I assaulted the beam, I don’t believe my squadmates were with me, yet in the ending cinematic you see them step off of the crashed Normandy. How did they get on the Normandy? There was no way that the Normandy swooped down, picked them up and took off.

These are just a few of the things that burned inside my head, just as I’m sure it did for many people. After deliberating over this for about a day or so and speaking with a few friends that had beaten the game as well, I started dwell on the thought that it could be a hallucination or a dream. I started doing a lot of research searching for answers, which then led me to believe that Shepard had become indoctrinated. It was the only plausible explanation, I just needed to compile my findings into something intelligible so that others could understand  where my train of thought was coming from. I was having a bit of a hard time connecting the dots until I came across this video which was the concrete evidence I needed to properly explain my theory.

If you are any bit of a Mass Effect fan, do yourself a favor and watch this video. Further down, I discuss my opinion of the furor that was created and the fallout that occurred as well as the possible reasoning behind it.

That is pretty much the indoctrination theory thoroughly explained. Yes, I do believe this to be the “ending” that Bioware intended for Mass Effect 3. But not entirely. Leaving the game in a “cliffhanger state” leaves the door open to sell DLC, which in turn generate a lot of revenue. Had the game continued after this event and then properly concluded, it would have made for possibly the best mindf*#% of an ending in video game history to date. It’s like that “WTF” feeling you got in Knights of the Old Republic when you find out that you were Revan the entire time.

Unfortunately, I honestly think that EA had a hand in chopping the ending to dish it out at a later date as DLC so they can make more money off of it. If this is the case, then there is a logical explanation for the DLC “fix” that Bioware promises in April; there was already a plan in place to release that content. Ever since the backlash started, Bioware has stated that they are “listening to fans” and are working on an “explanation” to what everyone saw at the end of ME3. In my opinion, the DLC to be released is the actual ending of the game that not only explains the on-disc “ending,” but also brings closure that everyone wants. They aren’t working on a new ending or a fix, they’re just buying a bit of time to do final preparations on releasing the “closure DLC.”

In regards to Day 1 DLC, I believe there is a fine line to be walked. Bioware stated that because they had extra time after completing production of ME3, they were able to work on extra content called “From Ashes,” and was released the same day as the game. Many people were angered because there was code found on the disc, implying that the content was removed to be sold separately as DLC. According to Bioware, the coding on the disc was for the character model only and that the entirety of the DLC had to be downloaded, which I agree with. I’m not against Day 1 DLC at all, but I am against what the content actually was. The extra character and mission was based around a Prothean, the dominant civilization that came before current species. Protheans are so prevalent to the story, it’s almost an atrocity to have people pay extra for something so important (unless you had the Collector’s Edition which came with it). I would have been fine if the DLC was for a mercenary or some other non-important character, but a Prothean? That felt like a slap in the face.

I can empathize with how some fans were up in arms especially with the Day 1 DLC, but I don’t think that many understood the ending properly either. I already foresee that once the ending DLC is launched and everyone plays it, people will say that this is how the ending should have been. In reality, it’s the ending that Bioware had planned all along and EA’s greed messed up what would have been a prolific ending to an awe-inspiring series.

Narvin Seegoolam

Narvin’s middle name is FPS….ok maybe not, but he’s like BOOM!! HEADSHOT!! I’m hungry…

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  • http://Website Name (required)

    absolutly aggreed but if Bioware is so called fan friendly wh ygo for all the EA bullshit they know by doing this they will only loose fans, and more over i think the damage has been done many will assume that the DLC ending was not original and was just made up to cool done the angry fans AND WILL not do justice to the series. See i dont mind paying extra but just release everting at once not just keep us in the dark.

    The indoctrination theory has compelling points and frankly i will purchase the DLC as soon as its available, but you only tell, for the fans who have spent 5 years playing and getting attached to the franchise, dont we deserve better than what we are given.

  • http://Website vbowl

    I have watched this prior and I just have a few issues with the indoctrination. If you are trying to indoctrinate, why is Habringer pointing out his decisions will have averse effects (ie loss of Geth, Edi, and the Relays or his life with the other choices)? Would you not say your choices will make us go away, merge all for peace, or control what we do (and we can be used to rebuild earth). No, Shephard is showed (which this does not make sense either because he was shown AFTER supposedly been indoctrinated) Joker and the Mass Relay scenes.

    I am going to use an example that is best I can think of (a little dark). Let’s say a married woman wants to get rid of her husband. She dates someone who is a little mentally weak (Shep after everything that has happened to him). She says she loves him and only wants to be with him. They could lay in bed overlooking the ocean when they cash the life insurance if something ever happened to her husband and they could live happily ever after. Well that guy will look at this and may fall for the trick. BUT what would happen if that same woman says “I only want to be with you and if you kill my husband, we can be together. Well…. actually when you do the deed, I will either kill you and claim self defense or deny everything and you end up in prison and then the eletric chair.”

    I know it is dark, but I am tyring to think of something where Shep is in a situation like he is in (kill self, destroy galaxies ((destruction of mass relays)), destroy a civilization ((Geth)) when I decided to save them over the Quarians) and would he not question these choices and say screw you?

    Maybe that is the way they were going, but it is still bad writing. There are so many questions like the Citadel being taken over so quickly, what happened to everyone? Did Aria get off so there will be a DLC to retake Omega? What happened to the Ambassadors? I felt this game got real loose with their writing and tried to be too smart. I know they wanted to be artistic, but there were better ways than the direction they went

  • http://Website Guts

    I feel the fans are raging because – putting in the 100’s of hours over 5 years, with some brootal choices dosen’t have a payoff. You get the same options to choose from as someone that’s played halfarsed. What’s the piont in getting 100% war assetts?? didnt anyone notice anything different about the game? I didn’t.


    • Kascha K.

      This. It was really ominous to me that there was word out that if you have to jump into the series cold you could do so with this last game. That says to me that no understanding of what has already happened nor any experiences within that past is required. It makes it very hard to accept that the game was truly designed in the vein of choices having repercussions. Seems like one need not make the choices at all.

      And then go one farther and not only avoid making the choices of the first two games, but come out better by simply playing the multiplayer component Bioware swore had no precedence or sway over the single player campaign. I hear a lot of people who claim to like the ending admonishing those who didn’t for supposedly forcing them to remove their favor and to want a “sunshine and rainbows” ending. None of these people seem to have a problem though with the fact that people who abhor multiplayer, and chose this series in large part because it was a complete single player game, are being forced to find something to like about multiplayer, lest they be cut off from ending possibilities.

      Furthermore I must continue to take issue with those who figuratively spit after they say happy ending. First, because there is no happy ending possible here. Too many have died. Second, because nobody started this game and stuck with it for 6 years with the intention of being funneled into one or the other method of death. It was the determination to beat the reapers and live to tell about it that drove things. Not some desire to die like Scarface – at least not in anyone over the age of 12.

      Shepard spent 6 years saying “we will beat the reapers”. Not 6 years saying “we will die trying and someone will get a really cool T-Shirt out of it”. They are not the same thing.

  • http://debutantedebris.blogspot.com/ ryanfuckingmc

    Thanks for clearing that up champ, the video explains a lot. Mass Effect is still the best scifi series going and I can not wait for the DLC.



  • http://Website Winter1214

    Ok a few problems here. Bioware people Casey hudson and others have staed the ending we have IS the ending. At every turn Bioware has denied that there wioll be any ending DLC. As of last message from Bioware they are looking into doing dlc (pre-ending0 that will help clarify, and give closure to the current ending.
    Players are already returning the game for a refund or simply removing it from their computers swearing to never buy another Bioware title. If Bioware was working on ending DLC they would have said something by now as damage control

  • http://Website Massacred
  • Jason

    Look — I’m a huge, HUGE fan of BioWare and have played and loved virtually every game they’ve come out with (DA2 included), but I don’t buy the “It’s EA being greedy” line. That’s just the same purely speculative BS people always trot out whenever they don’t like something about a game: blame it on the evil greedy financial overlords. The evils of “big business” is as vague and cliche as blaming “the government” for everything, and everyone will agree with you for the same reason: they’re a huge impersonal target and nobody likes them. But BioWare isn’t going to screw up the ending to their absolute flagship game *on purpose* just because EA thinks it might help sell more DLC. No matter WHAT the ending was, ME fans would have bought prologue DLC anyhow, and BW knows that.

    No, the simple fact is that BioWare eff’d this one up.
    Don’t get me wrong — I think the game was, in general, absolutely masterful and engrossing and fun and I loved it. But the ending seemed to me like it was a case of BioWare’s writers taking a spin on the Wheel of Morality, trying to make some sort of artfully poignant lesson out of it. They made it into an abstract affair about what they felt were the overarching themes of the game, instead of connecting it coherently to the parts that we’ve all grown attached to over the past several years.

    What we REALLY care about is our crew and the other characters we’ve been interacting with over the course of the story, what happens to them afterwards, and what part Shepard plays in their lives afterwards. Our stance on whether we think that synthetic life should be subjugated or destroyed, or whether organic and created life can co-exist — these are ideas that we actively decide over the whole trilogy. Distilling things into an abstracted Monty Hall-type scenario presented by some God-like figure they conjured out of nowhere is an emotionally unrewarding ending to a game that was otherwise brimming with real heart and feeling. Further, those scenarios pigeonhole us (for either totally unexplained or nonsensical reasons) into making choices or sacrifices that may not reflect what we’d been working towards for 3 games now. “Synthetic God-child” declares by fiat that creator and created can never co-exist — after I befriended Legion, united the Geth and Quarians, and helped usher my friend EDI towards real independent personhood I might add — and the choices I am given reflect that assertion rather than what I had been working towards for 3 games running.

    In summary, THAT is why the ending is bad. Not because it is incomplete for lack of DLC, but because it is ill-conceived. For one, because it doesn’t make any got-damn sense. But more importantly, for two other, much bigger reasons: because the way it turns out doesn’t appropriately reward or accommodate Shepard’s attitudes and actions, and because it is far removed from the things we really care about — the other characters, our relationships with them, and their fates. Instead it forces us, for no good reason, to accept that synthetic/created life can never co-exist with organic and to either annihilate it, or to sacrifice ourselves in order to homogenize everyone. I imagine that the “synthesis” ending is BioWare’s misguided attempt at a poetic statement about how life is life whether synthetic or organic. Perhaps they think that this choice aligns with the ideals of people who treat synthetics like people. But the whole idea of disseminating the “final evolution” doesn’t make any sense at all and the fact that it inexplicably requires Shepard’s sacrifice means that it isn’t really a very happy ending for people who became invested in his relationships with the crew and/or romantic partners. I guess only people who don’t like or care about synthetic life get the possibility of a perfectly happy outcome.

    In any case, if BioWare wants to re-write the book, I will happily accept their re-write, or “alternate ending”, or whatever else it is they’re cooking up. They made the game, anything they make is canon as far as I’m concerned. Screwed-up ending or not, I still love the characters, which is why I’m looking forward to seeing what they do with it.

    • http://www.facebook.com/groovy.wondermonkey Groovy Wondermonkey

      You are an idiot.
      Bioware absolutely destroyed SWTOR. They lost hundreds of thousands of subscriptions in the first month. Are you telling everyone that Bioware did that on purpose because they didnt know what they were doing?
      No, you moron, the people writing the checks forced them to release an unfinished game and “make it like WoW, or else”. SWTOR would have been fine if EA had left Bioware alone to create the game they intended to make. Not only that, look at all the other great game companies that EA bought up and immediately turned to garbage. Westwood Studios comes immediately to mind.
      Everything EA touches turns to shit.
      It is not a far stretch to believe that EA is to blame for Mass Effect 3 being watered down junk compared to ME 1 or ME 2.

  • http://Website lilo

    The from ashs day 1 dlc was a cash grab. EA/bioware have stated in contradicting commments since release that the content was intended to be a part of the game but in 2011 the team was unsure if they could finish everything in time for mass effect 3 original 2011 holiday release date and was decided to push the dlc to 2012. Since then the game also missed its original 2011 release date and ended up being released in march 2012 thus meaning that the dlc and the game as originally planned back in 2011 were both finshed at the same time. EA/bioware have been caught out and their have been many statements from employees and writers etc to back this up, not to mention you just have to look at how much dlc their is already out for this game from toys to cross over game dlc in final fantasy. They are milking the fan base for as much as possible and this was planned from the begining so they could sell more dlc as the game itself as soon as you complete it pops up with a msg saying to continue on with shepards story to buy further dlc to come.

  • http://Website Hreroth

    I dont know the person who wrote such article really go detail on the game or not?

    No doubt you have mentioned the ending & the Day 1 DLC cause anger. But you also miss some areas which Bioware “FORCING” player such as:

    1. Forced Multiplayer – Just to increase Galactic Readiness to get BEST ENDING which have extra 22 seconds to explain Shepard is alive. I totally agree if Multiplayer is just to allow player to have more fund or weapons benefits, but affect the main core of the game, NO WAY.

    2. Choices given to player – I feel very thankful to Bioware that the CHOICES that they offer to player in the game which cause them lose war assets in ME 3 if the player is renegade character which can be very substantial, further can you image those players disappointment & been cheated by Bioware “CHOICES”.

    3. Go to Mass Effect Wiki, there you will see what Bioware explain the 3 possible ending effect. Choose to control is already against what Shepard stood up for since ME 1 & imply reaper will return in future (Mass Effect Wiki). Choose synthesis life same against Shepard want to “KEEP THEM OWN FORM”. Choose destroy is likely to be Shepard want as Admiral Hackat say “only dead reaper is victory”.

    4. Rumor about the DLC ending is unconfirmed & no official announcement. Bear in mind that they can destroy Dragon age 2, why not ME 3?

    5. Final question how many times will you replay ME 3, i sure for those who disappoint about the ending will replay the game lesses than ME 1 & 2. Angry Joe review in youtube already explain the ending totally destroy game replay value.

    • magnetite

      I did a full complete playthrough of the entire trilogy and wound up with roughly 5700 war assets with 50% EMS. It is possible, but you have to complete every side mission and such. They didn’t lie to you on that. If people want an ending without multiplayer, you have to earn it.

  • Pingback: Two things I’m not going to rant about… « The Squadron of Shame Squawkbox

  • http://Website Lee

    All of the ‘inconsistencies’ that point to Indoctrination Theory being planned all along, can be explained plausibly as:

    1) Scenes directed that way for ‘melodramatic effect’. Like the slow-motion, the unlimited ammo pistol, oily lines, etc.

    2) Sloppiness or oversights in the production or direction process, and let’s face it there are production oversights rife throughout all three games.

    It’s not reasonable to assume that IT is true, and Bioware would release an incomplete game, because the ramifications are that Bioware was/is:

    1) Willing to expose themselves to PR debacle

    2) Willing to invoke possible litigation

    3) Willing to risk permanent damage to the relationship to their fanbase

    4) Willing to risk permanently tarnishing their reputation in the industry, invoking intense negative media scrutiny

    5) Willing to subject their staff to various personal attacks, including death threats, hate threads on their forums, twitter and facebook bombings,

    6) Willing to risk raising the ire of shareholders for all of the above

    Also, if the IT theory is true, it means that:

    1) Statements released by Muzyka and staff, defending their game, and interviews discussing the game, as per ‘Final Hours’, are simply an ongoing ruse.

    2) This would require coordinated and continuing deception on the part of Bioware and EA on various levels, all the way from Casey Hudson to from writers, to designers, to voice actors, to coders, and even to the documentary author Geoff Keighly.

    Not reasonable. You can argue that ‘EA wants to sell us DLC’. I will agree, but:

    EA does not need a ‘real ending’ to sell us DLC. History has shown us that we will buy DLC no matter what it is. Ultimately they don’t need this in their playbook to make DLC revenue, and it’s not worth the effort and damage. We buy up DLC no matter what it is, and we already do at a much faster rate than they can produce it.

    Now I have other thoughts as to why IT isn’t ‘true’ except as fanfic:

    1) The climactic showdown between TIM, and the goodbye with Anderson. There is a lot of time spent on these scenes, and they are constructed and directed in a style that is consistent with their character arcs ending. The standoff with TIM plays out like a standoff with a movie villain. Likewise the poignant moments with Anderson are the same you would see in ‘buddy deaths’ in movies. From storytelling perspective, it would be extremely odd, and wasteful, to shoot these scenes and show them to the viewer if they were hallucinations. There is a distinct finality to them. To me this is one of the strongest indicators that this is ‘real’.

    2) Storytelling perspective. Much of the final 20 minutes is shown from perspectives other than Shepards. The battle on earth, the opening and closing of the Citadel arms and installation of the crucible, the zoom-out of the galaxy, showing the chain of mass-relay energy. The voice-over from Buzz Aldrin talking to the child at the end. All of this is shown from our view, as the omniscient, 3rd person audience. All this is indicative of that it is really happening.

    3) The Mass Effect storytellling style. Mass Effect uses heavy-handed storytelling throughout the series. There is nothing ever ‘subtle’ about it; it’s grand space-opera where Shepard jumps in slow-motion to catch ledges, you fight a giant human-shaped reaper, and you romance women in 5 sentences. You walk through the Geth consensus with a ‘gun’ and Legion explains why you see everything you see, as if we had never read a single sci-fi short-story about virtual realities. In short, if there was a game sequence where you were being indoctrinated, you would know it. Bioware would hit you over the head with it like a frying pan.

    4) Likewise, there are no hints that the Reapers are ever trying to indoctrinate Shepard throughout the series. Indeed, all they ever do is try to kill him at every turn. If they had planned to Indoctrinate him, they would have done so earlier, and would not be firing gigantic red rays of destruction at him.

    5) Along these lines, not enough evidence to suggest that Indoctrination works with an ‘Inception-like’ dream mechanic. This sort of dream mechanic is popular with supports because of it’s prevalence in sci-fi stories like ‘Inception’, or ‘the Matrix’ or even ‘Total Recall’, where there is some symbolic choice a hero has to make in order to ‘snap out of’ or reject a perceived reality. There is no evidence of any these dream-tropes in the Mass Effect series, so there is no grounds for this connection.

    6) The high EMS required for the ‘Shepard breathes in rubble’ ending. Fundamentally, the game should ‘end’ for a player regardless of how much EMS you have. The ‘IT’ ending only ‘exists’ in 1 out of 16 outcomes. It’s not reasonable to say that Bioware would establish 15/16 as ‘a loss, because you did not reject the dream’, and that Bioware would not tell us so, and roll the credits. To support the IT theory means effectively invalidating the endings for a potentially large number of customers. Also, traditionally whenever you made the ‘wrong decison’ that prematurely ends your game (e.g. Morinth), as this is heavy-handed storytelling, you would get a loading screen. Not only is absent, but even if they did have one, it would force the player to go back potentially hours or days, to gather the necessary EMS to ‘continue to the real ending where you wake up’.

    This would be another PR debacle in itself.

    7) And finally, as I mentioned before it’s possible to refute any of the ‘evidence’ presented that supports as IT as dramatic fluff or production oversights in small details. A common piece that’s inevitably presented by IT supporters is, ‘Why is Shepard on Earth at the end?’. (once again, only in 1/16 endings) My response is always, ‘How do you know that he’s on Earth? Just because there is stone rubble?’ The response back is, ‘Well yes the Citadel isn’t made of stone, so he must be in London, supporting the dream theory’.

    No, we can’t assume that. Any sort of ‘this is all a dream’ situation in a piece of fiction should be assumed to be the most extreme, unlikely situation. The exceptions are whether this particular series/film/novel is grounded in ‘dream realities’ like the Matrix, or Inception, or Total Recall, in which case the possibility is always likely. Mass Effect has never established itself a such. Other exceptions are child’s fare, like ‘Wizard of Oz’, or horrible seasons of Dallas which basically resulted because some actors decided not to return and were ‘killed off’ but later changed their minds.

    Otherwise, in ‘non dream reality’ based fiction, we must take everything at face value, and derive a more plausible explanation.

    Shepard is lying in what appears to be stone rubble, because there is stone rubble on the Citadel. Or at least something that has the same texture – some sort of synthetic construction material.

    Shepard is breathing, because some section of the Citadel still contains atmosphere.

    I may not be 100% ‘right’ of course, but in terms of a high-space-opera setting like Mass Effect, these are easy, straightforward conclusions to make. In other words when there are plot holes and inconsistences, you have to fill them in by taking the ‘easiest’ route.

    The Indoctrination Theory is the most difficult route, when it comes to looking for evidence in details, trying to justify the actions of Bioware, and also refuting information gleaned from interviews regarding the writing process.

    In contrast, oversights, rushed endings, production issues, overdone drama…all are pretty common when it comes to modern games. This is the ‘easiest’ route.

    The Indoctrination Theory is fanfic. As with any fanfic, it’s ok if you rewrite a story a little bit in your head. Everyone has a different version of the Mass Effect universe in their heads.

    But right now it’s just fanfic. Is it possible Bioware changes the game to match? Sure, I suppose it is. But it wouldn’t be what they originally intended.

    I think we can agree though, that the endings were unsatisfactory.

    Thanks for reading this far,

    • Narvin Seegoolam

      That was well said and you make a lot of valid points. Hopefully whatever Bioware has planned will clear things up.

    • Berserk-33

       I disagree, Im not sold 100% on the indoctrination theory but your points for disputing them are circumstancial at best, I believe there´s a lot more substance in the claims made by the Indoctrination video than in your rebutal. Again Im not saying the indoctrination thing is true, but your points did nothing to convince me the other way.

  • http://Website WaNgErDoHg

    Except the indoctrination theory isn’t nearly as brilliant as the people who thought it up think it is. People only love it because it’s slightly less crappy than taking the ending at face value. Seriously, Shepard has rallied the entire galaxy and is making his final charge and the reapers are still bothering with indoctrination? It’s emphasised through the entire game that the battle for Earth is essentially the deciding battle. So you either give in to indoctrination by choosing control or synthesize, or choose destroy and beat it….then what? Do the reapers just go “Oh well, we couldn’t indoctrinate Shepard so we’ll be leaving now”? Plus, your EMS affects how the cinematics for destroy and control endings look. Why would this have any impact if it was all in his head? The indoctrination theory is just a bunch of fans desparately fishing for an answer to a disappointing ending.

    • http://Website pino

      Plus if you consider how massive the game is in scope, how much detail, how much story behind every city, planet and character, if this indoctrination story was intentional, they would have hinted at it throughout the whole game, and not just gives fans a vague suspition in the last 15 minutes.

      • http://Website Brickvideo

        There are hints throughout the entire game. 1) boy even “alive” on earth never seen by anyone else 2) Dreams Shepard had of said Boy 3) Ever once in a while my screen would sort of get blurry and Shepard would do a wince in the game. 4) Inky shapes in dreams are the same as Rachni Queen describes when she talks about Indoctrination. 5) Sovereign wanted him Indoctrinated. 6) Etc

        • coolman229

          Too bad that it was never foreshadowed in Mass Effect 1 and 2. From what I’ve read, the original ending was very different, with the Reapers trying to harvest the humans to stop dark energy from spreading, which is what they would have been trying to do every cycle. See this video for a better explanation and cry at how good the ending could have been.


          • Berserk-33

             I was wondering where that plot went, the dark matter that was eating the sun that the Quarians were investigating, that went nowhere.

          • magnetite

            Not foreshadowed, you say? Obviously you either didn’t play Mass Effect 1, or didn’t listen to what Vigil had to say (skipped all the dialogue scenes). It basically tells you what happened to the Protheans last cycle, and exactly what happened to them. Not to mention, it’s a cycle that repeats itself over and over again.

    • Berserk-33

       I dont think that´s how it works. Its not that once Sheppard fights off the indoctrination the Reapers loose,

      I think that IF (cause Im not entirely convinced about the Indoctrination) this theory pans out, you´ll wake up (as hinted in the extended ending shown in the video) in the ruble left of the last Harbinger laser attack that almost got you so you begin by making your way up the beacon and then you´ll have to fight reapers minions inside the citadel so you can activate the catalyst.

      Im not saying this is what I think will happen, Im saying that if there is truth to this theory, that´s more or less how I imagine it will go. I dont think you´ll just shove off the indoctrination and atomatically defeat the reapers.

      Also there´s a major inconsistency with the ending, which also points its all an ilusion or a dream, not necesarly indoctrination, is the fact that all the Mass Relays exploed and according to the Arrival mission, such explosion equates to a supernova, destroying the solar system its currently in and none of that happens.

    • Damon

      What you say is true but if your EMS isnt high do feel truely ready to fight the rEApers no probably not you will feel unprepared and feel like you are gonna lose thus your will is gonna be weakened. Indoctrination only works if the victims will is weakened. So if your EMS is shit Shepard feels like he is gonna lose and prob starts thinking about Earth being destroyed. The rEApers tap into that tought and projected breaking Shepard and Indoctrinating him. If your EMS is as high as it goes Shepard feels confident and ready just as you would feel. Shepard doesnt even second-guess Earth being destroyed. shepard is much harder to break and the rEApers have to resort to trickery to try to Indoctrinate you. Sometimes you have to think outside the box. And no the rEApers wont just give up. Once Harbinger realizes “Eh we cant Indoctrinate you” he will try to kill you and it would be the best ending ever thats what I think Bioware has planned and if im wrong, im not looking at or even say there iis even a dlc and if im wrong then F*CK YOU BIOWARE!

  • http://Website Anthony Lucas

    In reply to one of the comments above why would Harbinger show Shepard anything less than the reapers being destroyed along with the mass relays and EDI and all synthetic life in the galaxy to put him off doing it when the actual time comes. Shepard has lost so much and sacrificed so many team mates and countless lives in his quest to rid the reapers from the galaxy that the thoughts of more casualties weighs heavy on his mind. Its indoctrination and the Reapers will try anything to try convince him to join them. As they explanation of indoctrination says it is basically a vicious attack on the subjects mind.

    As for wangerdohg above me you obviously watched 30 seconds of the and then decided to get a hamburger or something. The reapers have not gone anywhere they are still there you didn’t even read the article surrounding the video. Your brain is still sore after trying to wrap your mind around something you couldn’t understand. I do believe this was EAs plan all along which is rather money hungry and kind of reminds me of a certain publishing company that churns the same s**t out every year and makes billions from the faithful sheep who play. 10 points for guessing the name of the game, on the other hand this is also quite genius of them and HAS left the biggest mind f*$k ending and i am waiting for the climax on the dlc EAGERLY waiting bring it on im ready to finish the fight now.

  • http://Website Chris

    The equation is simple here really. The “new” ending DLC is either free, or I will go out of my way to avoid bying EA products in the future.

    I had just started to think maybe EA was an OK company now, that maybe they had put the anti-customer, pro-stockholder ruthless business model behind them. Instead they seem to be right back to their old MO of gobbling up successful studios, grinding them for every last drop of blood they can get, and spitting them out only to move onto the next. EA is a classic corporate raider, nothing more nothing less, and they are clearly NOT an entertainment company.

  • http://Website geeksquared

    I really hope you’re right about this being a messed up marketting scam but I think you’re probably wrong. I think this is better explained by deadlines, stress and too much coffee. The Bioware wrtiers suffering from groupthink and after months of working 70-90 hour weeks found themselves with no time left to properly construct the neding so they through something together, didn’t have time to finesse it properly and passed it on to coding team who built it using whatever art assets they had to hand.

    I have a nasty feeling that the ‘Content Initiatives’ coming in April will be a yellow explosion and a wall of text explaining how ‘artistic’ their ending is.

    • Berserk-33

       I think as bad as it is, its seems waaaay too complicated to the be result of a tired thinktank of writers. Its not an ending that seems slopy or lazy, it seems (to me) convoluted

      • magnetite

        Bioware has done similar things in the past with previous games. This isn’t something new.

  • http://Website Shane McKinley

    You know, it makes sense to release a game that you know doesn’t have the “true” ending and you throw in some “it was all a dream/space magic” nonsense to defend the bad ending.

  • http://Website Shamus Higgins

    Actually Anthony, not trying to bust anyone’s balls here but in the ‘control’ ending and the reapers are definitely leaving. Also with the synthesis ending there is a reaper just hanging around not fighting or doing anything. You can see it in this video here:


    I also have to agree that the omniscient overview directing style of the endings does speak to the contrary of Shepard being indoctrinated. Perhaps if it cut back to Shepard showing that he was even thinking of this ‘third person view of the world’ then it would be believable, but otherwise it seems like a stretch.

    Also, in the video it talks about how the weeds seen are the ground were not there previously but are seen in Shepard’s dreams. For me, this would have been the nail in the coffin that the indoctrination concept was real. However, in the first video starting at 1:44 the run to the Citadel beam begins. You can see at 1:52 a weed just to the right of Shepard’s foot. Two can be seen to the right at 2:01. A few others can be seen in the distance but I selected these times because they are the most obvious. I will admit that there are MORE weeds when Shepard awakes, but this was most likely a simple error in directing.


    Additionally, in this second video you can see that the weeds in the dream (at about 5:40) are not at all like the dreams on the ground after being incapacitated by Harbinger.


    Now this does not mean that I am entirely convinced that the indoctrination theory is false, but to say it must be the truth is a bit sheepish especially when the Bioware creators themselves have spoke to the contrary.

    • Berserk-33

       actually wouldnt it be a dead giveaway if the reapers gave Sheppard a third person view of the world? I would definetively know Im dreaming or something fishy is going on if Im seeing anything that´s not with my own eyes or in a screen.

  • http://Website Jared

    Honestly, not to troll but I wish BIOWARE would grow a pair of balls and say “Problem bro?” mainly because it’s how they wanted it. Weather fan friendly or not IT was how they want it. If they cant stand by it because people with nothing better to do then complain then I lose more respect for them then if they don’t change it.

    Also if your playing the game just for the ending then your playing for the wrong reason. The point of an RPG is to enjoy the culture of the site and to have fun. NOT TO rush through to the end and be over with it.

    • Berserk-33

       If what this article say´s its true, then they are not changing the ending, its all part of their strategy and what we get further on will be what they want.

  • http://Website Matt

    It’s a very well thought-out theory and excellent presentation. I’m almost convinced. But there’s (at least) one gaping hole. The theory only works if Sheperd is given at least 2 of the options (destroy or control). If your readiness is low, you only get the DESTROY option. If you don’t really have the strength to take on the Reapers, why would the one option they give you is the very one they don’t want sheperd to pick? Theoretically, they would have the biggest advantage over a scraggly fleet than a massive fleet. Why, at their most confident, would they give Sheperd only one (bad for them) option?

    • Berserk-33

       I was well prepared, so I didnt know that… intresting. who know´s maybe the right choice to defeat indoctrination is the controlling the reapers one, I mean even the best theories have a whole or a mistake here and there.

    • Keller

      Because the time Shepard wasted doing side missions and gathering all the races to serve to the reapers on a platter allowed them to indoctrinate him more fully than if he rushed off half-cocked?

  • http://Website ciofy

    hey lee what o you think? they will keep this ending or change it? also following the id theory they will not actually change the ending so…

  • http://cmopeeee.cdkuu Maximina Mckowen

    You are a very bright person!

  • Tronny

    Great post, though to be fair, how could the majority of fans “properly” understand that ending?  Who ships a “complete” game and then gives you the real ending in DLC?  I’m hoping that the ending we all saw was indeed just a mental picture of Shepard’s fight against Reaper indoctrination but when you think about it that was a lame move by Bioware/EA.  The ending that ships with the game is typically understood to be the final word on that particular game.  DLC typically enhances or adds to the game but doesn’t typically finish it.

    Either way, great post and great vid.

    • Berserk-33

       Maybe they give it for free, we still dont know and it was just all a publicity stunt. Like any publicist would tell you, there´s no bad publicity, the point is to create a buzz whether its bad or good, your in peoples mind and thoughts, I have 2 friends who after hearing me naging endlessly about the ending decided to buy it, heck one of them bought the N7 edition. I havent sold my copy, Im waiting to see what happens, even if I have to pay for the DLC, its a very cheap and lousy move but my love for ME  transcends my hatred for money hungry companies, if there´s a DLC that gives me not only peace of mind but the drive to replay the game (cause right now there´s no friggin way Im replaying any of them, my choices dont mean a thing so the fundamental factor that exited me the most is rendered worthless, a renegade got the same ending I did!!).

  • Realist

    There was also a third option ending that many of you idiots seem be missing if you actually take the time to increase your war assets.

    • Meteor Man

      Yeah, and the third ending is almost the same ending as the other two, except that we get to see a lame last breath from Shepard.

  • http://twitter.com/IcelandicHossi Hossi Blumengaarten

    I HATE EA. never going to buy anything from them

    I remember when they killed Westwood Studios

  • Jtfarrow

    ABSOLUTELY AGREE!! I read this and thought something wasnt totally right with the ending like i was missing something. and this was it totally makes sense. Plus its not like EA has a history of selling you the last chapter of a book you already paid for. Oh wait they do that with everything.

  • Joshua N

    I find the Indoctrination theory interesting but a lot of it seems based on some pretty thin evidence.
    Evidence which seems to me more likely to indicate a little sloppiness on Bioware’s part and/or a lot of executive meddling on EA’s part.
    As much as I would like IT to be the case it really just sounds like loyal players scraping for something, anything that might not make the past several years of dedication to characters and stories utterly worthless and completely unresolved.

    – Help Tali get off the planet with the rapidly decaying sun? Engage in dialogue indicating that dark matter will play a larger role in why this is all happening?
    Too bad! It’s irrelevant. You will never know why that big ‘ol sun was going all wonky on them.
    – End the 300 year Quarian/Geth war? Get the quarians back on their homeworld? Too bad! The whole fleet of them sexy, thick-hipped, allergy ridden, sad sacks are stuck in the Sol System. But hey! Tali got a rock!
    – Cure the genophage and help install 2 forward thinking and proactive rulers fit to lead the Krogan in to a new age of prosperity and galactic unity?
    Too bad! Wrex is stuck in the Sol System.
    So many of the struggles our own personal Sheps went through are totally invalidated because of this ending(note the use of “ending”. Singular. My shirt has three colors. Doesn’t make it three shirts) That very fact leads me to believe this was EA mucking about and putting their dirty little fingers in our very very tasty ME soup.

    Say what you will about Bioware but their writing dept is really on the mark. You may not like everything they crank out but I speak from personal exp. Those guys are on point and they live to tell good stories.
    That’s what leads me to the conclusion that EA showed up with some last minute rewrites and screwed us all so that they could pave the way for some as of yet unrevealed Mass Effect business model.

    Long story short(too late) I just don’t see IT being the real deal.

  • neiche

    Like the entertainment industry, in this industry the distributors are the ‘finance sector, marketing boss’, developers are geeks who speak in binary.. They do what the distributors say.

    All game developers are talented people/studios. When a bad game comes out, it’s usually the result of distributors coming in and saying ‘No, make it action not survival/horror, more boobs, make it for children, earlier deadline, put emphasis on a new game element, etc etc’

    All developers share the dream that they will someday have more responsibility in game production beyond the technical, but so do film makers, and Hollywood hasn’t obliged them.

  • Gelde3001

    The end we have played is sheppards death – its basically him dying. The end that they obv either missed out due to release dates (ea’s fault) or due to money grabbing (ea’s fault) is what bioware always said – its the end of sheppards story. The reason this end doesnt make sense is because it isnt the end…..I personally think that there is anerhour or so that they didnt add in for either of the above reasons that must have EDI involved being an AI (possibly) but that would leave my above idea moot !…..either way it is the end of sheppard and not the game.

  • that guy 2012

    what I don’t understand is that in the ascension DLC for mass effect 2 destroy a mass reay destroys the whole star system which means that Shepard actually destroyed every life form in the galaxy anyways and even if he didn’t wouldn’t that mean he just essentially trapped every species in the galaxy in Earth’s system? there are a lot of holes in this ending either way and if it really does go down like it did in ascension in Mass 3 then I think shepard might be worse than ther reapers honestly.

  • agreatflood2121

    I here a lot of talk about disappointment, and believe me I was disappointed by the ending too.

    Personally though, I am getting tired of the whining and crying about all of this.

    It is what it is, get over it.

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