The Final Hours of Mass Effect 3, Geoff Keighley's behind-the-scenes iOS app, has revealed some new details about the game's controversial ending that will likely give irate fans even more reason to be upset. Be warned: there are quite a few spoilers scattered throughout, so don't read on unless you've already completed the game.
While former lead writer Drew Karphysyn had said that the broader strokes of the ending were in place for years, it seems the specifics were hammered out remarkably late in the game's development cycle. The team actually delayed a recording session with Illusive Man voice actor Martin Sheen from August into November, so that the writers would have more time to finish off the dialogue for the ending.
What's more, the ending was initially written to provide a much more robust explanation of the game's surprising — and to some, confusing — last-minute twist. According to writer Mac Walters:
"Originally, with the Catalyst, the Star Child at the end of the game, I had written that much more in the guise of a investigative style conversation, where there is something he tells you but then, you get to ask a bunch of questions and you get your questions answered. But then me and Casey talked and decided, let's keep the conversation high level, give you the details that you need to know, but don't get into the stuff that you don't need to know. Like 'How long have they been reaping?'. You don't need to know the answers to the Mass Effect universe, so we intentionally left those out."
In the end, Watlers decided to end the game in a way that would lead to, in his words, "lots of speculation for everyone."
And as for complaints that the game's three endings don't provide enough variety? As late as November, the developers were considering at least one drastically different ending that was eventually scrapped. The sequence would have seen the player lose control of Commander Shepard, revealing that he or she had actually been indoctrinated by the Reapers. This ending was eventually cut for technical reasons, as the team was having a hard time making the gameplay mechanic work alongside dialogue choices.
Another common complaint centers on the ending's lack of any real boss fight. The closest thing to it, the showdown with Kai Leng at Cerberus HQ, occurs more than an hour before the game finally wraps, leaving many fans upset that Mass Effect 3's gameplay ends on a somewhat anticlimactic note.
Turns out, you were originally supposed to have a showdown with the Illusive Man just before the end of the game, but the team ultimately scrapped the idea because it felt too "video gamey" and predictable.
To add insult to injury, the app apparently also reveals that the much contested day-one DLC pack, From Ashes, was, in fact, originally intended to be a part of the main game before time constraints caused the team to convert it to DLC instead.
Frankly, none of these revelations bode particularly well for BioWare, as many of them only serve to confirm the suspicisions of the game's unruly fanbase. Given the nature of game development, it's wholly unfair to claim that BioWare ruined the ending by rushing it out the door at the last minute, but it certainly won't be easy to convince the detractors of that when these new details play so handily into their arguments.
[Via BSN forums.]