Mass Effect 3 Extended Cut DLC | Will Bioware make the right choice?
In the past couple of months, Mass Effect 3 journeyed around a lot of controversy and hate regarding it’s ending due to which, developer Bioware decided to provide a new Extended Cut DLC to bring closure to the Mass Effect universe while keeping the original ending totally untouched. In my opinion, this is a pretty bad move. Bioware initially stated that what they did with ME 3 was completely up to them and that the fans questioning the methods of an artist is quite unethical and yet, Bioware steps down just to make the very same fans happy simply because they are causing an internet riot. Bioware may or may not go through a downward spiral thanks to their self created oxymoron decision. Just because Bioware leaves ME3′s ending as a shocker doesn’t mean it sucks. Would you people hate Christopher Nolan’s Inception just because Cobb’s happy ending might just be a dream after all? Highly debatable.
Now, many people around the world can’t fathom what really the ending was all about. Some believe in the indoctrination theory which evidently states that the last 20 minutes of Mass Effect 3 is actually a dream sequence; where Shepard is in a psychological battle, within her/his own psyche, against Harbinger’s indoctrination attempt. Also, when a player attains the “perfect ending”, we actually get a glimpse of Shepard waking up in a pile of rubble which pretty much looks like to be from Earth. Then, we have a straight forward theory where angry fans of the Mass Effect universe believe that everything in the last 20 minutes is in fact real and it is just bad writing from Bioware’s studio.
Both theories do have some real strong points with them. Since, most of us already know, in-depth, what both of the theories signify then, it is imperative that I am allowed to share my views only on what the Extended Cut DLC should focus on.
Out of the two proposed theories, personally, I’d vouch for the indoctrination theory as it makes more sense when coupled along with the scene where Shepard wakes up from the rubble back on Earth. And as for the straightforward theory, the final chapter of Shepard’s life, in short, appears to be in shades of red, blue, green and utter disappointment. So, how will Bioware carry on with the cliffhanger into the next phase of the storyline?
If the indoctrination theory is indeed true, Shepard’s journey is far from being over. As Shepard regains consciousness from a pile of rocks realizing that he/she has just broken free from the indoctrination attempt by Harbinger, it only makes sense to assume that the war is still pretty much alive. Then what? An entire series of events were replaced by the credits section which continued to the point where Shepard is regarded as a legend in a story told by an old man to his grandchild. This surely points to the direction that Bioware might want to release core story related DLC for people to buy. As a whole, it is obviously a very bad business design, where the loyal fans of the franchise would just be ripped off of their hard earned money. Why would Bioware, a 17 year old veteran company make such a desperate-need-for-money kind of move? Even if the reason isn’t for the money, Bioware did promise that this would be the final episode to Shepard’s legend. Why does it have to be unfinished?
There are only two possible explanations for this- Either Shepard’s journey is entitled to continue in a future Mass Effect 4 or Earth has momentarily lost the battle against the Reapers, which resulted in Shepard’s death but, to prove her/his heroism, Bioware had to hint that Shepard is barely alive after overcoming the indoctrination process hence, attaining a spiritual victory in the end.
In my opinion, Bioware can retain the respect of many fans around the world if they somehow collaborate the indoctrination theory alone into the Extended Cut DLC. That’s the only way the entire saga of Mass Effect is ever going to make any sense. Many other fans of the series have asked me this interesting question in order to debunk the indoctrination theory.
“What was the need for the Harbinger, after almost blasting away Shepard with it’s laser beam, to perform an indoctrination procedure on the Commander’s mind when the massive Reaper could just blast another beam through our dying hero and finish it all? It’s not like Shepard is some kind of a super being, he/she is already injured to the point of death.”
To this, I only have a little theory of my own. Remember how throughout the series all the Reapers who ever spoke to Shepard including Sovereign, declared that Reapers are the salvation through destruction for all life in the universe and that none of the existing species can comprehend their true purpose? This particular notion has a striking similarity to entities which regard themselves as Gods. And that’s what the Reapers actually believe throughout the series.
Now, on this notion, let me add a little insight while relating the question at hand with a realistic situation. Consider an omni-present/potent being, let’s call him Thor. Now, Thor has all the power in the infinite universe to do what he likes, none can match up to his power and wrath. He decides to attack a small colony of organic beings just to show that his will and strength are beyond comprehension and challenge but, in an unusual turn of events, the very meek organic beings defeat the omni-potent Thor which ultimately humiliates him. If the reason for the humiliation is a single man or woman and Thor decides to have his revenge against this individual, do you think a simple quick death to the being responsible for his prior defeat is enough to satisfy a deity of such power? Obviously not. If I was Thor, I would make sure, that my sworn enemy will face things much more worse than death. What can be more worse than to have your morals shattered in the hands of an enemy without even acknowledging it? What can be a greater victory than to see your enemies losing their morality just before they die? It is the kind of a victory only omni-potent beings will fight for and this was what Harbinger was hoping for. But, in choosing the renegade path, Shepard proves that her/his will was way stronger than the purpose of Salvation through destruction proposed by the Reapers and ultimately overcame the indoctrination procedure. This goes to show that, Shepard’s renegade decision in the end assures that the human spirit is way stronger for any machine or omni-potent beings to have control over. This was the tale Bioware wanted to convey in a very subtle manner.
Bioware might as well have included so many such notations in the game which, in the end, would make people think, did Bioware induce this risky maneuver to make us believe that we are in Shepard’s shoes? If the paragon choices are made in the end, it’s pretty evident that we ourselves have given in to indoctrination. This is a mark of sheer brilliance on the part of Bioware to make us indeed believe that we were Shepard without letting us even know of it.
Whether Shepard lives in the end or not can only be confirmed by Bioware in their upcoming DLC. But, conclusively, I wanna take my stand and say that, if Bioware hopes to reclaim their crown as the RPG Gods then, in my opinion, they have to follow up their DLC and link it with the indoctrination theory alone while bringing closure to Shepard’s friends and teammates along the way. But, if indeed, Bioware decides to trash Shepard’s indoctrination theory altogether then, with a heavy heart I would have to say, Bioware has destroyed an amazing series which would’ve had an everlasting effect on their fans.
Recently, Eidos with Deus Ex: Human Revolution and CDProjekt RED with Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings have dethroned Bioware from their former glory and fame. With Commander Shepard’s and Mass Effect’s future hanging in the balance, Bioware still has the chance to reclaim their respect only if they can make the right choice. Bioware needs to realize that it has always been a company popular for delivering quality Art and not a factory that churns stuff to chug along the commercial success.
DLC or no DLC, I believe Bioware told us all a story without telling a story and I hope they continue to take such daring story telling risks in the future to truly stand out in the RPG world.