In what may be an unprecedented move by a game developer, Mass Effect 3’s ending was received so poorly by fans that BioWare compiled brand new content to try and bring the closure that fans so desperately craved. Called the Extended Cut, this DLC became available to download for free on June 26, 2012, more than three months after the game’s initial release. BioWare has stressed that this DLC package does not change the original ending of the game but merely expands upon it. Being among the majority of fans sorely disappointed with the ending of Mass Effect 3, I was admittedly a little skeptical that BioWare could redeem itself. Join me as I discuss whether that skepticism was justified.
Before I begin analyzing the Extended Cut DLC itself, I would first like to thank BioWare for releasing it. No matter the reasons for the poorly received ending, the fact that this DLC package was put together at all is a refreshing change of events. While most fans would probably have preferred it if the DLC was not necessary, it is still a very awesome show of appreciation to fans on BioWare’s behalf that the complaints were taken seriously and that an attempt to make it right was made.
Accessing the Extended Cut DLC
In order to experience the content added by the Extended Cut DLC, players must first replay roughly 3 hours of the original game, depending on difficulty and overall skill. The reason for this is that towards the end of the game players lose the ability to manually save progress because much of what occurs happens through cutscenes. Upon completion of the game, players receive an auto-save at a point just prior to beginning a mission on Cronos Station. Therefore, unless players manually copied auto-save files themselves and renamed them, a typical playthrough would lack any useable save points.
I found that to be very frustrating. With an unofficial save editor, I am capable of changing where my character is located. Therefore I have full faith that BioWare could have easily taken the auto-save file and modified it so that players could experience the new content immediately. From my observation, nothing new occurred until the run to the Citadel beam took place. That is a lot of gameplay needlessly repeated for a chance to view the new DLC.
First Major Change: Squad Evacuation
Allow me to set up the following scene. The frantic plan at this point is to board a space station called the Citadel. The only means of accessing it is a teleportation beam situated on Earth. The beam is heavily defended and no one knows what will be waiting for them inside the Citadel once they are teleported. There is no question that it is a suicide run. Most people will die trying to access the beam, but it is the only chance everyone has of defeating the Reaper threat.
I do not think I needed to set that scene up for you to realize the evacuation does not fit in at all. There is a feeling of desperation in the beginning which is then met with a sudden and out of place pause to evacuate. Then there is once again the desperate run to the beam. In the original scene, there is no mention of squadmates at all. Shepard runs towards the beam, there is a giant explosion, and everyone is presumed dead. Fans criticized this because those squadmates are then seen alive at the very end. It was one of the inconsistencies which gave credit to the theory that the events taking place after the explosion were figments of Commander Shepard’s imagination.
BioWare’s expansion on this scene does nothing to fix the inconsistency. As I previously stated, everyone knew the run to the beam was suicidal. It is done out of desperation. For Commander Shepard to request evacuation in the middle of a Reaper firing upon soldiers as though they were ants makes no sense at all. Requesting the Normandy to come down and pick up two people risks the lives of all the crew because it forces the Normandy to remain stationary within spitting distance of a Reaper. The Normandy was definitely in danger while fighting the Reapers above Earth, but at least it could evade and cloak there.
Heck, if it was possible for more people to be dropped off to assault the beam I would think that option should have been used instead. The task force set to assault the beam had already taken considerable losses before the final push. It was pretty clear you would either get to the beam or die trying.
Admiral Hackett Acknowledges Someone Made It
You can see this addition at 5:20 in the video above. In what could now be one of Admiral Hackett’s best lines, he simply says “Holy Shit. He did it.” Without this added scene not a single person would acknowledge the fact that Commander Shepard made it to the Citadel, and yet Admiral Hackett would nonchalantly open dialogue with Shepard once the Crucible failed to go off as expected. This addition was sorely needed and well executed.