I posted this in response to Lodur’s blog, ME3 and why the ending is fine as is. He challenged the critics of ME3s ending to write something better. Challenge accepted. I encourage you, if you’re as annoyed by this as I am, to also comment on his blog with your ending. He wrote a good post; I just disagree with him.
Fine. Even though I am not a fiction writer, a game writer, or a writer of anything but my opinion, I’ll take a shot at this because I think they could have given us something that reflected our paths throughout the game like they promised. I’m not making a special cut scene for people who got 5k+ military strength. This is because I am lazy and I’m not getting paid for this shit.
So let’s get into this: Anderson is dead and Shepard is dying. Everyone Shepard loves, has ever known, everything that has ever mattered to him is about to be destroyed because Hackett needs him to do something. The Crucible isn’t working. No one knew what it was supposed to do in the first place, so what the hell is he supposed to do?
Crawling forward, he tries anyways. With the last of his strength he crawls towards the console, but he just can’t make it. No matter how much he wants to, he just can’t get there.
This is where I end the game if you didn’t get the minimum Military Strength. You died, game over, Reapers win. A cut scene plays of a two fingered hand dusting off a strange hologram. They pick it up – Liara’s time capsule starts telling Shepard’s life story fighting the Reapers as the credits roll.
If you have met the minimum Military Strength, the platform rises. It takes Shepard up, to a small room above the control room. Light shines brightly and the unconscious man manages to wake as he hears Hackett still shouting for him to do something. Looking around he sees a chair, similar to Joker’s, cables and wires leading from it to the walls. There’s nothing else to do – he sits.
As he leans back in the chair, there’s a flash: every major choice he made, his love interest, Earth as he left it to the Reapers flashes before his eyes. Manacles lock his legs and wrists, but he doesn’t notice; the visions continue: who he saved, who he killed, the races he brought to the final battle all flash before his eyes. The machine reads his memories, scans his knowledge of this cycle, or these people, of those who are fighting to survive. The missing piece to the crucible, the thing needed to kill all the Reapers and not humanity, is Shepard. He is needed to guide the weapon, to control what is destroyed and what is left to survive. The mass relays will deliver his wrath to every reaper in space and it will save everyone he wants to save.
Was Shepard a xenophobic renegade? Did he hate aliens and wish for control of the galaxy similar to that of the Protheans? Then the Crucible wipes out all life but that of humanity. Spaceships full of dead Quarians, Assari, Turians, float above Earth. One crashes into another while the Reapers are torn asunder. Humanity has won. They are the masters of the galaxy and all will bow to their might. A cut scene plays: Human ships fly through starry skies, new races of aliens work in factories, quarries, they labor while humanity flourishes. Children laugh, parents smile, but something is watching.
Maybe Shepard was a paragon of virtue, wanting nothing more than Humans and Aliens to work together, understand each other, build a better galaxy without petty war. Then the Crucible kills only the Reapers, their massive bodies ripped to pieces by a burst of light that goes from the Citadel, to the Mass Relay, and from there to every galaxy in the system. A cut scene plays: The citizens of every race you saved cheer as Reapers die on their home planets. A new citadel is built, floating in the Serpent Nebula and you watch as it is dedicated to Galactic peace while the races you saved cheer and celebrate. A Salarean and an Turean are seen bickering. The fighting that has plagued the races hasn’t started yet, but it will soon. Peace is fleeting.
A flash as we return to the present, the last bit of energy shooting through the Mass Relay as it slowly stops spinning. Shepard remains in his chair, staring at the wall as the restraints on the chair retreat back inside it. Cheering can be heard over the radio as Joker shouts, “You did it! We did it!” A pause, “Shepard? Shepard, answer me!” Hackett chimes in; voices clamor for their hero, but Shepard won’t answer. He died shaping the Galaxy, destroying the Reapers, completing the mission that no one else could have accomplished. He’s a hero; the hero.
A cut scene plays: Everyone Shepard saved in ME1, ME2, and ME3 is seen at the Memorial held in Shepard’s honor. They talk about him, his accomplishments, his perceived failings. Dignitaries speak, they tell of how his deeds affected the people they represent, of how they will remember him. Who is there and who speaks depends on who lived, who wasn’t saved, which ending played. Maybe EDI speaks about how Shepard shaped who she is, allowed her to love. Or maybe EDI doesn’t speak because you never helped her be more than a machine. Perhaps Ashley talks about how you busted her balls, but you got the job done and never let anything stand in your way and the Galaxy should learn from your example. Or maybe she tells about how you were her best friend, her lover, and how she doesn’t know how we’ll get along without you. Perhaps she doesn’t at all because she died way back in ME1 and Kaiden speaks in her stead.
It ends as Joker is helped to the coffin by EDI and he places a picture in the crook of Shepard’s arm. Three photos – the surviving crew from ME1, ME2, and your love interest from ME3 all smile and stand around Shepard, their Captain.
He’s gone, they remain. And yet is it really over? What built the Reapers? The Geth spoke of something that sent them. Is it still out there and will it return to finish what it started? How will we survive without our hero to save us? The Mass Effect world lives, it thrives, and someone will have to save it again.
And that is the best I could do.
And it is. Please, rip my story to shreds with the details I got wrong if you like, I’d like to know what I screwed up in this world. To note: I don’t destroy the Mass Effect Relays, I just use them to channel the energy. They’re giant spiny thingies no one understands anyways, I’ll do what I want with them >.>;