With Mass Effect 3’s Extended Cut DLC, I was unsure of what changes were added to the endings. I personally wanted to put the Mass Effect story to rest and get some kind of closure even with Bioware stating that none of the endings were going to change other than with more content added to “clarify“. I personally didn’t expect a lot out of Extended Cut since the choices you made in the previous games did not have an effect on the outcome of the game and the choices that you were given with at the end of the game.
I will warn you now that this section and beyond contain spoilers. If you do not wish to have the story spoiled for you, please stop reading now. Thank you.
Extended Cut content applied to events after the assault on the main Cerberus base and directly leading up to the endings. This base is where the Illusive Man talked with Shepard in the second Mass Effect game. Because I was not motivated in replaying Mass Effect 3 singleplayer, I realized that I had found myself at Palaven, which was the start of the game. Instead of fighting to get to the end of the game, I set the game difficulty to Casual. Despite its being easy, Shepard still felt like a heroic figure while shooting through everything that stood in his way of saving the galaxy.
Though curious and somewhat hoping inside that BioWare may have snuck in some details before the fight on the Cerberus base, there was no new content added. For the most part, every event, quest, and dialouge prior to the main Cerberus Base remains unchanged. Even at the Cerberus Base, it didn’t seem like any new dialouges or events opened up leading into the final push to Earth.
From there, Shepard goes through the scene of having the fleet engage Reaper forces surrounding Earth. After going through the landing process on Earth and a few recognizable firefights, I got to the familiar scene of running all the way to the teleporter. This specific instance in the Mass Effect 3 story is where Extended Cut begins to add important details. To be specific, I had my love interest Tali, and Garrus as part of my squad to get to the Citadel via the teleporter in London. What I found out during the replay was that my squadmates happened to get seriously injured by an explosion, caused by a laser blast from Harbinger. Shepard from that point, calls in the Normandy to get them out. The scene continues as Tali struggles to stay, despite her injuries. At this point, you’re given a couple of choices to respond back to your LI. I happened to send her off with my love as I backed off, signaling the Normandy to take off. From there, I continued to push towards the teleporter.
Harbinger was still there, speechless even after blowing up so many people including you. It didn’t have anything to say, not even a laugh after flying off. While the scenes in reaching the Citadel and confronting the Illusive Man are unchanged, Hackett saying that someone made it onboard makes a lot more sense than what had happened before with the previous endings. Meeting the “star kid” again for the second or third time was nearly unbearable. Instead of a vague explanation, Shepard now has two new additional options to find out extra details about the Catalyst and what the Crucible does. Even though there is a question about how clear the information is, the fact remains that its been added by Extended Cut for the fans. While I resisted the urge to shoot at the “star kid” once more, I would later find out that shooting would trigger a new fourth ending. Fans refer to this as the “Refusal” ending as Shepard is given the choice of going out their way and disregarding the three original choices. This can also again be triggered by shooting the “star kid”, resulting in all advanced life being harvested by the Reapers, and continuing the cycle. This for many fans feels like a kick to the groin as the hologram kid still remains to be one of the most hated and unnecessary characters in Mass Effect.
The original three endings are still present with additional narrative and slides. Depending on your choice at the end, each ending is narrated by a specific NPC. “Refusal” is narrated by Liara T’soni as her time capsule states that the united galaxy was futile in their attempt to defeat the reapers. “Control” is narrated by what seems to be the mind of Shepard which is assumed he/she is now as a Reaper. From this, Shepard becomes a guardian for the galaxy. “Synthesis” is narrated by EDI as organics and synthetics have become one and the same, co-existing in a new peaceful galaxy. “Destroy” is narrated by Admiral Hackett, stating that a united galaxy can overcome anything and rebuild everything that was lost. This ending is a big deal for some as the Destroy ending has been confirmed that Shepard is indeed alive at the end of Mass Effect 3. While each ending in itself is different, they are somewhat similar in presentation. The Extended Cut inserts narrative and picture slides showing what the player accomplished with some of your former crew mates. It also adds scenes which tie into some of the original ending content as we now know that Joker is the last one reluctant to leave the battle and why he is speeding off with the Normandy. From Extended Cut, we also learn that the Mass Relays are repairable and not completely destroyed as well as the Normandy not being stranded for all eternity. Regardless, the Extended Cut will still show your crew mourning Shepard but with one small difference in “Destroy”. At this point, your love interest will proceed to place your name on the wall but will hesitate. This suggests that he or she believes that Shepard is alive and ends with the breathing scene found on the original “Destroy” ending.
The Aftermath of Extended Cut
So does the Extended Cut DLC fix the problems that plagued the original endings set by BioWare? Many fans of the Mass Effect series seem to be on both sides of the fence. Some fans agree that the Extended Cut is great as a whole, out doing the original endings that fans were left guessing. But, there are some others who have criticized Extended Cut’s content due to the thoroughness of plot holes being addressed properly. While the Extended Cut improves on the details involving characters that we’ve grown attached to, it doesn’t explain some of problems with the story like the Crucible’s existence shown by YouTube user MrBtongue. Even though the video is only ten minutes long, he breaks down both the good and bad parts with the writing structure of Mass Effect 3, including the addition of Extended Cut. With those additions, the hologram kid continues to lack any explanation in detail other being the catalyst.
If you’re looking for character closure, the Extended Cut is a success. The added narrative at the end of the game gives a glimpse of what happens to your friends and comrades after the battle for Earth. It also gives an excuse of why some of your characters are doing some of the random things that you saw in the previous endings for no apparent reason. Had BioWare replace the endings with Extended Cut in the first place, it would be doubtful that they would have such a fallout with their fanbase. With the partial success of Extended Cut, the damage is done as many fans have distanced themselves from EA BioWare. Even with Extended Cut, EA BioWare is rumored to release more DLC SP & MP content for Mass Effect 3. While a Mass Effect 4 may be a long way out or non-existant in the next couple of years, its a fact that it won’t have the same energy or fanbase behind it unless EA BioWare can change their ways and mend the relationship with the people that keep the franchise alive.