Mass Effect Acolytes, we've reached one of the most volatile parts of this blog series: the debate on the ending(s) of Mass Effect. Which one was the best out of those offered? This is a question that will be debated ad nauseum, and like the other topics in my series I felt it deserved additional input from my regular partners-in-crime, the legendary Spectres who contribute to galactic peace through their hard work. Due to the sensitivity of their missions, I've left them anonymous and will only refer to them by their codenames.

Here with me in this discussion are Marston Shepard, Archibald Shepard, Blake Shepard, Chris Shepard, Batman Shepard, Eric Shepard, James Shepard, John Shepard, John C. Shepard, John S. Shepard, Dave Shepard, Dood Shepard, Jotale Shepard, Colin Shepard, Cameron Shepard, and Phil Shepard. I'd like to thank them all for participating in this dialogue, and I'll now surrender the floor to them. (Spoiler warning!)

So, let's see these legendary figures offer their input, in alphabetical order:


"Which Ending was the Best?"


Archibald Shepard:

"This is a tough question to answer.  Having already established my lack of intelligence, when I first came to the end of Mass Effect 3 sometime in mid March, I wasn't really sure which ending was supposed to do what.  Like the majority of gamers, whether they agree with the ending or not, I think most were at least somewhat confused by the last 22 minutes or so.  As I was walking through the citadel, I thought the same things that many angry forum dwellers had already demanded answers to.  How did I get there? Where was my crew, my beloved Liara, my BFF Garrus, were they wiped out by that ray that seemingly killed the rest of Hammer?

"I then wondered how something like this, this major part of the Citadel could go unnoticed for centuries.  I then wondered how in the heck the Illusive Man got there, and why he was turning into Venom. Did I just shoot Anderson but the bullet hit me?  What the hell is going on.  Why is shooting the Illusive Man a Renegade action at this point in the game?  Why, with my meter completely full, mostly Paragon, are the choices grayed out on the last portion of the dialogue with the Illusive Man?  This, all before I even meet the Catalyst, who just happens to look like a suburban boy scout with a Casper complex.

"Next, I get some very vague discussion with this...thing, yet I seem pretty calm and willing to just accept it all.  Next thing I know I am seeing visions of Anderson and Illusive Man doing different things, still not sure.  So like most things in Mass Effect, I decide to check them out before making my ultimate choice.  I start walking to the left, to the "blue" area, it takes forever, and apparently I get too close and the cut scene starts. 220+ hours of story driven gameplay ends with me not picking what I really wanted to.  I reload and go through it again, paying much more attention this time and go with the Destroy the Reapers option, because that is what I was dead-set on doing for three whole games.

"Which ending was executed best? Of the original, I would have to say probably the Synthesis, even though it isn't what I would want, it did make the most sense and it seemed to be the ending that Bioware really wanted us to choose, it had the most thorough explanation, at least to me it did."

Orochi: I see you're a fan of that ending I irrationally despise so much. I will convert you to Destroy just yet.


Batman Shepard:

"Honestly I felt that the Destroy ending was the most well executed ending. The other two endings simply left too many unanswerable questions, and broke their way out of the Mass Effect mold. I'll say Reject really was an awesome twist. I'm very content with the fact that they added that ending. But I'll still say that Destroy made the most sense to me."

Orochi: Nice to see a fan of Reject. I know a lot of people consider that to be an "f*** you" from Bioware, even though many gamers actually asked for a sad ending. Oh well; you can't please everyone.


Blake Shepard:

"I think Destroy was the best (EC and regular). In a game where a lot of the loose ends weren't tied up (pre-EC at least), Destroy seemed to offer both the most closure and the most hope for the future. It gave me a sense of "all of our work meant something" after all was said and done.  I had accomplished my goal without becoming some invisible boogeyman controlling these God-like entities of death and destruction or altering the very fabric of life.

"Destroy was also a way to reject both the Illusive Man and Saren's ideals. The Illusive Man wanted to control the Reapers and secure humanity's place in the galaxy. Saren's corrupted mind believed that melding with machines was the right thing to do. Picking destroy was a way of rejecting the series' main antagonists and giving a giant middle finger to the Reapers."

Orochi: Now that I think of it, your response makes perfect sense. I can clearly imagine Saren wanting Synthesis - although he foresaw organics serving the Reapers - in contrast to TIM's Control. Destroying the Reapers, while costly, is nonetheless the only guarantee against them ever causing damage to the galaxy's sapient civilizations ever again.




Cameron Shepard:

"Synthesis. If you let the geth die and decided against the EDI/Joker relationship, I can see destroy making sense. But after fostering peace between the Geth and Quarians and seeing the Joker/EDI relationship happen, destroy seems kinda selfish afterwards. Yep, you set out what you and Anderson wanted the entire series but you sacrificed allies that didn't need to be. And like I said before, the control ending leaves a hole that I don't particularly like when the safety of the entire galaxy comes down to the processes of an AI construct."

Orochi: I liked the consequences of Destroy. It really solidified who your character was and pushed the envelope in terms of morality, although it's considered the "Renegade" ending.


Catherine Shepard:

"In terms of presentation, it's hard to say which of ME3's endings is best. While Control and Synthesis may stretch players' suspension of disbelief, both are far better than Destroy and Reject in terms of execution. With the changes made by the extended cut, Destroy is particularly bad; not only is it the bleakest of the original three endings, but some of the scenes in the new epilogue feel incongruous."

Orochi: Interesting interpretation. I think Control is still possible given the implants Shepard has to make their brain function appropriately; it could be arguable that it is possible to "upload" Shepard's consciousness through the Control process. Some scientists are currently in fact interested in the idea of storing an individual's consciousness in a similar fashion. I think Destroy is bleak because it is undoubtedly realistic in some aspects, and unlike the others, denotes a true sense of sacrifice, but to each their own.


Chris Shepard:

"Synthesis was the best executed in my opinion, it left the fiction open to interpretation of implications (pre dlc). Post dlc: synthesis again, it was explained thoroughly and still left the series open to implications."

Orochi: It definitely left things open to interpretation, although I think the pseudobabble of the Catalyst didn't really help make it seem any more believable. It bordered on fantasy in my opinion.


Colin Shepard:

"I think synthesis is the best ending."

Orochi: I can't fault you.