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Mass Effect 3 Needs Some Retcon

April 6, 2012 10:29:30.255

I see that BioWare has announced some "additional cinematics" to give better endgame closure. That's simply not enough; the ending broke things so badly (and made so little sense) that it really, really needs to be redone.

I just watched the ending again as my daughter finished it; the destruction of the relays is utterly unambiguous. The Normandy fleeing (with people you had in the final battle) makes no sense at all. The only way any of that works is if some variant of the indoctrination theory is what happened. Anything else, and BioWare has shutdown the possibility of further gaming in that setting. Why? Well:

  • The destruction of the relays took out every advanced civilization in the galaxy, including humanity. Those soldiers you saw celebrating on earth? They did that for about two seconds, before earth got vaporized. Sorry Hudson, your existing lore states that a destroyed relay takes out the system - hell, the Batarian's anger over that fact is part of ME3.
  • What few civilized remnants remain on outer colonies are now cut off from galactic trade - no relays, no communication - no home systems to even go back to.
  • Even if the knowledge to rebuild the relays exists, getting them back in place will be the work of centuries, if not milleniums. Never mind that it'll probably be the work of the next cycle's set of races, as this cycle's races were wiped out by the relay destructions.

It's not about having a "happy" ending; it's about having one that makes sense. The one we saw? Outside of Indoctrination, it simply doesn't work. Either BioWare retcons it now, or they do it later when they decide to release a new game in the same setting. They have to do it regardless. Here's what they have to say:

Although some have expressed concern that Bioware could compromise the integrity of its writers' original intentions, co-founder Ray Muzyka claims: “We think we have struck a good balance in delivering the answers players are looking for while maintaining the team’s artistic vision for the end of this story arc in the Mass Effect universe.”

So at this point, the intransigence on the part of EA and Hudson is all about not wanting to look like "they caved to the fans". Guys - you have to retcon the ending eventually, or there's no setting for any future games. Full stop, period. That means you can salvage some small measure of fan (read: future customer) support by doing it now, or you can look as stupid as the Highlander writers did when they did Highlander 2, which was ignored by the subsequent movies and TV show.

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posted by James Robertson

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