The following post CONTAINS SPOILERS. Be aware of this before reading further. TL;DR version: I agree with the thrust of the critique from upset fans but it’s stupid and inappropriate to demand changes to the story because you didn’t like the ending and Bioware shouldn’t cave. Bioware, however, does seem to be moving away from what made them great in the first place and that’s a bummer.

I’m going to wander away from my usual topics of discussion—that is heavy metal—to discuss the uproar that has occurred over the ending to the epic game from Bioware: Mass Effect 3. As my Facebook followers are probably aware, I’m a fan of video games. More specifically, I pre-order Bioware’s stuff and have since Knights of the Old Republic kickstarted my love of the Baldurs Gate saga (and style) into the new era of gaming. I have played Dragon Age and the first two Mass Effect games with joy, and while I was disappointed with the more FPS-oriented/less-RPG oriented nature of Mass Effect 2, I felt like it was still a fantastic game with one of the best characters ever written for video games (Mordin). I am, in short, a Bioware fanboy. So let me say that I regret wanting to weigh in on this issue at all. But I think it’s worth taking a bit of time to do.

Let me say that the reason I bring up all the fanboy stuff is because I was tremendously disappointed by Dragon Age 2 and I am now also mildly disappointed by Mass Effect 3. But what these two games have in common represents a thread of where I believe the company is going and why these protests are happening in the first place. What DA2 did was to change the style of Dragon Age dramatically, so I can say that I was pretty miffed from the getgo with that. Suddenly my elves had WoW ears and the Qunari looked like giant white monsters, not just giants with purple eyes (thanks to ad hoc updates!). But while this made me annoyed, what really bothered me was the fact that ultimately no matter what choices I made in DA2 they were totally irrelevant. The best example of this is the end battle: in the end of DA2 you fight both the head of the Mages AND the head of the Templars. No matter what. I had sided with the mages and yet somehow, for no good reason, the elf who was leading them turned into a giant evil demon due to blood magic? This made no sense in the context of the story: in fact, it even confirmed for me that all mages are pieces of shit who use blood magic or consort with demons and that the Templars are pretty much right. But more specifically: what did it matter? I’d worked to protect the mages for the whole game and they betrayed me so that I could get a second boss fight. I left the game furious that I had played 30 hours of an RPG (yeah, 30 hours ’cause it’s super short, even with the padding) and that my choices were utterly irrelevant to the story arc.

Mass Effect 3 suffers from a similar problem—but in a sense it’s almost worse. The way that Bioware chose to write the ending of the saga made all of the choices that I had made up to the big, final choice entirely irrelevant. The point of an RPG is that you play a character in order to define the future of that character and of those around you. It makes your actions matter and the story arc personal, instead of just being a guy with a gun who uses twitch controls to get from point A to point B—at which point you get a cut scene to further an excuse for you to move from point B to point C shooting more guys. With an RPG, the choices you make are supposed affect the outcomes. Now, obviously, Mass Effect is not a pure RPG—this was made clear when they elected to have an icon instead of an individually made character as the protagonist. But even then you were given some choice, and those choices were supposed to affect gameplay. NerdrageThis was all well and good. But after 3 games (the first two of which I played multiple times and am working my way through again right now) and probably 300+ hours of gameplay, I saw every single choice I’d ever made become completely irrelevant. Sure, the story arc was good and I enjoyed myself but: why did it matter whether or not I saved the Geth? Man, I worked out a peace to a war that had been 300 years in the making! And for what? So that the relays could all be destroyed? I chose to cure the Genophage! But of course it’s irrelevant, since a huge portion of the Krogan male population is now stuck by Earth (I think). But you get the point: as with Dragon Age 2, my choices were ultimately irrelevant. It’s true that the final choice gives you more control over the end than what you got in DA2 (which was without a doubt the worst Bioware game ever), but if you just take from my very first game: 120+ hours of gameplay boiled down to 15 minutes at the end of the game?

But here’s the crux of the issue: Bioware has the artistic liberty to do what they want. The idea that somehow my disliking the endings of their last two games is going to be fixed by the fact that they put out DLC doesn’t change the culture change in the company that led to these two games lacking the quintessential thing that we all thought Bioware was about. I fully support Bioware’s right to ignore the nerdrage. They released the product they wanted to release. If they’d not wanted to release it, they would’ve released something else: the company is not lacking for money or production time. Think about Morbid Angel‘s last album, for example. It fucking blew big, unclean donkey dick. But would you ever have actually thought it was appropriate to ask them to change it? We all accept that Morbid Angel has every right to produce as many shitty records as they want. If you met James Hetfield (Metallica for the chance non-metalhead reading this) would you express to him how shitty you think his band has been since 1991? If you met the guys from Iron Maiden would you tell them that they should go back and totally re-record the Blaze Bayley records with Bruce because they weren’t as good? I guess some of you would… but you’re dickheads. All of these examples share something in common: producers of art must be ready to be criticized, but it is not your place to tell them what to do with their art.

Instead, we vote for or against that art with our wallets. If Bioware continues making games that are ostensibly RPGs but that leave you no real choices or show you affect your surroundings in the end: stop buying their games. Stop pre-ordering the expensive-ass versions of them and paying for DLC. Because if their bottom line doesn’t reflect the dissatisfaction, this will continue. Whether or not they make some DLC to wipe your nerdrage tears off your bitchy little cheeks.

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  • Loving this post.  Great job.  BW certainly screwed the pooch with this one.

    Beware though: I tried to run a metal/video game blog … and there’s a lot less crossover than you’d expect.

    • I’m sticking to metal, mostly. I just thought this one deserved special attention. 

  • Nerdstorm II: the Dawn of Urkel

    • OzanCan

      I really wonder what you play nowadays, if you ever play at all, Master Druhm??

      • I play Halo, Gears of War, anything with mindless shooting of guns and excessive explosions.

        • OzanCan

          Youse gotsa try DEAD SPACE 2: shitting your pants in fear guaranteed 100%!!! :)

  • I can understand people bitching about the endings being the same.  I agree with this point.  What is really hacking me off is the group complaining that no matter how paragon/how well they played, Shepherd will die. 

    WOW.  So not all stories have a happy ending.  I think it’s entirely appropriate for him to pop it.  Just because it’s not a hollywood fairytale ending, fanboys gettin’ upperty.  Go watch some decent cinema or read some decent books.  The world is not one big happy story.  Good on bioware for that, imho.

    • I fully expected Shepard to die. That seemed inevitable to me. It’s the different outcomes for the universe that your character makes that I think is the emotionally poignant one. 

      •  Infact, I think if there had been a choice between proper life and death, I would have chosen death.  It fitted in with the ideals I had as Shepherd, to make things better for everyone regardless of self.

  • Yeah, they lost me after DA2  or should i call it sausage fest whiny annoying mage with Emo Final Fantasy Elves. But thankfully i was save ad brought into a REAL dark fantasy world Ala Witcher 2

    • I bought The Witcher a while back and need to play it. 

      • Play both. They’re amazing.

      • You’re a gamer, you obviously love RPG’s, and you haven’t played the Witcher series yet?

        Read the two translated books, play both the games, then forget all about Bioware… I swear if they dumb down their games any more I’ll be able to play it with a NES controller.

    • OzanCan

      The Witcher 2 KICKS MAJOR ASS! >:)

  • You might like Skyrim.

  • My issue with the ending is more of a logical issue (what set me off initially was that the Normandy’s crash scene makes NO SENSE – how and why are characters from the surface battle and the ship from the space battle suddenly a) together and b) fleeing the battle, which is clearly shown to still be happening when the Crucible is triggered, through the mass relay – but plenty of other fridge logic hit me later) than a choice thing. Sure, the cutscene at the end doesn’t change much, but what’s actually going to happen to the universe is hugely dependent on your choices throughout the game, and I don’t have a particular problem with that being left open-ended.

    (My personal theory is that they’ll actually get the relay network, or a different advanced transit technology, back online pretty quickly. It’s clearly demonstrated in the first game that the Protheans had successfully reverse-engineered the mass relays, and Earth is now left with a) the Mars Archive and b) the fine technical minds from the Crucible project. There’ll certainly be a time lag distributing the new relays if that’s the route taken, but the Reapers return to the galaxy from dark space under conventional, albeit powerful, FTL drives in the space of at most a couple of years, and escape from the system formerly occupied by the Alpha Relay also under conventional FTL in months, so it’s certainly not impractical!)

    If they can provide a reasonable answer for the logical issues that are bothering me in the DLC, I’m all aboard. As it stands currently, however, I’m something of a fan of the indoctrination theory, on account of it actually making a worrying degree of sense.

    (Sidenote: I don’t mind dark endings in general either, but I promised Liara lots of little blue kids, and dammit she’s going to get them…)

    •  I considered making many blue children (well, perhaps I already did ;) ) but then it’s all for nothing if they get wiped out again later.

      •  Well, it’s fairly clear that the Child is wrong (which is what I was banking on when I made that choice, given EDI and the geth’s failure to wipe out all life) – you get the scene with Buzz Aldrin talking about something regardless of which ending you pick, which means that, having picked the “destroy the Reapers” ending, synthetics do not, in fact, subsequently wipe out all life.

        •  Yeah, that was after the credits right?  I really needed to pee so I didn’t watch it :P

          I don’t remember too much about what that kid said, but I was under the illusion that “at some point” everyone would get wiped out, and that it was essentially just a brief respite relatively to the history of the cycles.

          Who the hell knows though.  I still suspect Shepherd never actually made it (humanly) alive to the Citadel and that some crazy inplant/indoctrination combination took over.   The DLC will sure be “interesting”.

          •  Yeah, there’s just a brief scene with Aldrin talking to some kid (a different one..) about all the worlds full of life out there. The kid asks to hear more about “the Shepard”, and Aldrin notes it was a long time ago and the details have been lost, or something to that effect.
            I took it to mean that at the very least organic life gets a damn good run before being wiped out, and my personal belief is that the Child is wrong and organics and synthetics live happily ever after… (I mean, what’s the child if not a synthetic, and he’s taking these measures to avoid wiping out organic life…?)

            Hooray for the indoctrination theory, though. It’ll be something else if Bioware actually pull that one off for real in the DLC…

    • Nerd.

  • Choices in the Mass Effect universe are actually pseudo choices as the right choices are the one the developers expect you to take to get the best endings.

    • Yeah. That’s about how I see it. It’s kind of a shame. 

  • I’m simply happy that someone has written about something other than death metal.

    • What are you talking about? There’s tons of non death metal stuff.

    • You’re not very savvy about metal genres, are you?

    • Isn’t that the same guy who complained about all the death metal on your Gorod review? Why is he still here?

  • OzanCan

    By reading this, I certainly wish for a game like Planescape: Torment again. I mean why the hell not? >:)

  • haderach512

    Well, I gotta do this… I never posted here, though I check the AMG at least once a day and I consider it my no.1 guide when it comes to metal music. This time, however, I’ll take a couple of seconds to say: hats off! A metalhead and Baldur’s Gate fan? People that mention Planescape: Torment and The Witcher on their comments? Hell, AMG just got a bit more personal to me.

    • Grymm

      I want a Baldur’s Gate III, DAMNIT!!!

      -a sad, nostalgic Grymm

  • mike gager

    actually morbid angel did go back and change their newest record, the fact they made it worse is besides the point.

  • Garrett Ballendine

    The reason ME3 suffered so much can be summed up with one name. Or rather one name lacking from it.

    Drew Karpyshyn.

  • thehuntress144

    “…producers of art must be ready to be criticized, but it is not your place to tell them what to do with their art.”

    Nice rule. Angry Metal Guy has spoken!

  • KotOR opened my eyes to these kind of games too. 

    We Metalheads really do come from the same place sometimes.

  • Riddler Green

    Now that we’re in 2017, I wonder what your position is on Mass Effect Andromeda?