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Opinion Game Dev Mass Effect director Mac Walters hopes Legendary Edition changes your feelings about the infamous ending

IbizaPocholo

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Dec 1, 2014
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ibiza

Ahead of Legendary Edition's release, I chatted over Zoom with project director Mac Walters and with character and environment director Kevin Meek about those emotional attachments, the changes they've made to the games, how they think Mass Effect 3's ending will go down in 2021 and the chances of its multiplayer mode making a return. Here's a transcript of the interview, edited for clarity.

So what do you want players to feel when they boot off this collection for the first time?
Walters: That'll be quite personal, if you're a new player or someone returning to it. I hope people feel a sense of wonder, being able to experience all three games in a new way with the updated graphics. And now you can experience it as a trilogy, with all the downloadable content at your fingertips.

Meek: They are old games, but they've still held up over the passage of time. Looking at the original release, we sometimes found there was a sense of friction in the controls or distracting moments in the art. We tried to smooth out -- sometimes literally -- a lot of what you're seeing and experiencing. You can experience that story as it was meant to be, and you really immerse yourself. That's what I want people to fall into when they first boot it up.

Walters: So ideally, people playing it say "Yeah, this is exactly how I remember it." Then we've successfully remastered their memory and nostalgia -- it's evoking the same feeling and experiences. It's only when they actually compare it to the original that they see how much work was done.

What advice would you give to fans looking to spice up their playthrough, with this new version of the trilogy, aside from switching from Paragon to Renegade or vice-versa?
Meek: I'd suggest for people to try different character classes. When I played Mass Effect 1 for the first time, I played as a soldier -- the generic right-down-the-center option, with access to all the weapons. I didn't know what type of game it was going to be or what the biotic powers were.

Now we've eliminated a lot of those class restrictions on weapons. You can choose Vanguard, which gives you a bunch of biotic powers and still use whatever weapons want. And then when you get to Mass Effect 2 and 3, those powers let you do all these really fun things like lifting people up and throwing them off buildings, and warping yourself across chasms to slam into enemies.

Walters: Another good one is the DLC, especially in 2 and 3, if you didn't play it before. We used that additional content to experiment with the level design and gameplay -- there's some really cool and fun stuff. If you finish Lair of the Shadow Broker (a piece of DLC from Mass Effect 2), you can re-spec all your characters, plus all these other cool bonuses that come with it.

Whenever I've talked about this collection to people, a lot of them will bring up the negative response to Mass Effect 3's ending. What would you say to those players, especially those on the fence about the Legendary Edition?
Walters: The ending's extended cut was part of the DLC, so that's part of your new baked-in experience with the Legendary Edition. But I guess people have to make up their own minds about it -- we haven't changed any of the story. It's also been a little bit of time, so people play through it as a whole and then reassess. If they still have the same feelings about it then, that's fair. I know I viewed the trilogy in a very different way now that it's all together. I'm hoping other people will see it that way as well.

Meek: I think the sci-fi beats of the ending might hit people in a different way now than they might have nine years ago. Playing it as a whole trilogy and treating it as one giant arc, rather than three arcs, goes a long way to potentially changing people's experiences.

What can next-gen players like people on PS5 and Xbox Series X|S expect in terms of the performance improvements compared to PS4 and Xbox One?
Walters: It's more in line with high-end PC performance. You can get the full 4K experience closer to a 60 fps right across the board. And an SSD just makes things load faster -- it's like magical technology from the future, I love it. So it can make those elevator rides [in Mass Effect 1] even shorter if you want.

Is there any possibility of the Mass Effect 3 multiplayer mode (which isn't in the Legendary Edition) coming back in some form? I got super into it back then because you could try all the different abilities and just zip around as an Asari or one of the other races.
Walters: I would never say no to that -- we want to see what kind of reception the Legendary Edition gets and what the demand for the multiplayer is. And then we'll ask ourselves if we have the resources and time to bring it up to the quality level we and fans want.
 
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Krappadizzle

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Won't change anything. I literally played through Mass Effect 1 + 2 right before 3 came out in anticipation and wanting to refresh my memory of the events. I hated that ending.

They dug themselves a giant hole by making SO many choices and options available that having a satisfying ending that addresses all the things leading up to that point was damn near impossible to achieve.
 
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Hugare

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The issue isn’t it’s multiple ended, the issue is that for a game with thousands of different choices it all comes down to three different outcomes (or four now since they added one post-launch)
How many would be enough?

No other series tried to make choices go through 3 games. It must have been a very difficult task, so I dont mind them doing only 3 endings.

My problem with it is how they were done. The 3 endings sucked. Destroy less so, but still.

Love the 3rd game despite the ending
 

MrMephistoX

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I don’t know ME3 was actually better after all the DLC and ending changes. A modern née player coming into it fresh for the first time with all of the content unlocked including Shadow Broker for 2 might have a very different experience.
 

Omeggos

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How many would be enough?

No other series tried to make choices go through 3 games. It must have been a very difficult task, so I dont mind them doing only 3 endings.

My problem with it is how they were done. The 3 endings sucked. Destroy less so, but still
.

Love the 3rd game despite the ending
Also this
 

STARSBarry

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I feel like it's more lacking in content.... oh thats because they didn't bother to include the multiplayer from the 3rd game in this collection.
 

brian0057

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Oh, don't worry, Mac. The ending is still shit.
I just hope that with the release of this remaster, people can finally drop the "it was all good until the ending" bullshit excuse.
It was all a downward spiral with the first game being the best of the series.
The more I replay Mass Effect 2, the less I like it. In fact, it was here that the series took a turn for the worse.
Mass Effect 3 was just an extention of the second game.
 
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WoJ

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I don’t know ME3 was actually better after all the DLC and ending changes. A modern née player coming into it fresh for the first time with all of the content unlocked including Shadow Broker for 2 might have a very different experience.
Yeah this right here. ME3 is 9 years old at this point. There are 7 year Olds who are 16 now that probably never played anything beyond Andromeda, if that. Kids who are in their teens now or people in their early 20s who missed the trilogy during its first release may have a very different view of the ending.

I am no fan of ME3's ending, but I also believe had they released the game with the Extended Cut as the vanilla in game ending you would have had people disappointed and some negativity, but not the vitriol and extreme backlash.
 

RoboFu

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I am finally playing through andromeda now and think it’s pretty good! Why didn’t everyone hate it again? Was it the open world aspect? Or maybe the horrible beginning?
 

Krappadizzle

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Mass Effect 3 was the preview of things like GoT Season 8.
 
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Sgt.Asher

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The ending overshadowed the rest of ME3. It was a bad game with shit narrative throughout. The horde mode was the best part of the game, but the lootboxes made it unpalatable.
 

decisions

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The ending overshadowed the rest of ME3. It was a bad game with shit narrative throughout. The horde mode was the best part of the game, but the lootboxes made it unpalatable.
Exactly, everyone is always complaining about the ending, when really who cares if the last 10 minutes of the experience are unique to my playthrough? I don’t. If you didn’t happen to have chosen the characters they selected from the past two games, the feeling of a lack of player agency permeated your entire playthrough. For instance, suppose Thane and Miranda were your chosen squadmates in ME2. Then in ME3 you can’t even have them as squadmates. I won’t spoil anything, but several characters have “hardscripted” endings throughout the game that make the actions of the past two games feel worthless in the 3rd entry.

What sucked is that the game swapped an RPG series for a 3rd-person shooter with mediocre controls, and much more linear levels with lack of choice throughout the game. The ending of ME3 doesn’t just suck, the whole game sucks. And the whole mystery of it all is that ME2 seemed to follow up the first game so perfectly.

It clearly marked the end of Bioware’s strong output as an RPG studio.
 
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Velius

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How many would be enough?

No other series tried to make choices go through 3 games. It must have been a very difficult task, so I dont mind them doing only 3 endings.

My problem with it is how they were done. The 3 endings sucked. Destroy less so, but still.

Love the 3rd game despite the ending
When you say "How many" it feels like the question itself somewhat skirts the sole contention. And I really do mean it-- it's the only contention, when people sit down and think about it.
But If we're talking about a single *outcome*, even one would have been fine. The issue isn't that there aren't enough endings. The issue is that the choices didn't have any impact and there's a key difference.

Let's say there's only one ending: the Reapers kill everyone. Even within the frame of that specific outcome, you could have a lot of variety. If you went full Paragon and were able to unite everyone, befriend the Rachni, convince the Krogan and Salarians to bury their collective hatchets, broker peace between the Geth and the Qunari, you could have a situation where you have the Galaxy putting a formidable dent in the Reaper's onslaught, as opposed to getting utterly raped if there were no successful harmonies or preparations.

That would be a very satisfying dynamic for players, even if the general narrative, ie, the Reapers winning, remains the same regardless.

So it's not about how many endings there are-- it's about putting enough story in so that the choices you made have an impact on the game.
 
Jun 17, 2019
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I really liked the ME3 ending. But then I never played the DLC so never saw the redone ending. I look forward to seeing what it is when I pick up The Legendary Edition. :)
 
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Madflavor

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You tell Mac Walter that he can take his hopes and stick them up his pompous fucking ass.

I haven't forgotten, and I haven't forgiven. I'm still mad that they fucked us over and treated it like it was our fault for not liking it. He really hopes that after 9 years I'm going to change my mind about getting emotionally ass raped? Fuck him.
 

NullZ3r0

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I remember Mass Effect Andromeda and Anthem.

Is Bioware trying to pretend those games didn't happen?

 
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mcjmetroid

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Mass effect 3 was a shit game overall. The ending was just the cherry on the shit sundae.
Lol no it wasn't. It was just the ending that got people upset and the dlc shenanigans, so rightfully so people called them out on that... but now the narrative is that's it a shit game?

I played all of these games for the first time last year and I actually thought third was excellent. It's very epic has amazing set pieces and is very fast paced and has decent shooting mechanics.

Legendary edition won't change people's minds on mass effect 3s ending but it will change their impressions of the game itself.
 
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Blond

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Won't change anything. I literally played through Mass Effect 1 + 2 right before 3 came out in anticipation and wanting to refresh my memory of the events. I hated that ending.

They dug themselves a giant hole by making SO many choices and options available that having a satisfying ending that addresses all the things leading up to that point was damn near impossible to achieve.
If it was anything but Deus Ex Machina it would’ve been better lol
 

drganon

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Lol no it wasn't. It was just the ending that got people upset and the dlc shenanigans, so rightfully so people called them out on that... but now the narrative is that's it a shit game?

I played all of these games for the first time last year and I actually thought third was excellent. It's very epic has amazing set pieces and is very fast paced and has decent shooting mechanics.

Legendary edition won't change people's minds on mass effect 3s ending but it will change their impressions of the game itself.
Maybe you thought it was okay, but plenty of people , myself included, thought the game sucked and was rushed through development even before the ending was taken into account. That's not the new "narrative ", or whatever bullshit you want to call it.
 

Punished Miku

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I honestly never even touched 3. Strange, as I loved 1 and 2. I don't know what it was that made me sour on it that hard at the time. My brothers couldn't understand it either, and they bought the game. Later they let me know that it was awful.

Must have been something very bad about the press from that time for Bioware. DA2 dropping in quality so much didn't help either.

I'll get this trilogy eventually down the road, and I would at least try 3 this time.
 

deafmedal

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ME was the first game I remember immediately replaying once I beat it. ME2 had me anxiously awaiting the next entry and ME3 was the first game I wanted to stay home from work to play. When I got to the end I said ok... but mah good pals! What happened to them?! I was less worried about space child and Shepard’s beam of choice (went green, couldn’t stomach destroying the mega homie Legion esp after brokering peace).

I then jumped into MP, after watching vids of folk here playing the demo I was intrigued and once I had a few matches under my belt I was hooked. Here’s the thing: BioWare just kept getting better at the gameplay culminating in the great to play and look at but not much else Anthem. I’m wishy washy on fantasy games, sci-fi is my jam so seeing the evolution of gameplay from KOTOR to Anthem was great but the decrease in story quality was beyond noticeable. I get why folks have been... displeased with BW.

Andromeda had it’s issues (fucking power wheel/squad commands?!) but I enjoyed it, including the MP. It didn’t have the staying power that 3’s MP did and the last ‘content’ update was kinda sad. When they announced that they wouldn’t support the game any longer I was pissed. All last gen I dreamed of a remake/master of at least ME, god how awesome would that vibe and story be with ME3 gameplay!

I will pick this up eventually, but I am concerned that BW no longer has what it takes to give us a new ME with gameplay like Andromeda, story/vibe like ME 1&2...

But I’ll always support Mass Effect. I’ve just adjusted my expectations.
 
Oct 7, 2019
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While I hated the ending, I thought it was the least of the game's problems. I don't think I've ever been so disappointed in a game, I really really didn't have a good time. Low-effort shit game without heart and soul.

It felt so dumbed down, unsatisfying and sloppy when it came to the storytelling and characters. And don't get me started on the forced multi-player shit you needed to do if you wanted the "best" ending.

But whatever, I'm looking forward to playing the first game again in the Legendary Edition, and I'll probably play the second and third game as well, even though I think the games became considerably worse for each entry.
 
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