Warning: very long post ahead.
Thoughts about ME3’s final sequences – choices and consequences
I had some thoughts about the final stages of the game. I liked the ending, but I wanted it to have more information on the choices the protagonist (=players) made throughout the entire series. I’d like to share with you some thoughts on how the final steps of the game would be more informative about (or even decide) the fate of Shep, Shep’s friends, races and the war overall, based on a simple list of (some) choices made through the entire trilogy.
I played a jackass male, default-faced Renegade Shepard from ME1 to ME3. In my playthrough, Thane, Miranda, Samara and Legion died. I united the Turians and Krogans, as well as Quarians and Geth. I’m not really interested in romances. If I want something romantic to happen in my life, I buy my girlfriend some tobacco, instead of drooling over textured polygons, but ah well whatever: I hooked up with Jack on ME2, my one and only romance. Didn’t MP, yet had kinda maxed assets (the kind that gets as maxed as it can be without MP). I’m saying all this because any suggestions presented below correspond to the data I have from my playthrough. Other players may think of even more possibilities. Or even, maybe when in a distant future BW gets fully absorbed by the rEApers and becomes a forgotten legend, modders will emerge and think of ways to make things more clear. Who knows.
So, let the mental blitzkrieg begin
My presentation revolves around 2 basic axes:
1) ME, above everything else, is a game. There was a time where games were, well, hard to beat. My Shep died like 1 time in the entire game, and that was because my cat decided it wanted hugs at that time and jumped in front of the monitor purring and doing cute things. Anyone remember Megaman from the NES era? If you didn’t get the line platform weapon thingy, jumping around became more difficult in later stages. So I don’t see any harm having it as an option to make the game more difficult if your assets aren’t high enough. I will elaborate more below, but as a hasty example: Few assets -> Have to go through 4 brutes at some point (getting to the beam?). More assets ->Some of your allied buddies, whose allegiance made you spit blood in order to acquire it, intervene and kill 2 of the aforementioned 4 brutes, thus you have an easier time. But this is not all, because we also have axis #
2) Which states that: Fewer assets -> less allied firepower -> less allied backup -> more reaper forces landing on Earth ->more desperate situations -> Shepard&co get more worn and torn with each uninterrupted Reaper wave until they reach that beam or whatever -> Shep’s allies may perish or even Shepard gets more and more wounded until he doesn’t survive at the end (even though he delivers the final blow/choice/you name it). It’s like increasing an invisible “wound points” stat. If you gained ally X, he could help at point Y of your struggle, but if you didn’t, no one will intervene at point Y, so add 1 more wound point to your total. If wound points >2, a companion dies. If >4, two of them die, if >6 Shep him/herself dies at the end. Please bear with me a moment to see how all of this unfolds below.
Before continuing: Axis #1 doesn’t have to be present for the rest of my statements to be valid. It’s just a thought which many casual gamers will (and should) oppose. So you can ignore it if you like. Also, nothing below is carved on stone for me. Those are just examples. Insert Y name at X position to get the effect you want. Finally, some of my suggestions may look biased about how Shep must choose more and more alliances as the game progresses, regardless of players’ preferences. But well, it’s a full scale galactic war of destruction, and gaining more and more allies is quite above whether my Shep likes or hates Krogan, Geth etc. After all, I don’t think that less allies->Shep dies is some sort of punishment. Our Shep probably didn’t make some ’right’ choices during all 3 games, but in the end, they stand in front of a choice that makes all previous ‘wrongs’ fade : Sacrifice.
Players gain the allegiance of either 1 or 2 or all mercenary bands: Eclipse, Blood Pack, Blue Suns.
At some point during the “gogogo to the beam!” rush, the Reapers launch a massive ‘reinforcement’ pod from space, which then splits into 3 big pods, containing a swarm of a)husks and cannibals, b)brutes and marauders, c)banshees.
Depending on the number of allied mercenary bands, their quick, hit’n’run fighters are dispatched in order to blast the pods before they land. A specific merc type would only destroy its corresponding pod (eg blood pack->pod a, blue suns -> pod b, eclipse -> pod c). So more mercenaries -> less enemies. If few or no mercenaries are present, Shep&co have a difficult time getting through (translated in terms of gameplay and/or story), Shep gets wounded (see above), and a companion may even die trying to buy time for the others to get through. So if you think mercs won’t be an asset, you were wrong, and scratch 1 buddy from your squad.
Shepard destroys/saves the Collector base at the end of ME2
Shep&co face Kai Leng at some point, and also Shep faces The Illusive Man (therby referred to as TIM).
If Shep saves the collector base, Kai Leng gains several Reaper-tech augmentations and becomes more powerful, thus having an easier time to kill Thane and/or Miranda, and becoming a harder “boss”. What’s worse is that TIM gets tech-ed up too, and survives an otherwise fatal blow from Shep, perhaps long enough to even strike back and seriously wound Shep (would contribute to Shep’s final evaluation of injuries and managing to survive at the end). I’m not talking about DBZ-style fights here (o mai I haz powrrrrr!!), so those ‘augmentations’ due to Shep giving them the collector’s base as a present should be subtle, and of course be explained to players.
If Shep blows the collector base, maybe Miranda and/or Thane survive (because Kai Leng won’t be all that powerful), and TIM gets pwned/spared without adding any more grief to players.
About Jack and the biotic kids.
The team gets, once more, swarmed, and Jack&co is nearby (if players did that quest)
If players chose the ‘artillery’ support for the biotic kids, they blast any enemy approaching Shep’s team within melee range, leaving you to deal with ranged attackers firing from cover, such as marauders.
If players chose the ‘barriers’ support, the opposite happens: A huge biotic wall prevents ranged enemies from doing major damage, and they have to pass through the wall so players get to close-quarters combat with them.
If Jack&co aren’t present, players once again have a tough time, so maybe it’s time to scratch another buddy from your “alive companions” list. Also, Shep gets even more roughed up (you must have gotten the pattern so far, no?)
Shepard gains the alliance of Quarians, Geth or both.
An orbital bombardment from Hackett’s flagship is about to occur, in order to dispatch a lesser Reaper on Earth, blocking Shepard&co’s path. However, as the strike is being prepared from above, a Reaper prepares to attack Hackett’s ship!
If players have neither as their ally, the Reaper ship destroys Hackett’s ship just as it fires (here hacket&crew demonstrate their bravery as they choose to fire nevertheless, instead of making evasive maneuvers and saving their asses), partially wounding the lesser Reaper down there, which in turn wounds Shep and possibly kills yet another companion. So no allies->carnage.
If players have either the Quarians or the Geth, they throw everything they have at the Reaper targeting Hackett’s ship, buying it just enough time to make a precise orbital strike at the lesser reaper below, granting Shep&co totally safe passage for this encounter. But still, one ally is not enough to save Hacket’s ship from the Reaper’s devastating beam. So 1 ally->Hackett&crew die.
If players have both Quarians and Geth as allies, they both throw everything at the space Reaper ready to attack Hackett’s ship, destroying it (this scene would also further solidify the unity between Quarians and Geth), and Hackett’s ship blows the s*** out of the ground Reaper, thus granting our heroes safe passage. So 2 allies->Nobody dies.
Shepard gains the alliance of Turians, Krogan or both.
Similar to the above scenario, this time we have Anderson’s team pinned somewhere in London by lots of reapers (husks, marauders, you get it).
Similar to above: No Krogan/Turians->goodbye mr Anderson&team.
Only 1 of those 2 -> Anderson survives with their help, but he is wounded and in bad state, and won’t be able to stop TIM from further wounding Shepard in the end.
Both allies: Krogan and Turians f*** up so hard the reapers, they wouldn’t believe it if you told them, lol. Anderson and his team (mostly) survive and are in good shape, and thus Anderson may stop an empowered TIM (see above) from harming Shepard.
I’m going to stop here. So far we have: Anderson lives or dies, same for Hackett, Miranda, Thane and of course Shepard, all due to choices made in this game or the previous one. And I’m not sure it would be hard to implement those cutscenes as well. Hell, they could even *not* make the reaper/thresher maw duel scene in order to gain some dev time for making just *half* of the above cutscenes! I hope I’m not wrong there…
Some final thoughts:
I had a hunch about something which didn’t become reality. Shepard’s dreams were haunted with the departed. He/she runs to reach the little boy, only to witness it perish again and again. He also hears whispers of his/her fallen comrades.
My hunch was that, at the end, regardless of whether Shep lives or dies, his final ‘images’ would be him/her, running once again in the woods. Only this time he/she reaches the kid and embraces it, and the menacing red light dims and fades into oblivion as Shepard looks upon it resentfully. Also, the fallen ones appear before him/her, nodding satisfied with his struggle. Also, a last image of your love interest or even perhaps Shep’s mother (we should finally see her, even in the end!) smiling, would reassure Shepard’s final descent into sacrifice/salvation/whatever.
So, that’s all from me folks. I left most of the ‘later’ ending untouched. But this is a work of fiction to be accomplished by other minds…hope you read my thoughts.