The ending of BioWare’s Mass Effect trilogy was extremely divisive upon release, prompting backlash from the community for it falling short of meeting the rest of the series’ stellar player agency and choice-based gameplay. BioWare veteran Drew Karpyshyn, the lead writer on the first two games, has now revealed the games’ original ending in a recent Reddit AMA which would’ve involved a different outcome for the Reapers.
Mass Effect 3 notoriously ended with a selection of endings that fans felt barely differed from one another. Major spoilers will be discussed from this point onwards. Essentially, all endings involved Commander Shepard sacrificing themselves to save the universe, putting an end to the threat of the Reapers, either through destroying them or controlling them.
Players felt cheated out of having the option to save Shepard and see a better ending where the commander could’ve possibly survived. BioWare course-corrected this through DLC for Mass Effect 3 that showed a short clip of Shepard breathing in the rubble, suggesting that they might’ve lived through the final assault.
While Karpyshyn didn’t elaborate on any alternate fates for the main hero, he did offer a somewhat alternate ending for its antagonists. This seemingly involved the Reapers being taken out through completely different means:
“We has some very rough ideas planned out. Basically, it involved luring the Reapers through the Mass Relays then detonating the entire network to wipe them out… but also destroying/damaging the relays and isolating every galactic community from the others. But we still had to figure out a lot of the details, and there were some issues with that option… like what we would do in the next series of games.”
BioWare is currently developing the next Mass Effect game, which will be a continuation of the series. Without any proper details to go on, it’s unclear which ending the new title will address. Fans believe it could be ignored or given a blanket explanation in order to maintain players’ choices from the last game.