Disclaimer: The opinions and viewpoints expressed by the various authors (including me) do not necessarily reflect the opinions and viewpoints of Neoseeker.
Mass Effect 3: Extended Cut DLC in a few hours, the message boards will burn with controversy, and BioWare will move on to its next scheduled DLC release. I won't be a part of it, because I'm not going to play it. As far as I'm concerned Mass Effect 3 ended and there is nothing BioWare might put in its 1.9 GB DLC package to make it worth my time. That, however, won't stop me from talking about the damn thing.
The first question that everyone should consider when evaluating whether to download the Mass Effect 3: Extended Cut DLC is what exactly the thing is. Is it a new ending? Is it a number of alternative endings? Is it a rewrite of the old ending? To clarify, the Extended Cut is none of these things -- it's an expansion to the content that's already there. The DLC will feature new cinematics, dialog and epilogue scenes in order to produce, "clarity and closure," for fans.
Except the problem is that after Mass Effect 3's release, it was made abundantly clear that this ambiguity and confusion was the intention of executive producer Casey Hudson.
"I didn’t want the game to be forgettable, and even right down to the sort of polarizing reaction that the ends have had with people–debating what the endings mean and what’s going to happen next, and what situation are the characters left in. That to me is part of what’s exciting about this story."
BioWare encouraged, nay, cultivated this argument and outrage. The lack of, "clarity and closure," was 100% intentional. That's not the whole story, however. Even at this point BioWare and Hudson were planning out post-release content. Keep in mind this is prior to the announcement of the Extended Cut DLC:
"So where do we go from here? Throughout the next year, we will support Mass Effect 3 by working on new content. And we’ll keep listening, because your insights and constructive feedback will help determine what that content should be. This is not the last you’ll hear of Commander Shepard."
BioWare and Hudson wanted an ending to Mass Effect 3 that would polarize fans and extend the conversation. Where a normal game and trilogy might end, Mass Effect would continue, or even gain popularity. With post-launch DLC BioWare's intention is to feed that fire, to continue the conversation however polarizing it may be. Yes, they absolutely plan on paying attention to player feedback, but that's not to appease fans. BioWare's plan is to create content that continues to impassion the fanbase, for better or worse.
I posit that the Extended Cut is nothing more than BioWare's attempt to reinvigorate the controversy, and that this was their plan all along.
At this point its worth asking why BioWare would foster such a contentious and polarized atmosphere surrounding their premier franchise. My thoughts on this issue are simple: at some point during Mass Effect 2's production, or between Mass Effect 2 and 3, BioWare decided Mass Effect's value as a franchise and brand was more important than the narrative itself. Naturally, the trilogy as a story would eventually end, but how could they maximize the brand's potential going forward? Thusly was Mass Effect 3's current ending born, followed by the controversy fueled by Casey Hudson, Ray Muzyka, and a war fought through viral marketing that never saw much press coverage.
It's worth asking: isn't that contradictory to the content that has been detailed for the Extended Cut DLC? Doesn't the plan to provide closure and clarity go against the plan to foster controversy? Keep in mind BioWare's own definition of the Extended Cut: that it's not going to change the ending, only provide some clarity and closure to certain story threads. Expect the ambiguity, the mystery, and the controversy to remain, but also expect to see more interaction between Shepard and his crew leading up to the end. Hell, they'll probably show more of the after math too -- where the fleet ends up, the destruction level of Earth, and maybe even how the crew fares at the very end.
The situation is much the same as Mass Effect 2's ending. It doesn't matter what the ending is so long as the crew gets a majority of the attention. It's a Lost/Damon Lindelof strategy of distracting the fanbase with excellent character writing, so plot holes and flawed narrative are ignored or outright dismissed.
Don't expect an answer to the big questions like the indoctrination theory, Shepard's ultimate fate, or what the hell is going on with the three different colors. No, only expect enough to drive you back online, wondering whether other players had the same feelings as you about the DLC. "I can't believe they did this, but not this," or, "Seriously BioWare, this is your strategy to provide closure and clarity?" Expect more of the same, Mass Effect fans.
This entire circus ride only serves to show just how amazing that first Mass Effect title is. Never has a game so full realized empathy between the player and a cast of characters. From Mass Effect 2 on, including comic books and mobile games, no other franchise could get away with such blatant exploitation of a fanbase.
Not me, anymore. No, I'm getting off this crazy ride. I won't be playing the Mass Effect 3: Extended Cut DLC, because it doesn't matter how the story ends, or for what reason BioWare is kicking the hornets nest again. I refuse to be a part of their social experiment, their grand marketing strategy. The important part was the journey we each shared -- Shepard, the crew and the Normandy. It doesn't matter what BioWare releases tomorrow, they can't take away those memories.
Kinda makes ya' jealous of Mordin, right? He cut out early so he wouldn't have to deal with all this nonsense.