Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 writer Drew Karpyshyn has detailed the vague plans he had for the ending of Mass Effect 3 before exiting the project. Some Mass Effect trilogy spoilers follow.
Speaking to Video Game Sophistry, as transcribed by Eurogamer, Karpyshyn said he hadn’t fully fleshed out his plan for how to end the trilogy but that it hinged on the concept of “dark energy”, which is mentioned in Mass Effect 2 but not explored in the other two games.
“Dark Energy was something that only organics could access because of various techno-science magic reasons we hadn’t decided on yet. Maybe using this Dark Energy was having a ripple effect on the space-time continuum,” he said.
“Maybe the Reapers kept wiping out organic life because organics keep evolving to the state where they would use biotics and dark energy and that caused an entropic effect that would hasten the end of the universe. Being immortal beings, that’s something they wouldn’t want to see.
“Then we thought, let’s take it to the next level. Maybe the Reapers are looking at a way to stop this. Maybe there’s an inevitable descent into the opposite of the Big Bang (the Big Crunch) and the Reapers realise that the only way they can stop it is by using biotics, but since they can’t use biotics they have to keep rebuilding society – as they try and find the perfect group to use biotics for this purpose. The asari were close but they weren’t quite right, the Protheans were close as well.
“Again it’s very vague and not fleshed out, it was something we considered but we ended up going in a different direction.”
That different direction proved quite unpopular, with BioWare eventually adding an extended ending to Mass Effect 3 in response to outcry, and still drawing heavy criticism from some fans.
Other story ideas which Karpyshyn and the team considered include having Shepard turn out to be an alien, and for having Shepard become a cyborg – a bridge between organic and synthetic – instead of being resurrected by Cerberus at the start of Mass Effect 2. Interestingly, this idea was later recycled in Mass Effect 3, both in one of the game’s three endings, and in optional story content exploring Shepard’s semi-synthetic nature.
Karpyshyn said that the abandoned plot elements are a bit like “vapourware” in that if it had actually come out it might not have been as good as people hoped for.
Karpyshyn left the Mass Effect team just before Mass Effect 2 wrapped and was replaced as lead writer by Mac Walters. Series executive producer Casey Hudson is said to have had major creative control over the trilogy’s ending, though.
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