Drew Karpyshyn Reveals Dropped Mass Effect Trilogy Ending
The lead writer of Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2, Drew Karpyshyn, went on Toronto radio to talk about his time working on the Mass Effect trilogy before getting moved to Austin to work on The Old Republic. In his interview, he talked about the ending to the trilogy that he had originally envisioned and whether it was truly cut by BioWare and EA in favour of the deus ex machina ending in ME3.
On a recent episode of Video Game Sophistry, Karpyshyn noted that his original ending played off the repeated mentions of dark energy in Mass Effect 2. This was most prominently mentioned in Tali’s recruitment mission on Haestrom which you might also remember for the unique characteristic of frying your shield in direct sunlight.
Karpyshyn’s ending to the series hadn’t been completely fleshed out by the time he was pulled off of Mass Effect and moved on to SWTOR. However, his early reasoning for including the dark energy storyline was to tease that the dark energy would cause an end of the universe type of scenario which the Reapers were trying to stop. Since using biotic abilities involved dark energy manipulation, the use of biotics hastened the impending end of the universe.
Rather than harvesting all life to stop them from using biotics, Karpyshyn had intended for the Reapers to be cultivating biotic species to use their biotic abilities to reverse the damage caused by dark matter.
Karpyshyn told VGS’ Andy Borkowski, “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.”
Those weren’t the only Mass Effect trilogy ideas to hit the cutting room floor. There were two more that would have likely resulted in a bigger negative reaction than the original ME3 ending ever did.
One such idea was that Shepard was actually an alien but didn’t know it. However, the team thought, “that might be a little too close to [Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic character] Revan.”
There was also a plan for the start of Mass Effect 2 that would have perfectly setup part of the Crucible/Catalyst ending in Mass Effect 3. Karpyshyn told VGS, “There was some ideas, that maybe Shepard’s soul get’s transfer into a machine, becoming a cyborg and becoming a bridge between synthetics and organics- which is a theme that does play up in the game. At one point we thought, maybe that’s how he survives into Mass Effect 2.”
Well, I can’t say that I would be a fan of the alien or cyborg ideas considering how well Shepard’s character arc played out as a human. I’m a little more interested in Karpyshyn’s ending, though. It might have worked out if it was explained well. A villain who has proper reasons for his actions is a good villain. If the Reapers harvested everyone to save the universe, that would be an excellent twist when compared to “we’re saving you from destruction at the hands of synthetic beings by destroying you.”
Interview and quotes by Video Game Sophistry.