Fans of the Mass Effect franchise rejoiced in the wake of the Extended Cut release for the trilogy's beleaguered ending. Thanks to BioWare's decision to extend the game's ending by providing more clarity to discerning gamers, several questions have been answered concerning the fate of Shepard's crew, their allies, the various alien races and the invading Reapers.
The sole thing that was left unanswered was the fate of Shepard's life. The protagonist is destined to die in most of the endings except for the "Destroy" or red ending. The climax of the red ending (video) sequence reveals Shepard's body wriggling out of the rubble while he is still gasping for breath. This particular ending scene almost gave away the hint that the legendary hero could make a comeback in future DLC's for the single player campaign.
In the Destroy ending sequence, we see Commander Shepard choosing to eliminate the Reaper threat forever, much against the will of the Stargazer. This cut-scene is immediately followed by another showing Shepard's body wriggling out of the wreckage and his seemingly lifeless body taking a deep breath. The Extended Cut DLC now adds the new feature - Commander Shepard's love interest - that refuses to place his name on the wall of fame amongst the list of dead crew members who were lost through the series.
The combination of these two pivotal events has led gamers to believe that Shepard is indeed alive amid the Crucible wreckage, while some even ascertained this as validation for Indoctrination Theory. The final two scenes of the Destroy ending seem to have taken place in Shepard's mind, while this particular option alone keeps Shepard alive which is consistent with the game's key objective - Destroy Reapers. Well, it now seems as though the missing pieces are coming together indeed.
With due credit to BioWare's Tully Ackland's post on the game's official forums, we can rest assured that Shepard is alive for a greater cause with every chance of reuniting with his love interest and the rest of the scattered crew members, following their ship's ill-fated crash-landing on an unknown planet amid lush-green forest terrain.
"One of the goals for the Extended Cut, as part of addressing player feedback, was to provide more time with the love interest, and more opportunity for players to say goodbye to them and provide additional moments of connection between them," opines Ackland.
"We did this in several ways:" he continues...
"Shepard can now actually say goodbye to the love interest when they are split up at the conduit run.
"When Shepard sees flashbacks of important characters during the final decision, the flashbacks are now variable based on your playthrough - so your love interest can appear as one of the flashbacks, providing another moment of reflection between Shepard and that character.
"A memorial scene was added, partly to show a close bond between Shepard and the love interest. The scene is variable, and if Shepard has a love interest in a given playthrough, it will be that character who places Shepard's name on the memorial wall."
"You may notice that in the "Shepard lives" ending, the love interest hesitates to place Shepard's name on the wall, and instead looks up as though deep in thought. This is meant to suggest that the love interest is not ready to believe Shepard is dead, and the final scene reveals they are correct. As the Normandy lifts off, there is hope that the love interest and Shepard will again be together," asserts Ackland, justifying the consequential red ending.
As Game Rant notes, if BioWare chooses to use the extended ending as the launch-pad for future single-player DLCs, it could renew the gamers' interest in the franchise. On the downside, it could also undermine the existing endings to the game as stop-gap content of little or no academic value and that could actually upset even more fans.