|Picture courtesy of Hellstern.|
First though. Why?
Youtube User: MrBtounge made a great video explaining why the original video detailing why the original ending to Mass Effect 3 went down about as well as lead cheerios swimming in broken glass. For those that don't wanna watch about forty minutes the tl;dr here is no matter what choices you made Paragon or Renegade. No matter what you did all through the other games or even this one. If you have enough war assets you're given the same three choices with no variations and it's all completely out of left field. No warning, no nothing.... not even a decent explanation.
Taistful Nerd Rage.
Following the fan outcry, protests, cupcakes, donation drives, and the sort of backlash that made even EA (Bioware's owners) sit up and take notice. They ended up relenting after months of action on the fanbase's part. I've written a post about the result. It does fix some things like why your squad isn't there with you, Joker leaves, and so forth. However the non-explaination still remains. Even the leviathen DLC where you meet survivors from the race that created the reapers doesn't change anything in the end other than Shep calling out that she/he met the creator race. There's some further resolution, and if this had been the original End then perhaps it would have been enough... but too little too late.
Thankfully, or not depending on if you own the console or PC version, modders have been hard at work trying to apply their own fixes.
The Mass Effect Ending Mod still leaves the glowchild. However it completely guts the brat's lines and gives a completely different explanation for the reapers.... as in it actually explains. Also the glowthing is a Prothean addition rather than a VI from the creator race. It does good for what it is, but since new dialog had to be added for shepherd their lines are sorta hit/miss There's more than just the Refusal option in the video shown below, but I feel this as the 'strongest' end.
Next on my list is the Happy Ending Mod. It isn't all sunshine and flowers like the name might imply. There's Pain. Loss, and so forth, but we skip the entire glowchild sequence. It actually uses the assets from the extended cut quite well, and if this were made so it would trip if you got all manner of war assets as a 'secret' then that would make it something to shoot for. It is exceedingly well done.
Finally my favorite fan alternative is something that isn't even a video. It's a webcomic that has the sort of epicness and scope that we had dared hoped the extended cut would give us. Marauder Shields started as a fan vent and rally point for the dissatisfaction. Then it changed into one (so far as i know) fan's attempt at writing something better. It has Everything. Character interactions, new codex entries, seriously it... just feels Right for the sort of scope that the trilogy had. It isn't even done, and it has different variations for points that take shepherd's background into account.
This will be the last I say on the matter. Even the Extended Cut is better than what we started with since you can choose to go down fighting (and probably take the reapers down enough that the next cycle, with Liara's message in a bottle) allowed them to win. This was implied, but never stated. We can lay Shepherd to rest no matter what else has happened. Mass Effect is a detailed and wonderful franchise that the Ending felt just plain wrong for.
Having said that unless Casey Hudson is in no way shape or whatever involved. I wouldn't touch any future installments. This might happen though since 'we', the fanbase, managed to get the very definition of uncaring monolithic corporate publishing companies (EA) to make changes they hadn't planned on to try keeping their customers happy.
Isn't making the impossible happen the whole point of all three games? Hats off to you guys. All of you. Y'did awesome.