ME3 Indoctrination theory analysis

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ozan192:
Shepard is definitely indoctrinated. I noticed this at the start o my second play through. Notice how that little kid is only shown when Shepard is looking at him. When he was in the ventilation shaft and Shepard was talking to him the kid suddenly disappears when Anderson calls Shepard Implying that Shepard was dreaming. Most importantly, during the end of the first mission when Shepard gets on the Normandy and Anderson says he's not coming, Shepard sees the kid getting onto a space shuttle. Notice how nobody even sees the kid or helps him get up. The soldier in the shuttle just stands there looking straight ahead.

The Kid Isn't real.

QFT..also you can't hear the kid moving in the ventilation shaft(his steps) + the nightmare scenes you hear Reaper growls,which comes to show that hes in the first stages of indoctrination(check the codex if you don't believe me).

Zen Toombs:

Adam Jensen:
We are not trying to make it better. Nothing will make it better. We are trying to understand it. If your only goal is to be angry, you can do it somewhere else.

This exchange is over.

Come on, you had the opportunity to have like seven different Mass Effect references in that sentence!

Something akin to

Zeel, you have become an annoyance. We only wish to understand, not incite.

This exchange is over.

Need to save some for later though.

Combine Rustler:
Just... what exactly are you talking about, may I ask?

Bioware is known for making THE best twist in a story in gaming history. If you played KoTOR you should know that.

This theory we have is just a theory. Nothing more. But I would very much like to think that Bioware didn't lose it's touch and that they can still pull of big story twists. If not, well, may they rest in peace because they're dead to me if this ending doesn't change.

I would actually like this theory to be wrong as well as the actual ending they gave us. I want them to surprise us with something we didn't think of.

RJ 17:

Scabadus:
Snip

Technically the "final boss fight" is the like, 16 Brutes followed by never ending waves of Banshees and Marauders that come when you're making your stand by the mobile missile launchers. While not necessarily as epic and climactic as fighting against Saren or the Human Reaper, it certainly was a LOT more challenging than either of those fights. :P

But I do understand what you're getting at, there's no "central villain" to confront at the end.

Heh.

The "final villain" is yourself.

You literally have to fight every impulse in your mind to make peace the Reapers or what they do in order to break free.

Everything leading up to this point was attempting to lead you to believe that the Reapers could have been accepted into your life in one way or another, but not in the game, but with you. This is why the choices get more complex with greater EMS, and change depending on whether or not you left the Collector base intact. If you stopped caring about the fate of the universe or are simply incapable of doing anything to save it, you've already made your choice, and there is nothing you can do to change the future.

But more importantly, all of the game up to this point is marked by what you did. Yes, it's not accounted for in the endings directly. Those actions are imprinted on YOU, instead. It's how your see yourself, or perhaps just how you see your character ingame, but that character is also an extension of you. Shepard does not have much more command over his mind at this point. He/She is relying on your judgement. This is how indoctrination works. It poses itself as an idea in your head that doesn't seem entirely unreasonable. Perfectly rational, normal people, even people with strong mental control or ridiculous willpower fell victim to it, and that's how it worked. If you let any shred of doubt linger in your mind that there is a valid reason to accept the viewpoint or presence of the Reapers, either by your own logic or justification of being incharacter, then you and/or your Shepard proxy have lost.

Mass Effect is ultimately about the choices you make. The "climactic" battle being the culmination of those decisions on YOUR REAL LIFE MIND is perhaps a most fitting ending.

Or rather, it is the ending, if they succeeded.

It feels like Bioware is just waiting for people to come to grips with it to reveal what's behind the last curtain.

weirdguy:

RJ 17:

Scabadus:
Snip

Technically the "final boss fight" is the like, 16 Brutes followed by never ending waves of Banshees and Marauders that come when you're making your stand by the mobile missile launchers. While not necessarily as epic and climactic as fighting against Saren or the Human Reaper, it certainly was a LOT more challenging than either of those fights. :P

But I do understand what you're getting at, there's no "central villain" to confront at the end.

Heh.

The "final villain" is yourself.

You literally have to fight every impulse in your mind to make peace the Reapers or what they do in order to break free.

Everything leading up to this point was attempting to lead you to believe that the Reapers could have been accepted into your life in one way or another, but not in the game, but with you. This is why the choices get more complex with greater EMS, and change depending on whether or not you left the Collector base intact. If you stopped caring about the fate of the universe or are simply incapable of doing anything to save it, you've already made your choice, and there is nothing you can do to change the future.

But more importantly, all of the game up to this point is marked by what you did. Yes, it's not accounted for in the endings directly. Those actions are imprinted on YOU, instead. It's how your see yourself, or perhaps just how you see your character ingame, but that character is also an extension of you. Shepard does not have much more command over his mind at this point. He/She is relying on your judgement. This is how indoctrination works. It poses itself as an idea in your head that doesn't seem entirely unreasonable. Perfectly rational, normal people, even people with strong mental control or ridiculous willpower fell victim to it, and that's how it worked. If you let any shred of doubt linger in your mind that there is a valid reason to accept the viewpoint or presence of the Reapers, either by your own logic or justification of being incharacter, then you and/or your Shepard proxy have lost.

Mass Effect is ultimately about the choices you make. The "climactic" battle being the culmination of those decisions on YOUR REAL LIFE MIND is perhaps a most fitting ending.

Or rather, it is the ending, if they succeeded.

It feels like Bioware is just waiting for people to come to grips with it to reveal what's behind the last curtain.

Soooooooo Shepard has been Indoctrinated by the player? o.o

No, the PLAYER is being indoctrinated. Some people play as if the character and themselves are separate, but unless they truly understand the situation for what it's worth, then that divide is rendered meaningless. It is like economists attempting to understand a system that they themselves are a part of, but thinking they are objective observers when they are not.

boag:
Go read this Thread, Indoctrination is pretty much confirmed now.

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/forums/read/9.354425-Bioware-allows-the-release-of-The-Final-Hours-of-Mass-Effect-3-a-tell-all-app-for-2-99-WTF#14074722

It looks like they're teasing us. But in a good way. Like they're preparing us. I doubt EA was able to indoctrinate them so much that they would resort to fucking with us and hurting our feelings without any reason. Something is coming.

DarkhoIlow:
I've ready a lot of posts and I am inclined to believe the indoctrination variant over any other theories.

This particular link to an alternative ending is really what something that I fully support and would like to see this kind of resolution: http://arkis.deviantart.com/art/Mass-Effect-3-Alternate-Endings-SPOILERS-289902125?offset=20#comments

Would like to find out what you guys/girls think bout that ending.

LOVED IT. It is so very, very good.

ozan192:
Shepard is definitely indoctrinated. I noticed this at the start o my second play through. Notice how that little kid is only shown when Shepard is looking at him. When he was in the ventilation shaft and Shepard was talking to him the kid suddenly disappears when Anderson calls Shepard Implying that Shepard was dreaming. Most importantly, during the end of the first mission when Shepard gets on the Normandy and Anderson says he's not coming, Shepard sees the kid getting onto a space shuttle. Notice how nobody even sees the kid or helps him get up. The soldier in the shuttle just stands there looking straight ahead.

The Kid Isn't real.

Hmm, interesting. Reminds me of Black Ops.

There are a couple of things that annoy me with the Indoctrination theory (and it is just a theory, the ending works on its own, it's just sudden and not very well written) and one of the prime issues I have with this is the fact that Destroy would be the ONLY right answer... no, just no. I am Paragon, I would NEVER choose the destruction of an entire race and my friend if there was another solution. Bioware has been very careful about making sure that the player has always been able to choose Renegade or Paragon without it COMPLETELY breaking the game. I have a similar issue with the "Do the Renegade option or DIE!" segment with TIM but the truth is that if you've done thing right, you HAVE a Paragon way out earlier so it's not as clear cut as "Choose Renegade or you get the shit ending." It's not in line with what Mass Effect has established purely gameplay mechanic wise earlier, it's practically an even BIGGER betrayal of the game than having the ending not show us the consequences of our earlier choices. So if that is the truth, then it's an even bigger F*CK YOU to the player than the ending that's in there now.

A couple of other things I've heard that supposedly supports this theory but I find a bit iffy:

"Shepard stops limping when you pick Destroy." This supposedly suggests that he's regaining his senses but let's not forget that he RUN towards the Synthesis option so that's not really solid evidence.

"TIM is indoctrination, Anderson is humanity" Some people suggest that the whole debate between Anderson and TIM is the battle between the indoctrination and Shepard's own humanity or some shit like that... cute theory but that basically means his humanity dies when Anderson dies? Yeah, not exactly supporting the theory.

"Shepard's eyes become like TIM's in the end" He's augmented, a cyborg, from what I understand, basically the only thing that remains of Shepard is his brain. He was explosively decompressed and then fell through an atmosphere, there would be nothing left of him or very little. Cybernetic augmentations are not rare in Mass Effect, every single biotic human needs implants in order to utilize their abilities fully, it's not a huge conspiracy.

"Gun fires forever" This is in the universe that invented guns that could fire without the need for ammunition... just saying. Besides, it's called creative freedom, it'd break the flow of the segment just a bit if you suddenly had to stop and reload. It's symbolic, let it go.

"The Kid isn't real" Again, this is symbolism, not a huge conspiracy. The kid is supposed to represent the innocence of Earth. It gets destroyed. In many ways, the kid simply represents the fact that Shepard can't save everyone or Earth, it's too late. It's hamfisted as hell and really lazy but if you look at it realistically, there's nothing to suggest the kid isn't real, the suggestion is there but it could just as well just be Shepard's tired, worn out mind playing tricks on him.
And we know Reapers get into people's heads so there's no reason Starchild can't do the same since he, you know, came up with the Reapers. Maybe there's simply nothing sinister about it, maybe he scanned Shepard's brain, found an image of a boy that has seemingly had a huge impact on him, and chose that to approach. It's distant enough from him to not seem threatening (Imagine if he appeared as a Reaper!) and not important enough for it to seem devious (appearing as a loved one).

Don't get me wrong, I don't like the endings, I felt cheated that I didn't get to see all my choices play out in the final battle but I prefer it over the complete rug pulling that would be if they went with "Ha, just a dream!"

So bioware delibaterly hold back a crucial part of endgame to sell it later as a DLC?

Wow. That sounds so much better.

Adam Jensen:

boag:
Go read this Thread, Indoctrination is pretty much confirmed now.

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/forums/read/9.354425-Bioware-allows-the-release-of-The-Final-Hours-of-Mass-Effect-3-a-tell-all-app-for-2-99-WTF#14074722

It looks like they're teasing us. But in a good way. Like they're preparing us. I doubt EA was able to indoctrinate them so much that they would resort to fucking with us and hurting our feelings without any reason. Something is coming.

I dont care anymore, I am running to hills Praising Indoctrination, because the Destroy ending is literally a big middle finger to the reapers.

Adam Jensen:
"good" ending (blue) one is about controlling the Reapers. The very same thing that The Illusive Man thought he could do. And that was considered the wrong choice all along.

-The middle ending is the most vague one of them all and it's basically making Shepard kill himself. Or is he allowing Reapers to implant him with Reaper tech the same way Saren allowed Sovereign in ME1?

-The "bad" ending (red), is actually the one that makes you do what you've been trying to do all along. It's what the game was all about. And now it's presented with a color that represents a bad moral choice (sneaky Bioware).

Then why are the "Destroy" and "Control" options highlighted by Anderson (Destroy) and TIM (Control)? Signifying that Shepard already knew what was what.

Had Shep truly been indoctrinated wouldn't the Reapers make him invision Anderson doing the wrong thing (Control) and TIM doing the right thing (Destroy)? One of the reasons why I chose to destroy the Reapers was because I knew (and saw) it was be what Anderson would've done.

Why wouldn't Harbi use your own trusted companions (Anderson/Garrus/Liara) against you if you were so indoctrinated, instead of some random kid?

I've never seen Bioware be at all subtle when presenting moral choices and I'm not inclined to believe it now.

This theory is BS, and the endings are and always will be crap.

Burst6:
Shepherd doesn't get indoctrinated at the last second, she's been indoctrinated from the start of the game. Ever notice how nobody sees the little boy and how he just dissapears from the vent?

He disappears while Shephard looks away. And she sees him later having made his way to the shuttles and climbing on board. You even see him even earlier in the game (playing with the model-alliance ship). Also, of course nobody sees him in the vent... Shephard is the only one who looked there.

There is no rocket science about it. It's pretty straigthforward. There is no symptoms, no "doubts" regarding the fight against the reapers (which is one of the sure-fire signs of indoctrination, that people start to doubt fighting the reapers or how to do it), Shephard is determined all the way to the end to fight the reapers. There is NO indication (other than people seeing what they like to see) that Shephard suffers from Indoctrination from the start of the game, nor towards the end.

Anyone who believes that hasn't been paying attention to how indoctrination ACTUALLY works, and i would tell them to go play Mass Effect 1 and 2 again and pay attention to how Indoctrination affects people. It's both explained and demonstrated pretty well in those games, so how people keep getting it confused with the things happening in Mass Effect 3 is beyond me.

Athinira:

Burst6:
Shepherd doesn't get indoctrinated at the last second, she's been indoctrinated from the start of the game. Ever notice how nobody sees the little boy and how he just dissapears from the vent?

He disappears while Shephard looks away. And she sees him later having made his way to the shuttles and climbing on board. You even see him even earlier in the game (playing with the model-alliance ship). Also, of course nobody sees him in the vent... Shephard is the only one who looked there.

There is no rocket science about it. It's pretty straigthforward. There is no symptoms, no "doubts" regarding the fight against the reapers (which is one of the sure-fire signs of indoctrination, that people start to doubt fighting the reapers or how to do it), Shephard is determined all the way to the end to fight the reapers. There is NO indication (other than people seeing what they like to see) that Shephard suffers from Indoctrination from the start of the game, nor towards the end.

Anyone who believes that hasn't been paying attention to how indoctrination ACTUALLY works, and i would tell them to go play Mass Effect 1 and 2 again and pay attention to how Indoctrination affects people. It's both explained and demonstrated pretty well in those games, so how people keep getting it confused with the things happening in Mass Effect 3 is beyond me.

When shepard looks away, he hears a reaper growl, the exact noise you hear when a reaper indoctrination is broken. Also when the boy is at the shuttle, NO ONE acknowleges him, no soldier helps him get on, which consdiering they were in a rush they would have picked him up and thrown him on. Instead no one goes up to him and he gets on the shuttle by himself.

And Indoctrination is described as:

It describes that indoctrination can cause people to see hallunications of ghostly presecens. The boy says when Shepard tells him to come is: "You can't help me.." Which is odd for a child to say when hell is breaking loose and then wierd to vanish just as Anderson appears. Because had the boy gone with Shepard, Anderson wouldn't see the boy and would think that Shepard was being indoctrinated which would have exposed it.

Also it seems odd that at the end, that the Cataylst paints Destroying the Reapers as evil and is the only ending you can possibly survive and tries to make the other two other options seem better as those two you do die no matter what which means the indoctrination worked.

Also on the Datapad App for the ipod which connects to your game, after you beat the game, you get a message no matter which ending.

http://www.examiner.com/video-game-in-honolulu/mass-effect-3-ending-message-photo

Now how would you get this message if the endings had happened like they showed?

Athinira:

Burst6:
Shepherd doesn't get indoctrinated at the last second, she's been indoctrinated from the start of the game. Ever notice how nobody sees the little boy and how he just dissapears from the vent?

He disappears while Shephard looks away. And she sees him later having made his way to the shuttles and climbing on board. You even see him even earlier in the game (playing with the model-alliance ship). Also, of course nobody sees him in the vent... Shephard is the only one who looked there.

snip

To be somewhat fair.
Having recently started another playthrough.
No one else see's/takes note of the kid all through the Earth based segment.

He isn't playing with any other kids when he's playing with the ship.
Even as he is climbing aboard the transport no one else seems to notice him.

The only suggestion anyone else noticed him is the fact the Alliance soldier does the 'all aboard' knock on the door after he's in.... but that's hardly proof since he never actually even looked in the kids direction.

Note: I'm neither for nor opposed to the theory, just pointing this out there.

Korten12:
When shepard looks away, he hears a reaper growl, the exact noise you hear when a reaper indoctrination is broken.

"when a reaper indoctrination is broken" - Explain please. When and where have you heard this growl elsewhere (include all significant occurrences, including in ME 1+2), and I'll be happy to go review it.

Korten12:
Also when the boy is at the shuttle, NO ONE acknowleges him, no soldier helps him get on, which consdiering they were in a rush they would have picked him up and thrown him on. Instead no one goes up to him and he gets on the shuttle by himself.

And there is a very simple explanation for this: The boy is focal point of the cinematic with him and Shephard having eye contact, and therefore any interference with the boy from the outside world would break the intended effect of the 'emotions' (for lack of a better word) the cinematic is intended to convey. After eye contact is broken, BioWare decided to have the boy crawl on the shuttle himself, but that might as well have been a soldier grabbing him (that's a 50/50 choice by the cinematic designers, either solution works once the eye-contact part has done it's effect).

In short: Reasoning lies in cinematography design. It's neither the first cinematic (or "shot" if you include real movies, TV-series etc.) to use that principle, and it's neither the last.

Korten12:
And Indoctrination is described as:

It describes that indoctrination can cause people to see hallunications of ghostly presecens. The boy says when Shepard tells him to come is: "You can't help me.." Which is odd for a child to say when hell is breaking loose and then wierd to vanish just as Anderson appears. Because had the boy gone with Shepard, Anderson wouldn't see the boy and would think that Shepard was being indoctrinated which would have exposed it.

The last part is just your personal assumption. And i also see nothing wrong with a child being scared in the situation at hand of coming out of a hiding place.

Also, as the codex description says, indoctrination can cause people to SEE hallucinations or ghostly presences, it says nothing about hearing them or talking to them (or reliving them in dream sequences). See, this is part of what i was talking about people not paying attention to how indoctrination actually works from the first two games. If you go back to Mass Effect 2 and look at how the scientists on the Dead Reaper reacted to their hallucinations, it was VERY different.

Shephard lacks ALL the other side effects of indoctrination.
- No voices in the back of the head
- No headaches
- No doubt in his/hers resolve to fight the reapers or how to fight them
- No other "potential" hallucinations

Korten12:
Also it seems odd that at the end, that the Cataylst paints Destroying the Reapers as evil and is the only ending you can possibly survive and tries to make the other two other options seem better as those two you do die no matter what which means the indoctrination worked.

Because you people, once again, made an (incorrect) assumption: That the red energy wave means "evil".

Given that the Reapers are an active threat that has killed billions of people, there is hardly anthing evil in destroying them. Red was 10 times more likely to be selected because it signified 'destruction' (of the Reapers) rather than signifying 'evil'.

Many people, including me, would argue that the truly evil option is the synthesis option, given that you enforce something upon the entire galaxy they didn't ask for (see the Deus Ex i did there? :P ), but that's besides the point. Point is that the assumption that the red energy wave means it's the 'evil' option is your own personal assumption. That one is all on you.

Korten12:
Also on the Datapad App for the ipod which connects to your game, after you beat the game, you get a message no matter which ending.

http://www.examiner.com/video-game-in-honolulu/mass-effect-3-ending-message-photo

Now how would you get this message if the endings had happened like they showed?

Pretty hard for anyone to say what that means (especially for me considering i don't know if Ashley or Kaidan was killed in that particular playthrough back in ME1). But anyway, i would like to know which connection you exactly draw by that message, because beyond the point that the small development team behind the App is likely to be different than the one developing the real game (meaning that misconceptions and inaccuracies, or just plain unintended information might sneak in), i still don't see that message in any way indicating anything about indoctrination. The app is unlikely to be entirely correlated to the game and the message might just be intended as a reward on the app for beating the game, without having anything to do with the real story, because if it did, it would likely have been in the actual game and not the app :o)

Athinira:

Shephard lacks ALL the other side effects of indoctrination.
- No voices in the back of the head
- No headaches
- No doubt in his/hers resolve to fight the reapers or how to fight them
- No other "potential" hallucinations

I'd almost agree with you. But there are a few things to keep in mind here:
1. The "growl" is mentioned in one of the novels as a side effect of breaking through indoctrination.
2. Shephard suffers from vivid nightmares (complete with Reaper growls) throughout the game, which is another sign of indoctrination. This is mentioned by the Cerberus scientists in the derelict reaper as occuring during initial indoctrination.
3. Lots of conversations with Hackett, Anderson and the crew, especially during the first half of ME3, is Shephard wondering if she actually has what it takes to facedown and defeat the entire reaper armada.

It is also worth noting that the indoctrination part of the codex suggests that it is possible to "instant indoctrinate", which might be what Harbinger did to Shephard during the endgame. After all, at that point Harbinger doesn't want Shephard as his puppet, he just wants to prevent Shephard from actually succeeding, and as such doesn't care if Shephard is reduced to a gibbering shell of a human within hours.

EDIT: Let me point out that I am not necessarily supporting the indoctrination theory, I am just saying that if they decide to go this way and retcon the ending, Bioware has left themselves some wriggle room.

Also something to remember is the Codex is also an IN UNIVERSE logic thing.
IIRC in ME2 it mentions Soverign as a SHIP not as a reaper & such.

The entry on indoctrination shows what the Council/ME universe THINKS they know about indoctrination. NOT necessarily how it works 100% of the time.

(Not saying the theory is right, just remember the codex isn't always 100% accurate even in-universe)

Gethsemani:
I'd almost agree with you. But there are a few things to keep in mind here:
1. The "growl" is mentioned in one of the novels as a side effect of breaking through indoctrination.

Not having read the novels I'll defer to more experienced people on that one who has read them, but I'd like a novel quote on that if you can provide, because it got me curious. I might actually have to read them now :o)

Gethsemani:
2. Shephard suffers from vivid nightmares (complete with Reaper growls) throughout the game, which is another sign of indoctrination. This is mentioned by the Cerberus scientists in the derelict reaper as occuring during initial indoctrination.

The Reaper Growls in the Nightmares have nothing to do with indoctrination. They appear when Shephard is close to the boy, making the boy run, symbolizing him trying to escape from them, and then he always flees further away afterwards (making you once again run to catch the little Son of a b****).

You are right that nightmares are mentioned as something the scientists experience as an indoctrination sign, but that alone isn't a very strong indicator. As for your last part:

Gethsemani:
3. Lots of conversations with Hackett, Anderson and the crew, especially during the first half of ME3, is Shephard wondering if she actually has what it takes to facedown and defeat the entire reaper armada.

...two important things to point out:
1) A lot of that can actually be changed by what you select in conversations. The player has a lot of influence on Shephard in that aspect, and there are many times where you have the option to decide to make Shephard appear as if the war is affecting him (or her) more than it seems, or to keep up the iron-will. The choice is free.
2) It doesn't change the fact that Shephard does NOT give up. Wondering whether or not it's possible to defeat the Reapers is not sign of indoctrination, given that they are indeed an overwhelming and 'overpowered' enemy. Having inclinations towards giving up (or searching for alternative solutions that doesn't work, like what Saren did, or the Illusive Man trying to control them) is a sign. Shephard might do the former (again, depending on your choice in conversations most of the time), but not the latter. He/she never has any inclinations towards giving up, only ever admitting that it was never gonna be an easy fight.

So once again, Shephard is still determined to do what he or she always had set out to do. Indoctrination would have changed that. In fact, if Shephard we're indoctrinated we likely wouldn't be playing the game, because the Reapers would be directing the show. I very much doubt the reapers would willingly let their indoctrinated servant take out two of their destroyers directly (three if you count the one on Tuchanka as well that was killed by Kalros), cure the genophage, destroy their Rachni breeding ground and i could go on about Shephard makes life annoying for the Reapers.

Gethsemani:
It is also worth noting that the indoctrination part of the codex suggests that it is possible to "instant indoctrinate", which might be what Harbinger did to Shephard during the endgame.

No it doesn't. That point of the codex is actually refined during Mass Effect 1 in regards to how Saren was indoctrinated versus all the test subjects on his research facilities. Rapid indoctrination is not "instant". It's much faster than normal indoctrination, which takes a couple of weeks (a 1-2 week estimate or so), but we are at the very least still talking a few days.

Also, rapid indoctrination severely hampers mental functions, leaving the victim an unintelligent being very fast with hardly any intelligent brain functions (for example, the victim would likely be unable to speak anymore, maybe mumble at best). Shephard doesn't experience that.

Equally important, i find it ironic that the supporters of the Shephard Indoctrination theory can't seem to agree on this point. Notice how even you brought up two different versions in your post alone: The one that has Shephard indoctrinated through the entire game, and the one that has Shephard being 'instantly' indoctrinated by Harbinger during a run for the beam. If it's the instant indoctrination version, then the dreams during the game aren't a supporting argument. People just can't make up their mind :o)

Gethsemani:
After all, at that point Harbinger doesn't want Shephard as his puppet, he just wants to prevent Shephard from actually succeeding, and as such doesn't care if Shephard is reduced to a gibbering shell of a human within hours.

And this is another point I've made: Why not just kill Shephard then?

Harbinger is there, shooting everything around Shephard with a big fat red laser. Even assuming he could instantly indoctrinate Shephard (with or without resulting massive brain damage), there is no motivation for it, so why bother? To them, Shephard is just an organic that happened to have a little bit of 'luck' along the way, but is meant for destruction or harvesting regardless.

And if Harbinger actually HAD the ability to indoctrinate instantly over distance that way, why haven't they done that with all the human forces while Shephard was out there flying the galaxy thin? Why not eliminate most resistance that way and get the resistance to surrender through indoctrination?

Occam's Razor.

Gethsemani:
EDIT: Let me point out that I am not necessarily supporting the indoctrination theory, I am just saying that if they decide to go this way and retcon the ending, Bioware has left themselves some wriggle room.

On that we can agree. The more 'uncertainties' you leave in a story, the more wiggle room you have later.

But let me let you in on a little secret: the people who support this theory only do so because it's something they as the fanbase themselves came up with, thinking 'Ah, we got you figured out BioWare'. So basically, they consider the theory better than the actual ending because they consider it their own idea.
However, if BioWare had come out during the ending (after all the bullshit we got) and had revealed Shephard to be indoctrinated throughout the entire game and that most of what players think they accomplished in the game were actually just Shephard dreaming, then they would be raging on BioWare for that shit ending for the simple reason that it suddenly isn't their idea anymore, and then they would actually realize that the indoctrination theory pisses as much on players as the actual ending did and are just as bad (if not worse). Ironic isn't it? :o)

It's been brought up and as much as I'd like to go and read the Codex entry, I'm just going to ask a few things about this indoctrination thing:

First of all, which has been brought up before, why wouldn't Harbinger just kill Shepard instead of instadoctrinatate him? It makes no sense, he's been a nuisance, especially to Harbinger so you'd think he'd want to get rid of him. Note that they never saw him as a threat, he just irritated them like a mosquito would. If we slap a mosquito out of the air, we don't bother to check if he's alive and if he is, try to convince him to join our side. We presume it dead and if not, it's going to be soon so why bother with it... which is exactly how the ending play out now: Harbinger shoots Shepard and just sort of assumes he'll die or bleed out there, like a mosquito or ant to us.

Second, doesn't indoctrination take time and active signals? Having been in contact with a Reaper isn't enough to indoctrinate someone because then everyone on Eden Prime and your entire squad should at this point be indoctrinated because they've all been in close proximity to a Reaper. Or are you saying there's a Reaper indoctrination device on the ship that only affects Shepard?
Saren was indoctrinated because he spent a lot of time on Sovereign. The people in The Arrival were indoctrinated because they spent a lot of time around the Reaper artifact. Shepard has been around a lot of Reaper tech but never for a long enough period of time to be indoctrinated and from what's been revealed in the game, they can't do it over that long a distance.
There are a lot of inconsistencies in the game's ending but... even if you account for sloppy writing, I think we can chalk a lot of it up to symbolism. The kid symbolize a lot in this game; Earth, innocence, Shepard himself and at one point I was like "Oh, that's going to turn out to be how Shepard looked as a kid and this is his mind telling him it's too late to save Earth or something." Perhaps that's what's so jaunting about the ending to a lot of people, the fact that it's practically completely symbolic once you're hit by that laser. That's what struck me as the oddest thing, the way they just shifted from a fairly down to Earth story with some heavy handed symbolism to suddenly "SYMBOLISM!!!"

This is a small little detail I noticed.

I'm starting to believe some of this indoctrinated theory stuff. The catalyst being the little boy makes no sense at all, unless Shepard was screwed up in the head in some way. I see a lot of people saying he is not real, but when you are on earth during the first mission, right before you climb down the ladder to the building you first meet the kid in you can see him running into the building. I saw this while taking on some husk. Would Shepard be hallucinating that in the middle of battle? I don't know if that's a big deal or not but it is something.

Also, if you think of the conversation with the boy, you ask him to come with you, and he says there is no saving him. Is that a sign. You have 3 options in the end, 2 of them involve the reapers surviving in some form, but the other is total destruction.

ThatSwedishGuy:
It's been brought up and as much as I'd like to go and read the Codex entry, I'm just going to ask a few things about this indoctrination thing:

First of all, which has been brought up before, why wouldn't Harbinger just kill Shepard instead of instadoctrinatate him? It makes no sense, he's been a nuisance, especially to Harbinger so you'd think he'd want to get rid of him. Note that they never saw him as a threat, he just irritated them like a mosquito would. If we slap a mosquito out of the air, we don't bother to check if he's alive and if he is, try to convince him to join our side. We presume it dead and if not, it's going to be soon so why bother with it..."

You don't know if Harbinger didn't see Shepard as a threat or not. Just because he said it doesn't mean anything. He could just be talking crap. Indoctrinating Shepard would be the ultimate goal. He is the galaxies biggest savior. Everyone is beginning to see him as the hero who was right from the start. Controlling Shepard would lead to an easier destruction of humans, etc.

The whole indoctrination theory is based on how a lot of stuff doesn't make sense but there's a ton of stuff in the game that don't make much sense.

Like why are the Reapers so dumb? Like the Reaper on Rannoch. Every time it opens up its main weapon, it gets shot, so why did it continue to try to shoot Shepard even though it's getting shot to death? Why not fly into the air and position itself so its main gun is protected and then kill Shepard? Why not just chuck some giant boulders at Shepard? Why not shoot Legion or shoo him away so he can't rescue Shepard, then just walk over to Shepard and step on him? That battle doesn't make much sense so using the logic of the indoctrination theory, I can reason that Shepard was already indoctrinated at that time and he was just hallucinating he killed the Reaper.

Same thing with what happened on Tuchanka, how does a Reaper, which can withstand getting shot by huge bullets that travel 500 miles per second get killed by a giant worm? Why didn't it fly into the air and just nuke the Shroud tower? Maybe Shepard was already indoctrinated there and hallucinated the Thresher Maw killing the Reaper?

ThatSwedishGuy:

Second, doesn't indoctrination take time and active signals? Having been in contact with a Reaper isn't enough to indoctrinate someone because then everyone on Eden Prime and your entire squad should at this point be indoctrinated because they've all been in close proximity to a Reaper. Or are you saying there's a Reaper indoctrination device on the ship that only affects Shepard?

Sorry for semi-necroing, but I've got to say this.
Did you read the books? There was a man, Greyson, who is mentioned in passing in ME3. Essentially, Cerberus had put Reaper technology inside of him with the end result being Greyson's eventual indoctrination. This was supposed to have happened between ME1 and ME2. Why is it so hard to believe that they put a small piece of some random Reaper artifact inside of Shepherd when they rebuilt him? I mean, hell the Illusive Man eventually did the same thing as did every Cerberus trooper. Maybe Shepherd became mostly resilient to the effects until he actually faced a Capital-ship sized Reaper.

The main point of the indoctrination theory is that 'Bioware are too good to make the end this bad' but they're not THAT good, every single thing would have to be perfect and not plot holes. They are plot holes, ME2 is full of plot holes too. The only thing that really does support the theory is the 'tell me a story about Shepard' thing but I think this is nothing more than a way of telling you there will be DLC, hence after this is gives you a message to carry on playing and loads your save from before the last mission started.

With indoctrination theory or literal ending, either way it doesn't really explain who built the reapers or the crucible.

The other problem with indoctrination theory is that it means the 'bad' ending is the intended ending rather than incompetence. Why would Bioware make an ending so 'bad' that people would actually go to the FTC/try to sue them and retailers would (apparently) give refunds to customers for being 'dissatisfied'. They couldn't have known it would go this far, but even if it didn't people would trade the game in and not buy DLC, its just a massively terrible business decision.

So why do we all accept ME3 as the final game? Is it unreasonable to assume ME4 opens up with truth about the ME3 ending and then continues the storyline?

They clearly have had every intention of milking you guys for money all along. Removing the sandbox out a sandbox RPG with ME2, cutting content from ME3 and passing if off as day 1 DLC and cutting player decision out of the storyline in ME3 all wreak of indoctrination from EA. They want their own CoD and fan base to milk.

I say this as an outsider as I have only played a bit of ME1 and found it wasn't for me. Am I wrong?

TorqueConverter:
So why do we all accept ME3 as the final game? Is it unreasonable to assume ME4 opens up with truth about the ME3 ending and then continues the storyline?

They clearly have had every intention of milking you guys for money all along. Removing the sandbox out a sandbox RPG with ME2, cutting content from ME3 and passing if off as day 1 DLC and cutting player decision out of the storyline in ME3 all wreak of indoctrination from EA. They want their own CoD and fan base to milk.

I say this as an outsider as I have only played a bit of ME1 and found it wasn't for me. Am I wrong?

What sandbox content?

Heh. Here's a couple thoughts, guys:

Sure, we all may be wrong- but I think the evidence points that way. More than anything, though, is that this doesn't feel like a BioWare ending. I know, that's subjective - we all knew ME was going to end on a choice (the game is about choice, after all!), but this is a choice when you can't even replay the "Catalyst's" conversation.

Nope. There's some kind of twist coming.

JonahGrimm:
Heh. Here's a couple thoughts, guys:

- Why do you immediately go back to your 'casual' clothing after getting blasted by Harbinger? There aren't even any 'back mounts' or spots for them for your weapons. I actually chose pattern 4, FemShep, which has your arms uncovered and cuffs of white fabric at the elbow, and those cuffs were there, and my arms were uncovered.

the armor was burned off by Harbingers attack, thats why you are running around in a melted down suit and the clothes you wore under them.

- Where are the bodies of your friends? (do you think BioWare /wouldn't/ show you dead companions?)

right here buddyimage

- Why does the VI in TIM's station say 'he'll tell you about the Catalyst because his security protocols are broken'? Remember that before he was willing, until the indoctrinated assassin showed up... why would he even check those subroutines? (I do know that this hints Shep isn't fully indoctrinated by then - I think this is true. Personally, I think you're witnessing final indoctrination in the ending.)

because it was probably part of the setup to make the whole indoctrination thing make sense, you know, before bioware scrapped it in favor of Mac Walters shit ending.[/oolor]

- Why does the 'black mist' when TIM has you look like the 'black mist' from your dream?
indoctrination

- Why do you 'wake up' in the best of all possible endings?
you mean the destroy ending? if anything it would be because its the end of the indoctrination

- Why do we not see Harbinger die?
because Bioware cut shit out of the ending to sell it back as DLC(this is an assumption)

- How did Garrus (who was with me, and theoretically blasted by Harbinger) get off of the Normandy after it crashed? ... how'd he get on it in the first place, if all this is happening so quickly? Since when has Bioware blown continuity that badly?

- How was I able to shoot the Illusive Man if he controlled me fully?
- Why would the 'Catalyst' look like the kid?
- Why can't I ask the Catalyst any real questions - like you can with every other NPC, including Soverign?, when faced with such a huge decision?
- The three kid-dreams match up - loosely - with the three endings. My memory of them is hazy, but the scene of Shepard embracing the kid (the most recent) and then burning seems to reference control, power, and other similar themes in the voices around you. The other two? Only the kid burns. (I shall replay soon just to watch them closely, I think.)
[color=green]space magic, we dont have to explain shit :D

Sure, we all may be wrong- but I think the evidence points that way. More than anything, though, is that this doesn't feel like a BioWare ending. I know, that's subjective - we all knew ME was going to end on a choice (the game is about choice, after all!), but this is a choice when you can't even replay the "Catalyst's" conversation.

Nope. There's some kind of twist coming.

Ive answered some of your questions, if you want more answers you need to buy the Exclusive DLC to find out the rest... maybe.

Raven's Nest:

LMAO. That is the best ME3 ending video I have seen yet. My throat and stomach hurt from laughing so hard that I had tears coming out and was in pain and couldn't breathe on the last bit with his Tali expectations. Thank you for posting that one. I had seen that video used before in a lot of spoof material but this one is by far the best.

In case it disappears, it reads "Hardest. Day. Ever. Seriously, if you people knew all the stuff we are planning...you'd, we'll - hold onto your copy of me3 forever."

Not saying I am right but that is exactly what I would be saying too upon mass disappointment and stuff like Amazon handing out free refunds. If the used games industry gets flooded with returned copies, Mass Effect 3 will go belly up. If they can get people to just not release their copies into the used market for a couple months, then it hurt so much. Make promises where you commit to nothing and then in a few months discard the whole project.

Like I said, I am not saying that is what they are doing but if someone wanted to be shady, that is how you would do it. Give people a reason to hold on to their copy out of hope. Because the minute they abandon hope, a million used copies are hitting the shelf and demand in the market dies.

I find it very hard to believe that it all these things that support the indoctrination theory was simply coincidence on Biowares part. So many things that makes sense if the indoctrination theory is true. Not just the ending but several parts in ME3. Why would the catalyst take the form of the kid that only Shepard saw? Why did he have the same nightmares over and over again? How did the illusive get to the control panel and where from? Was he invisible? Why did the citadel tower look so different than in ME1 and even in the beginning of ME3. How could TIM control you and Anderson? Why is Shepard immune towards indoctrination? Why was the kid the first thing we saw in the game? Why did the kid look straight at Shepard before he got onto the shuttle that was destroyed? Why did you see Harbinger leave after he almost killed you? Why does the ending feel so out of place?

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