The following entry appeared in a series of tweets a few moments ago, but I thought this would be a good place to post these thoughts as well and see what you all think. There are no story spoilers, but obviously if you are totally averse to finding out even the vaguest structural details of the ending, you probably should wait to read until you're done.
Mass Effect 3 is a game about death, and viewing it as such provides an illuminating way to interpret the reactions to the ending.
The end of the game is like the end of the trilogy, like the end of a life. Consider, then, The Five Stages of Grief.
1. Denial - "This can't be the real ending, there must be DLC." "If you analyze it deeper, the symbolism points to a truer, better ending!"
2. Anger - "BioWare has betrayed me! How could you distill the long hours I spent in Mass Effect to one stupid choice! CHANGE IT!!"
3. Bargaining - "Look, I'm not bitter. I respect BioWare. But, please, I'll donate thousands of dollars to charity to support a new ending."
4. Depression - "Nothing I ever did in Mass Effect 3 even mattered in the end. It was all just sound and fury, signifying nothing."
5. Acceptance - "I may not like the way it ended, but I loved the time I spent with the Mass Effect series, and I'm thankful for that."
When I finished the game, I wasn't thrilled. I wasn't angry. I just kind of sat there thinking, "Huh. So that was it." Did I think that maybe something more elaborate would be more satisfying? Yes. Did I feel like I wanted to know more? For sure. But we've all experienced endings that were unsatisfactory, whether in books, film, television series, or whatever. The only thing we can control is how we choose to deal with it.
Personally, I strive for acceptance. The measure of a life is not taken in its waning hours, after all. A few minutes at the end of the road does not make all that I experienced any less wondrous, exhilarating, heartbreaking, and fascinating. I love this series, and I loved Mass Effect 3. And there were some moments in that ending that I really loved as well.
So how do you deal with it when something you love doesn't end in a way you love?