I am just reminded of Virmire, that was the only time we actualy lost anybody for sure. And there should be similar decision in ME3.
Also my definition of ending based on ME2: best - everybody survives; good - some people die; bad - Shepard dies in endgame; worst - regular game over.
Now in ME3: best - overwhelming victory, minimal loss of life; good - victory, some people/planets/characters lost; bad - Pyrhic victory, Shepard dies in a suicide attack, galactic dark age/reconstruction starts; worst - regular game over, nobody supports Shepard ...
"War is hell" isn't just a saying. I think ME3 should be a balanced combination of victories and losses. Lots of people should die (though not necessarily any we know ).
I'm reminded of the New Jedi Order series of books in the Star Wars Expanded Universe. Basically, a superior alien force invades the known galaxy and brings the New Republic to the brink of extinction before the Republic comes out victorious. But during the conflict, some 365 trillion sentient beings were wiped out, along with a huge number of well known and loved characters.
I'm not saying they should have a high death toll and kill characters just because they can, but to have a solid victory would be a little anti-climactic and a little sour to me. Kind of like... the galaxy is brought to the edge if destruction, but Shepard brings together the remaining fleets of every civilisation with a plan to finally defeat the Reapers permanently, but it ends up he has to sacrifice himself to deliver the fatal blow.
Oh... wait, that's Independence Day.
So, basically, for me the best ending would be sending the Reapers packing back where they came from or finding a way to destroy them for good, but with a huge death toll across the galaxy, while the worst ending would be the Reapers succeed as they have before and wipe out all life in the galaxy.
I like your ideas for the other endings though.
Talk about going off on a tangent.
Come to think of it... BioWare have said that ME3 is the end of Shepards story. That could indicate that he dies at the end. Or it could mean that, having saved the galaxy, he takes the rest of his life on a beach planet with Liara and Tali.
[Edited by Skyheart, 1/24/2012 1:36:51 PM]
Of course, everything in this thread is basically speculation.
You can reach the highest levels of success in the single player experience alone, but Galaxy at War gives you alternative ways to get there.
Yup, taken from BW themselves, I could never speak in such an illusive manner.
[Edited by Monkey007, 1/25/2012 12:46:33 PM]
On the other hand, I wonder how they will handle the upper limit, because at one point you have to pass the calculated limit for some endings and will gain the best endings.
Now I am simplifying here, but teoreticaly you could launch the counter-invasion directly after the prologue/Earth level.