Archive | December 2013

The 10 best Mass Effect DLCs

There is Star Wars, Star Trek, Stargate, Halo as the greatest sci-fi franchises in the world. And there is Mass Effect. The latest but very successful series reshaped the gaming world. Mass Effect is about the choices and consequences the player makes, one bad choice and whole civilizations fall. Probably this is the main reason for its success but it also means controversy.

The games, all three of them are complete and great, but there have always been things that the developers couldn’t put in the game because of various reasons (most likely the strict schedule) and  the only way to manage this issue is through DLCs, a.k.a. downloadable contents. Mass Effect has tons of them, some are good, some mediocre but the most are really great and make perfect addition to the already existing story and content. It is a shame that developers are forced to make games this way, and monetize additional content which could easily be part of the game if it was released a few months later. Or worse, releasing “day one” DLCs on the same day they release the “full” game (From Ashes) with content that was already meant to be part of the game. But that is for another debate.  I put together a list of my favorite DLCs based on the content, the good stuff they add to the games:

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The view on Bekenstien from Donovan’s mansion

10. Overlord

The first entry on my list is the DLC called Overlord for Mass Effect 2. The DLC brings a new planet, four new assignments on it and the most important, the M-44 Hammerhead. It is an infantry fighting vehicle which hoovers above the ground and Shepard and his/her team uses it to explore and travel between locations (it is also included in the Firewalker DLC pack with additional assignments too). On this planet a terrifying experiment was taking place: a virtual intelligence hybrid was created and as it should be, this experiment had gone wrong.  Shepard has to battle with the Geth and stop the rampage of the VI hybrid for once and for all. The DLCs highlights are the spectacular views of the planet as we go through the vast fields or rivers of magma. The storyline also has a potential follow-up in Mass Effect 3, considering we make the right decision. Oh and don’t hurt the space cows.

9. Zaeed – The Price of Revenge

In this DLC for Mass Effect 2 we get the option to recruit an additional crew member, Zaeed Masani. He is a human mercenary with questionable morals and with a dark past, which will eventually catch up with him in his loyality mission. There he will face a huge moral question, which we (as Shepard) will help him to answer. The highlight of this DLC is the personal growth of this character. Our decisions matter in a certain degree, whether it be the end of Mass Effect 2 or whether we will see Zaeed in Mass Effect 3 (which I highly recommend).

8. Bring Down the Sky

This DLC was the first of two DLCs for Mass Effect. The story is simple: a terrorist group hijacks an asteroid and sends it on a collision course with Terra Nova (a human colony). The mission is to stop them. Sounds like a Die Hard movie, only that we have Shepard instead of Bruce Willis and the terrorists are aliens. A new kind of aliens first introduced to the series, the Batarians. They play a major role in Mass Effect 3 and we will meet them in Mass Effect 2 as well, but this is the historical firs moment we see them. The Batarians are the main competition for Humans in the colonizing and territorial races.

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Illium – Nos Astra cityscape

7. Arrival

A vital and story focused DLC for Mass Effect 2, Arrival brings the arrival of the Reapers closer than ever before. Only Shepard can delay the arrival, but on this mission, he will be on his/her own, because first, Shepard has to infiltrate a Batarian prison and save a human scientist. The story continues and several story twists occur. In this DLC we will escape a Batarian prison, another prison using a remote controlled mech and we will blow up a Mass Relay! Not kidding. Oh and the heated conversation with Harbinger is really good. The new elements, like “soloing” with Shepard or the race against time as the destruction of the relay comes closer and closer really makes this DLC good, but for some people this DLC is completely unnecessary or redundant. But in my opinion this DLC makes sense even with the plot holes.

6. Kasumi – Stolen Memory

The second best DLC for Mass Effect 2. It brings one additional crew member, Kasumi Goto. She is a master thief, a master of disguise and illusion, she can turn invisible at wish and she is a very fun and well-made character. She also presumably stole the Mona Lisa… Shepard recruits her on the Citadel, but to earn her loyality, we have to complete her mission. And by her mission I mean we have to aid her in a heists. A very powerful and dangerous criminal has a very important thing in his vault, at least it is important to Kasumi. The main reason I love this DLC is because of its complexity: the first part of the mission is to explore the mansion, finding a way to gain access to the vault, and the second part is the escape, where we will be faced against dozens of angry guards and a mini boss-fight in the end. The view on the distant Bekenstein is simply jaw-dropping and the interior of the mansion is really inspiring. I really adore the architecture of the 23rd century.

5. From Ashes

The first DLC on my list for Mass Effect 3 is From Ashes. This DLC is controversial, because this one is the above mentioned “day one” DLC. Putting that aside, this one is really great, because we get one additional squadmate. And the best part is that this character is a living Prothean! A very sarcastic and rude Prothean, who will see the younger races as inferior and not really capable of winning the war against the Reapers. Javik as he calls himself will be a vital part of the game because of his character growth and because he will slowly learn to trust Shepard and the other crew members. He is a warrior, the “Shepard” of his time so he doesn’t have the knowledge everyone hoped for, but even without that we will get insights into the Prothean culture and history. Also the banter between Javik and the crew members are really great, don’t miss them!

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Wreckage on the surface of 2181 Disponia

4. Leviathan

Leviathan is another DLC for Mass Effect 3. Focuses on the mystery of the Reapers, where their origins are and why the cycles of exterminations exist. Shepard will have to investigate clues of extraordinary sightings, stories and other stuff. Once he/she will have to face hordes of Reapers, after that return to the Citadel to investigate where the next clue leads him/her. Finally the truth will emerge as Shepard with a submersible mech discovers what the Leviathan is. This is the really interesting part as a new mechanic never seen before will be introduced and we will get vital information on the Reapers.

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Shepard and Aria fighting the Adjutants on Omega

3. Omega

There are two capitals of the galaxy: the Citadel and Omega. One is the capital of the Galactic Council; the other is the hub of pirates and outlaws of the fringe systems. Major parts of Mass Effect 2 take place there and Omega makes a comeback in Mass Effect 3, sadly only in a DLC. But this DLC is no ordinary DLC. New enemies, new characters and cinematics. Sadly, the story isn’t the greatest, but this is easily compensated by the two temporary squad members. One is a Turian female mercenary, and the second is the Queen of underworld – Omega herself, Aria. A nearly thousand years old Asari with the powers and abilities of the Asari matriarchs, she is one of the strongest character to have around. Her biotic abilities are unmatched, only her charisma is more astonishing. Shepard’s and Aria’s goal is to take back Omega from the Cerberus who previously occupied Omega by luring Aria into a trap. In this DLC we will see the sides of Omega which we have never seen before, fight a new type of Reaper controlled by Cerberus and if Shepard is lucky (or a ruthless maniac) get a kiss from Aria.

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The Shadow Broker’s ship

2. Lair of the Shadow Broker

The DLC with the best story in the entire series places second on my list. Lair of the Shadow Broker is probably the best DLC for Mass Effect 2 and even beats most of the DLC for the third game. Shepard finally manages to catch up with Liara, one of the most beloved squadmates from the first game. She is not part of Shepard’s crew in the game and the developers felt the need to change this. They made it in a very nice fashioned way. The first part takes place on Illium, a terrific world on the edge of Council Space with futuristic architecture and cityscapes of Nos Astra (capital). Liara’s life is in danger, the Shadow Broker and his forces are after her and our job is to make sure they don’t get to her. When the tides turn, we will be after the Shadow Broker. The second part takes place on his ship on the spectacular planet Hagalaz. The ship hides in the atmosphere of the planet, following the setting sun. Other than the story the DLC brings additional content in the form of a new place after we kicked the former owner out of his ship. There Shepard will gain access to the vast pool of information the Shadow Broker had gained. It is a nice addition to the game for sure. And did I mention Shepard can rekindle his/her romance with Liara (or face the consequences if cheated on her)?

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Shepard and his squadmates on the Citadel

1. Citadel

The last entry on my top 10 list is Citadel, the final story DLC for Mass Effect 3. Shepard’s last and the best trip to the Citadel. This DLC is the best example of how much the developers at Bioware care about the community, about the fans. Although it doesn’t bring closure to the ending and the controversy it brought, but in my opinion it compensates us very well. There is so much additional content that I lost count. The story is surprisingly good as Shepard fights one of his greatest enemies on the Citadel. There are previously not seen places there which are now accessible. An unexpected journey through the wards, a casino and Anderson’s apartment as well as the Citadel archives will conclude to the fight on the Normandy SR-2. With so much humor and references to the previous games as the characters interact: Garrus will miss the conversations in the elevator, Shepard will face the fact everyone is tired of his line: “I should go” and that a toothbrush can save the day. Despite the fact that the story of the main mission is not the best, the whole as a bunch makes this DLC the one audience needed, but don’t know whether it deserved. The content makes the difference as we get a whole new area on the Citadel, new shops and new free time activities. We can go to the casino and play some gambling games, or we can go to the arena and fight there. It is a simulation of course, but it feels real. And the possibility of playing with our old squadmates makes it even better. Having Miranda, Grunt or even Kasumi against the Geth or the Collectors is really the best part of this DLC apart from the party in Shepard’s (Anderson’s) apartment in the end. That party is a large Goodbye, the last heaven before the hell, where we can forget for one night that the Reaper threat is upon us and our world might cease to exist. But that night, everyone is having fun. Squad members making fun of that Shepard can’t dance, or are setting up bobby traps, flirting and discussing everything possible. Citadel is the best DLC, nothing more, nothing less.

Other memorable DLCs:

  • Extended Cut (Mass Effect 3)

This DLC brings some closure to the controversial ending of Mass Effect 3 as the players finally see some of the consequences of their decisions. New cinematics, and some more conversation options in the final mission.

  • Pinnacle Station (Mass Effect)

This is the second DLC for Mass Effect. There are combat simulations, a few missions and a new residential area for Shepard.

  • Normandy Crash Site (Mass Effect 2)

This DLC brings one minor assignment for Shepard. The SSV Normandy’s crash site that is accessible to Shepard to explore and to take a few moments to remember the crew members that died during the battle.

  • Firewalker Pack (Mass Effect 2) 

Several assignments involving the M-44 Hammerhead mentioned earlier in the Overlord DLC. Not ground breaking content, but could be fun for several hours.

  • Genesis 1 & 2 (Mass Effect 2 / Mass Effect 3) 

For players who can’t import a character from a previous game makes it possible to make some major plot decisions which will have consequences in the story in the form of interactive comics. In Genesis 1 there are the main decisions made in the first game and in Genesis 2 the decisions from both the first and the second game.

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Rebellion pack characters

Mass Effect 3 has multiplayer and 5 main DLCs were released free of charge. The following list is in order starting with the best (in terms of quality and the overall content):

1. Retaliation

The best multiplayer DLC on the list, because it brings 16 new playable characters, new (old) enemies – Collectors, hazard versions of the maps and other things like weapons or modifications. Playing as a Volus or Vorcha is not a dream any more, it has come true.

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The Collectors from Retaliation DLC

2. Resurgence

Two new maps, six playable character (probably some of the best, like the Geth Hunter of Krogan Battlemaster) and the usual weapons and consumables update.

3. Earth

The battle goes to Earth with three new maps taking place there. The elite soldiers from the N7 Interplanetary Combatives Academy take up the fight with the Reapers. Six new characters, N7 Fury, Paladin or Shadow, they are about to deal massive damage.

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The N7 squad from Earth DLC

4. Rebellion

Two maps, six characters and minor new additional content. One of the new maps is my personal favorite (Firebase Goddess) which takes place on Thessia. Among the new characters are deserted ex-Cerberus operatives, Vorcha soldiers and Quarian specialists.

5.  Reckoning

The last one of the multiplayer DLCs. It doesn’t bring new maps, only six new and in my opinion completely unnecessary characters with a few new weapons. A Geth Juggernaut or Awakened Collector might sound fun, but the fact is that the DLC could bring so much more as the final multiplayer DLC but it doesn’t. This is not the right way to say goodbye.

The full list of Downloadable Content for the Mass Effect series can be found here.

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