Post-launch dlc has to be handled very carefully to succeed. Not only does every piece need to identify the strengths and weaknesses of its core game, but needs to be created in relation to the pieces that have already been released. In the two story additions to Mass Effect 3, we were given missions that were designed for very specific purposes- they expanded the universe fiction. Problem is, even though they do so in different ways, they’re both filling in gaps to a story that is already closed. The third piece is Bioware’s opportunity to get away from Mass Effect 3’s controversial ending and flex its creative muscle on something different. ‘Omega’ reminds us why Bioware are among the best storytellers in the industry.
Mass Effect 2’s post-launch content was among the best examples of the practice this generation. Not only did each flesh out the Mass Effect universe, they allowed custom built levels and their own cohesive story that could accentuate Shepard’s story while still existing outside of its confines. Leviathan is the first such piece of content for Mass Effect 3 but that games controversial ending hangs heavily over this even before you embark on its mission.
The Mass Effect saga is a sprawling epic that covers over a hundred thousand years of galactic history. In Bioware’s extensive fiction, we learn about people long extinct, meet dozens of new races, and come together to fight an enemy that threatens to destroy it all. It’s a complex timeline filled with personal conflict, social turmoil and galactic politics. And we got our first glimpse of it in Mass Effect: Revelation.
Since Mass Effect was first announced, skepticism about Bioware’s claims that choices made in its space opera would carry over its trilogy have given way to mounting pressure to make them a reality. Mass Effect proper introduced a dense universe of characters and races with real history and threw them into peril against an ancient race of synthetic life forms called Reapers who threatened to eradicate all life. But it also introduced us to Commander Shepard, the hero that took up arms to protect the galaxy. Mass Effect 2 was an incredible story of bravery set against impossible odds as Shepard once again fought against forces no one believed in.
There seems to be this qualitative assertion that when it comes to narrative, more equates with better. This strange idea has become the primary dividing line in any debate between the first Mass Effect and the second.
Mass Effect 1 has an incredible burden on its shoulders. As the first chapter in what Bioware had early on promised to be a trilogy, the story needed to juggle introducing the fiction of the universe, the narrative for the events that would transpire in this game and justify the character that would be instrumental within it.