I’m always pretty shocked when someone tells me they’ve played Mass Effect but never bothered with any of the DLC. The Mass Effect trilogy is fantastic in and of itself, but there’s something special about the extra companions, quests, and stories that come with its expansions – I mean, Kasumi and Zaeed were originally supposed to be in the base version of Mass Effect 2 before it was decided they’d be resurrected as DLC at a later date. It was never that they were seen as inferior, or added last-minute on some sort of whim – they were just going to be brought to the series post-launch so BioWare had enough time to design them properly.
Meanwhile Javik, the Prothean survivor added as part of the From Ashes DLC, quickly established himself as a whole lot of people’s favourite companion. His line, “Stand in the ashes of a trillion dead souls and ask the ghosts if honor matters. The silence is your answer” has gone down as one of the most revered quotes in Mass Effect history. Even aside from the three main DLC companions, we also have temporary squadmates in the case of some expansions – getting to fight alongside Aria T’Loak herself in the Omega add-on is an all-time high for me, while Wrex’s return in the Citadel DLC… look, I’ve already written about why Wrex is number one. Citadel could actually be my favourite expansion of all time, too, if only for Wrex and Grunt’s illustrious Shepard-off.
The reason I’m writing this is simple: we’ve already been told that Mass Effect Legendary Edition is going to launch with the vast majority of existing DLC intact by default. I’m sure a lot of people – particularly those who have never played it – are fairly excited for this, but I think it’s important to explain that it’s more than a mere feature or bonus. By the way, this is coming from someone who is more than a bit sceptical about Legendary Edition right now. Eden Prime looks nothing like how it used to, sacrificing its atmospheric orangeish fog for a few shiny reflections beneath a sun that shouldn’t be there, and I wonder how the lack of elevators will affect the banter early BioWare games are so brilliantly renowned for. Our own Stacey Henley also covered the weird Liara redesign, which seems especially odd when you consider the fact Legendary Edition removes the gratuitous Miranda buttshots from the scene where she opens up about her dad. The game isn’t out yet, sure, and I’ll reserve my final judgement until I sit down to play myself. There are a lot of decisions that just seem plain odd, though.
This is why I’m so glad to hear all of the DLC is coming with the collection. I mean, it seems obvious that it would – this is supposed to be a definitive edition, a cohesive package designed to deliver a complete Mass Effect experience. Still, I’d hate to see people jumping into this for the first time without getting to pull off Kasumi’s heist, or listen to Javik bantering with his significantly less intelligent mates over a few beers at the series’ infamous shindig. The best way to play Mass Effect is to do so with every single expansion installed and to consciously make your way through the whole lot of them. I’ll be replaying all of them when Legendary Edition comes out next month, but this will be the first time loads of other people get to experience them.
Of all the reservations I have about Legendary Edition and some of the creative decisions made during its production, the one thing I’m completely glad to hear is that two of my favourite characters – Kasumi and Javik – are going to be default companions in the game, just as they should be. I reckon Zaeed is only alright, but I’m sure loads of you love him – and, actually, I’m excited to meet him again this time around. Who knows, maybe I’ll be more of a fan now that I’m not a cheeky 15-year-old brat who definitely didn’t take very well to Mr. Old Army Man.
The main thing is that these companions will all be in the game from the start instead of launching several months after its original release date – or worse, launching day one for an extra 15 quid despite being ready at the same time as the game. It’s a whole different experience to playing something, finishing it, and replaying it a few months later for a new self-contained section halfway through. With distance from the series ever since its notorious conclusion back in 2012, I think playing through it will feel as organic this time around as it did back when we first tackled them. And, as a result, this natural integration of DLC gives us a unique opportunity to experience the complete Mass Effect trilogy in the way it was meant to be experienced – let’s just hope there’s at least some grit left in the landscapes and that Liara’s model is better than it looks in preliminary assets.
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Cian Maher is the Lead Features Editor at TheGamer. He’s also had work published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Verge, Vice, Wired, and more. You can find him on Twitter @cianmaher0.
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