From Ashes. Leviathan. Omega. It’s been nine months since the release of Mass Effect 3, and so far the search for its definitive single-player DLC remains ongoing. While each expansion introduced some intriguing concepts to the campaign storyline, each (read our reviews for From Ashes, Leviathan, and Omega) has been undermined by a lack of compelling gameplay and — perhaps the most common gripe among fans — any elaboration on the Mass Effect 3 endings.
With the current state of affairs, it hasn’t taken long (only a week after Omega’s release) for the focus to shift towards BioWare’s future plans. Details have begun percolating online for what is confirmed to be the next — and perhaps even the last — Mass Effect 3 story DLC.
While ostensibly the DLC is still a ways out — its name and release date are still a mystery — BioWare appears to be approaching it with a greater sense of gravity, enlisting a wide — and reputable contingent of production talent from throughout the series. Designer Josh Hendricks took to the BioWare forums to reveal that for the script, it’s all hands — well, we’ll allow him:
“It’s all hands on deck for this one. Pretty much every ME3 DLC writer here in Edmonton is involved. (which would include both Patrick Weekes AND John Dombrow).”
All in all, according to Hendricks, a team of about eight writers are collaborating on the DLC’s script — though whether or not “all hands” extends to writers of the core game, like lead writer Mac Walters, remains unclear. (Given the limited locus of narrative scope that came with From Ashes, Leviathan, and Omega, that might be the only way BioWare would consider pushing beyond the already extended endings.) The soundtrack, however, is being produced by a Mass Effect mainstay: trilogy composer Sam Hulick, who won awards for his work on Mass Effects 1–3 but was conspicuously absent from From Ashes and Omega:
What I'm up to lately: working on an unannounced Mass Effect 3 DLC! More details on this coming later on.
— Sam Hulick (@SamHulick) December 4, 2012
And what can we expect from the acoustic accompaniment? Hulick suggested a stirring, but likely somber tone for one of his upcoming pieces:
Tossing in piano and muted strings for this one particular piece. High potential for tears. #ME3DLC
— Sam Hulick (@SamHulick) December 5, 2012
The insight on the future expansion’s writing and musical direction arrives just weeks after the voice-acting call sheet began filling up. Seth Green, the affable voice behind Normandy pilot Joker, was revealed as another DLC participant when Caroline Livingstone, BioWare producer and voice director, complimented him last week on Twitter for “yet another fantastic session” (and for being kind). Kaiden Alenko voice actor Raphael Sbarge announced his return to the Mass Effect recording studio further back in October, and with Shepard excising his squadmates in the recent Omega quest line, it’s safe to assume his work, as well, is centered around the upcoming project.
Not unlike the future of Mass Effect itself, Mass Effect 3’s story DLC possesses a wealth of opportunity, with the right decisions and right talent and enough investment, to create something worthwhile for the franchise. It’s proven that in premise — a Prothean squadmate, a fabled Reaper-slaying race; the retaking of Omega — but ultimately reaction to each addition has been decidedly mixed.
Do you think BioWare, bringing “all hands on deck,” will deliver on what may well be a final salute to Mass Effect 3?
Follow Brian on Twitter @Brian_Sipple.