The 'Mass Effect 2' DLC You Should Play Before 'Mass Effect 3'

How to prepare for Mass Effect 3

The 'Mass Effect 2' DLC You Should Play Before 'Mass Effect 3'

Have you beaten Mass Effect and its sequel? Are you eagerly awaiting the midnight or launch day opening of stores to pick up your copy of Mass Effect 3 on Tuesday, March 6th?

If so, and if you've not had a chance to complete all of the DLC offerings for Mass Effect 2, we've prepared this guide to help you make the best of this last chance pre-ME3 weekend. Time is of the essence and there are five DLC offerings to choose from. Below is information on all of them and our thoughts on whether or not they are must be played before jumping into the beginning of the end for Commander Shepard's story.

  • Firewalker Pack
  • Overlord
  • Kasumi - Stolen Memory
  • Lair of the Shadow Broker
  • Arrival

Firewalker Pack

Mass Effect 2 Firewalker DLC M-44 Hammerhead

Price: Free to Cerberus Network users (with all new copies of game)Key Additions:  Prothean Relic Trophy, M-44 Hammerhead hovertank

The first DLC missions for the Mass Effect 2 are the weakest of them all. While Firewalker adds the M-44 Hammerhead vehicle to make up for the total lack of vehicles in ME2, the missions and maps where the vehicle can be used are linear, basic and repetitive, and involve collecting artifacts, data and ruins.

There's absolutely no voice work from any of the characters so cutscenes and in-game events are happening without any communication, but the end of the DLC does involve Shepard finding a mysterious Prothean artifact that just sits in Shepard's cabin on board the Normandy - we don't know if it does anything but we hope it has some relevance in Mass Effect 3.

Verdict: You can skip it.


Mass Effect 2 Overlord DLC

Price: 560 BioWare Points | 560 Microsoft PointsKey Additions:  M-44 Hammerhead (if you don't already have it from Firewalker), 1 Armor upgrade

If you choose to skip the Firewalker Pack missions for now, the M-44 Hammerhead vehicle will automatically be added for this mission anyway. Overlord involves a Cerberus base doing what they do best, controversial and questionable testing.

This particular experiment involves a Virtual Intelligence (VI) that has gone rogue and players quickly discover that it's due to the researchers fusing a human with the Geth hive mind.

Project Overlord is a significant step up from the Firewalker missions and involves the best-looking outdoors area the series has seen but if time is short, this mission can be skipped in favor of the following three.

Verdict: You can skip this one too if necessary.

Kasumi - Stolen Memory

Mass Effect 2 Kasumi DLC

Price: 560 BioWare Points | 560 Microsoft PointsKey Additions:  New Squad Member: Kasumi Goto, New Weapon: M-12 Locust SMG

The Kasumi mission feels like a natural part of the existing game - Kasumi is recruited in the same manner as the other characters and her dialogue makes her feel like more of an actual person than Zaeed, the rough, gruff, DLC mercenary.

Her mission is one of the more unique ones found among all of Mass Effect 2 and its DLC offerings. Once you meet Kasumi, a master thief, her loyalty mission will take her and Commander Shepard to a fancy party in high-class attire for a heist.

It offers a beautiful environment, some great dialogue and one of the most interesting looks at the state of the universe the series has seen to date - through an art collection which depicts not only alien relics, but recognizable Earthly ones too.

Verdict: Play it. You'll want Kasumi on your side.

Lair of the Shadow Broker

Mass Effect 2 Shadow Broker DLC

Price: 800 BioWare Points | 800 Microsoft PointsKey Additions:  6 Updates, 2 Cabin Items, 1 Power, Relationship Update With Liara

This DLC is hands-down the best of any added content in the Mass Effect series to date and it gives Liara T'Soni the attention she deserves after her prominent role in the original game. It shares an important story for fans of Mass Effect's lore and is crucial for setting up what will undoubtedly play an important part of ME3.

The DLC sees Shepard head to Illium with information on the Shadow Broker for Liara. The DLC explains what really happened to bring Shepard back to life, and introducers players to the Shadow Broker, a new species, another Spectre and another cool character we've not met before.

This DLC feels like it should have been part of Mass Effect 2 and if it was, it'd be a contender for the best mission of the game. Amazing in-game cinematic moments and action, including a chase scene taken straight out of Star Wars, are just a few highlights, strengthened by two cool boss fights and amazing, unique environments.

There's a lot of information to be uncovered and great character moments that pay tribute to any potential relationship Shepard had with Liara from the first game. If you've followed the series all along, this is one of the best Mass Effect experiences available.

Verdict: Absolutely must play.


Mass Effect 2 Arrival DLC

Price: 560 BioWare Points | 560 MS Points | $6.99 PSNKey Features: 3 Upgrades, bridges Mass Effect 2 & Mass Effect 3

Arrival is the last of the ME2 DLC offerings and serves as a bridge between it and Mass Effect 3.

Commander Shepard must go in solo to rescue an operative who has uncovered new info confirming the imminent Reaper invasion. After a few twists and turns, it's up to Shepard to make the tough decision to throw a kink in first stage of the Reaper invasion, a decision which ties into the intro of Mass Effect 3 where Shepard must return to Earth for trial.

While not as amazing as the Shadow Broker DLC, Arrival is still a strong and important offering that players should experience right before jumping into Mass Effect 3. It blends the games together seamlessly.

Verdict: Should be played last and closes the book on ME2, leading into the intro of ME3.


Mass Effect 2 DLC Guide

Ideally, and time-permitting, fans of the series should experience all of the DLC. They all offer at least something deeper for the characters, lore and stories of the series. BioWare promises that all decisions and accomplishments made throughout the first two games will play a factor in Mass Effect 3 and we expect each one of the above five DLC offerings does as well. Even the ones we say you can skip (Firewalker and Overlord) do end with Shepard collecting a Prothean artifact and helping/hindering a Cerberus experiment on the Geth.

The appearance skin packs and weapon packs can be skipped over as they add nothing meaningful to the game, and if you've played Mass Effect 1 you can also the Genesis digital webcomic.

So, if you're as excited as we are for Mass Effect 3 next week, spend some time this weekend to fill in the story gaps with this DLC. The Shadow Broker and Arrival missions are important for setting up ME3 and Kasumi makes a great addition to the team.

Mass Effect 3 releases March 6, 2012 for the PC, PS3 and Xbox 360.


Follow me on Twitter @rob_keyes.

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