Despite a flurry of news coming out of GDC 2012, many gamers are still clamoring for Mass Effect 3-related info - especially official word on fixes for widespread custom face import problems and framerate issues in the PS3 version.
For now, we'll have to wait a bit longer for EA to address those affected fans - as the publisher is still using its Mass Effect 3 PR muscle to fight
the reapers frustrations over the day one DLC "From Ashes."
Previously, savvy gamers discovered that portions of the "From Ashes" assets could be found on the launch retail discs - leading some players to assume that the DLC could have been accessed for free and that EA had intentionally withheld the content to milk gamers for more money.
It takes about 3 months from "content complete" to bug-fix, certify, manufacture, and ship game discs. In that time we work on DLC.
DLC has fast cert and no mfg., so if a team works very hard, they can get a DLC done in time to enjoy it with your 1st playthrough on day 1.
On #ME3, content creators completed the game in January & moved onto the "From Ashes" DLC, free w/ the CE or you can buy seperately.
Of course that explanation, however reasonable, didn't vibe with players who pointed to the on-disc assets for "From Ashes" - specifically assets related to the expansion's recruitable character, Javik. Now, EA has provided Game Informer with an official breakdown as to why "From Ashes" coding appears on the retail disc - as well as why the content couldn't have simply been "unlocked" without purchasing the full DLC package. NOTE: You can also read an in-depth response from Mass Effect 3 associate producer Mike Gamble HERE (where he lays out similar points as the ones EA touches on below):
"From Ashes is a 600 MB+ download with all new content, including the mission on Eden Prime, new dialogue options and conversations with Javik, new cinematics, the Prothean weapon, and new appearances for all squad members. All of the above content was completed while the main game was in certification and are not available on the disc."
"As stated previously, in order to seamlessly integrate Javik into the core campaign, certain framework elements and character models needed to be put on disc. We did something similar with Zaeed and Kasumi in Mass Effect 2."
It's interesting that EA brings up Zaeed - who a) wasn't particularly well integrated into the main Mass Effect 2 storyline and b) was a complimentary download at launch. Kasumi, while not available at launch, is actually a much better comparison to "From Ashes" - at least in terms of DLC character quality.
Unlike Zaeed, Javik is an intriguing addition to the roster that players can interact with throughout the campaign - he'll add unique insight into on-mission conversations as well as chat with Shepard regularly on the Normandy. While the actual "From Ashes" DLC mission itself is somewhat underwhelming (aside from a couple cool flashback sequences), it's easy to understand why it was necessary for Javik content to be on the disc (given his amount of overall integration) - even if the bulk of the DLC mission itself (new weapons, location, etc) still needed work.
Ultimately, with around 40 hours of quality content available to players, it's hard to make the argument that anyone was "entitled" to the "From Ashes" DLC - even if it was completed in time for a day one release. As the game industry moves toward digital distribution, it's likely that we're going to see even more Ã¡ la carte content. At least BioWare delivered a quality and complete product in the first place - well, unless you ask all the fans who are also frustrated by the Mass Effect 3 endings or the depiction of Tali’Zorah.
Mass Effect 3 is available now for PC, PS3, and Xbox 360.
Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for further updates.