It’s been a long time coming, but the first chance to see what BioWare has planned to extend the life of Mass Effect 3 via single player downloadable content is here. Promising to send Shepard across the galaxy and into the depths of the ocean to uncover a lost secret, the Mass Effect 3 Leviathan DLC is now available for all platforms.
To get to the bottom of the mystery surrounding the eponymous being, Shepard will need to take on old foes in new settings, travel to the game’s first fully water-logged world, and live through a claustrophobic nightmare. All this is done in the name of discovering the history of the Reapers, and the Leviathan’s place in that lost account. The only question is whether the secret is worth the chase, or more importantly, the price tag.
Considering the fallout that Mass Effect 3 experienced when its endings were deemed ‘unsatisfying’ by a vocal portion of players – and the Extended endings appeased some – we’ll assume that those who are seriously considering picking up the DLC found enough of the game’s mechanics and gameplay entertaining enough for a return trip. That is to say, if the combat and traversal in Mass Effect 3‘s existing campaign wasn’t enjoyable, then Leviathan certainly won’t be either. The extra content is structured around three separate combat missions, with each offering a somewhat new twist. Whether it’s scaling a cliff-side facility in the midst of collapse, repelling enemies on a rain-swept vessel in the middle of the ocean, or just some good old-fashioned Cannibal shooting range, the actual combat arenas and pacing (wave after wave of enemies) will be extremely familiar to every player. A little too familiar, for some.
Stepping back into Shepard’s boots will be a welcome proposition for many players who have yet to play the game since completing it months ago but for those who have completed the singleplayer campaign more recently, or have been keeping active in the multiplayer portion of the game, the action contained in Leviathan is somewhat likely to disappoint. No new enemy types, no new enemy tactics, and familiar chest-high-wall populated facilities and installations generally provide more of the same.
Since the moment-to-moment combat of ME3 was the best the series had seen, that in itself isn’t condemnation. For one thing, the DLC proved a popular theory among us here at Game Rant that given our time with ME3‘s multiplayer, our approach to the campaign might be vastly different a second time around. Whether the complete lack of real difficulty in dispatching wave after wave of Brutes and Cannibals in our case is representative of everyone’s experience can’t be known, but if any fans were hoping Leviathan would be upping the difficulty or challenge, don’t count on it.
The most intriguing proposed gameplay that was prominently featured in the DLC’s marketing was Shepard’s first underwater adventure, sending the player to the crushing blackness of the ocean as opposed to the vacuum of space. Unfortunately, those hoping for extensive mech combat against great underwater beasts are again in for some disappointment, since the depths of the water-world’s….water hold not massive enemies, but great secrets. And that’s where the real purpose of the Leviathan DLC rests.
Shepard (who in this DLC, has yet to take on the Reapers and meet his possible end) is determined to uncover the current location and nature of the mysterious ‘Leviathan of Dis.’ Exactly what the Leviathan is, and why it has remained hidden is completely unknown, what is known is its ability to kill a Reaper. Power like that should be harnessed, but unearthing the nature of the Leviathan means uncovering the being’s tie to the Reapers – a story that goes back millenia.
Expanding on the series’ fiction and galactic history are the main goals of this content, so repeated gameplay is somewhat acceptable, given the excellent writing and voice performances from actors both old and new. In a strange twist, the DLC focuses on one character who possesses facial animations and overall modeling that eclipses any other character in the series. The wooden faces of the other cast members may be more to thank for that bonus, but it is a pleasant surprise nonetheless.
The actual exposition and new story insights that the DLC provides won’t be explored here for the sake of those who have yet to complete it, but the additions to the fiction are ones that fans will certainly want to hear. The question at the heart of the DLC – ‘where did the Reapers come from?’ – is answered, even though the explanation is one of the most recycled in science fiction in general, and the Mass Effect series in particular.
The actual delivery of the reveal BioWare crafted is satisfying, even if the explanation and insight offered is less than groundbreaking, and sure to draw the ire of fans who will once again find paradoxical reasoning and inconsistency being used for the sake of an (undeniably) ‘cool’ twist.
Ultimately, the Leviathan DLC offers gameplay that doesn’t stand out from what the games have previously featured, saddled with a few clumsy scenes to boot: like searching the same game environment for clues not once, but twice. The actual story reveal trivializes much of Mass Effect 3‘s conclusion, but is told fairly well given the circumstances and hype. Had the missions appeared within the campaign of Mass Effect 3, the information imparted to Shepard could have carried serious weight, and resulted in a fairly epic payoff. As it stands, it bears little impact on the overall plot, and given the implied gravity of the twist, the experience falls flat, more likely to garner a grunt of approval from fans than applause or exclamations.
For players hoping to have a bit more of the Mass Effect universe explained clearly, and hints at a few unanswered questions dropped here and there, Leviathan does accomplish the task. But if expanded gameplay, new mechanics, new enemies or challenging battle stages were the hopes, then the story reveal is just as easily looked up online. As it stands, only fans who want to personally experience the explanation of the Reaper origins – yes, we mean the actual origin and mission of the Reapers – for themselves will find the experience worth the price of admission.
The Mass Effect 3 Leviathan DLC is available for $9.99 on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC.
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