Mass Effect 3 is here, and much to the chagrin of non-Collectors-Edition buyers, there is day one DLC — specifically a downloadable pack that adds new squad member costumes, a new weapon, a new mission, and a new very spoilery squad member.
In fact, this DLC character in particular is the absolute focus on this pack, as original Mass Effect fans most likely have been dreaming about this moment for years.
Do not click the break or continue reading unless you’re ready for spoilers for this DLC only — specifically regarding the squadmate.
So what exactly does this day one pack entail? Firstly, the costumes themselves are pretty self explanatory. You can take a look at them here and judge for yourself whether or not they’re worth part of the $10 entry fee. For me, they’re easily forgettable, and for this premium, it would have been nice to get some drastic costume additions (say like a Samara skin for Liara, or something to that effect).
The next bit of content you get is Particle Rifle, which adds some punch to your armory. I’ve never really been a fan of paying for powerful weapons (I think they’re basically cheat codes), but it is fun to use, and can certainly give you an edge on the Insanity difficulty without being completely broken.
Sideshows aside, the big draw here is that this DLC pack adds a brand new character: the Prothean, Javik. As all Mass Effect fans know, a playable Prothean is sort of a big deal. The Protheans were mysterious race that were wiped out by the Reapers tens of thousands of years ago.
They are the ones who have the most information regarding how to stop the Reapers, and despite their extinction, they play a huge role in Mass Effect 3. Protheans were genetically engineered into the Collector race, shown as the villains in Mass Effect 2, but to see an actual live pure-breed Prothean is nothing short of amazing, in terms of contemporary lore.
The mission itself is extremely sub-par, and will last you around an hour. There really is no difference here than any other numerous side missions in the game, and if the payoff of a new character wasn’t a factor, you’d be wondering why you spent $10 on it. To be clear, other than the payoff of actually obtaining the new squad member and talking to him, this mission is absolutely worthless.
After the mission, there are absolutely crucial “big picture” story elements revealed through a sort of Q&A conversation with Javik. Without him, you wouldn’t be able to fill in a number of gaps in the history of the Mass Effect universe — which makes it a shame that Javik wasn’t included in the base package, so everyone would be able to enjoy it.
Javik himself is extremely versatile in that he has biotic abilities, but still utilizes a rifle. Simply put, he’s a hoss, and he’s an asset to your team. I can easily see using him the entire game because of how unique he is, not to mention the benefits of using him over the lack of other interesting core options. In my opinion, the standard cast is severely lacking in”non-generic badasses” outside of Garrus, so thankfully Javik is ready to fill that role in Mass Effect 3.
So in summation, before you lay down 10 smackeroos on this bit of content, take a good long look in the mirror and decide whether or not you’re a Mass Effect fanatic. If you’re just buying this DLC just for the mission because you remember how awesome Mass Effect 2′s Lair of the Shadow Broker was, you’re going to be disappointed. But, if you’re buying it to preserve a kickass piece of Mass Effect lore, or to help augment your second, third, and fourth playthroughs, you will enjoy From Ashes.
This review was based on a digital copy of From Ashes for the Xbox 360.