Leviathan is the second single-player DLC pack for Mass Effect 3. For $10 (800 MS points) you’re signing up for about four hours of gameplay. That breaks down to about an hour of combat, an hour of cutscenes, and two hours of wandering around Dr. Bryson’s lab. I joke. This Mass Effect 3 DLC offers us a glimpse into how BioWare could support the Mass Effect series; with isolated story missions that don’t affect the conclusion of the game but offer additional cannon. The real question is: Do gamers want canon over gameplay that matters?
Warning: Potential spoilers ahoy! Seriously, no whining.
The answer to that doesn’t hinder on Leviathan, but on how you felt about Mass Effect 3’s ending. If you were content with the conclusion, you’ll most likely adore the added information on the origins of the Reapers and their Harvest. If you felt the conclusion was lacking, you might, at times, feel like single player DLC is trivial. Regardless of how you left Mass Effect 3, returning for Leviathan will offer gamers new ways to play answer many questions you have.
Leviathan begins with a message from Admiral Hackett. He asks Shepard to meet Dr. Bryson about some pertinent information on the Reapers. Dr. Byson’s lab is on the Citadel, but rather than finding his lab amongst the Citadel we know, you dock in a separate area. Docking in “B Dr. Bryson’s Lab” is the first example of the Leviathan DLC feeling more like a standalone content pack within Mass Effect 3 than an extension of its story.
Dr. Bryson’s lab is the futuristic lab you’d imagine. It has a station for scanning meteors with element zero “eezo,” it has a station to evaluate the Rachnai and their roles in past and current galactic wars, and a galaxy map capable of pinpointing the location of your desired intel.
Entering the lab triggers a cut-scene setting the events of Leviathan in motion. Dr. Bryson’s assistant has been indoctrinated. In a fit of rage he attacks leaving Bryson dead. With no Doctor, Shepard and Edi must tear apart the lab, searching for a trace of information. This sounds dramatic but it ends up being a methodical sweep of the labs rooms for highlighted items, many of which Edi deems “irrelevant.” A few useless data-pads are fine but at a certain point it feels like the game is buying time.
This is how the missions in Leviathan work: you find clues through data-pads which lead you to different locales across the universe. The battles are basic and for the first half of the storyline, in fact they’re minimal. Each mission deals with different scientists who have been exposed to mysterious artifacts. Those who survive the artifact’s influence suspect Leviathan is behind the indoctrination.
On the subject of combat, I found a pretty serious flaw. Before the first combat mission started I noticed Shepard didn’t have my normal loadout. In fact, none of the guns I had were upgraded. This could have been a bug, but make sure to head down to Normandy’s docks before you set off. There aren’t any gun benches in Leviathan; the guns you bring are the guns you use.
After each of these missions Shepard must go back to the lab to find additional clues. This part of the content pack felt tedious, like I was playing Mass Effect meet LA Noire. The clues I picked up were overwhelmingly unhelpful, each met with a denial from Edi, and since I was in the same lab each time, I wasn’t picking up new items or exploring new locales. Data collection is also a theme on the planets Shepard lands on. While some of the data collected offers valuable codex, other offers insight on the weather, and whether or not “Andrea” called her mother back. I love learning more about the Mass Effect universe, but I don’t need filler.
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Playing detective does pay off. Eventually Shepard deduces the whereabouts of Leviathan. This sends the crew to an ocean planet. A final battle featuring dozens of Reaper enemies, like Brutes and Cannibals, paves the way for the DLC’s final scenes.
The most shocking, revealing, and informative portion of the DLC takes place in the last 20 minutes. Using an abandoned Atlus, Shepard takes the search below the sea. This is the first and only time in the ME3 series underwater navigation is a gameplay mechanic. A few minutes of underwater navigation guides Shepard to the Leviathan, an ancient species, the first species. Leviathan explains its origins, and in turn, the Reapers origins. He tells Shepard “There is no war. Only Harvest.” Shepard of course assures him that this cycle is different, and the war can end. To which I yelled at the TV, “Liar!”
Through completing Leviathan, gamers will earn new weapon upgrades, codex, and achievements/trophies. When Hackett tells you “Job well done!” you’ll even earn the Leviathan as a War Asset. Which brings me to biggest issue with this DLC: So what? Knowing that having the Leviathan and his homies on my side doesn’t improve my chances of survival leaves a sour taste in my mouth. It’s not a bad enough feeling to tell you to pass on this, because you shouldn’t, but be warned you might feel the same. It’s a looming task to ask gamers to forget the ending and start again. You may feel totally different than I do, if that’s the case, you may enjoy this DLC even more than I did.
Leviathan gives gamers a chance to suit up in N7 armor one more time and to reunite with their squad. To hear Kaidan say things like, “...I guess that’s why I love you.” Or to let Liara say, “This isn’t a dig site. It’s a warzone!” These moments I will never tire of. I know more about the Reapers, Leviathan, and consequently, Shepard, than I did before I played. And even though I kept thinking about the story that could have been, Leviathan was fun experience that any Mass Effect fan should check out.
Have you played the Leviathan DLC? What do you think?
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