After all of the free multiplayer DLC and the Extended Cut, Mass Effect 3 is finally delving into story-expanding DLC and the first offering, Leviathan, details Shepard and company’s hunt for a mythical Reaper-killer.
If you’re really deep into the back-story of Mass Effect, then you might remember the ‘Leviathan of Dis’, a Reaper corpse discovered on a barren planet that was stolen by the isolationist batarian Hegemony (which later lead to their downfall through indoctrination, which dead Reapers still project). Turns out the Leviathan of Dis was referring to a creature that killed the Reaper, and if something organic is strong enough to take one down, then Shepard wants it as a War Asset.
Leviathan is a really story-heavy DLC, so don’t be surprised if the combat sections are kind of ho-hum. I’ll get into the story details in a bit (including spoilers) but I’ll run over the gameplay you’ll be doing throughout the DLC first. The new area on the Citadel promised by the DLC’s promotional materials is the lab of one Dr. Bryson which contains clues to the whereabouts of Leviathan as well as other experiments such as a live Husk head that you can take back to your cabin if you talk to James enough on one of your trips to the lab.
You’ll be using the clues in Bryson’s lab to pinpoint locations on the galaxy map that lead you closer to Leviathan; the more clues you use correctly, the more exact the destination becomes. It’s kind of fun the first time in a loose CSI way, but on the second and third trips back to the lab it becomes a bit more rote. It’s kind of like a point-and-click adventure game and, while it is different from what you do in ME3 proper, it’s repeated enough times over the DLC to become a bit stale.
Combat is likewise a bit samey, even if the final battle on a storm-tossed ship is pretty visually striking. A lot of what you’ll be doing is carried over from the multiplayer DLC, like escorting repair drones and carrying packages to certain destinations. Your squadmates actually interact with you during the DLC, which is a nice change from Mass Effect 2 where they were silent the entire time. Even if the gameplay isn’t that great, what about the story of Leviathan?
Fair warning, here is where the spoilers start, so if you haven’t played Leviathan yet, turn away. While Leviathan isn’t particularly thrilling from a combat standpoint, the depth it adds to the lore of Mass Effect 3 makes it worth a playthrough. During the conversation with the Catalyst AI at the end of the game, it makes reference to its progenitors, the very first race to be harvested and turned into giant, soulless machines. Throughout the DLC you might think that you’re hunting some kind of super-weapon but what you’re actually chasing are the leftovers of the first race, an apex species that at one point held the entire galaxy in their thrall. During their reign, they witnessed their subjects creating machine intelligence that ended up wiping their creators out, so to solve that problem, they created their own machine intelligence, and we all know how that turned out.
The way the story build to your final conversation with Leviathan is very cool, dropping hints along the way that what you’re after isn’t exactly what you think it is. While the payoff in game mechanic terms isn’t that great (a War Asset update), being able to question the race that essentially gave way to the rise of the Reapers is well worth the price of admission. While it does give away a lot of the mystery behind the Reapers, as part of the closing chapter of Mass Effect, finally getting some answers doesn’t really hurt the story all that much, especially coming months after most of us have beaten the game.
So that’s what I thought about Leviathan. While I don’t think that Mass Effect 3’s DLC will reach the heights attained by Lair of the Shadow Broker and Overlord, Leviathan gives you a peek into the history of the Mass Effect universe if you can get past the repetitive lab sections and stock combat encounters.
Has anyone played Leviathan? What did you think?