Buckaroo Shepard and the Day 1 DLC

Laugh while you can, monkey boy. Day 1 DLC is here to ruin your day again. (Mild ME3 spoilers)

Mild Mass Effect 3 spoilers below

Another day, another case of the increasingly-annoying phenomena known as Day 1 DLC. “We’re happy to confirm that Mass Effect 3: From Ashes DLC will be available at launch for all platforms,” announced BioWare’s Michael Gamble in a forum post on the BioWare Social Network. Somewhat late given a lot of this information has been circulating online for some time, but it’s still nice to have the official word on these sorts of things. Some particularly vocal fans are rather irate about this however and not just because it’s Day 1 DLC. The main bone of contention is From the Ashes includes a unique one-of-a-kind squad member only accessible to people that own the DLC. So unique in fact he’s literally the only one like him in existence: the last living Prothean.

The Protheans, if you didn’t know, are an alien race in the Mass Effect universe believed to have been wiped out 50,000 years prior to the first game by the ancient, species-munching Reapers. All you ever saw of them in ME1 or 2 besides the ruins and artefacts they left behind was a handful of degenerate remnants reduced to mindless slaves, altered so fundamentally on a genetic level they were essentially a completely different species. The only reason Shepard prevailed against the Reapers’ plans in ME1 was due to information about them preserved by the Protheans, so you might say they’re a pretty damn important part of the Mass Effect story.

Through the magic of sci-fi writing contrivances and/or space wizardry it seems one of them is still alive and willing to join your band of galactic heroes for nothing, so long as you buy the N7 Collector’s Edition of Mass Effect 3 which has From the Ashes included. He will also deign to join your team if you only buy the regular edition of Mass Effect 3, though only if you cough up an extra $10 for the From the Ashes DLC. If you want to know why this last son of a dead planet species is still alive, what he’s been doing and what assistance he can offer in the epic final battle against ancient genocidal killing machines, you’re going to have to pony up the dosh for him one way or another. Now I don’t hate DLC as a concept and I can tolerate Day 1 DLC if it’s only cosmetic or incidental stuff, yet if I may be blunt for a moment: are BioWare taking the fucking piss?

Golden guns and stupid outfits are acceptable. A virtual robot dog that’s follows you around the ship and doesn’t crap on the carpet or chew the furniture is also acceptable, if a bit silly. Overpowered weapons that make the game more trivial to play through are bearable, just about, and it’s ultimately my choice whether or not I buy them. Basically I’m cool with anything that’s optional, has a minimal impact on the game and doesn’t bring anything to the main story. Trinkets and gimmicks, that’s what Day 1 DLC should be. Taking the last survivor of an enigmatic species on which most of the entire fucking premise of Mass Effect 1 was based – an individual who could clear up a shit-ton of unanswered questions about his people’s role in the greater story, and partitioning him off behind a pay wall is frankly a bit of a shitty thing to do. It has the stink of EA all over it, and I mean the EA of old that milked The Sims until all that remained was a withered husk, trod the Ultima series into the dirt, and devoured Bullfrog whole to be slowly digested over thousands of year.

Mass Effect 2 also had squad members that could only be recruited if you had their Day 1 DLC packs, although in ME2′s case both DLC were completely free if you bought the game brand new. Regular or collector’s edition, if you bought it new you got the characters and their side missions for nowt. They weren’t important to the overall story of ME2 but they were nice bits of DLC made all the nicer for being free. It was a great incentive to make people buy ME2 new that also didn’t unnecessarily punish anyone buying a pre-owned copy, since they could still buy the DLC separately if they desired. Other DLC like ME2′s Lair of the Shadow Broker cost money of course but that had a fantastic amount of content, a plot that significantly affected the overarching Mass Effect story, and didn’t come out on launch day.

If the squad member in From the Ashes was Bob the Galactic Hobo and his side mission was to find a space-dog to be his friend, nobody would have a problem with it. Like Kasumi and Zaeed in ME2 Bob would be a completely optional character, not as well developed as the core squad mates, whose story would be interesting yet have little to no impact on the main game. Can we really count on a last surviving member of the only other species known to have successfully thwarted the Reapers, at the cost of their existence no less, being similarly incidental? It’s highly unlikely, particularly given the information out there suggesting Mr Prothean is as fully developed as Garrus, Wrex, Liara, Tali, and other core members of Shepard’s crew. This feels less like an incentive to get the Collector’s Edition and more of a sly middle finger to the fans.

I want to keep loving you BioWare, really I do. You’re just making it so difficult at the moment. Is it EA? Has he been…aggressive towards you? You told us you just fell down the stairs but that doesn’t explain all the other bruises we’ve noticed, nor the change in your behaviour. Is there something you want to tell us? We’re just concerned is all. We don’t want to see what happened to Bullfrog, Maxis and Origin happen to you too. Please, just give us a call if you need us. We’re here for you.

Incidentally if you’re a Mass Effect fan and also au fait with classic 80s sci-fi comedy “The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai across the 8th Dimension” starring Peter Weller, you might feel a strange sense of deja vu watching this video of the Prothean squaddie’s dialogue. Who among us could have possibly guessed the wise, ancient and mysterious Protheans were actually the Black Lectroids. Does this mean BioWare are secretly planning to give us DLC for Perfect Tommy, Reno Nevada and the rest of The Hong Kong Cavaliers too? At least I could ignore it knowing it had nothing to do with the main plot. Unless at some point in their side quest The Hong Kong Cavaliers discover Reapers are fatally allergic to peanuts, resulting in an epic alternate final battle where Buckaroo Shepard and friends storm Earth armed with packets of dry-roasted and rock music.

Yours to download for only $10, folks!

Matt McDermott

About Matt McDermott

Matt is the irresponsible degenerate behind bitscreed.com.