Mass Effect 2′s post-launch content was among the best examples of the practice this generation. Not only did each flesh out the Mass Effect universe, they allowed custom built levels and their own cohesive story that could accentuate Shepard’s story while still existing outside of its confines. Leviathan is the first such piece of content for Mass Effect 3 but that games controversial ending hangs heavily over this even before you embark on its mission.
The story starts off intriguingly enough: the Alliance’s Dr. Bryson is researching myths and legends and has uncovered the existence of the Leviathan, a creature that can kill Reapers, a discovery that could be the deciding factor of the war. But it must be found first. Moments after you meet the doctor, he is gunned down by his assistant, apparently under something else’s control. Shepard soon learns that the Leviathan doesn’t want to be found and will go to great lengths to stay hidden. Maybe that hesitance has something to do with the Reapers desperate search for its location. There’s a lot of potential in that setup.
Unfortunately, much of it goes to waste as you pick up where Bryson left off. While the initial investigation scene that has Shepard searching the doctors home for clues to finding the Leviathan’s location is interesting in concept it isn’t interestingly applied here. That’s even less so for the majority of the story’s two hours of content that alternate between generic shooting scenes and returning to Bryson’s house to add new evidence back into the puzzle. As has been typical of the series since Mass Effect 2, each area is new and features fully realized and beautifully rendered environments.
Easily the most significant scene of the entire piece is the climax, one that is different from anything found in the main game- it is cinematic while diverging from the core gameplay. Aside from the scenes short length, it’s kinda awesome. And it has massive implications for the larger Mass Effect fiction. The revelations are so large that one has to wonder whether or not this content was planned before Bioware was met with gamer fury at how the saga ended.
The feeling is reinforced by a dilemma that this dlc proposes: as the story expands on the eleventh-hour developments in Mass 3, Leviathan should really only be played by those who finished their Shepard’s story but the very nature of the content might seem redundant and disingenuous to the trilogy’s end, especially if you completed it before the addition of the Extended Cut. Maybe all attempts should be made to view Leviathan outside of these perspectives and in a manner closer to the day 1 From Ashes dlc since that content wasn’t necessary for the main story either.
However your Mass Effect 3 story ended, Shepard’s fight isn’t over yet.