Opinion: Mass Effect 3 ‘From Ashes’ DLC – To Buy, Or Not To Buy?

With Mass Effect 3 just days away and its tantalising yet controversial day-one DLC also incoming, Mark Butler asks whether he should give in to his desire for a potentially-brilliant character and mission – or boycott ‘From Ashes’ on principle.

My pre-ordered copy of Mass Effect 3 will land next week, and to say I’m excited would be something of an understatement.

However, that immense feeling of excitement is also tempered by a sense of ugly frustration: if I wish to enjoy the luxury of an extraordinarily intriguing new character – whose presence could be of extreme importance to the series’ lore and backstory – I must stump up an additional $10 (or £6.30 in my native currency) for the privilege.

For those who haven’t already heard (those wanting to avoid spoilers should look away now) the day-one ‘From Ashes’ DLC offers a special mission, alternative appearances for all major characters and, most importantly, a Prothean squadmate to add to your team of Galaxy-defending heroes. That’s right, a Prothean. The guys who discovered the Citadel, were all but wiped-out by the ruthless Reapers, and whose paltry remnants were thought to have endured only as twisted, civilian-kidnapping puppets known as the Collectors.

For fans, this development is nothing short of earth-shattering. It could potentially cast new light on the games’ entire foundations, and throw up all kinds of wonderful questions  (How did this Prothean survive? What knowledge and insight can he offer Shepard in his fight against the Reapers? etc.). I’m sure BioWare and EA are all too-aware of how tantalizing this DLC is, and I’m sure that’s exactly why they have made it available as a separate purchase from launch day.

Now, BioWare have stressed that ‘From Ashes’ was not ‘cut content’ callously edited out of the main game to be sold on as an extra, but I’m not sure that this revelation actually makes much difference. You see, I was not averse to shelling-out for terrific Mass Effect 2 DLC like Lair Of The Shadowbroker – which also added a great deal to the series’ canon – because, coming several months after the game’s release, it actually helped prolong my enjoyment of the title and, crucially, felt like a welcome expansion to the story and gameplay at a time when I was craving more content.

Your new best friend - at a price

The problem with day-one DLC such as ‘From Ashes’ however, is that you’re dangling it in front of fans who have just purchased the game brand-new and saying: ‘Yeah, I know you’ve already paid £40 or $60 for the main experience – but if you want this other great stuff you’ll have to pay even more’. Instead of being a welcome addition to the saga a bit further down the line, it ends up being more like a kick in the teeth to consumers, and almost cruel at a time when money is tight for so many people. Rightly or wrongly, it feels very much like the companies are attempting to squeeze die-hard fans for every last bit of cash that they have.

Just over two years ago, the situation was quite different. I received Mass Effect 2’s Zaeed DLC – which also offered a new character and mission – as a nice little bonus along with my shiny new pre-ordered copy. And this actually made so much sense. I’ve no problem with companies offering incentives for people to buy new rather than used, and it seems to me a fair compromise between hard-headed business sense and respect for your fanbase.

Times have seemingly changed though. Now the ‘From Ashes’ DLC comes packaged only as part of the special N7 Collector’s Edition of the game, and this is priced at almost twice as much as the standard retail version. The message to fans seems clear: stump up more cash, or miss out.

The upshot is that this whole situation has left me with something of a dilemma; a mental tussle between my desire for the Prothean character, and my reluctance to financially support a move that I am wholeheartedly opposed to.

Deciding what to do with the Rachni queen was easy compared to this

I’m incredibly torn. On the one hand, I’m well aware that if ‘From Ashes’ sells well at launch it will only confirm the effectiveness of these day-one DLC tactics, and encourage EA and other companies to continue using them in future. As I do not want to contribute to the effective standardization of day-one DLC, and would rue that day that companies effectively offer up ‘half a game’ at launch, I am seriously considering a boycott.

On the other hand, as a committed fan of the series from the very beginning, I desperately want to find out more about this Prothean character for myself, and fill in some of the yawning gaps in the games’ phenomenal lore – which is one of the foremost reasons I fell in love with the series in the first place. When it comes down to it, I’m not sure I’ll have the willpower to actually deny myself this additional injection of story, even if it means shelling out a few more quid and reluctantly endorsing a strategy I don’t want to continue.

Will principle win out over giddy fandom? Who can tell. In any event, I’m sure this is a dilemma many other Mass Effect enthusiasts will be facing, and I’d be interested to hear from fellow fans as to whether they will be purchasing the DLC, or not.


Do you agree or disagree with these thoughts on ‘From Ashes’? And will you be buying the DLC? Feel free to leave your comments below…





9 Responses to “Opinion: Mass Effect 3 ‘From Ashes’ DLC – To Buy, Or Not To Buy?”
  1. liki says:

    Just say no. You give in then you are as much to blame as the companies. Besides, whats stoping you from buying it later when the game has droped in price or EA has released a better version.

  2. vince says:

    I must say yours has been a more reasoned response to what many have viewed as a debacle. My intial reaction was to the notion that many saw it as coming free with the collectors edotion and thoae who got the standard version had to pay extra. I pre ordered the CE because I want extra content of which the DLC is now a major part and I have paid the extra 30 quid for the privilege. No one is getting this for free. The CE is in short supply and now that we know that the extra character is a Prothean would it not be better to have it up front and inclusive in the game from day one than 2 or 3 months later? The choice is yours. It is not a throwaway character like zaeed. Had it been released for free. Then those who pre-ordered the CE would be licking off. There is no free lunch in this business. At least you pay for gaming content that adds canonical depth to what has been an enjoyable franchise. .. .You are not paying for additional pap like the n7 patch robopup etc. And you are paying less than those of us who went for the CE

  3. datdude says:

    While I understand fans frustration over this, it was announced many months in advance that the collectors edition would have a bonus character and mission. It matters not who/what that character is, Bioware made it known. If you choose/chose not to purchase the CE edition, that is your choice. I see it as a treat for fans who preordered the CE. Those who whine about it really have no leg to stand on as it was announced well in advance and the option was yours. This game was delayed from 2011 so I’m fairly sure Bioware has several dlc packs completed or near completion, ready to go. That they chose to include one with the Collectors Edition is commendable, because they certainly did not have to, as most fans who have been with the series from the beginning were going to purchase the CE anyway if they are financially able to do so. So I applaud Bioware for showing love to loyal fans, and to the rest of you, get lives.

    • tuku says:

      People are upset of the idea more than anything. It has reached a point now with dlc where people are fed up. If you are expected to buy half a product then companies should not expect the full day 1 amount. People are also upset of the fact that the way they sold mass effect with dlc as incentive to buy new was not used again and instead EA thought the gamers will be suckers and pay the extra $ anyway on what has been stated by those who have played and in leaked documents are cut game content that has bearing on story. You allow these dlc practices to continue and gaming is only going to get worse. Companies take peiece by piece away and charge sperately and retrict people when they can play and how etc and you wait and see what will come next down the pipe line. Think of the bigger pictire and not just the game in question.

  4. Stank says:

    I agree with this article, and I definitely see this as a very hard choice; as a fan who played the series from the beginning. But I am getting the Collectors Edition, so thankfully I don’t have a hard choice ahead of me.

  5. Steve says:

    Yarghh matey a pirating I will go!

  6. CF says:

    I really wouldn’t recommend getting the DLC. The “side mission” –if you can call it that–only takes about 15 to 30 minutes to complete and it’s very easy. However, the plasma rifle, the backstory, and having a fairly badass new character is pretty nice. It’s also bullshit that it’s not relevant to the main story; from what I’ve played, it seems to add quite a bit to the overall story itself.

  7. Jason says:

    I for one will not support this and give them my hard earned money for a tacked on mission that should of been part of the game. I have been there for the entire series, including DLC. But this is to far. I will go and find the answers this Prothean provides online, and possibly “aquire” a copy, rather then pay extra. I don’t know who’s decision this was. I can expect it from EA, but I’m very dissappointed with Bioware. I will also resist the urge to buy the game and wait for a used copy next time around if these same practices are used. Ultimatly these comments left mean nothing if we, the consumers, continue to open our wallets. We must hit them hard where they will feel it to get our message across that we will not just lay down for shaddy bussiness practices.

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