Ending DLCs

*this has nothing to do with my usual feminist tilt*

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I have a problem with ending Downloadable Content (DLC) for video games. I’m not talking about the endings of DLCs. I’m not even talking about DLCs that come out after the official ending of a game and then carry on an additional story–no, I’m perfectly fine with that idea. I am talking about DLCs that require you to disregard your progress in the main plot and reload to a save before the official ending. This seems like an odd sort of thing to gripe about, doesn’t it? Well thats okay. I’m not the super rad kind of reviewer who always raves angerly (I’ve got plenty of positive articles too!) Personally, I can only think of two games that I really enjoy that do this:  Mass Effect 3 by Bioware and Fallout: New Vegas by Bethesda. I actually happen to like the dlcs quite a bit, but they always feel empty at the end, because you know that none of it really mattered much. Unless you are BRAND NEW to the games, these dlcs would have been completed well after you have defeated the ‘final boss’ of each game, which is REDUNDANT. And by then your character is either dead or probably doesn’t give a shit about backstory. But instead of giving you an excuse to continue from the main quest onward, or just give you a whole different character to play with, they force you to reload to before the ending took place in order to experience PLOT CRITICAL missions and stories after the fact. WTF? Why? So many games release additional dlcs but none of them do this to you! Forcing you to go back after you finished the game instead of offering a way forward is anticlimactic as HELL!
Omega6101Mass Effect 3 was the conclusion of a legendary video game sci-fi epic that for those of us who had been crafting our custom characters since the start, were with it for 5 years. The first DLC for this game, From Ashes, was released along with the game itself. The second was a clarification of the famous Mass Effect 3 ending. But after that, they came out with (to date) two more! (not counting the multiplayer packs). Leviathan and Omega are both quite important to the overall plot of the Mass Effect universe, so when I heard they were being released, I reasonably figured (since my character was dead/undead/ascended/unplayable) I would be taking control of other characters. Maybe I would take control of members of my team, or maybe other quest-critical characters all together. This didn’t seem like such a big stretch since you do this several times when new folks come on to you team…you just level them from 1 up to whatever level you managed to reach (60). But instead, they took a page out of Fallout New Vegas (see below) and decided they would just have you reload to hours before the final fight. What? WHY? What the hell does it add except story? Nothing! You don’t see the Leviathan in the final fight! You don’t see Aria doing jack shit in the battle for Earth. Its all exposition! So why the hell would they FORCE you to backtrack like that? You don’t have to be able to travel around and talk to all the surviving characters, so its not like they had to program the aftermath very much. You could just start right up in the dlc, right? Why not? Its pretty much that anyway, except now I play as Shepard and get this empty feeling at the end of each of these (otherways great) dlcs because I know I might as well be playing a ghost and everything I just did, doesn’t really matter because the final fight would have been won whether I did this shit or not. In the Omega DLC you influence Aria T’loak through your dialogue as so many other before her. But since in my mind I’m FUCKING DEAD, why couldn’t this have been an opportunity to PLAY as Aria and influence her just the same? It would have been a hell of a lot more interesting! So instead of allowing you to take a fresh perspective and flesh out some new character and giving Commander Shepard the respect he/she deserves and letting him/her rest in peace, you are forced to reanimate a long forgotten save and zombie around! The result is a watered down sensation of otherways great additional stories.

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Fallout New Vegas features 3 story-critical dlcs that were released after most folks have long since completed the main quest. The DLCs are Dead Money, Honest Hearts, Old World Blues, and Lonesome Road all of which are extremely important to the advancement of the main story and would feel much more at home AFTER the chaotic war in the Mohave has been resolved (with additional Gun Runner’s Arsenal weapons cache dlc…which would have been bloody useful BEFORE I fought the big end baddie!) Instead of following in the steps of its own predecessor (Fallout 3) and allowing you to carry on after the climatic battle, they force you to reload to a save that you presumably have before the Big Fight. Why? WHY? Bethesda has shown time and again that this type of shit is not a problem! At the end of Fallout 3, you die. But the subsequent dlcs find a way to bring you back so you can keep playing the multiple awesome stories that they later release. Thats PERFECT! In Fallout New Vegas, you don’t even die, but they refuse to do this. Why? Are they just lazy? Is there too much shit they have to program in after the fight? Bullshit! A few lines of dialogue saying “Good job! You helped destroy the Legion/NCR/House/etc, now on to this mysterious Next Thing!” That would have been just fine! Further, Bethesda is responsible for Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind, Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion, and Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim, all of which had interesting as hell dlcs released and allowed you to keep on trekking along their massive environments doing quests to your heart’s content long after the official ending. So WTF kind of excuse do you have Bethesda? Why muck up Fallout New Vegas by a single act of laziness?
Because in-spite of the awkwardness of this ‘reload’ bullshit, we still bought these (awesome) dlcs, thats why. They clumsily tacked on some amazing side-stories and we the fans ate it up then grimaced at the taste.

Addendum: A third DLC for Mass Effect 3 called Citadel has you visit with your comrades and revives some of the best experiences of the game (it still forces you to load to before the final battle but)…I don’t hate that.

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