This past Tuesday, November 27th, BioWare released the long-awaited Omega DLC for Mass Effect 3. Players have known about this DLC since lines were data-mined from the main game back in March and BioWare confirmed the development. This long wait certainly helped to Billed as the largest DLC BioWare has ever created and sporting a significant price tag of $15, Omega has been marketed as a big event. Sadly, the almost 2 GB size and $15 price are the only particularly “big” things about Omega. If you missed it before, be sure to check out our review of Mass Effect 3 as well as the controversial opinion piece Mass Effect 4: Where Does BioWare Go from ME3?
Truthfully, Omega itself is not a bad DLC, but the price most certainly is. At a third or even a half of the price, Omega would be worth it to anyone that enjoys the gameplay of Mass Effect 3 and wants another 3-4 hours of new content. At fifteen dollars, a savvy gamer could easily find a better value in an indie or used game. Alternatively, that fifteen dollars could get saved to pay for a quarter of one of the brand new AAA games flooding the holiday market.
Players might find the high cost of Omega justified if they could feel assured that they are getting a AAA quality experience, but Omega lacks serious polish. Any sense of player immersion during Aria’s big dramatic speech is completely ruined by her glitchy model animations and the out-of-sync crowd. Large portions of Omega lack music, and most of the city is barren and devoid of movement or drama, even during a full-scale insurrection and invasion. The lack of these things make very little of the “War to Take Back Omega” actually feel like a war.
Since Montreal focuses on multiplayer, one might assume the shooter gameplay of Omega would at least be top-notch. The gameplay certainly is solid, and Omega does give players a lot of shooting, but without any real gameplay innovation or curveballs to throw at the player. Keeping the player from using their typical squad makeup has gameplay repercussions as well, considering that many players specifically pick a team and choose powers based on what has the most synergy with their Shepard’s build.The new enemy types, the Rampart Mechs and the Adjutants, are essentially a Dragoon from multiplayer without the whips and a faster but far weaker version of a Brute, respectively. Neither foe requires the player to improvise new strategies or come up with new tactics at all. While the effort to at to increase enemy diversity is appreciated, such efforts feels somewhat wasted if the new enemies do not actually offer any new challenge. The Chakram Launcher offers some new and interesting gameplay mechanics, but some players will already have it from the Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning promotion, so it cannot be completely credited as a new feature of the Omega DLC.
The story of Omega will disappoint anyone that was expecting some big story revelation. Omega is completely self-contained besides offering a few extra War Assets; none of the Normandy’s crew even comments on Omega’s events after-the-fact. The mission does have paragon and renegade paths, but someone that plays through the DLC once could easily not even realize this because the game does not make it particularly clear. Also, while the two paths exist, they have no practical difference. The only dramatic moral choice the player faces gives almost identical cutscenes and the actual repercussions are never mentioned nor hinted at. The choice only affects whether or not the cutscene has sad music. Oleg Petrovsky, the villain of Omega, does provide a charismatic and savvy opponent and thankfully remains true to his previously-established character traits from the comics. Aria fulfills expectations, though Carrie-Anne Moss sounds awfully bored at times. Nyreen–the vaunted female turian introduced in Omega–offers an intriguing presence and has good chemistry with Aria, but is woefully under-utilized in both gameplay and story terms.
Ultimately, Omega’s problems all come back to value. Comparing it to other Mass Effect DLC such as Overlord, Lair of the Shadow Broker, and Leviathan leaves one with the feeling that Omega is only slightly below-average in quality. If Omega cost as much as Leviathan or Overlord, it would be an easy recommendation for stalwart Mass Effect fans, and a qualified recommendation for the less enthusiastic. One cannot help but wonder what about Omega necessitated such a huge increase in price. If BioWare needed to increase the price so much to make a profit, the development costs must have gone over-budget because Omega feels no bigger than any DLC that came before it. BioWare’s marketing says “The War for Omega has Begun. How Far Will You Go to End It?” The answer: spend perhaps five dollars—maybe even seven—but definitely not fifteen.