Hardcore fans of Mass Effect 3 have known about the potential Citadel DLC for months now, as the information was datamined and released to the Internet, but nothing was ever confirmed. Until last week anyway. Since the Citadel DLC was released there's been all kinds of misinformation and claims of fake information flying around. Presumably, this is why BioWare's Chris Priestly took the opportunity to clear the air, especially as he claimed some leaked information was fake without actually saying what was fake. It's frustrating experience for all of us that are interested in the DLC, so here's the facts in easy-to-digest, bite-sized chunks:
· There's some sort of conspiracy that targets Commander Shepard, which prompts the team into an investigation.
· It seems the entire DLC will take place in mainly new areas of the Citadel, such as the Wards, Council Archives, and the Silver Coast Casino.
· Shepard will even get living quarters and be able to battle in something called the Armax Combat Arena.
· We will get to see old characters and our current ones.
· We will be able to rekindle romances.
· You will have to complete said character's missions and after conversations before you can see them in Citadel (i.e. save Jack from Grissom Academy and talk to her in Purgatory to see her in the DLC).
· The DLC will be playable after you stop the Cerberus coup on the Citadel and before beginning the attack on Cronos station.
· The DLC content will be slowly unlocked over the course of the game (once you stop the Cerberus attack), up until the attack on Cronos station. Or you could just wait until right before the final mission and play it all unlocked.
· The DLC content will NOT affect the ending. Priestly specifically says "You may of course continue on to play the endgame after completing the Citadel DLC, but there is also a natural “stopping point” that should make it clear where the DLC content ends and your return to the main game begins."
· The DLC releases on March 5th, 2012, as was previously leaked.
· The Citadel DLC will cost $14.99.
· European PS3 users will get it a day after on February 6th.
· Xbox users will need to download the DLC in two packs, but all for the same price.
What does this mean for the fans?
From this point on, I can only offer speculation as someone who has followed Mass Effect 3 and its related content since its release. It certainly seems as if BioWare really listened and understood many of Mass Effect's fans wanted to spend more time wrapping up things with the friends their Shepard has made and their love interests. A major complaint about Mass Effect 3 was how Mass Effect 2's love interests got pushed to the side (and let's not even talk about two of FemShep's love interests, Thane and Jacob). This DLC seems to want to rectify at least that much, and wants to send Shepard off with a proper farewell party.
On the negative side, it appears that there won't be any additional playable content after the ending, which is where most people had the problem. They want to know what happens to these characters they've grown to love so much, and their Shepard's fate. BioWare has said many things to indicate they won't add anymore content to the ending, but their community managers have also pretty much flat-out lied before or at least mislead people (point in case, indicating the leaked DLC details were fake and locking the thread), to the point of people even bringing cases against them with the Better Business Bureau.
But Priestly pretty much indicated that there will be a pretty clear point in which the DLC says "go on, time to go end the game" and that will be it for playable content. But what about added cinematics, like the Extended Cut added? Or epilogue slides? I wouldn't say you should get your hopes up but BioWare hasn't quite precluded the possibility flat out. At this point, that's about all the hope there is that we may learn more about our party member's fates after the ending.
What does this mean for BioWare?
As I've discussed before, this DLC is very big in terms of what it does for BioWare's reputation. After various disappointments with Mass Effect 3 and some of its DLC (lookin' at you, Omega), giving Shepard a hell of going away party would definitely improve fans' reputation of BioWare right now. And, it definitely appears they were smart enough to use what made the game so popular in this final DLC: the characters we've grown to know and love.
Giving us a bit of fun and quality time with these characters is an easy way to fans' hearts, and it seems they've finally realized that. On the other hand, they could seal the deal with some extra ending slides or cinematics and successfully get fans ready and open-minded about the next game in the Mass Effect series, that we're simply calling Mass Effect 4.
To be honest, with the information we've been given and BioWare Edmonton likely being the one who handled this DLC (unlike Omega's BioWare Montreal) I can't see the DLC itself being of low quality. The worst that could happen is that the content fans look forward to the most is too short, therefore leading to more disappointed. If this occurs, combined with no additional information about the ending, it will likely leave the remaining fans in a state of of apathy and discontent, and further hurt BioWare's image in general (as well as hurt the upcoming Dragon Age 3's chances).
BioWare can easily win most of its fans back with its DLC, and set up their image well for Dragon Age 3 and Mass Effect 4, but they also easily damage their reputation further. But, I still have faith in BioWare, so I will personally bet that this DLC will be great. I just hope it will be enough to help us say goodbye to Shepard and our friends, so that we can finish the game with a smile on our face (and probably a tear or two in our eyes).