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Mass Effect 3 Omega: the revolution starts here

Wednesday, 7 November 2012 16:09 GMT By Dave Cook

Mass Effect 3: Omega is the next solo expansion from BioWare. VG247′s Dave Cook goes hands-on and speaks with the studio about Shepard’s return, ‘that’ ending and what the future of Mass Effect may hold.

By and large, Mass Effect campaign expansions have typically been great value, from the sprawling and plot-heavy Lair of the Shadow Broker, to the enjoyable Stolen Memory pack that saw Shepard go a little ‘James Bond’ at an interstellar cocktail mixer.

However, Mass Effect 3 is no stranger to controversy. Forgetting about the widely-debated ending for a moment, another cause for concern was the day-one DLC pack From Ashes, in which Shepard fraternises with Javik, the last known Prothean in the universe.

As Protheans have been so integral to the Mass Effect canon since the start, many gamers felt cheated and assumed that any expansion so significant to the core fiction could only have been left off the Mass Effect 3 disc intentionally. People weren’t happy.

“The set up is promising, although from the short sample that we experienced, Omega presents more of the same cover-shooting action that you’re used to, and seems to offer little in the way of new thrills.”

To make amends it seems as if BioWare has listened to fans with Mass Effect 3: Omega, as the titular space station is arguably one of the trilogy’s most prominent locales. The studio has stated that fans wanted to see Shepard return there, so alas, off we go to raise some hell.

VG247 sat down to play through the opening areas of BioWare’s expansion to see if it recaptured the essence of Mass Effect 2′s dark and treacherous asteroid colony. The plot revolves around Omega kingpin Aria, who asks Shepard for help in driving Cerberus forces out of her home.

Typically an emotionless and tough character, Aria’s demeanour has changed drastically. This could be an attempt by BioWar to prove that under the threat of Reaper annihilation, even the bravest of faces can give way to fear and desperation – especially when a person’s home and way of life becomes compromised.

The set up is promising, although from the short sample that we experienced, Omega presents more of the same cover-shooting action that you’re used to, and seems to offer little in the way of new thrills. Sure the backdrop has changed to the dark metallic corridors you remember from the second game, but the gameplay remains largely unchanged so far.

That is, save for the new skill sets of Aria and Nyreen, the first female Turian to appear in the series. Nyreen is an ex-military huntress who has been using Omega’s vast tunnel network to stay alive, avoid Cerberus detection and pick off stragglers when she can. Together, Nyreen and Aria are a force to be reckoned with.

Nyreen’s ‘Biotic Protector’ is a neat skill that creates a bubble shield around her and the surrounding area. It roots her to the spot while active, but it makes for handy ad hoc cover for Shepard and Aria to use during one of Omega’s many Cerberus gunfights.

She can also hurl grenades using her biotic powers, while Aria can use Lash to topple foes off balance, rip enemies to shreds using Carnage, or hurl them around using Flare. Nyreen’s shield skill is by far the best on offer, but both characters are tough allies who watch your back constantly.

“It’s about Aria’s history and as you say, we’re used to her being kind of a badass, but pretty calm. Now she’s in a position where she has been humiliated, she has been ousted, and she’s not calm any more. So she’s looking for revenge.”

We’re also told that the expansion will see Shepard and Aria return to the sections of Omega seen in Mass Effect 2, including the Gozu district and the Afterlife nightclub, which is no longer a pole-dancing joint, and instead serves as a makeshift Cerberus headquarters.

Taking players back to these places is a neat way of bringing the series full circle, but our hands-on experience was too short and too familiar to what has gone before to really get us excited. It wasn’t even half of the full picture, so we can’t say if the expansion is worth 1,200 MS Points or not, but to really warrant a purchase it will have to deliver more than just a couple of hours of cover shooting.

With our play-test over and our expectations dampened, we turn to BioWare producer Fabrice Condominas to ask him why the studio has taken Shepard back to Omega, and to throw him some questions about Mass Effect’s next step.

VG247: Why go back to Omega in the first place?

Fabrice Condominas: After Mass Effect 2, we had so much feedback on Omega as a station, as an iconic place, and also on Aria. People were asking so much about her background, so it was kind of a natural choice, but also within the team, we are especially attached to Aria and also to Omega.

It’s a very specific place in the Mass Effect universe, so the team had a desire to do something about it. Player feedback confirmed that we should.

Aria has always been a stubborn character hasn’t she? Was this an attempt to show another side to her character and to reveal more of her backstory?

Absolutely, and this is one of the main focuses of the DLC. It’s about Aria’s history and as you say, we’re used to her being kind of a badass, but pretty calm – not exactly a ‘Paragon’ type – but she was calm and just ruling Omega.

Now she’s in a position where she has been humiliated, she has been ousted, and she’s not calm any more. So she’s looking for revenge, which feeds into the character background we had at the beginning when we created Aria, and there’s also a reason why she’s a very powerful biotic.

You can dig into all of that, but we also have a new character Nyreen, who is the first female Turian of the trilogy. This character has an entire history with Aria, and with Shepard being the middle of that relationship, this is where you learn a lot about Aria’s history.

“The success of multiplayer has been a surprise and it was a bit of a bet. We had been thinking about doing multiplayer since the first Mass Effect, so it wasn’t new, but we had to find a way to put it into the narrative, and when the opportunity arrived we viewed it as a ‘nice to have’, rather than a ‘must have’ feature.”

Can Nyreen join Shepard’s squad after the DLC ends?

No, she won’t be available after and there is a very strong narrative reason for that.

We didn’t seen them in the demo, but will players go back to the classic Omega locations from Mass Effect 2?

Absolutely. Omega is huge – it’s four hours of gameplay – and it’s divided into four missions, plus Aria’s bunker where you can access side missions. So to give you an idea of the scale: during three missions you will discover entirely new places.

In one of the missions you will definitely revisit places like the Gozu district, and Afterlife – which has been transformed by Cerberus as their headquarters. So there are no more dancers there [Laughs]. But yes, definitely, you revisit those places, but you also discover the rest of the station.

There’s an entire mission in the mines, but also as you know, Omega is a smuggling station full of outlaws. So you also go through the smuggling tunnels a lot, and right into the underbelly of Omega.

And where in the Mass Effect 3 canon do the Omega missions take place?

It’s right after the Garrus campaign, and you need to have Aria on your side. So after the Garrus campaign you can talk to Aria to trigger the DLC, which basically starts on the Citadel. You will have none of your original squad mates or the Normandy, and there is this entire narrative around how you get to Omega.

Aria and Nyreen also have new biotic powers too.

Yeah there are new powers. Aria has two powers that didn’t exist before, that have been designed just for her. They are Flare – a very powerful biotic explosion – and Lash, which basically attracts enemies toward you and inflicts heavy damage in the process.

Nyreen is more of a solider type. She is former Turian military, and also has small biotic powers. She ha a biotic shield that she can deploy around her. The fact that she’s ex-Turian military and has biotic powers is contradictory if you know the series history, so this is part of her story and relationship with Aria.

There are also new weapons in there.

There are two new weapons – the N7 Valkyrie – which is an N7 assault rifle basically, and the Chakram rocket launcher, which some people have from Kingdom of Amalur as it was a cross-promotion, but now it’s accessible to everyone.

We also have two new enemies. There is the Rampant Mech, which is basically a crowd-control mech created by Omega to keep the populace controlled and the Adjutant, which are Reaper tech-based enemies. People who have read the comics will know about these.

Although the Omega DLC is purely geared towards solo-play, I have to ask about your reaction to Mass Effect 3′s multiplayer. People are still playing it, despite initial concerns about its inclusion.

The success of multiplayer has been a surprise and it was a bit of a bet. We had been thinking about doing multiplayer since the first Mass Effect, so it wasn’t new, but we had to find a way to put it into the narrative, and when the opportunity arrived we viewed it as a ‘nice to have’, rather than a ‘must have’ feature.

We have been totally caught up in its success, and the sense of loyalty from players has just been amazing. This is also why we’ve decided to keep on producing new content.

“There is one thing we are absolutely sure of – there will be no more Shepard, and the trilogy is over. This is really our starting point. Now the Mass Effect universe is vast, and very, very rich. So at this point in time, we don’t even know what kind of time frame we’re going to be in.“/p>

New content is one thing, but what do you feel have been the keys to sustaining player interest between new DLC drops?

The narrative is important. BioWare is story-driven. Now that the entire galaxy is at war, it makes sense to have pockets of combat you can play, and to play as different race as you are all fighting the same enemy. So I think that entire background also helps to keep multiplayer alive.

With story DLC, BioWare has always delivered decent expansions to the core narrative. Do you have any idea where you might go after Omega?

“Not really. We know that we’re going to keep the franchise alive, that’s for sure, as well as there will be another Mass Effect game – a full game. I couldn’t give you numbers or anything as we don’t have a plan. We’ve already done more than we planned to do, and it’s all based on feedback and success or failures.”

So the nature of good DLC – besides having strong narrative links – is to be reactionary, and to give fans more of what hey want to see?

Oh yes totally, and I know a few people have complained about how long we’ve taken to release more DLC, and the complaints about day-one DLC too. We know what the team wants to do like, ‘hey this is really cool, the team love this place, that race, or this character’, and then we have the player feedback. We try to find a balance between the team and fan feedback.

On the subject of day-one DLC, what would you say to players to reassure them that From Ashes wasn’t left off the Mass Effect 3 disc purposely?

Even with Omega there have been leaks already and people think, ‘hey, maybe they did this DLC and then waited until after launch’, which just isn’t true. Omega is a unique case because we knew since a long time ago that we wanted to do more with Omega.

We were sure it was going to be a Mass Effect 3 DLC, and for technical reasons, we wanted to make sure that if something happens on Omega as a DLC, and if you then wanted to go back to Purgatory where Aria was, we couldn’t rewrite what has been shipped on disc.

We can’t change what is on disc, and we thought it would be a bit lame if there was no feedback from Aria in Purgatory after Omega. So it was a technical question, and the actual development of the DLC started after Mass Effect 3 was done.

Was that the same process as From Ashes?

Oh yeah. From Ashes was a really tough DLC to make because we were ending Mass Effect 3 development – and anyone who has shipped a game knows that ending is tough – you’re doing crazy hours, and we had to make [From Ashes] in addition.

It’s no secret that there will be a fourth Mass Effect game. Can you tell us anything about your plans for whatever will come next?

There is one thing we are absolutely sure of – there will be no more Shepard, and the trilogy is over. This is really our starting point. Now the Mass Effect universe is vast, and very, very rich. So at this point in time, we don’t even know what kind of time frame we’re going to be in.

All we’re doing is more gathering ideas from the teams, gathering feedback to see several things. So first, we don’t want to make ‘Shepard 2′, or Mass Effect 4 with like, ‘oh there’s no more Shepard but you’re a soldier in the universe’. So this will be a very, very different context for sure, and nothing has been decided on the rest.

Mass Effect 3: Omega will launch on Xbox 360 from November 28th at 1,200 MS Points

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    You’re not hitting heists for the good of your health. Here’s how to max cash rewards. Money. GTA Online players love it. Greenbacks are the core of the entire experience, allowing you to buy the best weapons, vehicles and stupid haircuts. Heists, as promised, gives more opportunities than ever to earn serious cash, but once […]

  • PlayStation 4 firmware update 2.50 coming tomorrow

    PlayStation 4 firmware 2.50, codenamed Yukimura, is due for release tomorrow, March 26. Firmware update 2.50 for PlayStation 4 will be launching tomorrow, March 26, Sony has announced. Codenamed Yukimura, the system update is promised to bring suspend/resume feature, trophy sync improvements, accessibility options, and much more. 2.50 has been in beta testing a while […]

  • GTA 5 Online Heists guide: adversary modes, daily objectives, free roam challenges and more

    Heists aren’t the only addition in GTA Online’s latest DLC – there’s a lot of content that can earn you big RP and cash payouts. GTA 5 Online Heists guide: adversary modes, daily objectives, free roam challenges While heists are the talking point and big payoff after more than a year of waiting, there’s a […]

  • Battlefield Hardline: what’s the best Police sniper rifle?

    What’s the best bolt-action, Police sniper rifle for the Professional class in Battlefield Hardline? Let us help you answer that question. As you’re probably aware, Battlefield Hardline weapons are class specific and faction specific. This makes deciding on a good weapon and loadout much harder than it was in Battlefield 4. Which is where Westie […]

  • Evolve 1.3 patch nerfs Wraith, adjusts Kraken

    Evolve is receiving a new patch that aims to put an end to the Wraith’s dominance. Evolve developer Turtle Rock outlined a few of the changes coming in patch 1.3. The patch brings balance changes to the monsters – mainly the Wraith – as well as other various changes to Hunters’ tools based on player […]

  • Bloodborne: watch the opening 40 minutes

    The opening minutes of Bloodborne really do set the stage for what’s to come. They’ll also help you decide if this game is for you. Arekkz Gaming has captured the first 40 minutes of Bloodborne. Complete with the opening cutscene, and the first few obstacles you’ll face. The video is commentary free, so wear headphones […]

  • YouTube will relaunch livestreaming service with focus on eSports and gaming – report

    According to industry sources, Google is preparing to relaunch YouTube’s livestreaming service with a focus on eSports and gaming. According to anonymous sources speaking to TheDailyDot, Google is planning to bring back YouTube’s livestreaming service. The company is said to have started recruiting around 50 engineers with experience in the field, “a pretty big statement […]

  • I think I’m too old for Final Fantasy 15

    Final Fantasy 15 was nine years in the making – and counting. Are we the same people we were in 2006? Final Fantasy 15: Episode Duscae A demo available for PS4 and Xbox One. Offers a couple of hours of gameplay. More if you jump over the borders. Bundled with Final Fantasy 15 Type-0 and […]

  • New multiplayer mode for Splatoon announced

    Nintendo has sent over three screenshots for Splatoon along with information on the Wii U another of the title’s multiplayer modes. Called Ranked Battle, it keeps track of each player’s online ranking. Splat Zones is one of the additional ways to play online in this mode. It differs from Turf War, which is the main […]

  • 2015 WoW Arena World Championship has a $250,000 prize pool

    Blizzard has announced the WoW Arena World Championship will culminate at BlizzCon 2015. World of Warcraft 3v3 Arena teams from around the globe will compete for spot at the 2015 WoW Arena World Championship and for a share in the $250,000 prize pool. Online qualifiers will be held for North America, Southeast Asia, Australia, New […]

  • The Crew two-hour demo now available in US, tomorrow in the UK

    Ubisoft has announced a free trial of its driving MMO The Crew will be available tomorrow, March 25 in the UK. It’s live today in North America. For current players, the Vintage Car Pack and Vintage Live Update, including a new PvP mode, are now available. The Vintage Car Pack included the Chevrolet Corvette C2 […]

  • Minecraft Mass Effect Mash-Up and Pattern Texture Pack out from today

    A Mass Effect Mash-up pack and the Pattern Texture Pack will release on PlayStation 3, PS4 and Vita today in North America and tomorrow in Europe. The Pattern Texture Pack is also available for Xbox consoles today. The Mass Effect Mash-Up pack contains the Mars Facility from Mass Effect 3 plus textures and craftable items […]

  • The Talos Principle expansion pack Road to Gehenna announced

    An expansion for The Talos Principle has been announced titled Road to Gehenna. The expansion follows the narrative of Uriel, Elohim’s messenger, as he explores a “strange, hidden part of the simulation” on a mission of “mercy and redemption.” Uriel is attempting to free the souls of the damned “at all costs.” Road to Gehenna […]

  • Twitch Plays Pokemon finally catches ‘em all – even the rare Mewtwo

    Twitch Plays Pokemon players have captured all 151 original Pokemon which were included in a modified version of Pokemon Red, and this includes the rare Mewtwo. It took 39 days for Twitch players to catch ‘em all. Have a look at the impressive feat for yourself below. Thanks, Polygon.

  • GameStop will have limited units of Majora’s Mask New 3DS XL back in stock

    Those who missed out on the Limited Edition Majora’s Mask New 3DS XL will have another opportunity to purchase it outside of eBay. Tomorrow only, GameStop stores in the United States will have four units in stock, according to and internal memo sent to Kotaku. This is every store in the country, and again, only […]

  • Second phase of Fortnite closed Alpha launches today

    Fortnite’s second closed Alpha test will go live this afternoon, according to the official website. Those currently participating will have until April 14 to test the online aspects for 12 hours per day (noon -12am EDT). All progress from the previous Alpha test will be wiped, and other changes are listed in the patch notes. […]

  • Dragon Age: Inquisition: Jaws of Hakkon out now on PC, Xbox One

    As promised yesterday, the single-player DLC for Dragon Age: Inquisition, Jaws of Hakkon, is now available on PC and Xbox One. It will run you or £11.99 or your regional equivalent. The new content expands the land of Thedas with mountainous regions and forests, and it is full of “vicious enemies.” Players will also be […]

  • Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare trailer shows Ascendance gameplay

    Activision has released a new gamepay trailer for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare to support the Ascendance DLC which releases next week. Ascendance, will release first on Xbox consoles March 31 and includes the next chapter of the Exo Zombies Saga, Infected, along with four new multiplayer maps: Perplex, Site 244, Climate and Chop Shop. […]

  • Batman: Arkham Knight will be a digital only release on PC – report

    It appears Batman: Arkham Knight will not see a physical release on PC, according to ShopTo. The retailer was told by its buyer the Rocksteady game will only be released on PC in digital form. ShopTo is currently double checking the information. If accurate, it is unknown if this will be case in North America […]

  • Bloodborne patch focusing on load times, performance optimizations in the works

    A patch for Bloodborne which will address load times is in the works, Sony has said The load times were one of the issues noted in Digital Foundry’s report on the From Software title. Sony told Eurogamer the patch would also explore other issues as well. “The development team is currently exploring another patch for […]

  • Gearbox would “love” to have entire Borderlands collection on current-gen

    An Xbox One and PlayStation 4 version of the original Borderlands game is something Gearbox Software is interested in, according to studio boss Randy Pitchford. Speaking in the latest Major Nelson podcast, Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford said should Borderlands: The Handsome Collection prove successful, 2K Games might consider a current-gen version. “The fact that The […]

  • Wolfenstein: The Old Blood artwork shows the catacombs, dock, more

    Over the weekend we posted Wolfenstein: The Old Blood artwork along with news of a retail release in Europe. Today, we have better quality images of said artwork to share with you. Enjoy. The standalone prequel will be released digitally on May 5 on PC, PS4 and Xbox One in North America, and digitally on […]

  • Slender: The Arrival terrorizes PS4 and Xbox One this week

    In case you forgot, what with Bloodborne out today and other high profile releases of late, Slender: The Arrival is out today on PlayStation 4 in North America. The scary game will arrive on Xbox One tomorrow, March 25, and in Europe on PS4. Slender: The Arrival is an expansion on the original Slender game […]

  • World of Warcraft’s WoW Token rollout slated after launch of patch 6.1.2

    Blizzard has announced it will start rollout its WoW Token option in the weeks following the launch of patch 6.1.2 on March 24. WoW Token allows players to exchange in-game gold for game time and vice versa. Blizzard will release WoW Token first in realms serving North America, Oceania, and Latin America and will expand […]

  • The Evil Within: The Consequence dated for April, teaser video released

    Part 2 of Juli Kidman’s adventure in The Evil Within will arrive next month with the release of The Consequence. Above is a brief teaser showing some of the “madness” Kidman will encounter. The Consequence will arrive on Tuesday, April 21 on PC, PlayStation 3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One. European PlayStation players will […]

  • Bloodborne sometimes “struggles to run at a smooth frame-rate” per performance analysis

    Bloodborne has been analyzed by Digital Foundry and according to the report, even with a 30fps cap the game sometimes “struggles to run at a smooth frame-rate.” The game’s day-one 2.69GB update 1.01 is “essential” as it contains improvements to game performance and stability and the frame-rate tests run by Digital Foundry were in single-player […]

  • Borderlands: The Handsome Collection reviews round-up

    Borderlands: The Handsome Collection reviews are out in the wild so we decided to catch a few of them for you. Borderlands: The Handsome Collection is out today on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The collection packages Borderlands 2 and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel along with each game’s DLC content on one disc. Better graphics and […]

  • Evolve, Forza Horizon 2, WWE 2K15 are this week’s Deals with Gold

    Evolve, Forza 2 Horizon and WWE 2K15 are just some of the games which are part of this week’s Xbox Deals with Gold. You can also pick up the Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Pro Edition for 20% off as well as the standard edition for 33% off. For the Xbox 360 crowd, there’s also […]

  • Xbox 360 2015 Spring Value bundles now available starting at $250

    Microsoft is offering a discount on three Xbox 360 bundles with prices starting at $250. The Xbox 360 2015 Spring Value bundles feature various content such as a Kinect, 500GB console bundle and one month of Xbox Live Gold. Xbox 360 500GB Spring Value Bundle: comes with Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare download and Fable […]

  • Rainbow Six Siege beta sign ups now open

    Ubisoft is letting everyone register for the upcoming Rainbow Six Siege closed beta. Rainbow Six Siege is due for a closed beta sometime this year. Ubisoft has opened registration to everyone. All you need to do is enter your preferred platform and log in using your Uplay account. You will be entered into a waiting […]

  • Advanced Warfare: Exo Zombies map Infection is creepy

    The upcoming chapter in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare’s Exo Zombies mode is called ‘Infection’ and Activision has been slowly revealing bits and pieces about it. A few teasers have been dropping ahead of Ascendance launch this month. The teasers are about the second episode in the Exo Zombie story, Infection. First off, the map. […]

  • This is the Bloodborne press kit in all its glory

    Bloodborne is a gorgeous game so it’s only fitting that the press kit it came in is a reflection of that. The pictures capture the many amazing bits of the Bloodborne press kit. A press kit is what’s usually sent to the reviewers alongside the review copy. They’re usually very ornate and almost all of […]

  • This Hearthstone turn is taking over 40 hours and you can watch it happen

    A very smart Hearthstone player has rigged his game to make one turn take over 40 hours, and it has been going for over 22 already. Hearthstone player Mamytwink set up a game against his friend to try and achieve the record for the longest turn in Hearthstone ever. Basically, Mamytwink set the game up […]

  • The Witcher 3: Geralt’s beard grows over time, but not Gandalf-long

    The beard of The Witcher 3 protagonist Geralt will grow over time, but you can trim it if you choose to. As part of a recently published impressions piece by German magazine Gamestar (translated by NeoGAF), The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt developers revealed that Geralt’s beard will in fact grow over time. Not content with […]

  • Sony mistakenly abandons Bloodborne trademark in the US

    The administration side of Sony Computer Entertainment has not been in the best of shapes recently. Sony has abandoned four game trademarks yesterday, one of which is for Bloodborne. The trademarks were all registered with US Patent and Trademark Office. All of the games trademarks pertain to unreleased games and Sony would’ve had to either […]

  • Payday 2 will be supported until 2017

    Payday 2 developer has announced that it will continue to support the game for the next two years. Payday 2 developer Overkill has revealed today that it’s planning to support the game until 2017. What this means is that more free content as well as paid DLC are in the works for release later. Payday […]

  • These are the top Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare weapons, according to the developer

    Based on their overall kill-to-death ratio, what are the best guns in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare? Developer Sledgehammer reveals the top 5. Sledgehammer’s Michael Condrey has revealed on Twitter the top 5 weapons in Advanced Warfare based on their overall kill-to-death ratio. Here’s the list: ARX-160 – Hole Puncher Ameli – Heavy HBRa3 – […]

  • H1Z1 has sold more than 1 million copies

    H1Z1 has already sold over 1 million copies on Steam. H1Z1 may still be in Early Access on Steam, but it has already sold more than 1 million copies. Daybreak president John Smedley announced on Twitter earlier. H1Z1 launched in January and instantly became a hit. The game has consistently been on Steam’s top 10 […]