NOTE: This review only looks at the From Ashes DLC content, not the main game.
The first piece of DLC for Bioware’s space epic Mass Effect 3, From Ashes centres around recruiting a new squad member – Javik, the last surviving Prothean, whose species fought back against the Reapers in a previous cycle and came close to winning, but were ultimately wiped out trying. Despite their absence from the first two games, the Protheans are deeply tied to Mass Effect lore – they built the Citadel spaceport, are widely regarded as being the ones who brought the universe’s miriade races together and were eventually turned into the freakish Collectors of Mass Effect 2.
The DLC takes us back to Eden Prime, the very first location of the original Mass Effect, after it’s discovered that Cerberus has uncovered a Prothean relic, one of the key finds of which is a stasis pod containing a living, breathing Prothean. Naturally, the Illusive Man’s finest aren’t happy about giving it up and the fight they put up is nothing short of challenging.
As nostalgic as it is to be back on Eden Prime, the map is a bit dissapointing. True, it’s a little more open than most, but it’s more or less the same white room and corridor style found in the rest of the game. The enemies are nothing special either – you’ll be fighting the same Cerberus blockheads and Atlas walkers you’ve taken on countless times before. It’s a small complaint but a bit more variety in the DLC’s design would have made it a refreshing and welcome change from the bulk of the game’s content.
For serious Mass Effect fans though, From Ashes provides a welcome amount of backstory on the Protheans and their defeat at the hands of the Reapers. Once the mission has been completed – which takes between 45 minutes to an hour – Javik can be used as a squadmate and his powerful ray gun will be added to your armoury. He’s a hard character to like, a creature born of revenge and hostility who has a particularly demoralising effect on Liara, who has dedicated her life to studying the Protheans and has her revere for them shattered when she realises how wrong history’s impression of their race has been.
Javik’s a great fighter to have on your side, a talented marksman and a powerful biotic who’s more than capable of balancing out your squad. Take him on missions and he’ll offer interesting insights into his people’s mentality while frequently putting down your squadmates, former associates and pretty much every race in the universe besides his own. Visiting him in his quarters inbetween missions also leads to some fascinating exchanges between him and Shepard so it’s in your best interests to get the DLC as early as possible.
So is the DLC worth its £6.80 (or 800 Microsoft Points) price tag? Yes – if you’re a hardcore Mass Effect fan who wants to know more about the series’ most enigmatic race, otherwise it’s a hard purchase to justify at its current price. It’s also hard to shake the feeling that the content should have been there for everyone to enjoy, what with the Protheans’ original plans to defeat the Reapers forming such a big part of Mass Effect 3′s overarching storyline. Nevertheless, there’s some great dialogue here and the added depth Javik brings to the Mass Effect universe is something no serious fan would want to miss out on.