Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Add-In/DLC Integration: Part 4

As part of my posts on Add-In DLC (Down-Loadable Content) integration, I'd like to take the opportunity to discuss cohesion as it relates to Dragon Age: Origins and Mass Effect 2. These two games offer a great comparison of DLC in terms of adding new characters. Both games have DLC that was available from day 1 that introduce a new party member that the player can take along.

Shale's integration into DAO is much more cohesive with the main game than Zaeed's into ME2 for two reasons:
1) Shale has more interjections. This is a pure content thing, but the more a character says, the more it feels like they are part of the story.
2) Zaeed's interactions within the Normandy are different to every other NPC that can join Shepard's crew. You don't get a proper dialog chain with Zaeed - he just spouts dialog at you, which really makes him feel like an afterthought rather than a core part of the game.

That said, Zaeed's sidequest fits in with the atmosphere of the game far better than Shale's sidequest. With Zaeed, you get a good insight into his character and history, and have to make some tough choices, as with many good quests in Mass Effect 2. By comparison, Shale's personal quest feels a little stale, having no real choices to be made, although learning about Shale is a somewhat interesting discovery.

Which is the better DLC? I guess that's up to individual taste. Personally, Shale feels more like a part of the game than Zaeed does, and I would argue that when DLC appears to truly part of the game as a whole, it is well designed DLC, as it maintains the immersion of the game.


  1. I think it is good writing practice to spell out an acronym at least once before using it in an article, in this case DLC.

    As for Shale I don't know how well or good he fit in but for all the work I did to get him I didnt even want him, he was pathetically armored and did less damage than an average armed warrior as well, leaving me asking what's the point? The dog had him beat hands down

  2. Interesting. I found that with some decent crystals, Shale could pulverise enemies quite convincingly. His ability to fill a variety of roles as necessary I thought was a nice touch. But, as with comparing the DLCs themselves, everyone will have different experiences and opinions.
    Plus I found his commentary too funny to pass up.

  3. Keep in mind Shale was originally designed as a party member in the finished product, but was cut and eventually re-added as DLC. That's probably where you get that feeling of immersion from. Zaeed is well done too, but I wish we had a conversation tree with him.

  4. I disagree.

    I don't see Zaeed, as a personality, as being one for chitchat - he is to the point and I can see Shep just going down and letting him rant.

    Zaeed reminds me of the old seasoned guy at a legit watering hole. They guy you know has been through some serious "isht" thanks to the look in his eyes, and isn't one to have a conversation with but sit at the table and let the guy spew tales over an ale.

    I know guys like Zaeed from some of my favorite bars from undergrad and now 10 years later, the distant nam vet that is willing to tell a tale but not make friends and get all comfortable with.

    I think Bioware succeeded in crafting that personality. He founded one of the top mercs groups in the universe, has seen death- but lacks the charisma of shep.

    Zaeed (as you go through the campaign) interjects comments at all the right moments that just feel appropriate. given what he's been through.