With The Arrival, gamers are finally getting a complete ending for Mass Effect 2. This bittersweet ending to a superb game comes as hype for the upcoming Mass Effect 3 builds up, and this strong conclusion does a wonderful job of leading us into what we already know about the third game in the series.
There’s little to fault in The Arrival: it’s not meant to be looked at as a fully-fledged Mass Effect adventure, but rather a quick and accessible conclusion to an already powerful narrative. It’s made especially for fans of the game, continuing on from the end of the Horizon mission in Mass Effect 2.
The Arrival kicks off as Shepard heads off to rescue a kidnapped friend of Admiral Hackett. The victim, Dr. Amanda Kenson, has proof of a Reaper invasion, which is obviously the motive behind the kidnapping. The story doesn’t branch off as much as missions in the original adventure do, but that’s OK considering you can still interact and engage with Paragon and Renegade pathways, just not in depth or with any real affect on the main objective.
A vast majority of the playtime in The Arrival will have you engaging in solo combat, although this does little to change the experience all that much from the original. Considering the length of this DLC (it can be completed in roughly 2-3 hours), subtle changes to core gameplay, such as fighting solo, don’t have much of a lasting affect.
That said, there isn’t nearly enough engaging gameplay here outside of the combat, and whilst that’s hardly a deal-breaker, running and gunning, as you do for a majority of the time in The Arrival, doesn’t quite fall inline with what we’ve all come to love about Mass Effect. There’s little conversation in comparison to missions in the main game, and that’s disappointing considering how aggressively the narrative and progression of the characters helped propel the first two Mass Effect games to greatness. It’s just that the experience doesn’t feel quite as memorable, as most of the time you’re just running around killing enemy after enemy.
However, there are moments of sheer brilliance and some of the battle pieces are gorgeous and really add to the atmospheric tension the series so often portrays. The Arrival won’t stick with you for long, but it’s got its own moments of sheer brilliance that no Mass Effect fan should miss.
Thankfully, if you don’t intend on checking out The Arrival, you probably won’t be all that disadvantaged in Mass Effect 3. Content like The Arrival and Lair of the Shadow Broker are intended to expand the experience outside of the main one, and whilst it’s cool to see how these small pieces of content progress the story and your character, they aren’t a necessity to fully understand the narrative.
It’s still important that Mass Effect fans try The Arrival though, as it provides a well-structured conclusion to the wonderful story that is Mass Effect 2, leading into the highly anticipated third sequel. It might lack the emotion and engaging elements of the main game, but its linear storytelling has the intention of quickly finalizing the plot, and it does so with plenty of Mass Effect charm to boot.