Citadel, the final single-player DLC for Mass Effect 3, is a sentimental romp that manages to please even in its cheesiest moments. It’s hard to talk about it without using the words “fan service,” but that’s what makes it such a feel-good affair.
Depending on how you play it, this DLC lets you see Wrex in action again, spend time with old squad mates like Jack, and enjoy the series’ running jokes — so yes, this means you can make Shepard dance. And if seeing your love interest in black tie isn’t already fun enough, there’s also that brilliant moment when Traynor’s toothbrush helps save the day…
(Don’t worry, I’m going to keep the main plot spoiler-free!)
The Worst Sci-Fi Can Make the Best Adventures
The initial Citadel mission launches when Anderson orders Shepard to take shore leave while the Normandy undergoes some much-needed maintenance. He gives Shepard his apartment, and Shepard sets out to enjoy dinner at an upscale sushi restaurant with Joker. But as often happens wherever the commander goes, the relaxing night turns into a firefight.
If you play it like I did, you get to see female Shepard take out bad guys in heels and a dress, fighting her way through with just a pistol. This sort of twist makes the combat refreshing. Later, while Shepard has two squad mates with her as usual — the ones you can command — the rest of the squad splits into two teams and covers you, keeping in contact and often in sight. Banter is frequent, even when bullets are flying.
The entire DLC is extremely dialogue-heavy. And I love that. Though the Mass Effect series is my favorite, the first time I played, I missed the long, rambling, random conversations that Dragon Age: Origins triumphs. Citadel doesn’t have nearly that much dialogue, but I appreciate the new conversations.
The initial mission, with combat, is a tongue-in-cheek dance through a stereotypical sci-fi plot. It has you attending a charity event with a squad mate, distracting guards and getting in some quality hacking time. Later, you chase your nemesis through the Citadel Archives, battling CAT6 agents along the way.
Visiting the Archives gives you a chance to revisit the series’ lore. You pass holo displays depicting your Commander Shepard, the turians and salarians launching the Krogan genophage, and turians questioning a human during the First Contact War, among others. This turned out to be one of my favorite parts of the DLC.
Spending Time with the Old Gang
After the main mission is over, you can decorate your new apartment, invite squad mates and old friends up, have dates on the Strip, and eventually throw a bash for your team. Some of my favorite moments — besides my Shepard’s dancing date with Garrus, of course — were shopping online with EDI, cooking with Kaidan, Traynor kicking ass at space chess, and Kolyat’s memorial service for Thane.
During the party later, you can choose to keep the affair low-key or crank up the intensity, with opportunities to change the atmosphere at different times. These options change much of the dialogue between squad mates — and the crazier you want to make your party, the more dancing there’s going to be. Whatever the case, you get to see Liara’s VI Glyph in a bowtie, which makes the whole affair worth it. It’s worth replaying the party to experience all of the funny moments and potentially get all misty-eyed.
A Second Chance to Say Goodbye
In short, Citadel is one of those dream DLCs that’s not afraid to get sentimental for the fans. And what makes it work so well is its timing. I had to launch a new game on PC to play Citadel… but it works so much better when you play it separately from the main campaign. It’s odd to dump hours of dialogue-heavy content in the middle of an action-packed campaign — but playing it after completing the game, it feels like revisiting old friends. It’s almost as if you’re remembering it as a good time, and it all feels more poignant when you know how the story ends.
Whatever you thought about the controversial Mass Effect 3 ending, this DLC delivers all kinds of heartfelt good times that the ending lacked. Having a much cheerier tone than the rest of the game, it feels more like the type of bittersweet ending I love.
I’ve also been a sucker for stories that have a sad ending before flashing back to a happier time in the past, and this DLC offers that poignant flashback. Having so many of my favorite characters together again was the perfect way for me to say good bye to a series I love.