Disclaimer: This blog isn’t about the Day-One DLC controversy surrounding the From Ashes DLC, nor does it make an argument about the quality supporting or negating it. Avoid if you don't like spoilers.


One of the strongest improvements Bioware has made is in the quality of their additional characters. The DLC characters they introduced in Mass Effect 2 were excellent in combat with unique abilities and dialogue during missions, but ultimately shallow, with no signs of growth, let alone interactivity. Bioware clearly took fan concerns into consideration with Javik, a character that gives players a dynamic and ultimately essential view into the most crucial aspect of the lore: the Prothean civilization. While it’s possible to complete the game without this DLC, I find, after playing with Javik on my team for quite some time, that this character is one fundamental to any Mass Effect 3 experience.

It’s commonly said that those who buy the From Ashes DLC aren’t purchasing it for the gaming experience, but for the character. Indeed, when one compares the mission premise in comparison to those of Kasumi and Zaeed, players find it noticeably lacking, underdeveloped, and lackluster. Javik himself, however, is a fascinating character that never seems to change, yet always shows signs of growth. He’s also a very powerful wakeup call for players who once romanticized the Prothean race.


Prior to From Ashes, players learned that the Protheans were an advanced civilization that ultimately failed to defeat the Reapers. They left beacons warning the next cycle of the impending threat of the Reapers, including a VI that aided Shepard in the first arc of Mass Effect by helping our hero stop Saren and the Reaper Sovereign. We later learned in Mass Effect 2 that the Reapers had harvested the remainder of the Prothean race and turned them into mindless slaves known as Collectors, whom Shepard eventually defeated. With all the mystique that surrounded them, the Protheans seemed tragic, emblematic of a picturesque society of great moral and societal advancement; we soon learned otherwise.


courtesy of  andtherainfallsdown

Javik, a rather uncouth and dismissive Prothean, revealed that their society was essentially Malthusian in nature, following a harsh principle known as the Cosmic Imperative, a belief that the progression of the universe was decided by primarily by the laws of evolution. Essentially “survival of the fittest” at its most dramatic, this principle became the foundation of the Protheans’ brutal imperial empire, in which the weaker civilizations the Prothean society encountered were assimilated into their homogenous society; rivals were demolished entirely.


Javik’s far from the sociable and refined character players would expect. He has no qualms informing the current races of how inferior they once were – especially the Salarians, whose livers he brags were once staples of Prothean diet. He also reveals that Asari were deliberately “guided” into becoming the advanced race they are now, including their biotic abilities, a fact Liara has trouble reconciling.


Yet, Javik most importantly reflects a stark foil: our previous understanding about the Protheans in essence contradicts the harsh reality, as well as the goals Shepard aspires to accomplish. Perhaps in this case, Javik is written to be unlikable; many of the traits of the Prothean empire are the very things we’ve been fighting against and represent their key weaknesses, in spite of the strengths they claim to have. Their homogeneity effectively crippled them when the Reapers came; their stubborn and insular mindset prevented them from adapting and changing their views so they could overcome the Reaper invasion; their reputation as rash conquerors prevented them from allying with their rivals. Yet, for all these weaknesses, there are key strengths that continue to draw me to this character.


Despite being a character that is essentially uncompromising, Javik hides a powerful vulnerability in the psychic scars and burdens he carries with him, especially those stored inside of the Echo Shard. As the avatar of Vengeance and the last Prothean, he’s tasked with a goal as overwhelming as Shepard’s. His history, as a person whose entire life has been shaped by war and conflict with the Reapers gives players a glimpse firsthand into the vulnerable side hidden beneath the haughty veneer. In a way, Javik’s life represents the worst that could happen to the galaxy if Shepard fails and simultaneously, a sign of hope; the galaxy isn’t perfect, but they have many key advantages that the Protheans in all their superiority lacked.


These aren’t the only reasons he’s such a pivotal character that optimizes the Mass Effect experience. In addition to the priceless lore gained through him, there are equally numerous amounts of dialogue and even special cutscenes that are unlocked merely by bringing him with Shepard, from his humorous banter with fellow squadmates – especially Liara and Garrus – to his candid observations about the similarities and differences the current cycle has in contrast to his own. Variations of important scenes – such as those on Thessia, and even the Citadel – are never encountered without Javik present, which makes him feel every bit as unique as each of the other squadmates are; in some cases, even more. Then, there’s that awesome ray gun of his – the Particle Rifle – that always recharges itself and disintegrates enemies. All of these things, when taken into account, make Javik one of the most compelling characters of the series, so don’t let his standoffish personality fool you; there’s plenty of substance to his style.


It’s sad that a character with as much depth as Javik and insight into one of the most important backstories in the series wasn’t included in the game. Javik, is incomparable to his DLC predecessors; to steal a burger metaphor from Joe Juba, Javik is like a Quad Stacker to Kasumi and Zaeed’s dollar menu variety. Players who’ve used Javik know that he in fact blends seamlessly into the narrative even better than some of the characters you can recruit and embellishes a player’s Mass Effect playthrough in a means that must be experienced that grants a critical context to the events happening. Yet, I’m a glass half-full kinda guy, so instead of pining over something that can’t be changed I chalk it up to Bioware being incredibly receptive and devoted to providing their players with DLC characters that don’t feel tacked on or mere accessories. I have to say they’ve done a phenomenal job with Javik, who’s worth far more than the ten dollar price tag that his DLC comes with; if he’s any indication of things to come, I can’t wait to see what they’ll do with the next DLC character.

What Are Your Thoughts About Javik?