Well it’s been a few months since Mass Effect 3’s release, and the numbers are in. The masses are effected… sorry, I had to do it. I, personally, was a bit weary when I heard the franchise was going to add multiplayer in the closing game of the trilogy. Why focus on anything else than the campaign in a series of games that is loved and cherished for its single player experience, especially in the closing chapter?
I was not alone in this way of thinking and whether we wanted it or not it was on the disc. And what do you know? As it turns out, It’s amazing. The multiplayer is absolutely addictive; it keeps you on the hook and makes you beg for more. But how long will we have the fever to play the multiplayer? What does it do to keep us playing, what doesn’t it do?
The premise is simple, four player co-op fending off wave after wave of baddies. Ten rounds of ever escalating waves of enemies, eleven if you count the extraction, although you don’t need to survive this for the mission to be a success. Add in three different types of objectives to complete for credits, which appear at rounds three, six, and ten and there you have it, the multiplayer.
It’s a very simple recipe, but it is deceptively deep at the same time. With five choices of characters inside six classes there are a number of a different ways to play. Not to mention you can spec out each character in multiple ways adding even more options.
Now on to what is easily the best part of the multiplayer experience and what I believe to be the major reason the player keeps coming back, the weapons. So what are you going to take into battle? An assault rifle and pistol, smg and shotgun, or maybe you’re going to be bold with a single sniper rifle? As is does with the character build options, Mass Effect keeps the ante high with its vast array of weapons. Each weapon class is divided into categories based on each ones rarity starting with, common and ending with, ultra rare.
Oh whoops, I forgot to mention, how do you get these weapons? You buy them of course. Well let’s be honest. You buy different colored boxes and hope the weapons you want are inside, cruel, so cruel Bioware. So you want the Saber assault rifle do ya? Well that weapon is categorized as an “ultra rare weapon” and you can only get ultra rare weapons out of specter packs which naturally, are the highest in cost of the three normal pack choices.
There are around forty different weapons total in the multiplayer, all of which can be upgraded to level ten. So you can see where this is going. Every time you purchase a pack there is a much greater chance you are going to get something you don’t want, or an upgrade of something you don’t want rather than of something you do. But it’s this notion that adds the excitement and unpredictability to the mode. And it’s also a big reason why we keep playing.
The fastest way to kill a player’s addiction to this game mode is to give them what they want. I had been feverishly playing session after session, to get the credits, to buy packs, to get the Black Widow sniper rifle. And after a long, long, while of playing I got it. The feeling was amazing and satisfying. I played another round right away with my new weapon and, it was ok. The weapon didn’t quite live up to the standards I had set for it. Now what? I got it, what do I do know? Well, play more sessions, get more credits, and buy more packs my friend.
The multiplayer is at its best when you still haven’t gotten the things you want. When you have them there is no goal. It’s relatively easy to max out your character’s levels and unlock all the species for each class. So when you’ve done that the only thing left to do is promote characters, which means resetting them to level one and upping your N7 rating.
Now granted, Bioware did release the free Resurgence DLC which added 3 weapons, 2 maps, and a new character for each class, and there are rumors for another free DLC pack called rebellion (this is not confirmed) but how long will these keep players interested? I love this multiplayer and obviously many others do as well but, I don’t want to see it fade. The weekend Operations paired with the free DLC(s) has been an amazing way to keep it fresh but, I worry the novelty will wear.
I believe that adding more goals to obtain, other than weapons, (keep the weapons coming) aimed at the more hardcore players will add longevity to the multiplayer, just adding weapon and armor customization would freshen it up to some degree. Also rewarding the player for promoting characters would add miles of hours played. If there was a bonus other than an N7 rating boost players would more inclined to promote their characters making them want to level up and repeat the process.
Bioware has managed to surprise us with its first attempt at multiplayer set in the Mass Effect universe. Whether they were aware of how big it was going to be or not, it has got us. I just only hope they can keep it going, keep innovating, and that I finally get that damned Saber assault rifle.
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