I had been limping through the darkness for what seemed like forever. My allies had all fallen to an ogre deep within an abandoned mine, and town was nowhere in sight. Out of potions, lamp light, and food I crept through the darkness toward a curious torch in the distance. Salvation? As I approached, squinting to see what was ahead, the blast of an unfamiliar horn made me realize that I had made a fatal mistake. Within seconds a dozen snarling goblins surrounded my wounded avatar with swords raised. Soon after that, I was dead. This is the brutal world of Capcom’s Dragon’s Dogma.
Over a year ago while recording one of our early podcasts we sat around daydreaming about what the perfect Mass Effect multiplayer experience would be like. We stated that if multiplayer were to work properly, it would have to be just as rich and in depth as the single player experience. We also agreed unanimously that Mass Effect multiplayer should never be competitive (team death match), but objective based action and survival. Now who knows if Bioware was actually listening, but it seems as though the message got through. Mass Effect 3 multiplayer is here… and I’m indoctrinated.
Characters: As with most modern shooters, ME3:MP boasts an experience based leveling system that exists to reward players for their dedication. What separates ME3:MP from the pack however, is the capacity to level multiple characters on a single account. While your overall level continues to increase with every encounter, your specific character’s level only increases through repeated use. One of the best features is the ability to name each and every character that you unlock (more on that later), which personalizes the experience even more. This means the more I play Qi Vas’Sovreign my Quarian engineer, the more capable she’ll become.
Unlocks: I was incredibly curious how the unlock system would work because I hadn’t really read anything that clearly described how you get shiny new stuff. Experience points are only used for leveling your characters, while cash money is used to buy “packages.” If any of you have ever played a CCG (collectible card game!) then you’re fully aware of the addictive qualities of “blind packaging.” As it currently stands, players are rewarded cash for completing certain mission objectives. As soon as you have enough cash, you’re welcome to pop open a few crates filled with mysterious goodies. Inside these crates are common items like health packs and heavy weapon ammo, as well as uncommon items like new characters and weapons. After spending about four or five hours playing, I managed to unlock three new characters including the previously mentioned Quarian Engineer. It should also be noted that each character boasts his/her own unique set of abilities unlike other characters of the same class. For example a Krogan solider would have different abilities than a Human solider. I found this system to be incredibly addicting and fun… well done!
Fight the Good Fight: Chocolate and peanut butter. Fritos and 711 pump-chili. Gears of War and Team Fortress. Certain things in life are even better when smushed together and the gameplay elements in ME3: Multiplayer are some of those things. It was as if the developers got together and analyzed what cooperative games were the most fun (see above), and added a collection of those features to the Mass Effect MP experience. While playing I noticed that the weapons felt more accurate and responsive than ever before, and each class functioned differently in combat with no lame ducks. There was no greater satisfaction than working together as a team to take down large groups of enemies using a combination of biotics and weapon fire. Seeing an adept fire off a singularity only to have the group of hapless Cerberus agents picked apart by sniper fire was just awesome!
Changing Objectives: Objectives were constantly shifting throughout each wave, and while some simply required survival, others forced the group to REALLY work together in order to pull off some challenging tasks. From disarming and decoding certain waypoints within a set time, to the assassination of key targets, we never really knew what was next on the ol’ killing agenda. One of my favorite objectives involved holding down the landing zone while waiting for an extremely hot extraction. While there have been tons of horde variants over the years, I’m happy to say that ME3:MP innovates enough to feel fresh without mucking up the magic that makes horde so much fun… team work and bullets.
The original art piece “Ah Yes Reapers” was recently done by our good friend Jessie Lam aXL99 who, like the rest of us, is a huge Mass Effect fan. Stop by her DeviantArt page and check out her amazing portfolio.