Here’s part 2 of my Mass Effect demo coverage. I’m going deep behind enemy lines to bring you details and thoughts on the game’s co-op aspect. Want to know what Shepard’s up to on the single player side of things? Check out my previous article here. I’ll have my thoughts on the Kinect functionality later this week.
I guess you could count me as a person who just didn’t see the value in adding a multiplayer aspect to a game that I viewed as a perfect example of a single player only game. It represented the best case for why developers don’t need to cram a multiplayer mode last-minute into a game. Still, I wanted to check out what all the hype was about, so I decided to give the multiplayer section a whirl in the demo. One playthrough was all it took to completely change my mind. Suddenly, Mass Effect 3’s co-op multiplayer mode made perfect sense and better yet, it’s extremely fun.
Full details about the multiplayer await you after the break…
Taking place alongside the galactic war raging in the single player campaign, you’re set up as being part of a Spec Ops team helping repel the Reapers any way you can. The demo includes 2 maps to select and 3 different challenge levels: bronze, silver and gold. It should be noted that the final game looks to have many more options including the ability to select the enemy type, though only Cerberus soldiers were able to be selected for the demo.
The basic mission structure is very similar to other “Horde” style modes. It’s able to be played by up to 4 people and most of the time you’re just looking to clear out the enemies in the 11 waves. The overall goal is to survive, but every few waves you’re given secondary objectives to complete which will grant bonus cash if you succeed. In the demo I’ve seen things like protecting a teammate as they hack a terminal, defending an area, killing high value targets, and collecting data packets around the map. I’m really hoping that there’s more of these in the main game because they add a ton to the game mode and I feel it would get stale after a while with such little variety. The eleventh wave always features your team trying to hold out in the extraction zone until help arrives. It’s tense and the drive to succeed is extremely high as you’re given a big bonus if everyone survives.
You character is also give 4 abilities in addition to the skills you unlock through XP points. They’re one time uses so make sure you use them wisely. You get medi-gel for reviving, a health and shield restore, ammo restore, and a missile launcher. You’re also able to use special upgrades if you have them such as different ammo types, damage bonuses, and a power bonus. I’ve also unlocked a couple upgrades like a scope for a couple of my weapons. These different items can be gained and refilled through a special unlock system, which I’m about to get to. Believe me, it’s very interesting.
I have to admit, I was a little disappointed at the lack of options at the very beginning of the multiplayer screen. Maybe I hadn’t done my homework, but during the development process, I kept hearing things about different races you could play as. They’re there for you, the only thing is, they need to be unlocked first before you can actually access them. THis fact I didn’t know and took me by surprised. I figured you were given complete control on your character from the outset. By default, you’re given either a male or female human to use. So far, that’s really my only disappointment.
I’m actually pleasantly surprised by how the setup is handled. You select a race and a class and from there you level up and spend the points to upgrade skills just as you’re used to in the single player side. You can even change the colors on your armor to stand out a bit more. The surprising aspect comes in the form of the unlock system. You’ll get XP and cash for completing multiplayer events and performing certain challenges like 5 headshots, 25 assault rifle kills, etc. The XP is self explanatory but what can you use the cash on? Turns out, Mass Effect 3 takes elements from card games like Magic: The Gathering. You spend money on what is essentially booster packs which can get you anything from abilities, gun components, new guns, and new characters to play as. There are different levels of available booster packs, each at a different price and each promising a higher chance of getting a unique item. It’s actually really cool and addicting I have to say.
Overall, I was very pleased with what I played, more so than I thought. I’m now a believer in Mass Effect 3’s multiplayer and I can’t wait to see how it all ties into the “Galaxy at War” premise that BioWare has been talking about. I’m hoping for a little more variety in the main game and a wealth of options to make sure this mode stays strong. Suddenly, March 6 seems so far away.