The Mass Effect 3 multiplayer demo was unlocked for everyone a couple days ago. It’s the first time multiplayer has come to the franchise, and some might argue Mass Effect doesn’t need it. While I’m sure the single-player experience contains more than enough to justify its $60 price tag, BioWare has shown it didn’t just stick multiplayer in a place it doesn’t belong. Mass Effect 3‘s multiplayer is simple and genuinely fun.
To put it bluntly, Mass Effect 3‘s multiplayer is a survival mode. You, along with up to three other players, have to take on about a dozen waves of Cerberus operatives. In my experience, I usually played with one other person. Cooperative game modes like this require communication for players to be successful. I’m much more comfortable making strategies with someone I know as opposed to three randoms. Fighting as one half of a dynamic duo isn’t easy, but that’s part of the fun.
Mass Effect 3 uses self-fulfillment as the virtual carrot on a stick that keeps me coming back for more. I started off as a lowly engineer with abilities that didn’t seem to be doing anyone any favors in the beginning. It wasn’t until I started leveling up my abilities did I notice how great an asset my engineer had become. I always wanted to get through one more wave, get one more kill and a few more experience points. This was the only way to make my engineer stronger and unlock more customization options.
Mass Effect 3 also has a credits system that is used to buy single-use items, character classes, weapons and mods. The catch is you never know what you’re going to get when you spend 5,000 credits on the Recruit Pack or 20,000 credits on the Veteran Pack. You could very well get nothing of real interest by spending 20,000 credits. For example, I unlocked a Salarian infiltrator in the Recruit Pack. I have yet to unlock a non-human race in the Veteran Pack.
My virtual carrot on a stick analogy also works for the credits system. You only get credits by completing mission objectives. This involves boosting signals, hacking or taking out specific targets. The desire to earn credits and possibly unlock something as awesome as a Krogan soldier persists across every single wave. It feels similar to gambling in that you spend money hoping for a big payoff. If you’re not so lucky, you’ll just earn more credits and give it all back again.
Mass Effect 3 won’t win any awards for its multiplayer, but what’s there does a good job at breaking up the single-player story while maintaining relevance. Keep in mind multiplayer progress also helps Shepard in the single-player game. Even if you’re not big on multiplayer, the thought of it directly impacting your Shepard may be enough to win you over.
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