It’s happening. Mass Effect 3 will have multiplayer. Whether this is a good or bad thing is still in furious debate among hardcore ME fans.
Nonetheless, BioWare has officially announced that an additional co-operative game mode will be added into the core experience of Mass Effect 3 called Galaxy at War. This is obviously a tie-in to the overal theme and setting of this particular entry into the series, where the Reapers are looming ever closer and Commander Shepard is out to form the most bad-ass army in the galaxy to stop them in their tracks. This time, BioWare is letting you and up to three other friends join the ranks under the command of Shepard himself, and make a difference in the outcome of the galaxy’s future.
Check out this recent FAQ to learn more about the details of Mass Effect 3: Galaxy at War.
Well, if it is indeed established that ME3 will be boasting multiplayer co-op, no ifs, ands, or buts about it, then here are my “N”7 things that ME3 Multiplayer needs to succeed.
Some things are important, but have already been confirmed; matchmaking, races, and classes are not included in this list!
1) To Not Mess Up the Single Player Experience.
I’m sure many fans are on BioWare’s behind about this issue, but it can’t be stressed enough. While multiplayer is a welcome addition to the franchise, at least in my eyes, it’s important that it does not take away from the experience that so many have fallen madly in love with in the first place. In fact, we even included the Mass Effect franchise in our article, 10 Best New IPs of This Generation. However, even with all the concerns circling overhead like vultures, BioWare seems very confident that the single player will be the best experience yet. Remember, BioWare has opened up an entire separate studio in Montréal that is dedicated entirely to the MP, leaving their main base of operations in Edmonton free to put all their efforts into the SP. It has also been stated that actions taken in both the SP and MP can affect your “Galactic Readiness” level, obviously some sort of measurement system to let you know whether you are tall enough to fight a reaper, right (more to be revealed by BioWare)? Meaning, the MP can, in someway, affect the SP experience. However, BioWare has confirmed that “you can reach the highest levels of success in the single player experience alone, but Galaxy at War gives you alternative ways to get there.” So, in short, create an awesome multiplayer co-op game mode, but make sure the single player experience still blows our minds!
2) A robust Levelling System.
It has already been revealed that all the same classes found in SP will be available in MP, including the option to play as one of the many races found in the Mass Effect universe. Play as a Drell Infiltrator? Or, a Krogan Vanguard? Can the MP handle so much awesome? However, one other thing that must spill over into the MP is the SP’s robust levelling system. Rather than choosing a couple of abilities (or loadouts, if BioWare is to follow the trend of recent online first person shooters) and heading off into battle, only to have to choose another set of abilities in the next match, we should be allowed to build a character from scratch, just like we do with Commander Shepard in the single player. This would force us to spend more time on our character and, therefore, more time in the multiplayer. Of course, having flexibility on the battlefield is important. We need to have access to different class sets in order to adapt to the situation on the field, or to complement other characters in our squad. This is why I think we should also be able to create more than one class or character. I would hate to sink hours into my powerful Adept, only to realize that perhaps a Soldier would be better suited to taking down that Atlas Mech, or that everyone else in my squad is also an Adept. But again, let us spend time with these characters and really work for those high level abilities. Since this isn’t competitive MP, balance isn’t so much of an issue, and I want to drop a singularity bomb so big, it could swallow a mass relay!
3) Team Specific Abilities.
Remember, Galaxy at War is strictly cooperative, and in order for it to succeed, it needs to promote actual cooperative play. In order to feel the need to play as a team, and to avoid the temptation to go at it lone-wolf style, BioWare needs to give each class some sort of team specific ability. However, this ability has to be exclusive to the class that is using it, making that player an invaluable addition to the team. For example, give the Adept class the ability to heal teammates. It might be a good idea to make health regeneration slower so that the heal ability becomes more important. Or, give the Sentinel the ability to create tech armour for the entire team. The Soldier could also have the ability to replenish ammunition. I’ll let you guys decide in the comment section what type of abilities the other classes could have, or to let me know if you disagree with any of the ones I’ve given! In general, this should help promote team play and give a reason for players to stick and work together.
4) Combo Rewards.
What other better way to promote teamwork than with points? What could these points be used for? I’ll let you guys decide. Perhaps it could allow you to gain experience faster, or it could act as currency to buy better equipment. Nonetheless, some sort of reward should be given for working as a team, especially for creatively using abilities in combination with other players. If you haven’t noticed yet, the single player in Mass Effect is already, basically, offline co-op with bots in your squad. The game already encourages players to combine the powers of their squad mates with their own. How fun is it to have one squad mate cryo-freeze an enemy, have another use their biotics to lift or pull the enemy into the air, and then use a biotic push or concussive grenade to shatter the enemy into a beautiful blue explosion that rains down onto the battlefield!? Okay, it’s a bit over-kill, but it’s awesome and I want points for it! Especially if I could pull this off with live players.
5) A Way of Communicating Without a Mic.
What’s the point of trying to achieve sweet combinations with your teammates if none of them have a mic, and you have no way to coordinate with them otherwise? At least the nice thing about working with bots is that they do exactly as you say. In online multiplayer, when dealing with live players, we are not so fortunate. Now, in the Mass Effect single player, there is already a system in place to allow you to give orders to your squad mates, including added Kinect functionality in ME3. Something like this could easily translate over to multiplayer if BioWare allowed players, or perhaps a single squad leader (which could rotate every round or match), to issue orders as to where he’d like the team to move or to point out objectives to take. Another example would be to allow a player to bring up a real-time command wheel where he could command squad mates to use a power on a highlighted enemy. Colour codes might work nicely in this case and so would audio-cues. How awesome would it be to have your soldier yell out to another, “Warp that mother f***cker!”? We all know BioWare pays special attention to voice acting. Or better yet, have an Elcor softly speak, “Imperatively: overload that mech.” Can we play as an Elcore? I don’t know. However, Casey Hudson has not yet ruled anything out. I would recommend that BioWare look closely at the Battlefield series and how DICE implements communication using the spotting button/key in their multiplayer.
6) Constant Post-Launch Support
One thing that co-op has going against it is that it is non-competitive. Competitive games tend to last months and years after release due to their unique nature. Never will you run into the exact same situation twice when facing off against live opponents. For example, to this day, people still play Counter-Strike 12 years after its release. Heck, people are still playing Counter-Strike on the same maps for 12 years! It’s not because there are 12 years worth of unlocks or rewards to achieve, but because there’s a constant determination to improve your skill and gain that slight edge over your opponents. Even set on it’s hardest difficulties, the enemy AI in videogames can eventually become predictable and easily conquerable. This could make for boring gameplay once all the mechanics have been mastered. That’s why BioWare needs to focus on keeping the experience fresh. This could mean little updates here and there, full on expansion packs or even additional game modes. If it’s worth it, I’m sure many fans wouldn’t mind dropping the extra bucks.
Another way to keep up the excitement is to make sure players don’t know what the hell’s going to happen next. Randomization has worked well in many past titles. One of the more recent examples can be found in Epic Game’s Gears of War 3. In horde mode, every 10th wave consisted of a random boss battle while every fourth wave has some sort of random bonus objective. Now, it doesn’t look like Galaxy at War will be a survival type game mode, but it would be wholly possible to randomize what monsters you’ll be fighting during your missions. Randomized loot would also make sense if they were to include enemy drops in this game mode. Lastly, though it may be a little more difficult, randomizing the level, or the paths players take to an objective could definitely increase re-playability. It was mentioned in some interviews that the developers at BioWare wanted to create an element of unpredictability in their level design by creating moments where the player would suddenly fall through the floor into a new area, for example. These moments could work extremely well in co-op, especially if it only happened sometimes, or in any random area.
These, of course, are only my thoughts. What do you guys think BioWare could include to make this a stand-out co-op experience? Let me know in the comment section below!