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Mass Effect 3 multiplayer demo impressions

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So I blew off the dust from the ole Mass Effect 3 demo, from three days ago, to load up the multiplayer functionality.  The Mass Effect series is known for its dynamic storytelling, third-person shooter action, and character development… not multiplayer.  The major reason for this is, well, Mass Effect has never had a multiplayer before.  As a strong franchise, to include a multiplayer in the last game of the Shepard trilogy is a bit risky.  The last thing the series needs is a bad multiplayer to put a stigma on Shepard’s last game.  What I’m saying is that it’s pretty damn ballsy.         

Fans will only be happy if this new mode is perfect.  My Kinect impression of the single-player aspect from the demo was pretty high.  I wanted the multiplier to be good — the concept of playing a ME game with friends is like an answer to prayers.  So many single-player games throw in a multiplayer that seems to be an afterthought.  This is where my hesitation sprouted from.  Since the ME games have such a strong single player, throwing in some buggy or campy online mode was a serious fear.

Despite BioWare’s huge risk in making a multiplayer, I’d say they nailed it.  I only was playing for about an hour today, but I guarantee I’ll play more when I get home tonight.  It plays similarly to ‘horde modes’ in other games.  There are waves of enemies that come at you and you must mow them down.  During certain waves there are certain tougher enemies that must be killed in a certain amount of time.  In other modes you must complete a series of objectives before time runs out.  There is an infinite ammo box that you can always return to stock back up.

Before you start, you get to pick which class you play as; IE. Adept, engineer, sentinel, etc.  There are four choices of races you can select from — a male and female human, then two others.  The humans have the same skill set and the alien races have different powers for that class.  I like this feature for both ascetic reasons and for diversity.

Other than your race, the customization of your ‘look’ is pretty simplified.  You can customize your character’s armor colors, patterns, and lights.  While I’m a huge fan of over the top character customization, for some reason these simple armor tweaks work for me.  There are enough options that you most likely won’t look like anyone else.  You can have multiple characters so if you want an infiltrator, a vanguard, and a soldier, you can have three separate characters each with different looking armor.

ME3 has introduced a weight system that has a lot of impact on multiplayer.  The heavier the guns, the slower your abilities recharge.  So while soldiers may want an assault rifle and a sniper rifle but have long cool downs, an adept may want a pistol and a submachine gun to have rapid recharge rates.  Every character can have two weapons and those two weapons can be anything.  The weight system balances abuse.  If your engineer wants a sniper rifle and focus on throwing out attack probes, she absolutely can.   

On the topic of weapons, they are customizable as well.  There seems to be almost unlimited downloadable content for ordering out of game tickets like actions figures and keyboards.  The majority of these items are multiplayer only.  As you play the ME3 multiplayer you unlock weapon mods and other wave long upgrades (like an ammo type for a wave).  These weapons modifications can help your stabilization and aiming. 

As you play you gain experience from kills, assists, objectives, and speed of wave completion.  This experience levels your account and the character you are currently playing.  So your account can be level 12 and your character can be level 4 depending on how often you switch it out.  When a character levels you get to distribute abilities points in an identical fashion as in single player.  From my experience playing, you will want to put some points into ‘fitness’ early.  This will boost your health and shields, which will help.          

The matchmaking system is fast and easy.  Choose a character and jump into a game or create one, invite a friend or two, wait for it to fill, and start.  The process is fast.  However, if the host drops, the current wave you are in restarts, which can get annoying.  I lost internet at one point and lost all of my experience for that round.  Also, once a player leaves a match it doesn’t seem like new ones join in.  So once you all die, it’s best to join a new lobby or wait for your current one to fill up again before trying again. 

After playing the Mass Effect 3 multiplayer, I have to admit — it’s awesome.  No more hesitation from me.  I’m looking forward to getting down on some more of it.  The demo has been out since Valentine’s Day, but the multiplayer went live today for everyone.  Download the demo for free on PC, PS3, or Xbox 360 to check out this online function of the game.  I strongly suggest you do so.  The game officially comes out March 6th — then ALL the multiplayer!

Ac
Andrew Clouther Human, historian, teacher, writer, reviewer, gamer, League of Pralay, Persona fanboy, and GameZone paragon - no super powers as of yet. Message me on the Twitters: @AndrewC_GZ
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Games: Mass Effect 3

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