Horde Mode’s Lasting Appeal
The biggest handicap for Mass Effect 3′s multiplayer has always been its singular mode of play. It’s Horde Mode, all day and all night long. Bioware said all along that Mass Effect 3′s multiplayer would be co-op only. There wouldn’t be any PVP. I was and continue to be okay with this. The question is, where do you go with this style of gameplay? What kind of co-op can you do that isn’t story-based that isn’t horde mode?
So far, the most Bioware has done to change the gameplay is to add different objectives. The game originally started with device deactivations, squad hacking and taking out four high priority targets. (Although, I’m not sure that individual Cannibals can be high priority targets!)Through DLC, Bioware has added drone escorts and object retrieval objectives. While it’s nice they’re adding objective types, it’s only two types in six months and it doesn’t add that much to the game.
What’s left for DLC?
If Bioware doesn’t fundamentally change the structure of the game, what else can be done to extend the lifespan of Mass Effect 3′s multiplayer? We’re left with more of the same DLC they’ve given us so far.
For the most part, the character additions from DLC have been great. They have also negated the usefulness of most of the existing classes. It’s rare to see anyone using the basic classes anymore aside from the rare Asari Adept (the vanilla version) or Turian soldier. Most of what you’ll see being used are DLC characters (Geth, Krogan Vanguards, Asari Justicar Adepts, the occasional Batarian soldier, and then all the newest N7 characters. The N7 characters, in particular, maybe because they’re the newest or maybe because they really are powerful and interesting are most of what you see now. The only real misses with the DLC characters were the male Quarians, Vorcha and Ex-Cerberus characters. Not because they were bad, but because each type had essentially two of the same character with only one ability being different.
Starting with just six maps, Mass Effect 3 has received at least two new maps every month since launch. A few of them, like Goddess and Hydra have become favorites of mine. The maps have been welcome additions, except for Condor. (I, along with my friends, hate Condor. I’m sure that if Mass Effect 3 multiplayer is to continue, there will be more maps. After Earth though, I’m not sure where the fiction will allow for more maps. I feel like with doing the Earth maps, Bioware may have hit the wall with what they can do.
That is, unless, they do new factions. While we’ve gotten new classes, maps and weapons, we’re still just fighting Reapers, Cerberus and Geth. Oft-talked about are Collectors or maybe some of the merc groups from Mass Effect 2. It would be breaking fiction, however, since why would you be fighting The Collectors, who have been defeated or the merc groups who pose no threat now that the Reapers have attacked. It would be fun to fight other factions, but would it makes sense? Does “sense” even make sense?
The store is the shining turd of Mass Effect 3 multiplayer. It never makes you happy, maybe only slightly relieved. Unlocks are random and there’s no way to guarantee that you’ll even unlock the new characters or weapons from the DLC. I’d be slightly more okay with the store if you got all new DLC weapons and characters when you download the DLC and then the weapon upgrades were randomly unlocked. I’d be even more okay with the store if you could choose what you spent your credits on. You’ll never be able to do that so as long as credits are available for purchase. Because the DLC is free (I think it has to stay free to maintain the finicky user base of cheapskates and 13 year olds who play) you’ll always be stuck with random unlocks.
I love Mass Effect, probably unhealthfully, and I’ve spent hundreds of hours over the last half year playing Mass Effect 3 exclusively. Seriously. Aside from a couple hours of Super Mario 3D Land on 3DS, Mass Effect 3 has been the only game I’ve fired up since March. And I play a lot of it. I would’ve been paying a monthly charge for it if I had to. At this point, I don’t play games, I play Mass Effect 3. I worry about how much longer it’s got left though. I really want it to continue on. I love the universe and I have a blast playing it.