The Future of Mass Effect 3 Multiplayer

Earth DLC Key Art

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?

Objectives

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.

Characters

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.

Maps

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.

Factions

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

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.

In summation…

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.

Mass Effect 3 Multiplayer Classes

Last updated on 2012-09-24


Adept

Human

The human adept can do a lot for crowd control. The singularity/warp combo is huge. When specced for large biotic detonations, the effect can be devestating. You can catch multiple enemies in a singularity and explode them for huge damage and force. The singularity can be cast rapidly. The long cool down of the warp is the biggest bottleneck for the combo. Also, the singularity can’t pick up any enemy with armor.

Asari

The asari adept is my favorite adept. Throw is a beast. It cools down fast and can get enemies flying. You can catch multiple enemies in a stasis bubble, detonate it, and do lots of damage to everyone caught in it. The asari adept also has warp, so you can warp an armored enemy and hit them with throw for a biotic detonation. As with the human adept, the long cool down of the warp can be a bottleneck, not to mention the even longer cool down of the stasis.

Drell

The drell can be great, and they can be tough. The drell can’t do massive damage and its crowd control isn’t great. No singularity and no stasis. You get pull, but pull isn’t nearly as effective. You get reave, however, which can detonate pull and can drain life from enemies. You can spec it out to be more effective against armor and barriers. I’d recommend a good weapon when playing with the drell adept. Unlike the human and asari, you can’t get by on biotics alone.

Soldier

Human

Krogan

The krogan solider is a tank. You get fortification to strengthen your shields. Carnage does a lot of damage and can affect multiple enemies. The krogan also has a huge weight capacity (Claymores aren’t a problem) and its melee is super powerful.

Turian

The turian soldier is boring. The concussive shot is useful but the proximity mine is hard to master (for me) and the marksman ability’s usefulness is lost on me as well. I’d recommend jacking up the turian soldier with weapon damage and good shields. Let him shoot his way through.

Sentinel

Human

The human sentinel has great potential as a “caster”. They have both warp and throw which gives them the ability to create their own biotic explosions. The tech armor also gives them the ability to sit there pounding away on an atlas and not take as much damage as their non-sentinel squadmates.

Turian

The turian sentinel is a true sentinel. He has a biotic power (warp) and a tech power (overload). He can strip the shields off an atlas and warp its armor. The turian sentinel might be the best “all around* character in Mass Effect 3′s multiplayer.

Krogan

Haven’t unlocked the krogan sentinel yet.

Batarian

I’m a bad person. I love the batarian sentinel. It’s got the lame shockwave, and the blade armor isn’t great. The blade armor acts like the tech armor. You get minor damage protection and it slows down your power use. The blade armor does grant you a melee bonus and reflect melee damage done to you back at the enemy! The submission net (read, slave net) incapacitates enemies long enough for you to defeat (read, rape and enslave) them. I found great success with taking all the melee upgrades and going shotguns only. You can take down enemies for around 10 seconds and you can melee the shit out of enemies. It was on bronze, but I took down a full health and barrier phantom with one punch.

Mass Effect 3: Male Quarian Infiltrator

Rebellion Pack Wallpaper Goddess

I unlocked the Male Quarian Infiltrator last night. The Male Quarian Infiltrator’s three powers are Tactical Cloak (like all infiltrators), Tactical Scan and Arc Grenades. The scan seems less than useful as first, and on low level enemies, it kind of isn’t. The scan paints a big bullseye on the target that the entire squad can see, not just you. Its evolutions allow for weapon or power damage, slowing down the target’s movement speed and at 6, it can either give another damage boost or an area scan that reveals multiple enemies + doubles the duration of the scan. Since the damage boosts at 4 and 6 are for the entire squad, not just you, I went with weapon damage for 4 and at 6 it’s any type of damage. Essentially, a scanned target will take an additional 25% damage from all squad mates. This makes taking down elites much easier and if you take the level 5 evolution that slows down the target’s movement speed, you slow them down by 30%. Not a big deal on Atlases and Primes, but imagine having 30% slower Brute, Banshee or Phantom to deal with and a big glowing orange bullseye that the whole team can see. The cooldown time for the scan is pretty low, so you can keep casting it if the scan times out, so I don’t think the duration evolution is necessary at all.

The Arc Grenades are new and very nifty. The level 4 evolution can get you either more damage or more radius. The radius evolution brings the grenades up to a 10.4 meter radius. The level 5 evolution can get you an extra grenade, or, you can get an electrical field that causes extra damage over time. You can chuck an Arc Grenade into a freshly spawned group of enemies and then watch them all be effectively Overloaded in one big swath. The 6th evolution allows you to get 75% effectiveness in either armor-piercing or shields and barriers. I took armor-piercing for chucking them at bosses, but shield and barriers would be effective if you’re focusing on crowd control of trash enemies.

It’s important to note that since grenades aren’t a power, you can throw them without breaking cloak. Scanning a target, then cloaking, tossing two grenades and then unloading with your weapon deals massive damage. You’re getting 25% damage on the scanned target, 70-110% damage bonus from the cloak and 75% effectiveness against the enemies protective properties from the grenades. If you stack your abilities wisely, the Male Quarian Infiltrator is a powerhouse and a true asset to the team.

Mass Effect 3 Multiplayer Bugs and the Relationship with the Customer/Player

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This hurts me.

I play a lot of Mass Effect 3 multiplayer. Too much, probably. It’s pretty great that a game I loved, has a pretty fun multiplayer component, and it doesn’t cost anything to play (except for the initial cost of buying the game). I would pay for Mass Effect 3 multiplayer, but I’d expect game breaking bugs to be fixed faster. In particular, the Vanguards’ Biotic Charge has been broken since the multiplayer demo back in February. Yes, February. Essentially, if you get killed as you’re initiated a Biotic Charge, you charge into the ground. You start clipping into the geometry of the map and after a couple minutes, you’re so fucked into the geometry that you can’t do anything. You can’t attack enemies, but you keep taking damage. You’re a liability to your squad. Should you squad happen to all get wiped out on a non-mission wave, you’ll sit there in limbo, stuck in the geometry, and the only way they’ll get their deserved XP and credits is for you to quit, and for you to lose everything.

Supposedly, today’s patch is supposed to fix this. Great! Only took three months! But, it’s comments like this that make me think that Bioware thinks the players are assholes for complaining that things don’t work right. I know it’s a free-to-play model. The multiplayer is being funded by people buying Microsoft points to buy reinforcement packs that are totally random. If you ever go to the Bioware forums (Trust me. You shouldn’t.), you’ll see that the people who spend the most time playing (and subsequently complaining about bugs in the game) are not paying for credits. The nature of random unlocks makes spending real money on the game hard to swallow. If the money you spent on credits could be spent on anything you wanted, I probably would’ve dumped some money into the game to unlock and level up a Talon or a Paladin. Since the game isn’t competitive, I don’t see why this would be bad. We’re all on the same team. Me having a really powerful weapon isn’t hurting anyone.

It was also super annoying when the Resurgence Pack came out and for the first 24-48 hours, the existing reinforcement packs you could buy didn’t have any of the new characters or weapons in them. Bioware never said they wouldn’t, but they were more than happy to let people spend real money to buy game credits in hopes of unlocking a new character. Had I not checked the Bioware forums, I too might have wasted a bunch of credits.

I’d pay for DLC packs if I just got the characters right away with a little bit of an XP boost to start out. I will not, however, pay for credits that can only buy random unlocks. I commend those that do, because it means that I get to play the game for free. But I’d rather the DLC just cost 5 bucks a pop and I get everything at once.

I know a lot of the people that worked on Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 are gone. I know that Casey Hudson, who was supposed to be the guardian of the Mass Effect universe, let the franchise fall apart (Mass Effect: Deception and Mass Effect 3′s God awful ending), but Mass Effect 3 and its accompanying multiplayer are really fun to play. Where Mass Effect had a fantastic story but wasn’t really fun to play, Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3 turned the series around to where the main story was bad (the personal stories were fantastic though!) and the combat got much better. Mass Effect 2 is still a fun game to replay just in combat terms, and Mass Effect 3′s combat is so much fun, I’ve put three times as much time into the multiplayer (if not more) than I did in the single player side of the game. Because of Mass Effect 3′s ruining of the story for me, I’ll have to be okay just having fun playing the multiplayer until the inevitable rejiggering of the single player story in the Extended Cut DLC that hopefully doesn’t come out while I’m in the US and unable to play it!

Mass Effect 3: Rebellion Pack

Vorcha

I knew the Vorcha would come. It’s not like I had any hush hush intel, but I knew the Vorcha wouldn’t leave us flapping in the wind, at the mercy of the Reapers. I knew our Vorcha saviors would come.

The great Vorcha tactician Schrelvar, you probably haven’t heard of him, once said that, “You suffer, hard we come.” While some have taken this to mean that the Vorcha are scavengers and pick the bones of those already defeated, in some circles, there are still true believers in the benevolence of the Vorcha.

Now that the Rebellion is upon us (May 29th, 2012), the Vorcha will finally be able to show us all what they’re capable of.

Mass Effect 3 Multiplayer: Drells

Me3drellvanguard

Drell Adept

  • Reave is a lasting attack. It drains health, adds damage protection, can be buffed against armor and barriers and can set up or trigger biotic explosions.

  • Pull is useful against health-only enemies. It can get them out of the fight and give you a chance to focus on bigger enemies. It will also strip Guardians of their shields and you can detonate it with Reave.

  • Cluster grenades causes multiple explosions, cover a wide range and can detonate biotic explosions. Reaving a group of enemies and hitting them with grenades does huge damage and if very effective against tough enemies like Atlases, Primes and Brutes.

  • The Drell are frail but they are quick and agile. You get movement speed bonuses and you get a very good encumbrance bonus that allows you to have fast cool downs with even heavy weapons. A Drell Adept might do well to take a sniper rifle or a scoped pistol.

Drell Vanguard

  • A Vanguard’s most important attack is its charge. The Drell Vanguard is no different. With a fast cool down, you can charge every 3.5 seconds or so.

  • Pull is useful against health-only enemies. It can get them out of the fight and give you a chance to focus on bigger enemies. It will also strip Guardians of their shields and you can detonate it with Biotic Charge.

  • Cluster grenades causes multiple explosions, cover a wide range and can detonate biotic explosions. They are very effective against tough enemies like Atlases, Primes and Brutes. Helps if you have a Warp-capable squad mate to set up biotic detonations.

  • The Drell are frail but they are quick and agile. You get movement speed bonuses and you get a very good encumbrance bonus that allows you to have fast cool downs with even heavy weapons. A Drell Vanguard can have over 150% cool down bonuses with decently upgraded shotguns. Charge → shotgun → Cluster Grenades can be very powerful against big enemies, especially if you’ve got a fast firing/high damage weapons and the 25% power bonus after a charge.

Mass Effect 3: Krogan Soldier

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I think I’ve figured out the Krogan soldier in Mass Effect 3 multiplayer. I was having a hard time with it at first. I was carrying too many weapons and I was dying every time I got in close. I unlocked the Claymore Shotgun and decided to go one weapon only. I’m still not sure if it’s the best solution, because I miss half the time (or the game’s glitching!). I’ll try again with an assault rife. The Krogan’s best weapon is his melee. The Carnage ability is powerful, but it’s slow to cooldown. The Inferno Grenade is quite useful, but you could run out and pumping precious ability points into grenades in the early levels of your Krogan’s life seem wasteful. What I would suggest is to pump up Fortification. I hardly used it at first, because the shield improvement it gives you isn’t really noticeable visually, but it’s there. You can enable Fortification without starting a cooldown that might affect your Carnage. This can allow you to fire Carnage, fire some rounds at a distant enemy and keep your shields up. Then you can charge towards the enemy, purge the Fortification and give your melee a 75% damage increase and heavy melee everything in sight. I found it to be a very good use of the Krogan’s strengths and I decimated the Cerberus enemies in the demo. If you have a Krogan unlocked and haven’t had much luck, give this strategy a try before you get too frustrated.

Buy Mass Effect 3

Vanguard, Maxed

Repost from Pixelsnatch


Maxed

I’ve been playing a decent amount of Mass Effect 3 multiplayer lately and I finally maxed out my vanguard yesterday. The level cap is 20 and you accrue enough points to max out 4 of the 5 categories. If you leave one completely empty, you’re able to fully level up all three powers plus either the “Spectre”-like category or “Fitness”, which everyone has. So, my vanguard’s maxed out and is a killing machine. I can charge into almost any situation, Nova everyone around me, and charge into the next enemy before they have a chance to get their bearings. I’m tempted to go sans-weapon with the Vanguard because you wind up getting a 200% cooldown bonus if you’re unarmed. Most of the time, I don’t need anything other than my powers and my melee biotic punch. The only times I use my gun (heavy pistol-only) is when I’m thinning out a cluster of enemies before they get too close, when I’m fighting a Guardian, or when I’m defending the landing zone while waiting for extraction.

The Biotic Underground

Since I love my biotics (sorry infiltrator) I started building up the adepts. I maxed out my human male’s Singularity so that it detonates when it expires. The best thing the human adept has going for it is the singularity/warp bomb. Throw a singularity, catch some enemies in it, use warp, and BAM, everything gets rocketing into the sky. It’s the most impressive site in Mass Effect 3′s multiplayer that I’ve seen (so far). The human adept is stuck with Shockwave like its vanguard brethren, and I hate the shockwave. It’s the only thing human biotics have to deal with Guardians and it’s crap. Drell vanguards get Lift, which makes Guardians lose their shields and Asari have Stasis, which also causes Guardians to lose their shields. The Shockwave is lame.

The singularity warp bomb is really all you need as a human adept though. It’s fantastic. For some reason though, the Asari adept has Stasis instead. I figured singularity would be a bigger deal and require better biotic skills (which the Asari should have) but they get Stasis, not Singularity. Stasis can make warp bombs (or Throw bombs too!) The detonation doesn’t seem to be as large though. Maybe it’s because my warp isn’t leveled very high and the Throw detonation isn’t very good.

I’m really looking forward to eventually unlocking the the Drell characters and the Asari vanguard. I have a blast using biotics. I’ve seen Engineers and Infiltrators do fantastic things in multiplayer, but I’ve been only mildly effective with my human infiltrator and I only used my Quarian engineer once.

And One Last Thing…

If you’re a group of level 7′s, don’t try to play on Gold. I got lumped in with a group of low level players and they were trying Gold. My vanguard hung in there, but after all three of the other team members had been slaughtered, the whole of Cerberus came after me.

Vanguarding

I have fully embraced the Vanguard. I didn’t like it at first. Playing as a Vanguard was so different from Soldier or Sentinel, which I had been using in the first two ME games, that I didn’t fully understand it. Then I played around with it more and saw its potential. I was bouncing back and forth between using Vanguard and Adept, because I knew I want biotics. But after running the Vanguard through its paces in multiplayer (MP) and watching some videos of Vanguard gameplay on YouTube, I have a better understanding of how the class should be played.

I will admit, I cowboyed Vanguard pretty hard at first. I charged into everything, and on Bronze, that’s a viable option. On Silver and Gold, it’s suicidal. You need to hang back sometimes and be smart about when you’re charging. Also, shotgun-only is a bad idea once you get past the first few waves. A shotgun doesn’t help unless you’re up in the enemies’ faces. Going heavy pistol-only might be a better option. It’s lighter, which gives you a 170%~180% cooldown bonus and it’s much easier to headshot than a shotgun. If you level up your melee damage, you can get away with doing up-close damage with your biotic punch instead of shotguns. So far, I’ve focused on Biotic Charge and Nova, but I need to put more points into Fitness and I haven’t even opened up Shockwave. Shockwave (in MP) would be great for handling Guardians. As it stands, Vanguards aren’t great against those giant shields. A Shockwave (or a Pull in single-player) would do wonders.

I’ve also only been able to use a human Vanguard. The Drell and Asari versions have been unavailable to me so far. I watched a great video of a Drell run on YouTube and was impressed with the Drell. All Vanguards have the Charge but the Drell also has a Pull and Cluster Grenades. The person in the video never uses the Pull, but seeing a Vanguard with Cluster Grenades makes me wish the Shepard Vanguard had grenade abilities (he doesn’t). Pull is available in the single-player and since it creates a singularity-like biotic orb, you can charge into it and detonate it a la a Warp Bomb. (Bonus: if you have an Adept in your party, charging their Singularities will detonate them!)

Also, I’ve become painfully aware of the need to have a party that works together. After the first night of playing online, I’ve had trouble finding people that actually used their headsets or even worked as a team. A mid-level Vanguard (12, currently) is powerful, but still not powerful enough to last against large groups of Silver or Gold caliber Cerberus agents when they have no support from behind. Far too many people are playing Soldier, and very few people are playing Adept or Engineer. All the times I have done well in MP have been when the party was diverse and working together. In fact, the only time I made it through extraction was just a team of three, but the party was me (a Vanguard), an Adept and a Sentinel.

Mass Effect 3 Multiplayer Demo

Repost from Pixelsnatch


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This past Friday, the Mass Effect 3 demo’s multiplayer mode opened up to everyone. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, and I wasn’t expecting to like it as much as I do. Mass Effect has never had any sort of multiplayer before and I didn’t think it would be very good. The key thing to keep in mind is that Mass Effect 3‘s multiplayer is co-op, not competitive. The same night that I started playing ME3 multiplayer, I also played some competitive Halo: Reach as well. While Reach looks and handles great, getting your ass handed to you by a 13-year old kid with a gamer tag like, “Whompcha(1)” is…disheartening. However, teaming up with three other people and maybe getting your ass handed to you by the CPU is slightly less embarrassing.

The MP plays pretty much like the SP. You pick a class and race, and depending on the combination, you get three possible abilities. I started off with a Vanguard and my only choice was a human female (for that class). It gave me Shockwave, Nova, and Biotic Charge. The Asari Vanguard will give you the Charge, but your other two powers would be Lift Grenades and Stasis. Great thing is, you can maintain all combinations of classes and races. You can switch out your character at the start of every mission. So, depending on what kind of characters your party members bring to the mission, you could choose a character that compliments their abilities (if you have a worthy character available.) Also, I could see bringing a low-level character along with three high-level characters and getting serious amounts of experiments really fast.

If you haven’t played any of the MP demo, I suggest you do so. It’s a lot of fun, and even though I know the levels I build and items I earn in the demo won’t carry over to the retail game, I still keep wanting to jump back into the demo. And if nothing else, it’s a great chance to try out all the different classes before you decide which class to take into your first solo playthrough.