- There isn't an N7 alive that hasn't made sacrifices...
The last update for Mass Effect 3's multiplayer, Reckoning, dropped today. I gotta say, it's kind of a bitter sweet moment.
Say what you want about ME3's terrible ending or some of the more jarring moments in the story line ("I know Earth is being torched to cinders by nearly omnipotent space bugs, but let me take a second to shake my booty on this dance floor and teach a robot about love!") but when that game delivered, it delivered.
I got personally involved in the fight to avenge Earth. If you were willing to go with the game and lose yourself in the ME world it was felt intense and vital. I fell in love with all the characters, even resident meathead James Vega and his zeal for breakfast foods. The combat and gameplay were super-solid. I'm not sure what game some of the complainers played, my ME3 was a lot of fun. Maybe I just got lucky choosing the very dynamic and fast paced Vanguard class all those years back instead of sticking with the Plain-Jane soldier route.
- It's a lot more fun to slam into these guys at mach 2 than to hide behind a waist high wall popping shots
While the ending sequences might have been a misfire, and the epilogue a big slab of cheese, that last chapter of the game during the fight to retake Earth was amazing. I prefer to look at the last few hours of gameplay as the conclusion to the story then dwell on the dubious narrative choices made with the Space-Baby and cyborg-magic-energy-waves. Maybe that's overly charitable, but at the end of the day I just really enjoyed my time with the Mass Effect series.
But the biggest surprise of the series was hands down the multiplayer. A feature I, and half the internet, lambasted as a cheap cloying attempt at "stickiness" and online-pass gouging dreamed up in some hell-pit of a marketing board room.
I had no idea that it would be some of the most fun I'd have in 2012.
ME3's multiplayer is freaking great. For a non-competitive horde mode, it has a startling amount of re-playability. It's a thrill to step out of Shepard's well worn shoes and play as some of the more exotic races in the ME world. Running and flipping around as a Drell, spying through the walls as a Geth, or tanking an ungodly amount of gunfire as a mighty Korgan feels great. The unique class and racial special abilities combined with the super-heavy emphasis on combat, teamwork, and specialization offers a very different feel from the regular single-player experience. You feel like part of a crack squad of special operatives sent on a do-or-die mission; even if you re-play the same lame hacking and position holding objectives again and again.
A big part of the appeal is the challenge. Even on the lowly Bronze difficulty setting, N7 Ops are an entirely more steely affair than anything you get in the single-player narrative. Enemies are varied, aggressive, and will cut you down quick if you leave yourself exposed. Your initial ability set and equipment you have won't cut it in the tougher settings, but with patience and a little luck from the random item boxes, you'll soon have a soldier ready for the big leagues.
There is a rewarding feedback loop that comes from moving up the difficulty ladder. A combination of access to more powerful equipment and a more refined level of skill from practice that will take you from barely scraping by in Bronze to making it trivial, and dragging the once impossible seeming Gold difficulty into the realm of the conceivable.
It was truly shocking how well made and supported the multiplayer was. While I expected a shoddy thrown together experience, we actually got a fairly well polished very playable game mode that was robustly supported with updates, new character classes, weapons, and weekend events to help direct the player base. If this is how EA wants to "shoehorn" multiplayer into their games in the future, they could do a lot worse.
I really enjoyed my time with my N7 squad, playing weekend night away with Strider, Stahlbrand, and some other lucky recruit we would undoubtedly carry on our collective shoulders. Truth be told, I've fallen out of touch with the game, but I'll be sure to come back for one last mission. Patch up and hopefully I'll see some of you on for some FNF or Weekend Warrior action!