Do you find multiplayer enjoyable? The challenge of a human opponent who can do everything you can do, as opposed to an AI can be a thrilling challenge. However, I enjoy multiplayer but at its base level, to an almost barbaric sense: to dominate another. To assert my authority over others. To demonstrate my superiority. Hell, I usually pick barb in D&D sessions, so I might as well be a full blown Mongolian descendant of Ghengis Khan. Granted, I can't be good at everything. After all, not everyone can be MacGuyver. But I enjoy consistent multiplayer experiences. Games where you're informed of what is happening and why things happen. If I'm playing Monday Night Combat, I know as an Assassin why that Tank killed me; because I he figured out where I was and I let him get in too close. This as opposed to spawning in and suddenly getting an air strike dropped on me in Call of Duty. Those are the moments where you're left wondering why?
Consistency is all I ask for in a game. Like saying that my bullets will go where I aim as opposed to where I was aiming one second ago. In any other sense, I might be excited that my gun is existing in an alternative time stream but not during a one-on-one firefight. But games aren't perfect and as long as we need the internet to play varied people across the world, lag will always be present. Not all games can be like Columbo. Head-to-head is always going to be plagued by issues of latency and balance. But do you know how to score that lust for superiority without all the muss of playing against other people of varying connections? Playing with people of varying connections with a scoreboard.
I'm kind of surprised at how much enjoyment I get out of Mass Effect 3's multiplayer outside of how it mechanically plays and the universe of Mass Effect. Even though you're technically working together, the scores can say a lot as long as you're not a Volus, since Volus are largely support oriented with their Shield Boosts. Imagine playing a competitive multiplayer game (let's say Black Ops 2. Why not?) and you find out the hard way that most of your teammates have the collective skill of a gerbil crawling over a gamepad. All you can do is get the occasional kill or flag while the rest of your team feeds the enemy kills for their streaks.
Now imagine playing a cooperative game. Sure, if your teammates are constantly dying and leaving all the heavy lifting to you, they're not really helping you out. But then again, there's nothing more satisfying then the feeling of finishing a wave yourself where everyone else died pathetic deaths.
It's weird to me when you run into bad players on old games. You'd think the only people still playing are dedicated, hardcore players. But no, for Mass Effect 3, I still run into people who fall to the bottom of the scores, playing with setups that miss the point of the class entirely. I'm not telling you there's a right or wrong way to play a class. I will say that if you're an Asari Adept, it would benefit you to remove all that heavy weaponry since being able to use Warp and Throw quickly on such a frail class. I mean, Adepts don't have a whole lot of shields to sustain continuous fire from that big assault rifle. We can't all be Magnum PI, now can we?
Every time I solo boss enemies, every time I revive you, every time I complete the objectives, you're placing your life in my hand. The next time a Scion blasts your socks off, I will seriously consider leaving you on the ground to bleed out so you can ghost cam someone better like me. Maybe then you'll actually learn something.
There's still quite a bit of animosity involved despite mechanically being a cooperative game. People still make rash assumptions based on things as petty as what personalization card you're using or the class you've decided to play as. I remember a time when Drells were discriminated against. No, I'm not talking about the world of Mass Effect where Drell are typically seen as religiously fanatic assassins who usually work for Hanar and can be seen as outsiders in Citadel space. I'm talking about how Drell were scoffed out due to their low base health, leading people to believe they were useless on a real N7 mission. If I decided to play as a Drell, I was liable to attract votes for a kick. But then comes that moment when only two votes are tallied and the mission starts anyways. And then the Drell proceeds to earn twice the score of the 2nd place operative and survive the mission while the other three bleed out at the LZ after being swarmed by Husks and Brutes.
The best part? It's a cooperative game but there's room for personal glory above the others. But then the deliciously hilarious moment when everyone else leaves the room when it's obvious you're staying.
Gears of War, Left 4 Dead, Castle Crashers, and even a campaign based game like Borderlands 2 has all the edge of competition while remaining cooperative. Left 4 Dead scores after every chapter, there's a constant arms race in Borderlands 2, and even Castle Crashers pits your against your friends in a bid to earn the kiss of the fair princess. I've seen countless videos of Portal 2 coop of friends simply screwing each other over.
Sure, from our view, shoehorning multiplayer sounds like a waste of potential. But think of it from another stand point. After I finish Mass Effect 3, what point is there to going back? Even if I do, it's still the same story. Tomb Raider doesn't even feature branching decisions, granted its multiplayer is head-to-head. Still, it's made to bring people back after the game's shelf life has long passed for an individual. Maybe you'll want to pass on some gimmicky multiplayer but experiences of couch multiplayer in my childhood were sparse. Since internet connectivity is here to let us reach out with online multiplayer, I'll take my chances to reach out online and make someone look foolishly unskilled.