Recently, Bioware announced that a multiplayer mode is in the works for the third game in the critically successful Mass Effect
series. Given the state of the industry these days, this was not only unsuprising, but also garnered quite a bit of resistance from the gaming community. A series renown for it's engrossing and epic single player, where the player ultimately is the sole manipulator of the fate of the malleable universe, probably should never have had a multiplayer mode even considered, but for whatever reason you wish to believe, it is here, but is it such a terrible thing?
I'll come out right now and admit that I not a fan of the series, I played the first one for a bit and then got frustrated and left, but I can still appreciate the series for what it is and what it has accomplished. I'm arguing this not as a fan, but as an impartial spectator. More and more games are having multiplayer added to them, games that really don't need them, often forced to do so by publishers or stakeholders- which may end up detracting from the core experience. I believe Mass Effect 3's multiplayer will not be so arbitrary in this sense and would actually serve a relevant purpose, opposed to the needless deathmatch and CTF modes tacked onto many other games.
It was announced that the multiplayer mode would be cooperative rather than competitive. This simple fact alone is the key as to why the online mode is heading in the right direction. The mode is called "Galaxy at War", and while it is a separate experience from the main game, the actions of that mode affect your main story in what is known as "galactic readiness level". The better you progress in the co-op mode, the better your single player ending will be. Bioware has noted that players can still achieve the best ending entirely in single player, but that the co-op missions will aid in achieving this ending. Bioware also seems to be aware that people would be apprehensive to this and also said that the single and multiplayer aspects are each being developed by separate studios, the co-op developed by the newly formed Bioware Montreal
, and the single player being developed by Bioware Edmonton
. Two teams focusing their energies entirely onto their own elements is never a bad thing (except for Deus Ex's boss fights
, but we don't like to talk about those).
While the details are still currently very minimal, I do not think we need to raise the torches and pitchforks quite yet. Bioware are not fools, they clearly know how to make a game. Separate co-op campaigns can be a great thing if done well and proper, like the famed co-op campaigns in Ubisoft's Splinter Cell
series. Separate campaigns from the main game that provide an interesting side-story and changing up gameplay elements should always be a welcome addition to any game if it is done right. Co-op makes perfect sense in the Mass Effect series. The gameplay revolves around squad-based combat, players can create unique characters from the selection of races and classes, and build characters that suit the needs of the unit, and even allowing for some character experimentation, and they set out on a story-driven quest in a tactical unit, where each player benefits beyond mere achievements.
All in all, I believe that Mass Effect 3's multiplayer won't be the killing blow of the series. It's merely a consequence of the industry. At the end of the day a good developer should be able to make the best of what they need to do. Bioware is a good developer and while Multiplayer may not be their forte, they have the skills and resources enough to make sound decisions, and with the audience being cautious of this fact, they need to take great care with this mode, and they probably already are.
What do you think? Do you think the addition of co-op is beneficial to the series? Will it hinder your experience? Think I'm full of crap and have no real opinion on the subject? Comment below!