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Why Mass Effect 3 Doesn’t Need Multiplayer

It’s official that Mass Effect 3 will have a four-player
cooperative multiplayer mode called “Galaxy At War”.  Details aren’t in yet, but many gamers are quite excited by
the prospect of fighting the Reavers alongside other players, or engaging in
the as-yet-unconfirmed possibility of head-to-head combat against their friends.  While this is enticing,
it’s probably not the best use of Bioware’s resources, and even if the developer
had as much time and money as they like, Mass Effect 3 still doesn’t actually need multiplayer.

Electronic Arts describes the multiplayer mode as putting “Players in the role of a team of
elite Special Forces soldiers”. 
This sounds like shorthand for “A team of Generic Space Commandos”.  They’ll inevitably be described as
“Highly-trained, Heavily-armed”, and poorly-written.

 

Mass Effect is
Commander Shepard’s story.  What
gamer wants to set aside the version of Commander Shepard that they spent a
hundred hours developing, just to become a cookie cutter archetype?  While it might be fun to play as the
various races of the ME setting, it would still involve giving up that hero
you’ve built up through all three games.

Even though there will be six playable races (Human, Krogan, Asari, Drell,
Salarian and Turian), these will not be any of the characters fans know from
the existing games.  Instead of
partnering with Garrus, Miranda, and Liara, the online teams saving the galaxy
will consist of random Xbox handles like 420Lover69, xxxMasterCheifxxx,
and DaRealMarcusFenix.

Aside from creating a unique character, the Mass Effect series lets players sculpt the very nature of the
galaxy. Every player gets to influence their world through many choices
made over the course of the series, and every player’s version of the galaxy is
The Right One.  Multiplayer will
deprive gamers of their unique world, and force them to play in a generic
version of the universe.

 

Basic gameplay mechanics, like the option to pause the game
and choose which powers you’ll use would be incompatible with multiplayer.  The game can’t pause every time any
player want to choose their next action, and this probably means that
abilities will be activated by
hotkeys.  This wouldn’t be a big
problem for certain builds, but if your character is built around offensive
abilities like biotics, or engineering attacks, this will limit your
effectiveness.

Of course, the biggest reason why Mass Effect doesn’t need
multiplayer is the possibility that it’s nothing more than a stratagem to
sell DLC and discourage consumers from buying used copies
.  
Multiplayer will require the use of an “Online Pass” that
comes free with new copies of the game, but if you buy the console version
used, you’ll have to pay a fee to play it online.

The Online Pass is an unnerving precedent for a game
publisher to set, and it’s not so difficult to imagine the same tactic being
used on more of EA’s online games in the future.  In the case of Mass Effect 3, fans can take some comfort in the fact that Bioware Executive
Producer Casey Hudson refers to the Single-Player campaign as “The main
event”.  Does Mass Effect 3 need a
tacked on distraction from the “Main Event”?  I’m Asari to say that it does not.

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