Mass Effect 3 Demo Impressions: Cooperative Multiplayer, PC Version
While the gametypes offered in the demo aren’t exactly new to the shooter genre, the biggest new thing presented by BioWare is the level of customization players will get for their multiplayer characters. From the looks of things, ME3 multiplayer participants can create multiple characters, and each will choose either a human character and a class (these being the same as you get for Commander Shepard when you start a new singe-player game, including Soldier, Adept, Engineer and so forth) or an alien race. Each class or race has its specific strengths and weaknesses, and it appears that more options for classes become available over time as players earn experience points from playing in matches.
Just as in the single-player campaign, earning experience in multiplayer means you’ll be able to customize your character in the exact way you do Shepard. If you’re an adept, you can choose to dump all your experience points into one or two powers like Warp and Singularity, or spread things around. You get many of the same choices you’ll see in single player as well, which should help players get familiar with what options will be available to them.
Also as in single player, you’ll customize your characters weapons and loadouts, earning credits in multiplayer games to buy new gear in ME3′s in-game store. Once you buy a new kit, you’ll earn new weapons and mods that you can use to change how specific weapons handle and their stats. When you start a match, you can choose which weapons you bring into battle based on their weight, up to two. That means you can opt for a sniper rifle and a heavy assault rifle, for example, but the additional weight of both bigger guns means your special abilities will recharge more slowly after you use them. Opting for a lighter weapon increase your recharge time, but of course, you sacrifice whatever power or other incentives the bigger guns offered.
After playing quite a few rounds of the two multiplayer maps, I was a little disappointed. I should definitely qualify that statement with the following disclaimer: What we’re seeing is a demo, not the full game, and far be it for me to judge the entire Galaxy at War experience with no idea what BioWare is actually going to provide. As my Game Front colleagues have also noted, the Mass Effect 3 demo feels very much stripped down as compared to what we expect the full game experience to be like; as such, I’m confident in saying multiplayer really should be better than what’s in the demo.
That said, the demo doesn’t inspire me with confidence. I’ve been skeptical of Mass Effect’s need for any kind of multiplayer mode since it was just a rumor, and the demo isn’t waylaying any of my fears. It definitely feels incomplete, and we certainly weren’t shown any of the aforementioned story elements that are supposed to make the mode feel like a part of the Mass Effect universe. So I think it’s fair to say that BioWare will have more for us come March 6 that will make multiplayer better — but if the demo is what we get when the game is released, I, for one, will not be playing much of it.
“Horde mode”-style multiplayer is a weak choice for Mass Effect, providing very little in the way of new ideas for the shooter genre. The two levels offered themselves also feel lackluster, providing a sort of monochromatic stage (one kind of blueish, one mostly orange) against which to blast the same faceless Cerberus punks over and over again. While the AI seems smart enough to make the battle something of a challenge, and Mass Effect 3 provides varying difficulty modes that increase your rewards, I didn’t feel very engaged. Sure, using biotic powers in concert with a sniper and a guy firing missiles into a crowd is fun; it’s just not fun for very long. I’d have loved to see some inkling of the larger draw of the multiplayer mode in this demo, but BioWare hasn’t provided it.