Your Daily McMaster: War. Huh? That’s what it’s good for.

, | Games

I really like the Mass Effect 3 multiplayer, but you have to play with four players. Trust me. This is a lesson I learned the hard way.

Last Tuesday I stopped by Best Buy to pick up two copies of the game, one for me and another for my friend Chris. I walked in when the doors opened and asked the guy if they had a collector’s edition. He laughed in my face and told me I should have pre-ordered. I replied with “I had no idea this was Gamestop.” I hate that guy.

After the jump, saving the galaxy can get pricey.

When I got the game home, we started a two player session of the ME3 multiplayer. This mode is very, very similar to Horde mode in the Gears of War series. You have a set area of map to deal with and enemies show up in waves. However, every few rounds (3, 6 and 10 to be precise) there are goals that pop up. You either have to go around the map activating/deactivating devices, stand in an area while data uploads or execute certain enemy units. These rounds are special because if you complete these goals, you earn credits as well as experience. Every other round just counts towards your experience total.

Credits are a very big part of the game. You get a slew of characters to play with, but they mostly start out at level one. As you level up you can develop their powers and get better equipment. Part of that grind is purchasing different packs in the game store using either credits or MS points. How convenient! The packs come in three different levels: Recruit for 5,000, Veteran for 20,000 and Spectre for 60,000. Of course, the more expensive packs have better stuff, guaranteeing a higher rarity level of items.

One thing of note that I didn’t know about initially – the game doesn’t really scale back for two players. We could manage the first couple of rounds, but when the time came to move around the map, we discovered it was very easy to get surrounded and murdered. These rounds, the ones we had so much trouble with, are the ones that pay you credits and thus you can’t really improve your equipment without finishing them. It was a very sad first few hours, but it did end up having a weird side effect – I was ready as hell for the coming onslaught.

In Mass Effect 3, they tie the single player ending to a resource known as Galactic Readiness. This rating is how ready the five different sectors of the universe are for the Reaper attacks. You start the game at around 50% and, unless you’re a completionist or have a long-standing character, it’s unlikely you’ll achieve the game’s positive ending. It’s worth noting that your Galactic Readiness rating drops during real time whether you’re playing the game or not. This means you either need to beat the game immediately or you can go along with the underlying evil scheme and play the peripheral content and related social game tie-ins. Yes folks, you too can pay EA/Bioware more money to improve your Galactic Readiness!

You see, the iPad game, the Facebook whatever and the multiplayer all lead to increases in your overal readiness and thus affect how the game ends. I was kind of irritated by this, but my indignation shifted when I discovered the day one DLC that costs ten dollars and cuts out a companion and a chunk of the game if you don’t buy. Challenge Everything!

Fortunately, the multiplayer is a pretty good time and raises your awareness rating quite a bit. I only have one question – what happens when people stop playing the multiplayer when the game gets older? No more happy endings.