The first Mass Effect game came out in 2007. It was groundbreaking and became wildly popular amongst RPG fans everywhere. Fast forward about three years, Mass Effect 2 was released. It gained just as much acclaim as the first game. In 2 more years, Mass Effect 3 was released. It signified the ending of a trilogy. If you’re anything like me, you’re always late to the gaming party. I didn’t pick up the Mass Effect Trilogy until a couple of months ago. That’s nine years after the initial release! There’s even another installment announced for the end of this year! After countless recommendations though, I decided to jump on the N7 ship and was not disappointed. For those of you unfamiliar with the series, Mass Effect is a choose-your-own space adventure. You create and fully customize your character who assumes the role of Commander Shephard. You can choose the way they look like, what fighting class they are and even what their back story is. Throughout the game you’re faced with choices that determine how Commander Shephard’s story is told. The reason I’m writing this article is because while I was playing Mass Effect 3, I stumbled upon a feature that was quite peculiar.
On the right side of the main menu was a map that said “Galaxy at War.” It was by default set at 50%. By perusing the internet a bit, I found out that it increases if you play online multiplayer. The goal is to get it to 100% because it doubles your effective military strength (a point system that determines what kind of ending you receive in the single player story mode). I’ll keep this description spoiler free for those who still want to play the game and haven’t had a chance to yet. To get the “perfect” ending (this is one of the most debated things in the mass effect fandom, so I’ve left perfect in quotes. It refers to the hardest ending to secure) your EMS (effective military strength) must be near 5000. Well, at least that’s what BioWare intended. Because of fan outbursts, BioWare released the extended cut DLC which changed the requirement for said ending and added an extra scene to the mix. This DLC is free for those of you wanting to play the game. That requirement isn’t what bothered me. What I found strange was how dependent Mass Effect 3’s story was originally on the multiplayer game. By maxing out my galactic readiness, my EMS nearly doubled and I had easily achieved the requirements for the “perfect” ending. I wonder what BioWare was thinking. They couldn’t have assumed that multiplayer would still be popular four years later.
In 2016, the multiplayer falls short for me. Finding a match isn’t as hard as one would expect. People are still playing Mass Effect 3 multiplayer. Finding an ideal match is completely different. There are notes when you’re choosing a match that allow you to see which kind of match will increase your galactic readiness the most. Since I was online gaming for my single player outcome, my concern was on gaining the highest percentage in the least amount of time. If you pick a specific map, you can gain an increase of 7% to your score for that area. Joining a random match lowers that gain to 4%. Some maps are more popular than others. If I wanted to max out the Terminus Systems and no one was already playing this match, I’d have to make my own lobby and wait for players, or play it on my own.
Also, another pet peeve was how limited multiplayer was. To customize your character, you’d have to unlock options through chests that you bought with credits earned in matches. The matches themselves were repetitive. They took maps from N7 missions that you did during story mode and placed 11 waves of enemies (your choice of three kinds or random) for you and your team to defeat. The 11 waves consisted of killing enemies, with the occasional big boss, and team hacking jobs. There was nothing exclusive to a certain map. 6 maps, 3 kinds of enemies and 3 or 4 tasks over and over again is repetitive and just plain boring. After beating the main story, I didn’t find myself going back to multiplayer. Of course, it’s important to keep in mind that Mass Effect 3 was published in 2012 and it is currently 2016. It’s an incredible thing that people still play the game’s multiplayer at all. Unfortunately, the game’s age shows when you attempt to play an online game. While support is still out there, I wonder how much longer galactic readiness and online multiplayer will hold up against other games.