With Mass Effect Legendary Edition out, I’ve been sinking my teeth back into one of my favorite gaming franchises. It’s a ton of fun to revisit this setting and these characters; I’m grateful that the Legendary Edition has made it so easy to do so.
There’s just one thing missing: the Mass Effect 3 multiplayer.
I totally understand BioWare’s decision not to prioritize the multiplayer. It’s certainly nowhere near as important as the single-player story. In fact, back when the game was originally announced, I remember being annoyed that there was even going to be multiplayer in the first place–this was a single-player RPG, and the finale of a trilogy to boot! I hated the idea of the company diverting funds and energy away from the plot for some frivolous multiplayer mode that I assumed wouldn’t even be worth playing.
I assumed wrong.
When the Mass Effect 3 multiplayer beta hit, my friends and I stayed up until 5 a.m. playing it. We were hooked immediately. There was something about this multiplayer that, against all odds, really worked.
I love Mass Effect, but it is at best a serviceable shooter. It’s fine, but it’s nowhere near on par with other major multiplayer titles from a gameplay perspective. That’s not a problem, because the weaknesses of the gameplay are more than made up for by the stellar plot. All of which is to say that it doesn’t seem like a natural fit for multiplayer of any kind–that kind of play isn’t the point of the franchise. So, how did Mass Effect 3 become one of my favorite games to play with friends despite that?
First off, it’s entirely cooperative, which goes a long way in my book. It’s essentially the classic ‘horde mode’ idea, where a team of players take on wave after wave of enemy. That works much better than a competitive game, which would have had to make severe tweaks to most of the powers available to players in Mass Effect.
It also helped that ME3 had a pretty diverse range of enemies. The multiplayer let you pick an enemy type: geth, Reapers, or Cerberus agents could all be tackled, and each had a wide variety of different foes to contend with. Later updates added Collectors, too! There were a variety of solid maps, and several levels of difficulty to choose from.
What really shone, though, was the multiplayer characters.
You could pick from between several versions of each of the franchise’s six classes (Soldier, Engineer, Adept, Infiltrator, Vanguard, and Sentinel). Each playable character had a different set of abilities, and it was fun to experiment with different builds.
Best of all, DLC characters arrived in droves, and they were amazing! You had characters with power combinations we’d never seen before, and in many cases, characters had entirely new powers! There were a bunch of cool new abilities that you could only use in multiplayer.
Multiplayer was also the only place to play as an alien, like a krogan or even a geth. Who could resist charging across the battlefield as a massive krogan warlord, swinging a giant hammer? It was amazing!
I get that bringing the multiplayer into the Legendary Edition would take a ton of work, and that there would be a lot of hard choices for BioWare to make if they tried to do it. It makes complete sense, from their perspective, not to bother with it. That said, as a diehard fan, I really hope they reconsider. The developers said in a recent interview that bringing the multiplayer back isn’t off the table, so fingers crossed that they find a way to do it!