The “Get To Know” line of articles are built to get a better impression of what I love/hate, and why, through a more direct means. While my tastes have been quite unconventional to the “norm” we’ve seen, I feel as if it’d be beneficial to run a series of articles that go into what I adore, and deplore, about gaming, and why.
I alluded to a major project I was going to work on throughout 2018, but due to repeated illnesses, I was unable to produce a healthy enough queue to get it going. That project was going to be my top 100 games of all-time, in which I would go into a great bit of detail on each game, and why it has a position on said list.
With this miniseries I have going with Get To Know, it’s given me a renewed sense of urgency to try and get some portion of this project revealed and shared with everyone. Instead of being overly ambitious, I’ll truncate the list to a top 25; that’s more than enough to show the kinds of games I adore the most, and the genres that they represent.
2 – Mass Effect 3
- Developer: Bioware
- Publisher: Electronic Arts
- Platform: 360, PC, WiiU
- Genre: RPG
- Release date: 3/6/12
- Rating: 9.8
What is Mass Effect 3?
The final chapter in the Shepard trilogy, Mass Effect 3 closes out the main storyline, with some heart wrenching moments, as well as an ending that divided the fanbase. Oh, there was also a multiplayer that no one asked for, no one wanted, but turned out to be one of the best ever.
What warrants Mass Effect 3‘s inclusion on this list?
Mass Effect 3 was another game that, although it left and indelible mark on me, I didn’t fully comprehend its importance and just how much I truly fell in love with it until I sat down to put this project together. It was the first game that wasn’t a fighting game where I was as invested in the single player experience as I was with the multiplayer.
The single player was phenomenal. The gameplay, which was radically different from the first, felt more refined than the second. The RPG aspects might have been dumb down, but it didn’t mean that it wasn’t a fun game to play. The more hands-on action, with the CPU taking being competent enough to take care of themselves, was a welcome bonus.
There were a few moments during the campaign that literally took my breath away. The opening portion, with the child that you keep encountering, absolutely gutted me. There was a moment during the last 15 minutes that crushed me, and still does.
And then there was the ending.
Unlike a number of “fans”, I did not feel betrayed, nor disgusted by the three “colored” endings. I accepted the ending. I didn’t like it only because it meant that my time with Shepard and his comrades had ended once and for all, but I wasn’t wasting time and money sending Bioware cupcakes to prove some silly notion, when that money could have been spent on feeding the homeless, just because I felt betrayed by the ending. The fact that Bioware took the time to extend the ending (something completely unnecessary, though appreciated), just to appease the vocal minority, was something. I’m not saying that fans shouldn’t be disappointed, but come on man. I understand feeling passionate about something, but what a waste of time and resources.
Nonetheless, the journey through three games made a lasting impression on me. While I long to have some side stories released on the Shepard saga, I am content with it being over, and it will always have a special place in my heart. Mass Effect 3 was, IMO, a powerful conclusion to a franchise that ended up being my all-time favorite (Andromeda doesn’t fit into this equation — more the Shepard trilogy). The friends I encountered as Shepard throughout my journeys, will never be forgotten, and their deeds will be celebrated for years to come.
Now, as much as the single player of Mass Effect 3 meant the world to me, lets talk about that multiplayer.
My first experience with Mass Effect 3‘s multiplayer was an open beta just before the full release. It was Firebase White, and I can’t recall how many kits were available. It was wave after wave of Cerberus enemies, which grew stronger and more varied by each passing wave. Before I played the beta, I really had no expectations for the final build being an enduring portion of the Mass Effect experience. After playing it, I thought it’d be a fun little distraction from the main game.
Then I played it on its release, and that’s when the magic with it began.
Mass Effect 3 multiplayer is essentially a horde mode with loot crates (packs) and kit leveling. Packs can be purchased with real money, but there’s not only no benefit to using real money, but the acquisition of gold from completing each game, is sustainable enough to purchase packs and obtain new kits, weapons and upgrades for them, consumable items, etc.
The number of kits at the end of the free updates that Bioware provided, reached near four dozen over six classes. The diversity between them was oftentimes staggering; a Salarian Infiltrator has a primary focus upon sniper rifles, can go invis, as well as use Energy Drain to drain his opponents shields, while the Alliance Infiltration unit is more mobile, focusing on freezing enemies and using more close quarters weapons (shotguns) while giving herself speed/mitigation buffs.
Each kit could be leveled up to 20, with skills points being given every level, to allocate on branching skill trees. This further helps to diversify one Volus Protector (Vanguard) from another. You can even respec all the way back down to level one and redo your choices, or use a special item from a pack that lets you reset your points.
The number of kits available helped prolong the multiplayer lifespan exponentially. The variety and depth available between all these kits was something no other horde mode type game has ever achieved since then, as far as I know.
The number of maps at launch was a paltry five, yet they never grew tiresome. Eventually with more free multiplayer DLC, more maps were released, giving even more variety to how the game is played. None of them were gigantic in size, but most of them had just enough room to maneuver around and not feel claustrophobic, though there were certain maps during certain points of the lifespan of multiplayer where they were best suited for Gold or Platinum difficulties. The higher the difficulty, the higher the payout at the end of the game.
Coordination between three other players isn’t essential for winning in games Silver and lower, though Gold and Platinum it’s vital. There are some kits that can solo either Gold or Platinum with ease (I’ve done it with the Geth Juggernaut and the Turian Ghost) though that’s an exercise in patience and intelligence. There are certain tasks that need to be completed on certain waves that award bonus experience for how fast they are completed. Either it’s disabling scattered around the map, or escorting a drone to a certain point on the map. Sometimes it’s as elementary as killing a specific enemy, who has bonus health. The eleventh and final wave is the extraction, where players have a couple of minutes to get to the extraction zone and escape, which nets bonus exp and credits.
On paper, it sounds monotonous and dull, but in execution, it’s addicting as all hell. It also helps that, from my experience with Mass Effect 3‘s multiplayer, it’s the least toxic community I’ve seen, thanks to no text chat and scant use/need of voice chat. More often than not, everyone knew what to do, where to go, etc. While the entire concept of the multiplayer was cooperative play, I always made it a game to try and outscore the other players. Most every time I would, and it added another little goal to reach once all the kits were level 20.
Going back to the packs that players could purchase with in-game currency, these were the only ways anyone could obtain new kits, weapons and upgrades, and so on. As previously mentioned, you can use real money to purchase packs, but the amount for each was so ridiculously high, with there being a true randomness to what is unlocked, that it’s a bigger payoff to grind and grind, rather than blowing actual money on them.
On the Xbox 360 version, I came close to maxing out every weapon I had, while with the PC version, I’m still a long grind away from that. Each weapon has ten ranks, each rank increasing its strength and such. Certain kits augment certain aspects of each weapon as well, depending on the path chosen. Extra ammo, higher headshot damage and weapon stability are a few perks these kits give each weapon. Each time a pack has a kit that the player already owns, it adds color customization options, and if the kit is not max level, it will help level them.
For me, having that carrot on a stick in regards to maxing out an ultra rare weapon, as well as just the collect-a-thon of all these weapons and such, drew me in deeper with Mass Effect 3‘s multiplayer. With the single player taking a more action/real-time turn, it transitioned to the multiplayer and became a flawless blend. It was a very grindy, action packed experience, with a hook that pulled me in hard.
Some of my favorite gaming moments came from my time with the multiplayer game in Mass Effect 3. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to record any of my time with the 360 version, though I’ve done many streams of the PC version. There was one particular moment I was able to capture while streaming, of my Vorcha Soldier pulling off a sick solo during a midway point of a Gold game, when the rest of the team had died early in the wave.
(excuse the odd musical choices, that’s what I had playing from a YouTube playlist I made for streaming, and yes, that’s Mega Man 3 and Bubble Bobble):
There was also the time where I magically resurrected seconds after an instakill, which is not supposed to happen until the other players complete a round, but did:
In total (so far) between the Xbox 360 version and the PC version (which I sicked up and played years after the 360 version), I’ve logged in well over 2500 hours. In fact, when I’m done with this piece, I’m going to put some more time into the PC version. The amazing thing about the multiplayer on at least the PC version, is that there’s still a bit of a community that have stuck with it. It’s not always easy finding a game sometimes, but having them around still means I’ll be able to have some more fun with this underrated and stellar multiplayer game.
The Mass Effect franchise left an indelible mark on my life. The Shepard saga remains my all-time favorite storyline and series, and the multiplayer was a brilliant, insanely addicting addition. I know one day the multiplayer will become inaccessible through normal means, and it’s depressing to think about, but I still have it now to love and enjoy, and hopefully share with you all in an attempt to get some fresh blood to enlist in the ranks.
Play Mass Effect 3 for the story and its conclusion. Love what the trilogy gave to gamers. Stay for the amazing multiplayer, while it’s still going. Then when the doors close once and for all, hell, even right now, go back and play through the trilogy once again.
Once in a lifetime multiplayer experience.
With possibly only the number one title blowing away the time I spent with Mass Effect 3‘s multiplayer game, there’s no denying that I was hooked in hard. The horde mode inspired setting, with a myriad of unlockable weapons, kits and expendable power ups, truly made for a special multiplayer experience. While I loved my time on StarSiege, playing with friends I worked with, there was a thrill with Mass Effect 3‘s multiplayer that will never be replicated. Even Mass Effect Andromeda lacked that special something that made Mass Effect 3 as profound and utterly addicting. There will never be another experience quite like this one.