First Person

First Person
Who Put The CCG In Mass Effect 3?

Dennis C. Scimeca | 1 Jun 2012 21:00
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What I don't get from my Reinforcement Packs with enough regularity are unlocks for the character classes I haven't even tried yet after two months of playing the game, so when I see BioWare and Electronic Arts happily announcing that the Rebellion Pack DLC is adding even more character classes to the multiplayer it burns my ass a little bit, because I haven't even gained access to all the defaults.

When I see the announcement about new guns I likewise feel miffed, because it's not enough to just unlock a new weapon in Mass Effect 3 multiplayer. Each weapon begins at Model 1, and then you unlock upgrade items to upgrade one level at a time up to the Model Ten variant. I have one Model Ten assault rifle. It's the goddamned rifle I began the multiplayer with by default, an Avenger-class AR. That's the only assault rifle I can afford to use because I'm at the point where anything other than Silver- or Gold-level matches aren't a challenge due to my characters being so high level and having all their powers maxxed out, and taking Model One or Model Two guns into Silver or Gold-level matches is like bringing spitballs.

When BioWare and EA release new content for ME3 multiplayer what they're actually doing is taking your six-sided die and replacing it with a ten-sided die, and then a twelve-sided die, and eventually a twenty-sided die, and you roll dice with increasingly higher numbers of faces when you buy Reinforcement Packs and hope to come up with the gear that you need.

If you get tired of working your ass off to earn credits and purchase the Packs that way, you can spend Microsoft Points to purchase them outright, which probably explains why the Pack contents were randomized. I wouldn't mind this if there were also an option to just purchase the content outright. I'm sure a ton of players would rather just pay $15 once to unlock the character classes and Model Ten weapons they want rather than gambling away their money in the vain hope of getting what they need. Gambling is precisely what it is, and the only reasonable explanation for how gambling wound up in a multiplayer shooter is that BioWare and Electronic Arts are trying to nickel-and-dime the players by feeding off their frustrations at not being able to unlock the gear the players need to keep the game interesting and fresh. I'll bet the option to purchase gear outright will eventually land once Mass Effect 3 has waned in popularity and BioWare and EA need something to attract players back to the multiplayer mode.

I hate to say "BioWare and EA" because I have a sneaking suspicion this wasn't BioWare's idea. I doubt we'll ever get the answer to that question as it doesn't behoove BioWare to bite the hand that feeds them. I also hate to sound like I'm picking on EA especially after my last column because Electronic Arts has done well by us in the greater scheme of things, but when it comes to multiplayer modes in any game, options are the lifeblood of the mode. Trying new classes and experimenting with new abilities and weapons is a chief part of the fun. I consider exercising those options as a basic functionality for a multiplayer mode.

Locking that functionality behind a roll of the virtual dice when the player already shelled out $60 for the game, as though Mass Effect 3 was a free app on iOS which then offers in-app purchases to unlock the rest of the content, creates such a lesser experience for the player. It's a damned shame because other than this one, horrible decision, Mass Effect 3 multiplayer is brilliant, and I'm sure players are going to put it down sooner rather than later owing to the Reinforcement Pack system. Being denied the new options you want to try because you're not drawing the right card just isn't fun.

Dennis Scimeca is a freelance writer from Boston, MA. You can read some of his other musings on his blog punchingsnakes.com, or follow his random excitations on Twitter: @DennisScimeca.

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