There’s been a trend over the past decade or so to pad the value of story-driven games out with tacked-on multiplayer and to tack on story-driven single player campaigns to games that are largely known for their multiplayer (ex. Battlefield). So, when Mass Effect 3 launched with a multiplayer component in back in 2012, I asked myself a familiar question: Why?
Many gamers asked themselves the same question. Why does Mass Effect need multiplayer? To make matters worse, the multiplayer component took the form of horde mode, a mode that has often been lazily relied upon to tack on multiplayer to these sorts of games.
Gamers were in for a surprise, however.
Mass Effect 3 was nothing if not controversial, but one of the positive lasting legacies of the title was, you guessed it, its surprisingly compelling multiplayer. While Mass Effect 3’s multiplayer was indeed little more than your typical horde mode, the experience was well put together from top to bottom. What really spiced things up, at least for me, were the various objectives in between standard waves. Still horde mode, but just different enough to keep things interesting. EA also put a fairly aggressive (and free!) post-launch content schedule behind multiplayer that no one had any reason to expect. Updates were released every couple of months, consisting of new maps, gear, and even classes. This kept players coming back for quite a while.
The new classes were a particular draw because they allowed players to experience the game’s combat in ways they couldn’t have in the single player campaign. Want to play as a Talon Mercenary with a homing omni-bow? You could. How about an acrobatic, blade wielding N7 Slayer? You could do that, too. You could even play a Geth, a Vorcha, or even a Volus! By the end of it, there was a ton of variety on offer and there were lots of carrots to chase through the mode’s progression.
This is why the multiplayer in Mass Effect: Andromeda is so important. BioWare accidentally knocked it out of the park with what was assumed to be a tacked-on multiplayer mode in ME3, and this time around, players are actually expecting something compelling from Andromeda’s multiplayer as a result. Instead of asking myself “Why?”I’m wondering if Andromeda’s multiplayer will live up to and hopefully surpass what was accomplished in Mass Effect 3. As we’ve learned more and more about the game over the past few months, I’ve found myself more curious about what BioWare’s had in store for multiplayer than anything else. It’s a weird place to be, I know, but it’s true.
I’ve not had a chance to play the multiplayer just yet, but we did learn some new details about what to expect, so let’s round up what we know so far.
Launch maps include Firebase Zero (asteroid), Firebase Icebreaker (ice planet), Firebase Magma (a foundry built on a river of lava), Firebase Derelict (an abandoned Kett ship), and Firebase Sandstorm (desert). This is one less map than we had at launch in Mass Effect 3, but BioWare promises that more maps are coming.
This is a couple more classes than Mass Effect 3’s multiplayer had at launch, but we’re unsure of the full details at this point. I would expect to at least find typical configurations for the various species common to Andromeda (Human Adept, Salarian Engineer, and so on), but hopefully there are also a few unique classes available at launch as well. Something as novel as the biotic whip wielding Project Phoenix Adept from ME3 would be awesome.
Again, slightly more weapons at launch than in ME3, and we can confirm a number of popular weapons are returning already, such as the Revenant machine gun and the Black Widow sniper rifle, to name just a few.
Missions & Strike Teams
In single player, you’ll be able to send AI crew that you recruit, level, and gear up to tackle missions providing rewards for your character, these missions take a certain amount of time to complete (think Dragon Age: Inquisition’s War Table missions).
Additionally, there will be missions marked as “Apex Missions” and these can also be completed by your AI crew (though this will be difficult for them), but they can alternatively be completed by you through multiplayer. You can go right into the mission from single player, get matched to a group (or go in with friends), and you can just go in solo if you think you’re up for it. The rewards for doing these Apex missions in multiplayer will net you both the listed single player rewards as well as multiplayer rewards for your progression there. Before you get worried, none of these missions impact your story progression whatsoever for single player, so you’re not going to need to do any sort of multiplayer to get the best ending if you’re worried about that.
Instead of prestiging a character class in multiplayer like Mass Effect 3, Andromeda will utilize a bonus stats feature where earning experience while playing a certain class will also fill up a meter corresponding to its assigned bonus stat, earning you additional stats for all your classes. For example, if the Human Adept’s bonus stat is health, playing the class (even at its level cap) will earn you bonus health for all of your other characters.
What’s your take on Mass Effect multiplayer? Are you interested in taking part? Or do you plan on sticking with the single player campaign?