How Not to Play Mass Effect 3 (or, the joys of truly co-operative multiplayer) :P

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Note: This post works better with its associated video here or opened in another tab so you can see both video and text at once. If that’s not possible, there are time tags for every rule, to keep things on track.

As you can tell from the title, the subject today is Mass Effect 3 multiplayer. Which is probably my favourite and most-played video-game-related-thing ever. It’s not the most original game in the world, but it is very well done- there’s something incredibly compelling about the multiplayer even two years and 650 games in.

Part of the reason for this is the sheer variety of characters and powers. However, just having loads of characters isn’t enough to make a game good:  ME3 multiplayer got it right because every character can be of use in a team. It’s replayability is mainly a function of the incredible amounts of team synergy that can be created. That’s something you don’t see in a lot of shooters- even when it says co-operative multiplayer, many are basically competitive multiplayer instead, just with a few less people shooting at you, rather than modifying the fundamentals of how you play the game.

While I’m planning to put some videos of good runs up, with my typical team. I’m putting up this one basically as a “what not to do” video, and a view of  why maybe some people don’t find this game as long-term interesting as we do.

So, how not to play ME3 😛


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Mass Effect 3, Part 2

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One important thing I should mention about my experience with Mass Effect 3 is my propensity to glitches. The isn’t the fault of the game itself, as it was usually very reliable. However, I do have a tendency to accidentally cause bugs and glitches in most games I’m playing, even when other people playing it don’t experience these bugs. When playing ME3, this ability is increased to weird levels. (It’s because of this game that my Xbox tagline is now “the accidental glitcher”). So I couldn’t really write about ME3 without explaining some of the strange things that have happened to me while playing it.
 
1)      I’ll start with the most minor glitch. At the start of each wave, the enemies will appear from certain locations, depending on where the team members are. Normally, you don’t see them spawn- at least, most of the people I play with say that. However, I always end up right by where they spawn. Seeing as they usually appear by flying/jumping down from a point above the map, that means I’ve occasionally had enemies jump down almost on top of me, which  isn’t supposed to happen.

2)      Another minor glitch is an unfortunate consequence of a useful part of the gameplay.  Some multiplayer classes have stimpacks or temporary skill boosts that are accompanied by visual effects. For example, human Soldiers have Adrenaline Rush, which increases rate of weapon fire and damage, and when this is active everything is brighter and colours are more saturated. Another effect is on Krogan characters, whose Rage mode tints the screen red to show their increased attack damage.

While these effects add a visual extra to the game, they are often inconsistent- sometimes the skill can be active without the visual effect activating, and other times the visual effect will remain even when the power isn’t active. Normally, these don’t cause too much bother: the only one of these that I’ve found annoying is the visual glitch caused by some of my favourite characters, the Volus species. Voluses (Volii?) have incredibly low health and shields (150 health/ 250 shields as opposed to a default 500/500), so rarely survive a direct fight. However, they excel in a pure support role, relying on their Shield Boost ability to refill their own shields and those of  nearby fireteam members. The “Volus glitch” comes from using this ability just as you’re about to die. At very low health the screen goes dark red as a warning, but using Shield Boost to recover your health often locks the screen onto this colour, which can only be fixed by losing health and shields again. This means it’s a lot more difficult to see what’s going on, which has caused me to die unnecessarily before. Continue reading

Mass Effect 3, Part 1

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As I promised, I’m going to start with my favourite co-operative game- Mass Effect 3. However, I should probably clarify one thing first though; I haven’t played the single-player campaign yet. That’s mostly because the games are so good that I know finishing the story will kind of be the end of an era- the gaming equivalent of finishing the last Harry Potter book.  My love for this series is therefore based on just how awesome I’ve found the multiplayer to be- and also on completing the first game, which I bought after playing the third. Below is my explanation of just why I find this game so appealing.
Characters

In multiplayer, there are 64 available characters (originally 25, with new ones added throughout the year after release) – split across 12 alien races and various humans, in 6 attack classes.  Each race has different health and shield levels, and different weapon preferences. Each character has three abilities, which can be for attack, self-defence, or team support.

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