1up recently posted their impressions of the ME3 multiplayer, and had mixed feelings. While there were some moments when the gameplay shined, they also said that it occasionally felt unnecessary or that they certain mechanics didn’t translate too well to multiplayer, particularly the cover system, which didn’t feel as tight as in other online games. Personally, I am hopeful but hesitant at the prospect of a multiplayer mode. Players loved Mass Effect before any announcement of single player, and aside from occasional musings on potential implementations of multiplayer, most gamers didn’t speculate that the series would ever move in that direction. I also wonder whether the multiplayer came at the behest of the Bioware creatives, or whether it was mandated by EA higher-ups.
One reservation concerning the addition of a multiplayer to Mass Effect 3 is that it came after an announcement from an EA COO that every EA game would have an online component. This makes one wonder whether Bioware was even enthusiastic about adding this feature to the game, or whether it was yet another marketing scheme imposed by higher-ups. It also raises two issues: 1) Will the online component be an afterthought in the development of the game, and 2) The single-player has a tremendous scope, with scenarios based on many decisions made throughout all 3 games. Implementing the single-player alone is an extremely daunting task- can they afford to implement an entirely new multiplayer mode as well?
It somewhat reminds me of the changes to the multiplayer system in Resistance 2. It lost the 2-player co-op in favor of an instanced multiplayer FPS mode with RPG elements. Many reviewers praised the changes, but after playing through it for a few days, I found it to be unbearably repetitive- same abilities/weapons in the same maps, with the same enemies, over and over, ad infinitum. Although I admit it’s too early to speculate, I am concerned that the wave-based combat in ME3’s multiplayer sounds too reminiscent of this type of grind- you can only play through so many missions. Hopefully they will take advantage of some dynamic enemy-generating system a la “The Director” from Left 4 Dead, rather than entirely scripting the enemy spawns.
On the brighter side of things, it seems that they are giving certain sites some hands-on time, so hopefully they will have time to react and adapt to comments and criticisms. Taking into account the relatively conservative release date, hopefully the gameplay will be refined by launch. Either way, I’m looking forward to getting to play it myself.