The resounding wailing of a banshee is enough to send a chill down my spine. First, the bone chilling scream. Then, the sighting of a banshee from afar. Shortly after, she performs a series of biotic jumps that closes the distance in a frightening, lightning speed. Blast! There is a big bolt of biotic energy radiates outwards that hurts. If she is close enough, she would carry you up in the air by your waist and with another hand, she caresses your head. Time seems to stop. Before you know it, your spine is snapped, you body is discarded. It is an instant death that not even your teammates could revive. The banshee screams, looks around, and onto the next target she goes. This weekend is Operation Silencer. Mass Effect 3 players at a global level are tasked to take down 3 million banshees in multiplayer mode. I have played my part, with blood and fear.
“Into thy embrace I surrender my body, once again.”
Like the picture above? I have more in my Google+ album.
I wrote about my first impression of the highly anticipated video game Mass Effect 3 in March. I went on dissecting the controversial ending in April. To wrap things up, before I dive into Diablo III next Tuesday like millions will do, it is fitting for me to write a short entry on Mass Effect 3 multiplayer mode.
Initially, I found it odd to read critics’ comments. They said, the multiplayer mode works much better than they thought. Now that I have sunk in a fair bit of hours into the multiplayer mode, clocked in enough rating to attain a ranking of #39 at a national level (as of this morning), I can understand the critics’ sentiment. It is good. So good that it overshadows the single player story mode, which is a shame. Because traditionally, the Mass Effect franchise is about an individual compelling story, with players’ decision inputs that steer the events in game. What makes Mass Effect 3 multiplayer mode such a success? Is there something the aging online game World of Warcraft can learn from it in the design of PvE contents (player-versus-environment)? I think so.
- Fast Pace, Fast Assembly, Fast Reward – Getting a team of four online in Mass Effect 3 is fast. Almost instant. Once a team is assembled, you get to pick another class to compliment the team. Each game takes 15 to 25 minutes to complete. At the end of the game, credits are rewarded depending on performance and difficulties. Credits can be used to purchase items. In World of Warcraft, it may take up to half an hour for a group to be formed. You are stuck with the character you queue for. Each game takes up to an hour to complete. You may end up with no loot after the game. And some tokens that take a long time to accumulate. Up to weeks.
- Skill Matters, More than Gears – To do well in Mass Effect 3 multiplayer, skill matters. Because the score is published at the end of each game, you feel motivated to do well. I do not know why till today, World of Warcraft still does not have an official scoring system for PvE contents.
- The Same Gear Dropped? No Problem! – To keep the long term attention of the gamers, developers introduce random rewards. In World of Warcraft, you grind the same dungeon many times in the hope of a gear drop. When it drops and is won, you care less about that encounter anymore though you still may have to do it for different reasons. What if every time you win the same gear (which would have been a waste now), you get a slight upgrade to your existing one? In Mass Effect 3 multiplayer mode, a gear can be upgraded 10 times. When it reaches the highest level, that gear will no longer drop. This makes so much sense.
- Gear Tiers Decoupled from Challenge Level – In Mass Effect 3, casual online players (or players with a low level character) can join a bronze challenge – an accessible content for most with 33% to 50% of success rate. Or they can up the challenge for silver or gold. Higher level of challenge rewards more credits. Credits can be used to randomly unlock items of different tiers. High tier items, of course, cost a lot more credit. If you have a bunch of reliable friends to do gold challenge, that is great. You get to unlock highest tier items at the fastest rate. What if you don’t? Not a problem. You gain credits in a slower rate through bronze and silver challenges. But you still have access to the highest tier items. I wish Blizzard could incorporate this to their massively popular online game.
- My Loot Is Mine – I know Blizzard is changing how loot works in the upcoming expansion, for some of the encounters. However, it is still worthwhile to mention that without having to roll against each other like in Mass Effect 3, it wipes away any negative feeling on who should get what. Suddenly, there is fun, and peace.
“Oh banshee, I do love to see you go up in flame.”