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October 12, 2011

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BioWare Announces Mass Effect 3 Co-op Multiplayer

Posted by on Oct 12, 2011

So this is interesting.  BioWare announced this morning that Mass Effect 3 will come bundled with a code to unlock an additional cooperative multiplayer mode known as Galaxy at War, which will allow up to four players to team up and take on the dreaded Reavers and save the galaxy.  This new mode will be a series of completely separate missions where players will be able to choose from a number of different classes and alien races.  While the storyline will be completely separate from the adventures of Commander Shepard, et al., success in these missions will benefit certain aspects of the single player campaign progression.  This new mode is completely optional, however, and BioWare has assured us that a player can achieve the maximum progression and the “perfect” ending through exploits in the single player campaign alone.

All of this sounds well and good, and I’m all for additional gameplay modes (especially since Chris and I love co-op gameplay), but all is not well in the world.  Careful readers will have noticed that I said this is being bundled as a code that will unlock downloadable content.  This means that everyone who buys the game will get this code to unlock the co-op experience.  Anyone who buys the game used, however, cannot be guaranteed that the code will be included in the box, or if it has been included, that it will not have been used already.  This means that nobody purchasing the game used will be able to count on getting the full boxed version.  Do you really think the retailers are going to discount the copies without a
working code?  Hell no.  Naturally, EA will allow anyone who doesn’t have the code to buy the multiplayer mode separately on Xbox Live or the Playstation Network.

This is all part of the ever-growing war that the major publishers *cough*MOSTLY EA*cough* are waging against the used game industry in an effort to eke out more profits.  By crippling used games, publishers force players to pay in order to unlock the full experience.  These DLC purchases of $10-$15 are likely to be much more profitable for the companies, too, as they are simply sending data across a wire, as opposed to distributing physical discs.

I think this practice of charging for bundled codes is only going to increase going forward, and consumers need to be wary of it, especially if companies begin to adopt this method for more than just smaller parts of games.  What is to stop a company from making an entire game unplayable without a unique code that costs $60 when it isn’t bundled with a new copy?  At that point, the set-up begins to resemble a system like Steam.  The difference is, when I buy a game on Steam, I know what I’m getting.  If I pick up a used game at Gamestop, I should expect to be able to play the game I purchase.

Anyway, enough out of me.  What do you think about the new Mass Effect 3 multiplayer mode?  What are your thoughts on the bundled code to unlock it?  Let us know below.

Full press release follows:

BioWare Unveils Mass Effect 3: Galaxy at War System Featuring Series Debut of Multiplayer

Fight the Galactic War from New Fronts and Platforms Including Four-Player Co-Operative Multiplayer

EDMONTON, Alberta–(BUSINESS WIRE)– Earth has been captured, the galaxy is on the verge of total extinction, and it’s up to you as Commander Shepard to assemble the counter offensive and take Earth back. Award-winning developer BioWare, a label of Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ:ERTS), announced today that multiplayer will be coming to the critically-acclaimed Mass Effect™ series for the very first time as part of the newMass Effect 3: Galaxy at War system. With the Mass Effect 3: Galaxy at War system, players will fight for the survival of the galaxy against an ancient alien race known only as, Reapers, in both the single player campaign and through a suite of Mass Effect games and applications. Progress made in each of the components of the system, including the new multiplayer mode, will directly link back to the player’s main campaign, helping Commander Shepard rally the forces of the galaxy to eliminate the Reaper threat once and for all. The Mass Effect 3: Galaxy at War feature can be activated via the Online Pass code found in every new copy of Mass Effect 3. The Mass Effect 3 Online Pass can also be purchased separately on the Xbox 360® videogame and entertainment system and PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system.

“The theme of galactic war in Mass Effect 3 presents us with the perfect opportunity to introduce multiplayer into the Mass Effect series,” said Casey Hudson, Executive Producer of the Mass Effect series. “Multiplayer not only features amazing combat and deep customization options, but it will give players another way to help the war effort against the Reapers in the main event — the single player campaign.”

Featuring four-player cooperative gameplay, multiplayer in Mass Effect 3 puts players in the role of a team of elite Special Forces soldiers sent to protect resources and assets that can help the war effort against the Reapers. Players will have the option of playing as one of six classes and from six different races: Human, Krogan, Asari, Drell, Salarian and Turian.

Multiplayer and other components of the Mass Effect 3: Galaxy at War system provide alternative ways for players to wage the final war against the Reapers. The new system will also connect players to their BioWare Social Network accounts to stay up to date on the latest Mass Effect 3 news and access downloadable content (DLC) and add-ons.

The Mass Effect franchise is one of the most highly decorated series in the history of games, having earned over 200 awards worldwide. Mass Effect 3 arrives on the Xbox 360® videogame and entertainment system, PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system and PC in North America on March 6, 2012 and in Europe on March 9, 2012. For more information on Mass Effect 3, please visit http://masseffect.com, follow the game on Twitter at http://twitter.com/masseffect or “like” the game on Facebook at http://facebook.com/masseffect.

  • I think the idea of coop multiplayer is awesome – I’ve always loved games that did it (Resident Evil 5, Gears, etc). I’m not sure how it will play out as a completely different set of missions, since that seems a little odd, but who knows.

    I agree however, that this recent trend of downloadable-with-a-code-at-launch content is a little troubling.I have no problem with DLC released 6 months after the fact, but the idea of potentially having to pay extra for part of a new game release is troubling.

  • DLC drama aside, the co-op mode sounds like it could be awesome. I know it will be tough giving my friends the ability to choose anything other than the insta-win team-up of Garrus and Wrex (or whatever turian-krogan combo you have at your disposal). But since the team-based combat is one of the more fun elements of Mass Effect, I can’t imagine making your team out of 4 real people as opposed to yourself and 2 AIs can do anything but make the experience that much more dynamic and fun.

    That said, any company who tries to charge me more for the exact same thing is barking up the wrong tree. That’d be the “Stop mugging me, you big dumb game publishers!” tree, for those who were wondering.