Mass Effect 4’s Multiplayer

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Prologue

I really enjoy Mass Effect 3’s Multiplayer.

I think it’s a fantastic horde mode type of game. Despite how much I rage at it, it’s a lot of fun. It takes one of the best parts of the Mass Effect experience, the combat, and strips away basically everything else. If you want to Incinerate some Reaper forces, instead of booting up the Singe Player campaign (or being forced to start a new one, which takes at least an hour to clear through the prologue), you can start up Multiplayer, join a game, and immediately start roasting Brutes. It’s great.

But it’s not perfect. The game is flawed in that its greatness is lessened by the absurd business model that BioWare implemented. I’m not sure why they put the Free-to-Play model into a game you were paying actual money for. Random loot is by far the stupidest of unlock systems, one that is geared towards making the player (or the customer, as I’m sure BioWare views them) need to either play it quite often, or give up and spend actual cash, in hopes of obtaining that elusive item that we yearn for. I’ll admit that I was suckered a few times. Using cash left over from a DLC purchase on a Spectre pack, or buying a JEP because I ran out of medi-gels and my party sucked.

But the more I played the game, both Single Player and Multiplayer, the more I started to want something else entirely. I wanted customization. In ME3MP, each character gets five powers: two passives, and three active powers. This was done largely to remove the need for a power wheel. With only three quickfire buttons and three matching powers, gameplay could progress in a more fast paced manner.

Sure, you get a bunch of characters, and a ton of weapons, consumables, and gear. That’s all well and good. But I imagine that even the most veteran of players have at some point found themselves wishing a certain character had one power instead of another. Why, for instance, did the Asari Justicar Adept have Reave and Pull, when the Drell Adept also had these powers? Wouldn’t Throw instead of Pull worked much better? Would that have been overpowered? I can’t see how.

The other thing was the arena based format of the game. In the Single Player, the majority of the missions are linear, “advance to the next objective” type of gameplay. The Multiplayer is one big arena instead. This was probably done because of system resources and such. But it’s the lack of that king of advancing, coupled with the lack of true customization, and the ridiculous store system, that truly alienates the Multiplayer from the Single Player. I often found myself wanting a more integrated type of experience.

So I did what every other fan did. I imagined some stuff up.

Mass Effect 4’s Multiplayer

So let’s start. What’s the same?

  • Three Quickfire Powers, Two Passive Powers
  • Two weapons max
  • Six classes
  • Variety of races to play as

And what’s different?

  • Consumables are gone
  • Deeper power customization
  • Improved maps
  • No fucking sync kills
  • Revamped (but not wholly changed) store system
  • More meaningful stats
  • Better social integration (no, I’m not talking Facebook or any of that garbage)

Instead of a stream of thoughts, I decided that, instead, I would walk you through my fictional Multiplayer experience. Starting with the character screen.

Character Set-Up

Let’s say you wanted to pick an Adept character. In ME3MP, you would go to the Adept column, then choose your desired character from that row. Although you may prefer one race to the others, what you were really choosing  is the combinations of powers. For ME4MP, it would be a bit different.

ME4MP Adept Character Screen

Here on the Adept screen, you start by choosing your race. While you’re able to select each race, some races, like the Salarians, Quarians, Geth, and Vorcha, are not known for really having any kind of biotic potential, so they wouldn’t show up. Likewise, Asari, Drell, Protheans, or Vorcha wouldn’t appear for Engineers.

So let’s say we chose the Prothean for our Adept. We are then taken to the powers screen.

ME4MP Character Power Screen

While there is only one choice for each Training and Fitness passive, the other three quickfire powers are split up into three categories: Class Power, Damage Power, and Utility Power.

In this menu, you are given the choice of customizing your Adept’s powers. On this example screen, the Class Power choices are Dark Channel, Singularity, and Stasis. In order to pre-balance the class, you can only have one of those three powers. This is also done to prevent a hypothetical overpowered character, such as an Infiltrator with both Tactical Cloak and Adrenaline Rush.

The Damage Power is all the powers for that character that are primarily used to inflict damage. If there are available Grenade Powers, they will appear here. Warp is considered a Damage Power, even though it has utility purposes, largely because it inflicts actual damage first.

Then, the Utility Power contains powers that affect the enemy in some way other than damaging them. Reave, for instance, does damage to enemies, but it’s considered a Utility Power because its primary purpose is to provide damage reduction and prime the target for a biotic detonation.

This graphic only displays three for each, but the Damage and Utility Powers would likely have many more to choose from. The split of the power choices also preemptively prevents dangerously powerful combinations.

You choose the powers you want – let’s say Dark Channel, Shockwave, and Reave – name your character, and poof, a Prothean Adept!

Classes

The six signature classes of the Mass Effect universe are intact, but with a few choice changes in ME4MP. ME3MP played very fast and loose with the definition of the classes. This arguably started with the N7 Paladin, who despite being listed as a Sentinel, had three different tech powers. What constituted a Sentinel before the N7 Paladin’s inclusion? Well, a Sentinel was a character who had both biotic and tech powers. Sentinels also were more defense oriented, with an emphasis on versatility over specialization. Whereas an Adept would have three biotic powers, and usually enough to both prime and detonate biotic explosions, a Sentinel would only have access to select biotic powers that offered utility and not straight damage.

In ME3MP, a Sentinel was boiled down to these components: a defensive power, usually an armor power; a biotic power; a tech power; versatile but unfocused. The N7 Paladin didn’t really qualify as those specifications. He had no biotic powers, and instead of being versatile, he was a potent tech combo character. He was an Engineer with a giant shield.

You could tell BioWare was lazy when it came to Sentinels, though. Both the Krogan and Vorcha Sentinels lacked a real biotic power, and instead used biotic grenades. The Human Sentinels were just Asari Adepts with Tech Armor instead of Stasis. The Volus Sentinel was an Engineer straight up. The Asari Valkyrie was the N7 Fury with Tech Armor.

It’s important that the classes are restored to their original meaning in ME4MP. I’m not talking about reverting to Mass Effect 1’s style, but rather, giving the classes individual purpose again.

So let’s look at a big list of classes, races, and powers:

Adepts are biotic specialists, capable of disabling and killing enemies with raw biotic power. They are the best at defeating enemies without firing a shot.
Class Powers:
– Dark Channel
– Singularity
– Stasis
Weapons:
– Submachine Guns
– Heavy Pistols
Available Races:
– Asari
– Batarian
– Drell
– Human
– Krogan
– Prothean
– Turian (Cabal Variant)

Soldiers are pure combat specialists. High-level operatives are outfitted with ocular synaptic processors that allow them to focus on targets with lethal accuracy.
Class Powers:
– Adrenaline Rush
– Marksman
– Fortification
Weapons:
– Assault Rifles
– Shotguns
– Sniper Rifles
Available Races:
– Batarian
– Geth
– Human
– Krogan
– Quarian (Marine Variant)
– Turian
– Vorcha

Engineers are tech specialists, the most effective class at disabling the defense of the toughest enemies. Engineers have the unique ability to spawn drones and turrets.
Class Powers:
– Hex Shield
– Combat Drone
– Sentry Turret
Weapons:
– Submachine Guns
– Heavy Pistols
Available Races:
– Batarian (Mechanic Variant)
– Geth
– Human
– Quarian
– Salarian
– Turian
– Volus

(Adepts, Soldiers, and Engineers have their non-class powers split into two categories: Damage Power, and Utility Power.)

Sentinels are unique, bringing both tech and biotic abilities to the battlefield. They are equipped with an advanced shield that makes taking cover much less necessary.
Class Powers:
– Tech Armor
– Defense Matrix
– Barrier
Weapons:
– Assault Rifles
– Heavy Pistols
Available Races:
– Batarian
– Drell
– Human
– Krogan
– Salarian (Mercenary Variant)
– Turian
– Vorcha

Infiltrators are tech and combat specialists with the unique ability to cloak themselves. Infiltrators are deadly at any range, but particularly so with a sniper rifle.
Class Powers:
– Tactical Cloak
– Assassination
– Tactical Scan
Weapons:
– Sniper Rifles
– Submachine Guns
Available Races:
– Asari (Commando Variant)
– Drell
– Geth
– Human
– Quarian
– Salarian
– Turian

Vanguards are feared for their high-risk, high-reward combat style. They are outfitted with L5n implants, enabling them to perform a biotic charge.
Class Powers:
– Biotic Charge
– Annihilation Field
– Flare
Weapons:
– Shotguns
– Heavy Pistols
Available Races:
– Asari
– Batarian
– Drell
– Human
– Krogan
– Prothean (Exemplar Variant)
– Turian

(Sentinels, Infiltrators, and Vanguards do not have Damage and Utility Powers. Instead, their non-class powers are split into two categories: Biotic Power and Tech Power for Sentinels; Combat Power and Tech Power for Infiltrators; Combat Power and Biotic Power for Vanguards.)

Next week I’ll be talking about my vision for the maps, store system, and social integration!

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