I recently played Mass Effect 3 with some friends and live streamed it to the Co-op Heroes TwitchTV channel. The decision to play multiplayer on Mass Effect 3 stemmed from a Twitter conversation in which we all realized we did, in fact, enjoy the game’s multiplayer mode. All three of us have taken a hiatus from the game, and we thought it would be fun to jump in for a night of sci-fi co-op adventure. What happened, embarrassingly, was roughly 30 minutes of us downloading 3-4 various downloadable content just to be able to play together.
A Black Eye on a Good Experience
Where Mass Effect 3 multiplayer fails is the requirement that we are synced completely.
When the DLC is in complete alignment, Mass Effect 3 multiplayer is a great co-op experience in which you survive waves of enemies with various mini-missions and have a chance to reach extraction. In order to achieve a better adoption rate for the multiplayer experience, the results of the single player campaign’s final mission did hinge on galactic readiness which could be increased by successfully completing multiplayer missions.
Perhaps streaming this event live only amplifies the problem, but requiring the three of us to try downloading different DLC just to be able to connect is disturbing and a poor example on how to handle multiplayer DLC. Multplayer DLC comes in three common categories: maps, characters, and add-ons. Maps give us more areas to play, characters give us the chance to play as someone else, and the add-ons can range from weapons, armor, skins, and more.
In the short term, requiring us to be synced isn’t the worst idea, and it’s quite possible that’s why I originally missed it. After Mass Effect 3 launched, the multiplayer was unexpectedly popular and it could be assumed since nearly all of the multiplayer DLC was free, at least the big ones, we should be able to sync easily.
The problem is if you’ve taken any sort of break from the game and come back you may find it very difficult to connect with friends, and finding games with people you don’t know could be troublesome as the game would have to search for players with the exact same configuration as you.
Preferred DLC Experience
Where other franchises excel is simply disabling the DLC that members of the party don’t have. This method ensures players aren’t forced to go through the gauntlet of the marketplace just to be able to connect. Whenever the game’s job is to connect multiple players together, it is important the process is painless. This is where I think games find feast or famine.
In the world of multiplayer and cooperative play, this is where I’d like to see DLC to find a home. The idea of downloadable content suggests it is optional. Keeping it optional for multiplayer gaming is where DLC belongs.
Discuss: How should multiplayer DLC be handled?