Welcome to the final Kotaku Game Club meeting on Mass Effect 3. We've spent the last three weeks talking about this game as the culmination of a gameplay promise established years ago, judging the its merits versus the two that came before for it. Today we'll be doing something a little different, venturing into an entirely new area of the Mass Effect universe: "Galaxy at War", the series' first attempt at multiplayer.
If you've never participated in a Game Club meeting before, here's the story. The Kotaku Game Club exists because no one wants to experience a game alone. Even if we're playing individually, it's always more interesting to share our thoughts and hear other peoples' perspectives. The Game Club picks a different game every month to play as group so we can meet to discuss its narrative and mechanical themes and reactions to them.
We meet on Kotaku every Thursday at 4pm Eastern, and our discussions take place in the comments section of designated Game Club posts like this one.
Here's our weekly jump-off question: Does the connection between the Mass Effect 3 campaign and its multiplayer offering strengthen or weaken the experience?
Connecting the multiplayer experience to the campaign, in its way, helps to feel the scale Mass Effect universe and the Reapers' invasion. At the same time, it also personalizes the experience - Where the campaign's war assets are just numbers, you and your squad-mates are real people that you can see and talk to.
Of course, connecting the campaign and multiplayer was also the easiest way to get players to give the untested mode a try: While it could theoretically enhance the experience, it also has the potential to ruin the magic of the intricately-crafted world.
As I mentioned above, Mass Effect is, at its core, a cumulative experience - Our emotional bond with Shepard and his or her crew evolves from witnessing some of their most meaningful life choices for hours on end. "Galaxy at War" introduces a set of non-descript characters are designed to be interchangeable and seemingly infinite in number - When you reach the character's level cap, you can "promote them" and start building a new soldier from scratch. The gameplay may mimic Mass Effect's combat, but players' fundamental motivations - to prestige and buy upgrades - couldn't be further from the spirit of the series.
Then again I enjoyed "Galaxy at War", just not the same way I enjoyed the rest of Mass Effect. It's fun in that same purely mechanical way as many other multiplayer shooters. Truth be told, I enjoyed the game a lot less when I thought that the people I was playing with, who weren't always the most pleasant bunch, might actually fight alongside Shepard and his crew.
Which leaves me wondering: Would the "Galaxy at War" experience been more enjoyable if it had simply relied on the same basic premise of "killing lots of bad guys" that other shooters do instead of trying to coerce us into emotional transference?
That's it, everybody! After today, we're done with Mass Effect 3. Make sure you post your ideas for what we should play next in the thread below. We'll let you know what the next game will be as soon we pick it.