This weekend’s multiplayer event brought a swathe of new players to Mass Effect 3 – and most of them sucked. Here’s a handy guide for stopping greenhorn N7s getting booted from veteran lobbies.
Mass Effect 3 is BioWare’s first foray into multiplayer shooter territory, and its inclusion drew ire from the franchise’s single-player focussed fan base. Some shooter fans have found the combat “floaty”. We think it’s pretty good.
Playing multiplayer matches raises your Galactic Readiness rating, which in turn multiplies the Effective Military Strength in your single-player campaign; this can help you get a better ending even if you skipped the side-questing.
Multiplayer characters are capped at level 20, and can then be promoted, resetting the class and adding a war asset to the single-player campaign.
Experience is shared across classes, but each has four characters – a human male and female are available at first, with alien species Asari, Drell, Krogan, Salarian, Turian and Quarian randomly unlocked by purchasing booster packs with in-game credits.
Weapons and mods can be upgraded, and further customisation options can be unlocked.
A player’s total progress in all classes, plus bonuses for promoting, is represented by their N7 level.
Start simple, start slow.
You start off relatively weak and, let’s face it, probably pretty crap. Don’t try to emulate the level 20 Vanguard with instant barrier regeneration and rush face-first into a Ravager; pick one map, avoid the Reapers, and get the hang of your powers, the environments, and what balance of weaponry versus power cooldowns suits you before moving on. Once you’ve levelled your weapons and powers a little, you’ll find it much easier to survive – and from there, to kick arse.
Mass Effect 3’s combat is all about flanking and cross fire. You want the enemy pinned down in one place taking fire from three directions. Look for elevation. Look for branching paths. Ensure one of your crew is keeping en eye on the door behind you, in case a Phantom has got the same idea.
… but shoot from cover.
Memorise these facts: Zooming your aim (left trigger or right mouse button) does a lot more damage than run and gunning (just right trigger or left mouse button). Shooting from cover while zoomed does even more. This is just how it works; don’t blame me. If you’re going to do a lot of mobile shooting you may want to equip a stability mod but never, ever shoot without aiming unless you don’t mind emptying all your clips and then clicking the trigger on an empty chamber as your target melees you to death.
Learn how the missions work.
Each match involves several missions, and they must be completed before the time runs out or you’ll lose the entire thing. There are three kinds, all on strict timers. Hunting down priority targets is straightforward, but don’t waste time – if two of the four are brutes you have a lot of shooting to do. Triggering four points is a little trickier; each one has an individual timer, and takes a few seconds to activate. The player activating is helpless and must be protected. Two players activating at once does not speed the process. Arguably the hardest mission involves holding a zone for a particular length of time – all four of you in the zone will speed things up massively, and as enemies will continue to spawn for the length of the activation period, your solo efforts three rooms away aren’t helping anyone.
Sprint – carefully.
There is no penalty for sprinting nor do you ever run out of sprint. Don’t jog along. Avoid coming to close to walls and cover as you’ll snap to it. That said, know where you’re going and be prepared for what’s around the corner, especially in later waves.
Be a team player.
Assume friendly fire is on. Stop shooting your mates in the back; take one smart pace to the side and put the enemy in a cross fire zone. Combine your powers to get a Biotic or Tech explosion – which is a much better result than Captain Planet. You don’t have to stick to your buddies like glue to be successful; the levels are nicely branching, meaning two packs of two players can often flank and obliterate a group of enemies – but this incredibly simple tactic works a lot better when you’re not on the other side of the map, looking for some solo action. Sticking reasonably close to your crew – or at least, knowing a quick path back to them – means you’ve got a good chance of getting assist XP. It also puts you in a good position to resurrect fallen comrades before they bleed out, which you should always do, but for heavens sake: clear out the Pyro or Ravager standing over their body before you attempt it. A pile up of four corpses isn’t going to help anyone.
Resurrect fallen comrades before they bleed out, but for heavens sake: clear out the Pyro or Ravager standing over their body before you attempt it. A pile up of four corpses isn’t going to help anyone.
Invest in packs.
Okay, so you’ll probably never get that Asari Vanguard or Widow rifle you’re jonesing for, but it’s still worth spending your credits on the Recruit packs available in the store. Successfully completing a couple of Bronze challenges will earn you enough for a Spectre pack (or Veteran, if it’s on sale or you’ve finished collecting the rarest gear), which is much more likely to contain something fancy – but while you’re saving up, why not grab a cheaper pack every now and then? Levelling your basic weapons is well worth the effort, and it goes much faster when you’re buying every match rather than every half dozen or so. It will also help refill your stock of items and equipment. Speaking of which:
Use your items and equipment.
There are several different kinds of items which you should know how and when to use. You can carry three medi-gel packs into battle to resurrect yourself with – if you think you can save the round, use one just before you bleed out or are executed. You’ll also have a couple of instant shield and health boosts, which can help avoid that whole situation – or even better, use your missile launcher; the best defence is a good offence, as they say. That nasty cluster of Geth Pyros or Banshee, Brute and Ravager combo is just asking for it. And finally, there’s emergency ammo refills for when you’re pinned down (how did this happen?) and have run out of clips.
Be smart about challenge settings.
Even at max level and with good gear, a tight crew will still struggle with the higher level challenges. Don’t go for the extra XP bonus the random map and enemy brings; make a decision and stick to it. This will allow you to bring the best load out for the situation at hand. Use an armour, weapon and ammo bonus, and if possible, co-ordinate with your teammates as to how you’ll approach each wave.
I can’t believe this needs saying, but shoot them in the face. This is especially good advice for Vanguards and Sentinels who like to get up close and personal; it’s hard to miss a face inches from your own. Even the Geth go down faster at the flashlight head end. Cannibal faces are not at the top of their bodies, but slightly lower down. Brutes cover their faces with one arm; if one of you can lure it slowly forward, a flanking buddy can get in a few headshots. Never get close to the banshee unless it’s from behind; the luring trick works well here, too. Pyros are weak from behind; flank them and shoot them in the back.
Take out the heavies.
The Brutes, Banshees, Ravagers, Pyros, Primes, Atlas robots and Phantoms are all really bad news, and can kill you in one or two hits. Whenever there’s one on the map you should know where it is, and either hit it hard with co-ordinated attacks; avoid it while you clear other distractions; or have a solo keep it busy while your team takes out the lightweight stuff. If you go off solo-ing without finding the heavies, you will either end up with them suddenly in your face, or have your whole team come down – and then they’ll all be after you.
Get to the LZ.
If you’re outside the blue zone when the timer counts down you’ll lose a whack of XP for a full extraction. Don’t be that guy.
Got a hot tip for beginners, or something more advanced? A favourite map or weapon load out? A high level build? Looking for more friends to play with? Share your stories in the comments below.