Resurgence of errors: Mass Effect 3’s unfortunate DLC

By Brenna Hillier, Sunday, 15 April 2012 13:25 GMT

This weekend’s Mass Effect 3 multiplayer event has drawn the usual crowds, but Resurgence isn’t going down quite as well as previous Operations. Brenna Hillier reports from the frontlines.

Mass Effect 3’s multiplayer is something of a surprise hit. Fans were understandably dubious of a horde-like experience tacked onto a single player epic, but the improved shooter mechanics and strong design have proved a lasting success for those keen to get more Mass Effect in their lives. It’s not just value-added for gamers, either; although there’s DLC to come, BioWare just closed off a trilogy which has been at the forefront of gamer consciousness for five years. This is the natural point for interest in the brand to switch off, and by keeping bums in seats with multiplayer, the developer has an increased chance of holding onto its fanbase.

As such, it’s in everybody’s interests for the multiplayer experience to develop and evolve, and with the free Resurgence pack, Mass Effect 3 has gained a new lease on life – or rather, should have.

I was really hoping to bring you an in-depth account of the new content today. The additional classes look cool, and I’m looking forward to trying the new weapons out. A pair of maps represents a significant expansion to the line up, and they’re sufficiently varied and interesting that it’s a delight to explore them. Unfortunately, on the three occasions I’ve fired up Mass Effect 3’s multiplayer since the pack’s release, I’ve been unable to really try anything out, thanks to a plethora of game-breaking glitches.

Hand me the bug spray

Pre-Resurgence Mass Effect 3 had its share of in-game technical issues. A couple of old favourites include shuttles that hang around through a whole match; weapon firing effects that display at inappropriate times; amusing AI foibles; and ladders that adamantly refuse to be climbed. But apart from the ladder issue, they were largely cosmetic; post-Resurgence, things have gotten nasty, with a whole new catalogue of problems.

There’s the one where my abilities stop working altogether, that’s a frustrating one. The one where enemies disappear and reappear a few metres away in a Shrodinger’s Cat state of uncertainty as to their life status is pretty entertaining for kill stealing Vanguards like myself, except when the Brute you’ve just dropped appears behind you and stabs you in the back. The one where a sound effect repeats endlessly at high volume is not too great, either.

Note: those are the lesser issues. I’m particularly angry about the one where my screen freezes for two seconds out of every 15 seconds but the action continues without me, and the one where I drop out, my game crashes, and I have to restart my PC to even load a match.

However, I think the one that takes the cake is when you snap to cover, only to appear on top of it – regardless of the height of the obstacle – and then zip crazily back and forth between the two surfaces. The character slows to a crawl, as if running against a wall nobody else can see, making it difficult to move to a flat space – and when you do, movement speed will not increase. I took a video of this one, and unfortunately stopped it before the part where I fell into the underworld for the remainder of the match – thank goodness I was in the LZ.

Since the pack’s launch, I have been unable to complete a match without seeing one of these problems occur, and issues I noted before its release seem to have increased in frequency. Is it something to do with the extra influx of new players? Or is Resurgence just broken? I’m pretty sure it’s the second one, because I know I’m not alone.

Buggy game updates are something we have to live with as gamers; it is all but financially and logistically impossible to find and eliminate the kinds of issues which become apparent when they hit the wild. The certification processes which mostly protect us from such patches also mean we’re going to be waiting a while for a fix, and that’s something BioWare can’t be happy about – especially as we’re right in the middle of what is likely to be one of the busiest weekends the game has seen since launch.

Resurgence of interest? More like resurgence of the heavy criticism dogging Mass Effect 3 for weeks now. What should have been a wonderful opportunity for good press has turned into a PR disaster for BioWare and EA, and a personal disaster for many gamers who put aside time for some serious gaming sessions.

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