BioWare Clarifies ‘Mass Effect 3′ Multiplayer’s Influence on Game Ending

Published 3 years ago by , Updated March 11th, 2012 at 9:42 pm,

Mass Effect 3 Multiplayer Ending

While perhaps not as divisive as the Krogan genophage, Mass Effect 3’s multiplayer has certainly garnered an equal share of supporting praise and critical barbs from fans of BioWare’s elegiac trilogy capper.

It’s not because the mode is teaming with awesome moments and subsequent gaping flaws – it’s a straightforward, effective four player co-op premise that demands little in the way of appreciation or beration (read more in our review). Rather, many are simply trying to figure out just how the hell it all factors in to the main campaign’s ending. Millions of gamers have spent untold hours (and six years) gallivanting through the galaxy with Commander Shepard, and it would be a shame to lose to the Reapers on account of a multiplayer technicality.

BioWare has heard the confusion and has taken the matter to their official forums. They recently released a statement to clarify how Mass Effect 3’s ending is influenced by fighting off waves of Cerberus, Geth, or Reaper enemies in the game’s new online mode:

You do NOT have to play multiplayer to get the best single-player endings.

Here’s a bit of clarification:

Your ending(s) are determined by your “Effective Military Strength” (let’s call it EMS for now) bar. Focus on that bar – that is your indicator of how well you will do in the end-game.

You can maximize your EMS just by collecting War Assets in the single-player game. There is a certain threshhold of these you would need to exceed (I can’t get too specific) but I can tell you there are MORE than the required amount that can be gathered in the single-player campaign.

“Galactic Readiness” is a modifier you can improve by playing multiplayer. That is to say, if you play a lot of multiplayer, you will need less War Assets from single-player to fill up your EMS bar (ie it will balance out the requirements to account for you playing in both modes).  Single-player game play does not impact that bar.

EMS = success. EMS can be maximized via collecting war assets alone, even if your Galactic Readiness is 50%.

This is shown in our even simpler screenshot totally handmade visual guide below. The Mass Effect 3 ending is predicated on two principal statistics: “Total Military Strength” (TMS) and “Galactic Readiness.” Consider TMS as the potential strength for all of the War Assets you’ve accumulated in single player, and the more (or less) galactically ready those Assets are determines their percentage of output (Effective Military Strength) when you Take Earth Back.

Mass Effect 3 Multiplayer War Assets

Apparently, mutiplayer can be disregarded outright and the minimum 50% Readiness will still make the best ending feasible – provided the player stockpiles enough TMS. This coincides with comments the developer made last year saying that the multiplayer was “100% optional.”

Could BioWare have kept it simple with one measurement? Probably. But the extra Galactic Readiness modifier makes the multiplayer-inclined gamer feel like they’re still having a profound effect on the single player campaign. As confusing as the War Asset system might be on its face, BioWare has successfully turned multiplayer into an asset of its own – one that’s not the distraction some skeptics originally feared.

Ranters, how have you been balancing your time between Mass Effect 3’s multiplayer and single player campaigns? Does the “Galactic Readiness” system enhance or cloud the concept of Commander Shepard’s War Assets?

As mentioned, be sure to check out our Mass Effect 3 review for Game Rant’s final take on the game.

[poll id=”34″]

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Source: BioWare

TAGS: BioWare, Electronic Arts, Mass Effect, Mass Effect 3, PC, PS3

  • some random hero

    No matter how many assets you get you get the same ending and its crap.

  • Ajeno

    In other words, if I want to discover everything in the game, in each Solar System, on each planet and through my scanner, I do so in the single player. But if I want to skip it and finish it quickly, I do the multi-player…

    And the problem people have with this would be?

    • Dovahkiin

      This makes much sense to me. I don’t understand the complaints constantly thrust in the face of bio-ware by misunderstanding fools.

      • Slyko227

        you need more than what you get in the single player, i did every mission every planet i got around 7500 assets and needed to play multi to get a highr readiness
        P.S. You need 5000+ readiness for best ending which still sucks and makes it even more confusing

        • Ranuu

          So you’re saying Bioware is lying about the game they designed?

          • tee86

            Yea i think he’s saying they are lying about their own game Just like they lied about the DLC that was never part of the original game then people find out it was already on the disc

        • harolf

          I agree unless there’s some huge asset everyone is missing because you take your readiness and times it by the assets. I had 6950 assets from doing everything and didn’t make extreme choices like killing off a race or something.

          • Beebs

            You need to amp up your galatic readiness to get the ending where Sheppard probably lives, the ending is confusing and full of plot holes. So YEAH EA is lying. I played the game and beat it and didn’t do multiplayer. The 9000+ Military strength I had didn’t matter because I didn’t do any multiplayer so it only counted at 50%. EA and Casey Hudson forced their loyal fans to play a partly multiplayer game that no one wanted in the first freakign place. They are lying. Period. You must play multiplayer or else Sheppard dies.

  • Cariannis

    Two ways to get crappy endings got it. Thank you.

    • VampFangX

      Exactly! I mean yes the rest of the game is amazing, and yes the mechanics are good, yes the multiplayer is ridiculously fun, and yes they did do the TMS system well, no one is arguing that. The bottom lime though is that people who are loyal to the ME series are loyal because of the amazing STORY. That’s what any gamer worth their salt is playing Mass Effect 3 for. And the sad truth is that in the one the place that we needed them to succeed, to give us real closure and absolution for Shepard, his crew, and Earth, they failed miserably! Totally unsatisfactory! And to all you people saying these endings were perfect, you either A)know very little about what makes a good plot/ending, B)Are new to the series and to you I say go play the first two then come back and say it’s acceptable, or C)Are just accepting mediocrity, and to those people I say think back? When has Shepard as a character ever just accepted any solution that was undesirable for anyone? Not to mention 3 false solutions that don’t really fix anything? The answer is a resounding never! Betrayal from Bioware I say!

      • Beebs


        The rest of the game was great, minus forced multiplayer that I probably won’t even bother going back to do at this point, and won’t be around in like 2 yrs when no one is playing this anymore. The ending was awful and full of MASSIVE plot holes. EA and Casey Hudson and all the writers did an awful job. This is a perfect example of how rushing games ruins them OR how a dumb board of directers for EA demands multiplayer and it takes away from the rest of the game. How could the last 15 minutes ruin 3 games? Play ME3 and find out peopel.

  • TaboriHK

    When you see that your effective rating is cut in half because you haven’t played multiplayer….there’s pretty much zero percent chance you won’t pop on to multiplayer.

    • Beebs

      Exactly. BUT NO ONE IS FORCING YOU, sure? We just made it so it’s almost impossible to be a Paragon and get 10000+ Military strengh which is reduced by 50% because you didn’t do multiplayer.

  • Greybeard

    OK this is cool. I’m not a fan of multiplayer stuff to begin with. I get bored as 99.9% of the time there is no substance to it. I’ve loved the Mass Effect series because how I play effects characters in game. Seeing that I don’t have to waste my time playing online to ensure a perfect ending makes me happy. Yeah I’ll have to grind, but I’ve been through a lot with my Shep’s. I don’t want to speed through the game, I want to enjoy the final tale of Commander Shepard.

    • Beebs

      I played and beat it bro. You HAVE to do multiplayer to get the optimal ending. Which still leaves your entire crew stranded light years away from any civilization. Plus what happens to the characters not on the normandy? Meh who knows, who cares according to EA.. They’ll probably release DLC for each of them and make you pay $15.00 per.

      You have to do multiplayer.

  • Volc19

    I have a maxed EMS and my endings still kinda blew. I was under the impression that one of the endings (the one on the red area, if you are following me) could be done with the highest EMS, and the optimal ending is achieved, but I got nothing. Zip. Nada. Zero. I f’d up the galaxy under the false pretense of reward.

    • Slyko227

      your ems has to be 5000+ to get the “optimal” ending with the red which is the only way, but to get 5000+ ems you need to play multi to get around 75% readiness, and all it does is add a tiny scene which makes it even more confussing cause it dosnt fit

      • Cariannis

        I got 100% EMS without touching multi.

        • Slyko227

          wtf?? galactic readiness stays at 50% unless you play multiplayer, for me the most war assets i could get was about 7500, which with 50% brought my ems to 3700, which meant i had to play multi to around 75% which gave me 5000+,i have no clue as to how you increased your readiness without multiplayer, seeing as i did every mission and every planet and it didnt move

          • Ranuu

            You didn’t even read the article, I get it now. Btw, I totally got 100% EMS as well. And I haven’t played a second of multiplayer.

            Your trolling has effectively failed.

        • LEO

          and how did u do that without multiplayer and did u get the EMS not TMS above 5000??

  • vain

    I can’t even get the multiplayer to work on my 360. I redeemed the online pass/the Prothean DLC and it works but still can’t access MP. Anyone else have this problem?

  • CrowMagnumMan

    I haven’t played yet, because I can’t import my Shepard’s face yet. Maybe in a few weeks, or perhaps never.

    • Ranuu

      You know, some of us ME fans have had this same problem, but you know what I did?

      I rebuilt the face, because I’d rather have dozens of hours of fun with less than 20 minutes of work, than complain forever and not play a game I bought anyway.

      Just suck it up, man.

      • CrowMagnumMan

        If 20 minutes of work would get me a satisfactory replica of the Shepard I played in the previous games, I’d be happy to do so. I’ve already tried that with the demo, and apparently was not skilled enough at using the character creator to adequately match the Shepard I played in the previous games. I’m glad that you were able to succeed at it, though.

        Why play an odd-looking Shepard when I can simply wait for a few weeks and play an exact replica? That said, if a true fix is simply not coming, I may have to resort to re-building my Shepard from scratch or using one of the work-arounds that have been posted on the Bioware forums.

        So no, I don’t think I’ll “suck it up”, thank you. I appreciate your attempts at encouragement, but personally, I would find it very difficult to enjoy Mass Effect 3 if I were playing a Shepard who I did not recognize as the same person I’d played in the previous games. If I can’t create a satisfactory Shepard, then I would rather not play at all. It’s the principle of the thing. EA/Bioware has essentially given me a severely damaged product, which I consider to be unplayable.

        Tolerance of bugs is completely acceptable, within reason. But there is a point where one must decide to simply stop buying and playing products from a given developer/publisher in protest of poor treatment as a customer. For me, this is that point.

  • Kate

    I had 100% EMS without touching multiplayer as well.

    ****spoiler alert****

    Unfortunately, it seems that no matter what your choices have been through the entire series, you still get stuck with one of three craptastic deus ex machina endings.

    There are theories floating around that it’s not the “real” ending. I’m really hoping that BioWare has something up their sleeve, and are sitting at their conference table reading all of the rants, laughing at us because they know there’s more coming. I’m hoping. Really hoping. It would be the ballsiest marketing move in gaming history, but it would be awesome.

  • Andy


  • Andy

    How ??? Why ??? NOOOOO !!!


    Shepard dies, the relays get destroyed and if you want to destroy the reapers you need to destroy the Get and (supposedly) EDI too… Joker crahses on some alien planet (why was he jumping anyway ?) and that can’t be too good for a guy with britle bone disease.

    What’s more you completly loose track of your team and get no sceens from after the vitory (champagne anyone ???)this is possible the worst ending ever in the history of video games, and it wouldn’t be a big deal if the game wasn’t possible the best ever made !!!

    I demand a DLC with a real ending, victory songs, naked women and booze and f”cking fireworks and dancing !!

    • Randomcivilian

      I second that notion.

  • Zerran

    Hint for the endings: There is only one correct choice, it is NOT a case of 3 jeopardy/deus ex machina endings. Bioware are some tricky, tricky people. The plot holes and random stupid stuff that makes no sense is all there on purpose.

    • Beebs

      Please explain further? This post seems like damage control from a paid EA poster. NO one cares about spoilers at this point as almost everyone here is hopping mad about the last 1/2 hour.

      • Senor McGiilicutty


        What he means is the belief is that the entire action after Harbringer nails you with the beam doesn’t every truly occur. If you read the codex it says that indoctrination that occurs slowly allows for the reaper to obtain control of an individual who retains their abilities and lasts longer than those who give in and become like husks.
        So the dreams and symbols throughout the game are thought to be Harbringer’s increasing strength of indoctrination. If you watch the dreams you’ll see the same wavy foliage you see at the whole beam scene as well as other things like the trees directly behind you when the scene begins (they don’t exist as you run up to the beam, only after). Also if you try and run far enough away from the beam you die, and at the start of the scene you can hear the radio chatter saying that Harbringer was there and that no one arrived at the beam itself. Only then are you inside the citadel with both the illusive man and Anderson who arrived before you but said he followed you in. Both Anderson and the Illusive man are thought to be the first of Harbringers full on attacks of your mind. You have to fight through his beliefs to even get to the control of the Catalyst and if you have a low enough EMS rating can be shot to death by him.

        Once finally at the catalyst, the child then goes on to explain its rediculous reasoning as to why the Reapers exist to a dumbfounded Shephard who throughout the game has already proven him wrong (think Geth and Quarian for the whole synthetics vs organics BS). He then goes into details as to your three choices and ironically switches the color codings of the two paragon and renegade actions. Anderson who has been paragon the entire game is now the renegade choice, and the Illusive man who has been the antithesis of shephard is now the blue colored paragon choice. The child talks up a storm for the Synthesis and Control choices, yet downplays the destroy option by stating; nay hinting, that the choice will kill Shephard, EDI and the geth. Forcing every play who actually created an emotional response to the characters to choose something else. This is the final test by Harbringers indoctrination. Both the COntrol and SYnthesis routes have already been covered in Mass Effect games. Saren was synthesis and look how that turned out for him, the Illusive man tried control and his goal went just as splendidly. The child isnt the Catalyst, the child is Harbringer. This is but another example of the reaper trying to obtain shephard which he has already tried to do if you played the Shadow Broker addon.

        This helps to explain a lot of things on the citadel which do not make sense such as human writing, shephards gut wound that goes from magical bleeding death sentence to absolutely non-existant a scene later. Finally, the only choice out of the three in which you see the “SPECIAL” scene of shephard on the earth (Hes under concrete pillars, IE NOT ON THE CITADEL, see radio contact before beam) breathing is by choosing the destroy option.

        Most people see this as shephard fighting off indoctrination and the final fight is to come. Which to me makes more sense as the final boss of the reapers Harbringer is completely absent from the trilogy final before the last five minutes of the game.

  • LEO

    the reason the only reason which i can think of and y Bioware is forcing ppl 4 the multiplayer is for the ppl who pirate the game and cant play multiplayer unless they have the original one so they r punishing the pirate users through ppl who dont want to play the multi to get the perfect ending so my guess its all about the selling what is confusing me y u get the maximum green bar with ur EMS less than 5000 i mean what the point of showing a bar at maximum and still dont get the perfect ending??

  • Jason

    “Your ending(s) are determined by your “Effective Military Strength” (let’s call it EMS for now) bar.”

    -Haha, lies the endings are chosen by which color you chose at the end. That’s about the only real difference in the endings. Oh unless you are looking for a 2 sec extra in which case you have to choose a specific color, forcing one ending anyways…