Ever since the unveiling of Mass Effect 3's Galaxy At War multiplayer mode, fans have been a bit skeptical of whether or not the multiplayer would interfere with Mass Effect 3's trademark in-depth singleplayer campaign. After all, BioWare doesn't exactly have much experience in multiplayer, leading many to accuse them of just shoehorning in multiplayer . However, BioWare's Casey Hudson reveals that the team at their Edmonton development house actually wanted to have multiplayer in the first Mass Effect.
When working on the original Mass Effect, BioWare noticed the more social direction games were taking, and began work on a multiplayer mode. The multiplayer would have essentially been the campaign played as a co-op experience, but sensing that doing so would be detrimental to the single player gameplay and the story, BioWare dropped their multiplayer plans and continued work on the main game.
The possibility of a multiplayer mode cropped up again during Mass Effect 2's development, but due to similar issues on how it would effect the narrative, BioWare chose to forgo the multiplayer once again and focus on the singleplayer. With Mass Effect 3, BioWare took a different approach on the multiplayer mode, choosing to instead craft a multiplayer mode that was separate from the main game, effectively allowing them to create two different game modes that wouldn't conflict with each other.
"In general, that's the direction that videogames are heading; they're more social, more online, and we've been trying to find a way ever since Mass Effect 1 to integrate some kind of multiplayer."
Naturally, such topics lead into the question of whether or not we could see a Mass Effect MMO in the near future, and it's definitely something the BioWare is interested in. We just saw this with Knights of the Old Republic turning into the new Star Wars MMO. Citing the love fans have for the Mass Effect Universe, Hudson makes it clear that he would love to play an MMO based on the Mass Effect Universe, though whether or not it would ever see the light of day is quietly brushed aside. No doubt BioWare is waiting to see how successful Star Wars: The Old Republic is before they begin work on a Mass Effect MMO.
"On a personal level, I think I would like to play a Mass Effect MMO. I would love to just be in a lot of these locations. I would like to live in the Citadel, and walk around and do neat stuff, get caught up in adventures, and I think that's a lot of the feedback that we have from our fans; they want more adventures in their DLC, they want to make sure that your squad members are there, and have interactions with you, because it points to an interest in just living in the world versus being under pressure to finish the story which is another type of experience. Sure, it's a great experience, but I think when you build a universe - versus a one-off story - then I think people want to live in it."
Personally, while playing through both Mass Effect games I always thought it would be fun play it with two other friends, though the impact it would have on the story would be very noticeable. To put it simply, the Mass Effect singleplayer is a personal tale, one that the player is allowed to craft on their own and one that represents themselves, having co op would just ruin that. It's good that BioWare has found an alternative, but it should also be stated that multiplayer shouldn't just be added in simply to have multiplayer since games like this can still be successful even as a single-player-only experience.
Mass Effect 3 releases March 6th, 2012 for the PS3, Xbox 360 and PC.
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