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I guess I just like liking things

The Vulcan philosophy of IDIC would seem to apply here

The Vulcan philosophy of IDIC would seem to apply here

In an effort to “100%” Mass Effect 3, I have been playing a bunch of multiplayer this week. “100%” in this case means “get all the achievements,” something I really like to do when I can, but particularly on games I love. I’ve done this for Mass Effect 2, and 3 looks doable, but 1 is going to take a long, long time. I have three achievements left for Mass Effect 3 (not counting the Omega DLC, which I will eventually get):

  • Veteran – Kill 5,000 enemies.
  • Gunsmith – Upgrade any weapon to level 10.
  • Hijacker – Hijack an Atlas mech.

I’m 4,500 enemies into that first one, 9/10 on the second one, and have had no luck with that third one so far. The enemies are counted across all modes of play, so that first one’s just a matter of time. The guides tell me there are two ways to upgrade a weapon to level 10: do a second playthrough of the main game, get the same gun (that you already upgraded to level 5) and upgrade it five more times; or play multiplayer and keep buying boost packs that sometimes have upgrade kits in them. This second method is recommended as the easier/faster method, and it’s what I’m trying.

I have gone at length previously about how I think including multiplayer achievements as part of a “100%” is terrible, horrible, and wrong. I have not reversed my thinking on this – these achievements aren’t specifically multiplayer, multiplayer is just one of the means that can be used to accomplish the achievement. NOTE TO GAMEMAKERS: This is the correct way to do this! In fact, none of ME3’s achievements list multiplayer as the only way to get it. They are along the lines of “do this in multiplayer OR do this other thing in single player.” Seriously, this should be how every game handles it forever.

But this is not my main point here today.

You see, a funny thing happened while I was playing multiplayer, a thing I don’t completely understand. Mass Effect multiplayer is team-based. Up to four people can join in for a mission that has ten separate waves (eleven if you count the two-minute “hold them off until we get picked up!” thing after wave 10). The waves can be “kill all enemies,” “get this thing and take it there (while also killing all enemies),” or “kill these main four enemies (while also killing the rest of them).” Each wave is a little more difficult than the preceding one, and doing all 10 waves will take somewhere between 13-20 minutes, depending on a variety of factors. Finishing waves (and the whole mission, if you’re able, of course) earns you XP, and leveling up your multiplayer character gives you access to more abilities and weapons. Additionally, you can have many different multiplayer characters and play different ones as you see fit. the image I’ve included with this post shows the different races and classes to choose from – you’re not “limited” to your particular Commander Shepard here. The multiplayer storyline has it that you’re “in the trenches,” you’re the ones helping prepare the galaxy for the coming of the Reapers. Each mission you finish increases your “galactic readiness” level, which has a (limited) effect on your singleplayer game.

So it’s cooperative, is what I’m saying.  It can be difficult to find games to join. There isn’t a list of available ones, the game finds a slot for you and throws you in. It”s a two-year-old game, so that coupled with 15-20 minute sessions make waiting for a new game a good time to (for instance) empty and reload the dishwasher. I’ve begun starting my own public games and playing on my own until other people start dropping in. I don’t get very far on my own, but it’s good practice.

And this is where the funny thing happens to me. When I join into a game or other people join into mine, we start working towards these common goals. I don’t wear a headset when I’m playing, so we’re not communicating, we’re just doing our jobs as best we can. When someone gets wounded, someone else does his best to get there and revive them. People flank and cover and the jobs get done, and in the middle of it, I start feeling this kinship with my teammates who I don’t know. When someone drops out, I’m sad to see them go – not only because now we’re down to three, but because I’d gotten used to seeing them on the battlefield (and, admittedly, often it’s because they are a much higher level than me and are just crushing it out there). It’s amazing how quickly you pick up on how the other person is going to play and how quickly you can fall into your role. “Hey, how about I go grab that thing and take it to the drop-off zone, since you’re way better at blowing things up?” – but without actually having to say it.

Sure, it’d be better if I did wear a headset, and it’d be even better if I had three friends who wanted to play, but that’s kind of my point: there’s an instant level of … maybe not friendship, but something. Last night a group I was with started our second mission together, but my controller batteries died in the middle of the match. I “AAAAAAAAAAAHED!” and went scrambling for a replacement, but I had already been killed, and in the process of trying to revive me, another teammate was killed, and soon the match was lost. I felt terrible! Like, actually guilty! Worse than that, not 2 minutes into the next match, I had to drop out completely because [long, complicated story here], and I felt even worse. I couldn’t explain it to them, I was just gone. Now, losing me wasn’t as big a deal to them as losing them is to me, I’m sure, but I still felt bad.

When I was able to get back on later in the evening, a fellow jumped into my game that I had played with the night before. Again, I knew he hadn’t chosen the game, ME3 had just thrown him in, and I know there aren’t a whole ton of games being played, and maybe the game divides people geographically and he lives just down the road from me, but still, seeing his Geth back on the same field as me taking down Collectors made me smile, and if there were an in-game button for high-fiving someone, I would’ve used it.

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