I plan on putting my thoughts on Mass Effect 3‘s single player campaign to paper soon (as soon as I recover from the rage stroke), but in the meantime I’ve been enjoying some of the surprisingly-addicting ME3 multiplayer. Well, I should clarify—tryingto enjoy the multiplayer. Turns out the Mass Effect community, apparently never having experienced cooperative gaming, is arguably the worst multiplayer community I’ve ever dealt with, and I played Counter-Strike for three years. Never fear though, plebes; I have descended from on-high to give ye unwashed masses the 10 Commandments of ME3 Multiplayer.
10. Thou Shalt Be Ready to Play
It’s hard finding an ME3 match sometimes. The matchmaking service isn’t the best, as I’ve repeatedly been dropped from games before even reaching the lobby. Upon reaching an actual lobby, I’ve been kicked because I : was too underleveled (for Bronze?), was too overleveled, didn’t know anyone in the lobby, knew someone in the lobby who sucked the last round (and got kicked with her), was playing the “wrong” class, was playing the “right” class but so was everyone else, wasn’t using a mic, was actually using a mic to coordinate the team, “stole” too many kills, and once because two people were using the lobby to have chat sex and they didn’t appreciate my heavy breathing and insistence on joining and trying to peg the one who sounded most like a dude. Suffice it to say, when you finally get into a lobby with three other “normal” (term used extremely loosely) people, everybody better be at the controller and ready to go. No idling in the lobby. It’s fine, and even appreciated, if you want to take a minute or two to set up your equipment, ask a question about point placement, etc., but any more than five minutes spent waiting means you’re getting kicked and you should try to pass that kidney stone on someone else’s time.
9. Thou Shalt Know Thy Place
This one should be obvious, but I like to add an extra wrinkle to the mix. I don’t believe in auto-kicking based on level caps, like anyone under level 13 in Silver or 20 in Gold; certain classes are power-based, but others are equipment-based and depend much less on character level than they do on elite weaponry. I’ve finished Silver matches atop the leaderboard with characters (mostly Infiltrators, my favorite class) in the single digits, including once with my brand-new level 2 Quarian, just on the strength of a jacked-up Widow and a point or two in Cloak. Humblebrag firmly established, I fully understand that these finishes are most usually the exception rather than the norm, and I’ll generally only use an under-leveled class after playing a round or two with an appropriately-leveled character just to demonstrate to my teammates I’m not a rube. By and large, if you’re using a new character, and especially if you’re new to the game as a whole, just take your lumps in Bronze for a few matches until you reach an acceptable level. Know your skill level and play accordingly. It’s much faster to play two Bronze matches to completion and level up that way than it is to get stomped in the 5th round of 6 Silver matches to reach the same EXP level, and you’ll have a lot less people blowing up your inbox with death threats and “I’LL FUCK YOUR MOM YOU CUNTWAFFLING NOOBLAR” voice messages.
8. Thou Shalt Know Thy Role
This is another one that I figured would be self-evident, but once again I find myself disappointed by my fellow man. All classes can be specc’ed in different ways, but there are inalienable truths that pervade each one. Drell Adepts, for example, are glass cannons – they can put out a lot of damage very quickly, but they’re also delicate snowflakes that melt under the stern gaze of anything beyond a grunt-type enemy. Krogan are tanks intended to soak up damage and dispense shotgun justice (only the best kind of justice) and should be in the front lines drawing fire and distracting the enemy while the rest of the team maneuvers into position, completes objectives, etc. Trying to make an Engineer into a shock trooper is trying to jam roundest peg into squarest hole, and if I notice you repeatedly going for 50 melee kills with your Drell Adept, I will let you get stomped out by an Assault Trooper and make you spend the rest of the round thinking about what an idiot you are.
7. Thou Shalt Equip Appropriately
The very first clue I’ve stumbled into a game with a mouthbreather isn’t his N7 rank or character level, but rather when I notice his Asari Adept is kitted out with a heavy machine gun and sniper rifle. As I said in Commandment 10 above, some classes are power-based, and this guy has gone and shot his power recharge time all to hell by rocking weapons Soldier classes deem excessive. I can already picture him getting downed in the 4th round when he throws Warp at an advancing wall of Geth Pyros and then futilely pew pew pews while he waits the 47 seconds it will take for him to ready a biotic explosion. I’ve seen certain unconventional builds that successfully use “off-class” weaponry, like a heavy-shotgun-and-melee Infiltrator or the occasional Engineer using a light Sniper, but by and large if you’re a power-dependent class you should stick to the game’s not-so-subtle equipment recommendations. Let the heavies carry the heavy weapons, stick to your SMGs and pistols, and keep your recharge as close to 200% as possible.
6. Thou Shalt Use Consumables Reasonably
Stop. Using. Medi-Gels. In. The. First. Round. Yes, it’s embarrassing when you get cheesed super early ’cause you missed a melee or you Rambo’ed into a group of ornery Troopers (Vanguard alert!), but insta-popping a Medi-Gel and getting right back up won’t keep the announcer from letting your other teammates know you went down like an asshole. It happens to the best of us from time to time; it’s okay. Trust, however hard that may be, in your team to finish off the first wave of baddies without your help. You’ll have plenty of time to get killed in critical situations when Atlases and Phantoms are raining down death in every direction in Round 10. Also, don’t you dare pull the trigger on that missile launcher when we have stripped off all the barriers and half the armor of that one last Banshee in the round. I don’t care that you have “like fifty million” and want to start using them up.
5. Thou Shalt Not Rage-Quit Early
So the scenario in Commandment 6 happened and you’re spectating the rest of the first round, knowing (or, if they have mics, hearing) your teammates snicker about how much you suck. You decide you don’t need to take this kind of abuse from the Internet, so you take your ball and go home. Congratulations, you have now confirmed yourself to be a magnanimous douche, whereas before there was a possibility, however slight, that you were just a dude who lagged out for a sec. Now your team is going to have to go on three-handed, handicapping their chance at success and meaning they’re probably just going to waste 15 minutes before getting slaughtered in the second objective round (though how much use you, ye of the first round death, would have provided is certainly questionable). It’s one thing to quit if the odds are EXTREMELY long that the one surviving team member is going to be able to clutch the 9th round against the Reapers, what with his strategy of “cloak, run across map, single potshot” ad nauseum, but if there’s any real chance your team can pull it off and you’ll be able to continue on, just fucking suck it up. Go molest your dog or something. Oh, and if you rage-quit near the end of a round and you’re the host (thereby forcing the remaining players to re-do the round), you are the nexus of the fabled Asshole Singularity and I hope your house burns down.
4. Thou Shalt Vanguard Responsibly
Ahh, Vanguards, the source of all noise pollution in ME3 multiplayer. If it isn’t from the endless cycle of Charge-Nova-Charge-Nova RAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH it’s the grating “OMG PLZ REZ” from the know-nothing 12-year-olds behind the mic when they’ve charged themselves right into a Banshee’s Hug of Death and gotten their dumb asses killed. I know good Vanguards exist. I’ve played with them. Good Vanguards know they are excellent for low-level crowd control and know the opportune time to strike a boss-type is not when they (the Vanguard) are alone and the boss is fully shielded. If you’re trying to one-man-army your way through any and all comers and you’re playing on something other than Bronze, you’re doing it wrong. When you earn your sweet, sweet reward (death), the rest of us aren’t going to come charging through the enemy ranks to bail you out.
3. Thou Shalt Aggro Intelligently
As much as it kills me to use a WoW phrase, it’s particularly appropriate here. I’ve lost count of the number of times my team has died on the last objective round (particularly when it’s a hacking round that requires the team to cluster together) or especially the extraction round because the entire team immediately runs to the highlighted circle and is promptly overrun by a horde of boss-enemy types. The higher the difficulty, the more essential it is that at least one competent team member is able to effectively draw enemy attention away from the rest of the team. Note that this does NOT mean running completely across the map on some damned fool vendetta, but rather being close enough to provide fire support to the rest of the team without all standing in one place and providing a larger, squishier target for Brutes and Banshees. If you’re concerned that this means you won’t be able to complete the objective, then be mindful of Commandment 2…
2. Thou Shalt Use the Time Given
For hacking and trigger-enabling missions, you have five whole minutes to complete the objective. If, around the 3:30 mark, you are 3/4 of the way through but are absolutely overrun at your current position, LEAVE AND COME BACK. It doesn’t make you a coward. If you’re an Infiltrator, throw on Cloak and get the hell outta Dodge. If you’re a Soldier or Sentinel, buff up and run. If you’re a Vanguard, turn the game off because you’re a tool. Barring that, charge at someone across the map. Give yourself a chance to thin out the enemy ranks, either by killing them at range or by making them split up and chase you down. Yes, you’ll end up with a slightly smaller time bonus if you complete with a minute left than with 3 minutes left, but it’s better than getting completely wiped out and losing the completion credits because you were stubbornly trying to stand your ground. Lastly, people, if by some miracle you do manage to make it to the extraction round, do not immediately congregate there. That’s just inviting a butt-pounding from a whole map full of baddies. I know it’s frustrating when you fail to get Full Extraction because some cheesedick couldn’t make it back to the LZ in time, but again, it’s better than the alternative of getting waxed because enemy forces were concentrated on just one position. For those last two Commandments to matter, however, one must heed the golden rule…
1. Thou Shalt Play the FUCKING Objective
This used to kill me in Call of Duty as well, where I mostly played Domination-type games. Here’s a protip to all you idiot Vanguards and anyone else who would rather go screaming off in their own direction than help the team: Monster respawns on objective rounds are INFINITE until the objective is completed. You cannot just kill off every last enemy on the map and then spend the last 3:00 hacking the objective in peace. While you don’t necessarily have to be the one headshotting every priority target or enabling each trigger, you should at least be supporting the guy who IS by covering him, drawing aggro, standing in front of him and being a bullet sponge, whatever. The mission fails if everyone dies OR the objective is not completed in time, and on Silver (and especially Gold) it will take the cooperation of the entire team to get it done. Nothing will get your ass booted faster than standing in open ground engaged in a shootout with a lowly Trooper while the rest of the team is getting manhandled trying to earn you credits you don’t deserve.
That’s pretty much it. Just about all of these Commandments could have been replaced by #X: Thou Shalt Use Common Sense, but common sense is an uncommon commodity on XBL these days. Go forth and use this knowledge to be something less than a soul-sucking nuisance to your comrades-in-arms.