Mass Effect 3’s Online Pass Multiplayer Strays Into Singleplayer

Online passes – the things where you have to pay a publisher an additional fee to get the most out of a game if you don’t buy it brand new – are here to stay.  I don’t like them, and lots of you agree with me – the second hand market (let alone the fact that lots of us lend games to mates) is hugely important to the industry, and it feels like it’s us, the gamers, that are getting the brunt of this.

EA’s Mass Effect 3 is the latest such title to sport EA’s version of the scheme with its online co-op mode, and it’s one that appears to be getting slowly pushed into the regular non-online package – I can’t help but feel like the whole idea, barely months old, is already being taken too far.  Case in point: your single player progress is – in part at least – determined by how well you do at multiplayer.

Read that again, and watch the video.  As we understand it, it’s still possible to enjoy single player without going online and get most of the goodies, but it’s a quick example of a game wanting those extra dollars to get you to jump into online for bonuses – and in this case, assuming you haven’t bought the game for whatever brand new price it’s on sale for – buying an online pass.

OPM’s report isn’t strictly true – you can, apparently, still get the best ending without playing online, but it’s not going to be as straightforwarded.  “Ultimately it’s about adding more player choice,” says BioWare’s Casey Hudson.  You know, I get the idea of trying to claw back some of the resale value of a pre-owned game, but I can only see all this ultimately going one way.

We’ve already seen the likes of DiRT 3 withholding certain cars for those without an online pass.

“Multiplayer not only features amazing combat and deep customisation options, but it will give players another way to help the war effort against the Reapers in the main event – the single player campaign,” said Hudson.  It’s worth stressing that the developers are keen to point out that all this is ‘optional’ – you don’t need multiplayer, but I can’t help feeling that this is the first move in that direction.

“It is important to note that the [multiplayer] system is entirely optional and just another way players can have control over your game experience,” said BioWare’s Chris Priestly when the multiplayer was first announced.  “It is still possible to achieve the optimal, complete ending of the game in Mass Effect 3 through single-player alone.”

We’re collating reader feedback on the whole ‘pass’ issue – if you have anything to say get in touch.

Update: To clarify, as I feel some are missing the point a little with this blog: it is possible to complete single player without trying multiplayer, and it’s possible to get the best ending too.  My issue is that the online and offline are seemingly tightly integrated, and this, in my opinion, brings the online pass scheme closer to affecting a fluid single player offline experience, which it shouldn’t do.

So, again: single player is completely playable without an online pass, but if you do play online you can affect your single player game.


  1. One word comes to mind on the new addition to one of the best sci-fi franchises of all time. Disgusting :/

  2. On a personal note, online passes do not affect me in the slightest, as I only buy brand new, however I can understand the frustrations of some

    • Ignoring that, though – what about multiplayer affecting single?

      • I’m usually not interested in MP but I must say this idea actually interests me. The Galaxy IS at war. It makes sense that people from all over the world join the fight and the fact that it affects my SP game adds to the realism. It has that MMO flavor. I won’t judge until I have more information.

      • I’m with Steven on the who ‘pass’ issue, as in I buy all my games new anyway.

        As for multiplayer affecting single-player – it depends how far they take it. It *could* improve a game if done right. But similarly, it could ruin the game for many.

        There are those like myself who are not overly keen on online play anyway, but there are also still many who don’t have the capability of getting online, whether they want to or not – and if over-done, it would ruin a game for them.

    • I’m with Steven here, but nofi has a point about the SP being affected by the MP. Not nice. I buy RPG’s like this to play solo, and not have to be bothered with being online.

      Bad BioWare, bad!

      • If you watch the video he clearly says that you can achieve the best ending, and anything you want on your own without the need for MP. So there is a choice, I’ll be playing purely SP for my first run through – for my next char I’ll be excited to mix it up.

  3. No!
    I’m all for the option of multiplayer, but that’s all it should be- an option.
    Don’t force people into it, especially if you’re going to include an online pass. Even if you didn’t, it’s a bad idea to force people in, but with one included?

  4. WHAT!? This is bullshit! I am a Single Player gamer mainly and i don’t want to have to play MP just to procced in the main story or to get the best ending. You never cross Mutliplayer with Single player as it will never work unless it is co-op. FFS, This is why they delayed ME3 isn’t it?

    First DA gets rushed and now ME is getting ruined, i’m starting to hate EA and i’m disappointed in Bioware, who are mainly a single player RPG developer and are best at single player RPGS. This is a terrible idea. I now despise online passes. If this starts to become more common, i may quit gaming all together as it seems that the Single player gamer won’t be able to play a game without having to play the MP in order to get the full SP experence. THIS IS TAKING THE FECKING PISS!

    I’ve sent you an email about my opinion on this Nofi.

    Looks like ME3 is in danger of getting downgraded to my get when it’s £20 and get it preowned to spite EA list.

    • I’m sure I just read you Can get the best ending in single player.

      • You can. BioWare are keen to stress that this is still very much the case.

      • I was blinded by rage and forgot about it. If i have to do some obscure thing instead of using MP, i won’t be happy. I am starting to doubt Bioware as DA2 was a massive letdown. It seems that EA are trying to milk them dry as they are working on a few games at moment and i think could have a negative impact on their games. :-/

        I really hope it turns out to have a postive impact and not damage the final game of ME. :-/

  5. I’m starting to think EA might not actually stand for Electronic Arts…

  6. If companies want to charge to run online servers, ie warranting an online pass, fine – it doesn’t bother me as I so rarely play multiplayer online, unless it’s something I really, really like, ie Dark Souls – oh! (No online pass there!)

    I draw the line at it encroaching into the single-player experience, if for no other reason that I only use one of my PS3s online – my fatty stays offline & for SP titles only, in my study (with the smaller TV). Quite frankly, it’s going to end up in the realms of the accursed PC “only online” DRM protection which completely failed to add anything to the player experience, in fact quite the opposite – slower boot times, over-convoluted save systems, etc.

    Simply put, there’s a few major players out there championing this cause & really, there’s no call for it than contributing to the ever-increasing profit margins.

    I’m extremely interested to see what route StarHawk takes…

    PS Huzzah for FROM Software, a non-money grabbing software company that creates games for GAMERS, not strictly for profit, although I know a slightly rosy-tinted look in!

    • Starhawk should mainly be an online game. Any single player should strictly be an extended training session. IMO. It will ship on disc and PSN. Totally different to this game. It is Multiplayer first and Single player second.
      (God I’m looking forward to that game)

      • Aye totally, like its older brother.

        I’m more interested in the marketing approach. Strictly speaking, SOE could make it PSN-only, thus negating any pass/resale issue, and take the direct revenue with no shipping costs whilst maintaining a higher entry point price, due to no competition from lowered price sales.

        Should I shut up now, just in case “somebody” is reading?

  7. Well I’m interested in the whole premise .

  8. i guess bioware’s position as ea’s main whore is now assured.

    not that there was much doubt before.

    you can’t tell me quality hasn’t started to dip since the ea buyout.

    look at dragon age 2.
    half a dozen environments, and maybe as many enemy types, meaning you have to fight the same enemies in the same locations, thousands of bloody times.
    and to top it off they turned it into a mindless button masher.
    i say mindless because there was absolutely no skill involved in mashing the buttons to attack, it was a pitiful attempt at making the game seem more arcadey.

    in fact that has been a general trend in bioware’s games since they joined ea.
    “more accessible” they say, i say shallow.

    anyway, the decision not to buy this new was made for me as soon as multiplayer was revealed.
    and i was doubtful even if it was only single player with the amount of content ea are chopping out of single player games lately and tying to the ridiculous single use codes.

    i was gonna get it on the xbox anyway, why should i pay ea for multiplayer when i’m never gonna be using it?

  9. Woah woah woah, wait just one cotton picking minute here.
    I have no problem with single use passes impacting the multiplayer aspects. I also have no problem with single use codes like the cerberus network that only impact single player DLC. But having something where multiplayer impacts single player? That’s just taking the proverbial.
    I played ME1 on my 360, I got ME2 for it to roll through my save game, I was planning on getting ME3 for it but I’m now seriously considering not getting it at all.
    If multiplayer will make single player easier, as noted in the comment “it’s not going to be as straightforward”, define “not going to be as straightforward”. Because if I have to jump through hoops to get an ending just because I won’t play online thats just out of order.

    I refuse to pay for XBL as I think there is no reason but greed for them to charge for playing online. If EA are effectively railroading me to play multiplayer in order to get the most out of ME3 single player then are they prepared to stump up the XBL subscription fee to allow me to do that? Oh no, that’s an additional cost over and above the game and over and above their single use code. Sod that for a laugh.

    MP only codes – fine, I buy most of my games new and can choose not to play multiplayer, it doesn’t impact my single player
    DLC access codes – fine, I buy most of my games new and this doesn’t impact my single player, I can take or leave DLC
    Codes that railroad you into playing online to get the most out of single player – not fine at all when certain networks then charge for the privilege of playing online.

    Until they define “not going to be as straightforward” consider ME3 as scratched off my buy list, I won’t be forced into paying for XBL to get the most out of single player. I’ll just read one of the wiki’s to find out what happens.

    • sod the wiki, watch a walkthrough on youtube.

    • If you don’t want to pay for online then why in God’s name did you choose a 360 over the PS3?

      I’m in complete agreement on the multiplayer impacting singleplayer, makes me glad I only put the minimum amount down on my pre-order, it’s looking like I might not bother picking it up.

      I have to ask, is this Bioware, or EA’s influence?

      • At what point did I say, or even infer, that I chose a 360 over a PS3?

        You are aware that not only is it possible to own more than 1 console but for a period of time the 360 was the only console the ME series was available on? And that your decisions roll through from one game to te next? So if you have a fully completed and upgraded save game it would be nice to roll through that save to the next one?

        I’ve had a PS3 since launch, I’ve had a 360 since Alan Wake, you figure out which console I chose over the other …

      • It was mostly the fact that you didn’t mention the PS3 while complaining (justly) about XBL, and I really don’t see why you wouldn’t get ME3 on PS3 if you have one. I mean if why not just pick up ME2 and give it a quick playthrough, the PS3 version is ridiculously cheap.

      • Genesis is there, no need for ME1.

      • And in a karmic twist I’ll buy the PS3 version second hand!

        On a serious note, I was considering getting the PS3 version at some point anyway, I have a good playthrough on my 360 so was considering a bad playthrough on my PS3. Loathe to go straight to ME3 on my PS3 considering I have a fully levelled 100% complete game save on the 360, hence why I was only referring to that in my original post, to enforce MP on a console that charges for MP is IMO out of order.

        Thing is I’m not too keen on double dipping either considering I’ve already completed the game.
        Also there’s already so much to play. I tend to be a completionist (I only have 26 games on my PS3 profile but 23 of those are platinumed), I still have my Gears solo insane run to complete, then on pre-order I have Batman: AC CE, Uncharted3 EE and MGS UHDC. Over and above that I still want to pick up Resistance3, ICO/SoTC, Deus Ex and Halo Reach.
        So considering the time it’d take to then replay and platinum ME2 (which considering I have the full GS on 360 is the only option for me) … well I already have far far too many new games to play as it is! And it will be especially bitter considering one of the drivers was because they tried to shoe-horn in multiplayer.

        I’ll see, depending on how my current games go I might pick it up on the PS3 at some point, it was on the cards for when I had time anyway. Although right now ME3 is scratched off my pre-order list until they define what “less straightforward” means (or until I can get round to the PS3 version), I’ll probably wait until user reviews to make a final decision depending on just how large this impact is. I’m an avid supporter of online passes but am inherently opposed to passes that impact SP, especially if that encroached on MP as well, so if is something large I’ll probably pass. Currently it’s on hold until further details are received.
        Although I’ll admit I’m a sucker for collectors editions, if they came out with a CE that has a good quality model of the Nostromo unfortunately I don’t think I’d be able to resist, principles be damned.

        Deatbrin – Yes I know about genesis, but don’t really need that anyway considering I’ve completed ME1 (but I do maintain the opening scene cannot possibly have the same impact on a player who had invested all that time in ME1 than a player who skipped ME1 and just got ME2. I played both concurrently and had a 100% specced Shepard and was like W.T.F?). Although I am interested in the decisions you had to make as I’m guessing those will be the ones that impact ME3. The whole ME1 to ME2 correlation wasn’t nearly as integrated as they claimed it would be, hopefully they will impact ME3 more. Although I’m guessing they purposefully made ME2 more “stand-alone” and less integrated as they knew all along it would go multiplat and they couldn’t afford to have the first 2 games too interconnected.

      • Okay, now I understand everything :)

        Impressive platinum record, I have 5 myself which I’m pretty happy with as I find it hard to play most games enough to get the platinum. Seeing your list of wants I can see why getting the same game for PS3 isn’t very high – personally I liked Deus Ex: HR better than ME2, the gameplay is just so much more satisfying. Though I may be slightly biased as I’ve always loved the cyberpunk setting.

        Good chat, I wish you luck with your future plat’s, and let’s both hope Bioware get this multiplayer done so that it isn’t a constant thorn in the ass of the collective gaming public ;)

  10. Not impressed, in the slightest. I play a lot of both single player only and online games, and I’m all for both, but don’t try to squeeze a multiplayer into a game which doesn’t suit it, especially if its obviously just to force a little more cash out of the fans.
    I loves Dragon Age: Origins, probably my fave RPG of all time, certiantly in a fantasy setting, but DA2 was shit. I also loved ME1+2, and I’m really, REALLY hoping this isn’t going DA2’s way in the level of shitness. It was pretty damn boring compared to the first and I didn’t feel any need to play it.

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