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. some of you are saying that multiplayer is taking away from single player, its not
    the interview even stated that you can 100% finish the game on single player, but multiplayer is just giving you anther choice

    • I bet hoops will have to be jumped through though.

    • In that case could you please define what the mean by “but it’s not going to be as straightforward”?

      It seems pretty clear to me from what they’re saying you’ll be expected to jump through hoops to get the bet ending. And making the single player game more obtuse/difficult/convoluted in order to try railroad you into going multiplayer is just not on. What about those who get the game in 2-3 years time when nobody is playing this any more? Their SP game is now purposefully gimped for an option that is no longer available to them! It’s not on.

      I’m all for online passes but any pass that gimps single player is a no-no in my book. Rage was scratched off my list and until RA/Bioware can explain how the SP will be “less straightforward” this is scratched too.

  2. I think I’m going to have to remind you guys to keep your fingers on your pulse.

  3. Sounds lame. Will not be buying.

  4. I get it is annoying but at the same time, it isn’t actually going to affect your single player mode.

    Lets not forget that this has happened before with WKC. Not the online pass, but the fact that you can play on your own but it’s easier to play with others. Is that not pretty much this is going to be with ME3. I guess the only difference is it’s new to the series.

  5. I think some people are blowing this out of proportion and overreacting a little bit.

    • Have to agree with you there. Just read my post above you to see what I think ;)

  6. Right, as some of you go about your daily business, perhaps having a chat with people, or doing the humdrum of your daily workload, or even just mulling over life the universe and everything during your lunchtime, hopefully there will be a great wave of understanding that flows over you, as you get a &*#$ing grip.

    ME2 had the Cerberus network, a bunch of free stuff and an ability to get an extra squad mate which you could immediately go and the loyalty mission for, without having to wait like you do for every other squadmate, you had extra missions that gave you resources and XP allowing you to level up quicker and get closer to getting the upgrades you want, but you could play the game and beat it quite happily without either the side missions or the extra squadmate. HOW IS THIS ANY &*)@ING DIFFERENT TO ADDING A COOPERATIVE PLAY COMPONENT TO ME3 WHICH GIVES YOU SOME EXTRA RESOURCES,ETC THAT ‘HELP’ WITH SINGLE PLAYER?

    ‘Oh noes, I must away to the games purveyor and verily cancel my pre-order over an additional component that does not in any way have a detrimental effect over my ability to play and complete the singleplayer section of the game, Oh when will it end, oh think of the children, I know I’ll make a witty social commentary name like ‘EAWare’ to show my disgust at something that’s entirely optional. Forsooth to the internet to display my rage’

    And for those that decry Dragon Age 2’s lazy reuse of environments I suggest you do all the side missions in ME1 and be amazed at how numerous galactic civilizations build ship layouts in exactly the same way. Marvel at how nearly every hidden base and small mining facility spread throughout the known galaxy, even forgotten civilizations, all have that familiar ‘I’m sure I’ve been here before’ type homely feel to them.’

    You act like they’re positively forcing you to play co-op. Will I play it? Probably… but it’ll be after I’ve played through the single player.

    If they had a second Cerberus Network would you be complaining? Certainly not in the numbers you are here, yet because it’s a multiplayer, co-op type ADDITION, you’re all up in arms about it.

    Sorry for the rant, but dear god, it’s a completely optional addition, where you deciding not to play it has no overall detrimental effect to the outcome of the single player campaign, co-op does not unlock a fabulous unicorn which Shepard can ride into battle, with the rainbows that fly out of it’s backside being the only thing that can finally kill the reaper menace.

    • I want that unicorn.

    • But DA2 only consisted of 5 maps for the entire game, i agree that they were a tad bit lazy with the side mission of ME1 but i think they were still indepent then thus didn’t have a big enough budget to do so. DA2 was rushed and the overall quailty suffered.

      There is rewarding those who brought the game new and then there is gimping the single player a bit to those who got it preowned. I have a bad feeling that we will have to do some obscure tedious thing to get the best ending if we don’t fancy playing MP to get it. I really don’t want this type of thing to take off as i’m a single player gamer and it feels like i’m being told “You should play MP if you want the most out of the game oh and if you don’t you will jump through hoops to do so”.

      It is taking the piss and it is voiding the server costs argument as seems to not be based on it anymore. I don’t mind if a online MP or Co-op is added if it is optional and completely seperate from the SP but when they pull something like this, that is where i draw the line.

      • Do you actually have to jump through hoops to get the best ending? Do you know for a fact that you will not enjoy the path the game takes you to if you decide to play offline? For all we know you could actually enjoy the things you have to do to get the best ending.

      • Well considering the comment of “can, apparently, still get the best ending without playing online, but it’s not going to be as straightforward.” in the article they clearly (to me) seem to be saying that the more straighforward option to get the best ending will be by utilising MP.

        So if one option is more straighforward than the other (as they say) then it’s pretty cut and dried that you can use the term “being made to jump through hoops” for the less straighforward option (i.e. the non-MP option).

        Although how large and frequent those hoops are is still unknown and will remain so until they define that they mean by “it’s not going to be as straightforward”.

        I’m hoping it’s nothing more than a Gears style thing, yes you can complete the game solo but it’s more straightforward (read: easier) doing it on 4 player co-op. However until they have clarified I remain suspicious.

      • If playing it offline means you have to do more side missions (less straight forward) then I don’t think people here will be that bothered. If they complain about something like this new information then it’s pretty clear that they care about the SP aspect of the game and would go for the best ending anyways.

      • It may just be “a few more side missions” as you claim, as you might gain more experience playing MP (thus hastening your progress through the game). However it may not.

        In my opinion and in my personal choice, you can assume all you like but I’m going to put ME3 on ice for now until they clarify exactly what it is they mean and what the impact is. When I have more information I’ll make a final decision but for now there isn’t enough information to say it’ll be something irrelevant (like additional side missions) or something major (like decision choices or items) so consider me suspicious enough to place ME3 on hold (it’s not like I had it on pre-order anyway, I was waiting for news on a collectors edition).

        Either way we know for a fact that it’ll be “less straightforward”, that’s from the horses mouth. What that actually means and the impact remains to be seen.

      • Well, it’s weird. People moaned about FFXIII being too straight forward and now they tell you a game will be less straight forward and people go nuts. It’s a crazy world, right? :)

      • Different strokes for different folks.
        I don’t recall inferring I was speaking for “people”, just myself. And I wasn’t one to comment on FFXIII as I don’t enjoy the FF series thus never played it. So there isn’t really any relevance of your comment regarding my view on this matter

        Although I don’t recall anything with FFXIII where, if you paid an additional fee, you could have a less linear SP game via MP? Which would be a similar scenario to the ME3 scenario, paying for MP to change the SP.

      • Wasn’t talking to you directly. I’m not saying these cases are directly comparable, but in general, people are complaining about something that with the current information that we have seems to be the complete opposite of what they were complaining about for a different game. The problem is, we currently don’t have enough information to make an educated descission about it but people are already acting like the game will be ruined. ;)

  7. Actually, i think you’ll find Journey’s online quite a different experience. I was pleasantly surprised with the beta.

  8. It is certainly sad times. Now we have an online pass for a single player orientated game.

    Whats next? Unlock codes to play single player?

    • I expect within a couple of years every game will have a single use code to activate the disc. The suits want the 2nd hand market gone & unfortunately there’s nothing we can do to stop them doing so.

    • So what? It’s still a single player oriented game and you don’t need the code to enjoy the single player aspect of the game. You can lend it to all your friends who want to play the campaign offline. I don’t see the problem here.

  9. So many great games series and developers have been ruined by EA’s buyouts. Burnout, Mercenaries, Command & Conquer and so on. They’ve been doing it for years and the end result is always the same.

  10. Another game i won’t be buying new then. i’m not sure about anyone else but for every developer that gives me the middle finger, I’m less inclined to buy their games new and would rather buy pre-owned to make sure they don’t get their greedy hands on my money.

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