Mass Effect 3’s Ending Tied to Forced Multiplayer Participation

According to PC Gamer, you'll get a pretty lousy ending if you don't play multiplayer in Mass effect 3. Apparently BioWare decided that the best way to "encourage" co-op play in the game was to tie it to the single-player ending. As the player engages in a war with the Reapers, he or she earns what the game calls "War Assets" and "Readiness."

You accumulate these War Assets from a culmination of sources, but the most prominent are the decisions you've made in the previous games and the ones you make in this one. Basically War Assets are the people and armies whose help you earn. PC Gamer has a bit more detail on the complexities of this system, but the end of it is that the way BioWare designed the game is questionable. Not everyone wants to play the four-player cooperative mode, and yet the game punishes you for not doing so by giving you an ending that is less than inspirational.

Some have suggested that BioWare did this because of piracy in that pirated versions of games don't tend to use online play at all because users are easily identified as having and using a pirated version of the game. Some pirated releases often strip out or disable multiplayer altogether.

Here's some of what PC Gamer's Tom Francis says:

"I did every proper quest I could find in Mass Effect 3, made sensible decisions that didn’t conflict with my choices in the previous games, and brought people together. But I still got a gallingly bleak ending.

That’s because I’d never played the multiplayer. It’s a co-op mode where you and up to three other players have to survive waves of AI enemies and complete objectives. If you succeed, you get an increase to your Readiness rating – a percentage by which your single player War Assets are multiplied by. These are specific to each sector of the galaxy, so if you have a lot of War Assets in the Terminus Systems, you’ll gain more by playing on a multiplayer map set in the Terminus Systems.

It’s all rather… dirty. Presumably they’re trying to encourage you to try the multiplayer because to do well in it, you have to buy or earn unlockable items, and you can get these for real money. But they’re doing it by hurting your single player game, slapping a good playthrough with a bad ending as a penalty for not playing co-op. Even if you like co-op, it’s not unreasonable to want to play through the single player first."

You can read the whole thing here.

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  1. XtDK says:

    It is not possible to get the best ending without multiplayer.  Even if the bar is full, you don't get the best ending (It's full at 2.8k or so).  The best ending requires 5000.   Single player yields, if everything is done (With carry over from ME2/1) about 3600.

  2. eston says:

    Very interesting, indeed.

    But as someone who is primarily drawn to single-player games, I don't really want my multiplayer play to affect the single-player. I would rather they be completely separate from one another. So I guess the best option for someone like me is to create two Shepards – one I can play though the campaign with, and one I will only use for multiplayer.

    But thanks for clearing this up, I had a feeling the internet was having a shit-fit over nothing.

  3. black manta says:

    When I first heard this, like many I was bit bit disappointed.  But then I did some digging.  And I looked at Bioware's message boards like Jedidethfreak said.  Here's the post from one of the developers for clarification:

    "I've seen some posts where there is a bit of confusion about the ability to get the "perfect ending" by only playing single-player, because if you don't play multiplayer (or the iOS game, Infiltrator) your Galactic Readiness stays at 50%.

    You do NOT have to play multiplayer to get the best single-player endings.

    Here's a bit of clarification:

    Your ending(s) are determined by your "Effective Military Strength" (let's call it EMS for now) bar. Focus on that bar – that is your indicator of how well you will do in the end-game.

    You can maximize your EMS just by collecting War Assets in the single-player game. There is a certain threshhold of these you would need to exceed (I can't get too specific) but I can tell you there are MORE than the required amount that can be gathered in the single-player campaign.

    "Galactic Readiness" is a modifier you can improve by playing multiplayer. That is to say, if you play a lot of multiplayer, you will need less War Assets from single-player to fill up your EMS bar (ie it will balance out the requirements to account for you playing in both modes).  Single-player game play does not impact that bar.

    EMS = success. EMS can be maximized via collecting war assets alone, even if your Galactic Readiness is 50%."

    So no.  Apparently you do not have to play multiplayer to get the best ending.  It's still optional.  It's only a factor if you decide not to do anything like the sidequests.  And let's face it, we usually like to do the sidequests anyway as we like to get as much of an experience out of the game as possible.  If you do them and not do multiplayer, you'll be fine.  And if you're the kind of guy who, for some reason, wants to play multiplayer and aren't into the sidequests so much, you can still get the best ending that way too.

    As far as your actions from the previous games having a bearing on how good of an outcome you get on the ending, from what I can tell the only thing that really seems significant is whether or not you destroyed the Collector base in ME2.  And even then it doesn't seem to affect your EMS score one way or the other.

    So once again, it's a case of something being blown WAY out of proportion on the internet.  So please stop your bellyaching.

  4. Andrew Eisen says:

    "It is possible to get the best ending in single player without playing multiplayer, but it’s twice as hard."


    Andrew Eisen

  5. MaskedPixelante says:

    In a franchise, where the entire selling point has been "this is YOUR story", the fact that they're punishing you for not making the choices THEY want is just… what happened, BioWare? Suppose that I let some important person die in the first game. That was MY choice. Now this game comes along, and I find out that this guy was secretly super important to the war effort, and now I can't get a good ending because he's dead. The only way to get the good ending is to raid bunkers for hours on end trying to build up my resources, or play the multiplayer I was TOLD was optional.

  6. Samster says:

    The thing is, though, that ME's thing is that it's your personal story driven by your decisions and the work you put in. If you don't care about you team mates in ME2, you can let them all die in the suicide mission. Or if you do, you can choose to go the extra mile to save them. I don't think anybody would be unhappy with having the option available to gun for a depressing, bleak ending in ME3, but if the only way to NOT get one involves multiplayer play, that sucks. Hard.

    Of course, this information itself seems to be disputed now. I'll be keeping an eye out for further information on it before I buy (buying at release these days is never rewarded!). A lot of the lazy development in the game is just as off-putting, though (use of a Getty stock photo for Tali's uncovered face? Really? )

  7. silversnowfox says:

    Um….. This is actually incorrect.  According to the actual Strategy Guide, you are not required to participate in multiplayer.  You are not even required to play multiplayer to earn all of the achievements.  So I must say that someone has some bad information here.

  8. GrimCW says:

    thats kinda BS IMO.

    force people to make the choices THEY want? then why even give people those choices?

    glad i play on the PC, cause the players are already fixing the bad moves in this one. such as the locked down FoV when on foot in any mission… seriously why the hell remove the ability to holster my gun?!

  9. GrimCW says:

    it doesn't, but some people play to see the dif endings.

    and this would potentially lock people from ever getting it also down the road when no one else is playing. I for one hadn't played ME2 in a long while and only recently came back to finish some DLC i'd missed and try a different class. If i do that with ME3 it means i could end up with a bad ending no matter what i do with literally no chance to get anything better.

  10. MechaTama31 says:

    This really would have killed my interest in Mass Effect 3…


    …if Mass Effect 2 hadn't already done that.

  11. Seanovan says:

    **Spoiler Warning for Years Old Stuff**

    So why does everything have to have a happy ending? Citizen Kane didn't get the girl and ride off into the sunset. Many people think the best Star Wars movie is the one that ends with Luke getting his hand cut off and Han turned into a statue. The Vault Dweller gets kicked out of the vault in Fallout. For my ending of the first Dragon Age, Morrigan left the party because I wouldn't father her demon baby, thus completely neutering my party. The party then died horribly and the generic swarm of evil dudes took over the world.

    My point is that I still really enjoyed all those movies/games/books, and it's a nice change of pace when things don't go so well for the main characters. See also: Game of Thrones.

  12. Algus says:

    I miss the good old days when Bioware had to license properties to help promote their games and then just focused on making the best experience possible.  

  13. blindsided21 says:

    Wasn't this brought up months ago? If I remember correctly, Bioware said multiplayer had little if anything to do with the single player game. I guess I'll know for sure when I eventually beat it.


  14. MaskedPixelante says:

    Actually, from what I read in the article, it is possible to get the good ending in single player without playing multiplayer. Well, it's possible as long as you're either willing to do every little side mission, or you play through ME1 and ME2 again and make the choices that BioWare WANTS you to make.

  15. Sajomir says:

    This is stupid. I played around with the demo's multiplayer for a few hours, had my kicks, and am already bored with it. I don't want to have to play more in the full game to find the SINGLE PLAYER ending I want.

    Bioware, if you want people to play your multiplayer, make good multiplayer.

  16. Samster says:

    Damn. This has seriously dented my desire to get the game, in spite of enjoying the previous two. I have zero intention to play multiplayer, so why bother if my single-player game experience will be gimped by that? Why bother if I can't do justice to the team I've spent 2 full games working my butt off to develop and progress the way I want them?

    EDIT: Oh, and to add . . . I would have bought it new :\

  17. tacc says:

    And when multiplayer is dead which it will be at some point? Probably not even in a few months?

  18. Papa Midnight says:

    Indeed. While I necessarily don't mind multiplayer, I hate the single player experience being utterly tied to it. Not only that, but a friend of mine plays exclusively singleplayer to the point that she cannot stand multiplayer. This is pretty lame in my opinion.

  19. DorthLous says:

    And this, my friends, is why I never held anything against peoples using cheats in single player. Or mod for that matter. I have very little doubt someone will find a way to have "maxed out" in all multiplayer regions, giving the player the ending that matches his/her gameplay.

  20. greevar says:

    It sounds like a underhanded attempt to fight infringement by punishing paying customers. Guess what, you can't get the most out of the game unless you go online with multiplayer. Screw the paying customers in an attempt to deter those that don't or won't pay. I hate the lure of money and the deplorable behavior it encourages in people.

  21. paketep says:

    What an incredibly stupid idea.

    If anything shows how much EA has fucked Bioware, this is it. Wanna get the good ending?. Play multiplayer, and while you're at it, we have some microtransactions you'll like!.

    What a fucking shame.

  22. Prof_Sarcastic says:


    If someone finds a way to get the better ending without being forced into something I dont want, I'll game the system that way.  If not, I'll watch the better ending on YouTube.

  23. sqlrob says:

    "Looks like I've got to renew Xbox Live now."

    Congratulations, you're part of the problem. If people say "no" and don't support this, it won't go anywhere. But now you're helping ensure that EA and friends will keep doing this.

  24. State says:

    In some respects this would have been more acceptable in a game like CoD that is sold on the basis that it is a multiplayer game, but for a game like Mass Effect where the previous instalments have been purely single-player games it's unacceptable.

    I don't think that there were too many calls for multiplayer in the first place either as people knew the sort of game that it was. Now it seems like they're forcing people into it. Looks like I've got to renew Xbox Live now.

    Perhaps they've now got to consider making an offline mode for co-op (with CPU co-op members), but no doubt if they do it'll be chargeable.

  25. Mr.Tastix says:

    There were a lot of things I forgave BioWare in the past, but this is the nail in the coffin.

    The game developer I once called my absolute favorite, for developing awesome titles like Baldur's Gate and Knights of the Old Republic, is officially dead to me.

    As melodramatic as that sounds, this is total bullshit.

  26. eston says:

    I'll wait til I experience this for myself. I personally find it hard to believe that they would make the multiplayer component essential in a series that has been exclusively single-player up until now, but stranger things have happened.

  27. MaskedPixelante says:

    I honestly thought it couldn't get worse than the 30 or so pieces of launch DLC… but this? Shameful and disgusting, BioWare… shameful and disgusting.

  28. GrimCW says:

    what about people who just want to play solo? or what about a year or 2 down the road from now and those that want to just play again and no one else is playing?

    they'd better make a fix for it, or i'm sure the PC side of players will and the console side will be pretty PO'd.

    cause really, that is a terrible design choice, punishing players for not playing multiplayer in a predominantly single player series of games..

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