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Bioware Clarifies Mass Effect 3’s Galactic Readiness

Last night, while recording Jumping the Shark, Brandon and I went about seven rounds over my utter disdain for Mass Effect 3’s multiplayer being connected to outcomes in the single player game. That show will be posted Sunday night. Bring popcorn.

As we argued over finer points, we found it impossible to reach a consensus, but one thing we did agree on (I think) is that we really had no solid grasp of to what degree this game balances what happens in multiplayer with what you do in single player and how the game ends. Yes, we’re all aware you can get the Uber Mega Happy Ending if you do some chunk of what sounds like “everything” the single player game has to offer. And, believe me, it’s not about whether it’s easy to get such a Super Duper Let’s See Young Anakin’s Ghost at the End of Jedi victory, but whether getting that is in any way harder for pure solo players than it would have been if multiplayer Galactic Readiness weren’t there. As I noted in yesterday’s post, my casting stones and auguries say it probably is harder because I think that’s how EA/Bioware roll these days. It would be in no way surprising were I to be wrong about this.

That said, at the crux of it all, is a distinct lack of understanding of just how all this Galactic Readiness and Effective Military Strength work together. Mr. B and I could blame ourselves for not digging further into that, but it’s so much more fun to blame Bioware for not making it clear in the game. (Or maybe I just haven’t properly read my Codex entries. I’ll have to check that when I get home.) Fortunately, Brandon today did dig up this nugget from Bioware’s forums

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%.

That’s the word from Jarrett Lee, Bioware’s Senior Marketing Manager.

I can tell you that before this I had no earthly idea that Galactic Readiness only changed via multiplayer/iOS app and that EMS changed only by single-player campaign actions. Again, maybe I should have read my codex entries before getting in a huff. So, if nothing else, this provides some understanding of how they actually function. Nonetheless, I don’t think this changes my argument against, or Brandon’s argument for, these systems. I fundamentally don’t think this story’s conclusion should be at all affected by what you do or don’t do in multiplayer, regardless of what’s possible with the endings. Brandon thinks it’s a galactic-wide conflict and, given that, it’s being done here in a way that makes perfect sense. All fair arguments as far as I’m concerned, even if I’m little bit more right than everyone else. (In truth, Brandon pretty much wipes the floor with me on JtS this week. By all means, enjoy yourselves.)