Leave it to the doctors at BioWare to come up with a dangerously addictive game mechanic to unlock multiplayer items.
No, I’m not talking about the DLC that’s attached to everything.
In the past, you earned in game money and had to save up for what you really wanted.
In Resident Evil 4, you can talk to an ever-present merchant to buy/upgrade weapons:
In CoD4: Modern Warfare, you automatically get unlocked weapons and perks upon leveling up:
Saving up money to buy what you need or level up bonuses are both fine systems. They’re predictable and fair.
In the Mass Effect 3 demo, there are upgrade packs that you can/need to buy to get weapon unlocks.
The basic Recruit Pack (5K Credits) includes “a small chance for an Uncommon”:
But wait, there’s more! The luxurious Veteran Pack (20K Credits) includes “at least 1 Uncommon or better”:
You earn Credits by completing multiplayer missions.
As I understand it, the only way to unlock playable Race / Class combinations in the demo is to draw that specific Race / Class card from a Pack. This adds a lottery aspect to getting the character and weapon(s) that you seek. You can’t just save up credits, head to the store, and return home with the shiny new hotness. You have to get lucky cards from Packs you buy.
Some cards from a Recruit Pack:
Here’s some cards that I got from a Veteran Pack. Meh, where’s the Widow??
This brings out an ugly side of gaming. As if modern video gaming wasn’t already one big grindfest, the Mass Effect 3 demo random card system leads to even more grinding. Of course you always get “useful” cards like Medi-Gel and Missiles, but the let down remains.
“Why am I getting more SMG unlocks??”
Card packs in video games wasn’t invented by Mass Effect 3. There was even a card game video game. Mass Effect 3 does an incredible job integrating the feeling you get from grinding Diablo II (and soon to be D3) bosses into its multiplayer experience.
For better or worse, this gameplay mechanic extends the shelf life of the multiplayer experience in an extremely addictive way. “Just one more game! I need 3K more credits to get another pack…”