Multiplayer is finally coming to Mass Effect, BioWare confirmed today. Next year's Mass Effect 3 adds four-player cooperative multiplayer missions and the campaign "bonus" Mass Effect 3: Galaxy at War. BioWare's Chris Preistly explains, in detail, on the game's official forums.
Mass Effect 3's four-player co-op missions—there's no "versus" multiplayer, they say—lets players "choose from a variety of classes and races, form an elite Special Forces squad, and combine their weapons, powers and abilities to devastating effect as they fight together to liberate key territories from enemy control."
That cooperative multiplayer is said to have "a direct impact on the outcome of the single player campaign, giving players an alternative method of achieving ultimate victory against the greatest threat mankind – and the entire galaxy – has ever faced."
BioWare also details Mass Effect 3: Galaxy at War, "a new way for players to manage and experience the galactic war from multiple fronts, including a new 4-player co-op mode." Galaxy at War, BioWare says, affects a player's "'Galactic Readiness' level, measured by Commander Shepard's ability to apply every possible asset – people, weapons, resources, armies, fleets – in the final battle against the Reapers."
That "Galactic Readiness" level in the game's campaign is not just affected by multiplayer, BioWare stresses. "Other platforms and interfaces will be announced in the coming months," says the developer, also noting that the Galaxy at War system is "entirely optional" and that "it is still possible to achieve the optimal, complete ending of the game in Mass Effect 3 through single-player alone."
"Mass Effect 3 is a complete, standalone game that will deliver a satisfying story experience, even if you choose not to try multiplayer," BioWare adds, like you don't really believe them.
BioWare has a Q&A on multiplayer and Galaxy at War posted to the game's forums, explaining one more key detail about multiplayer—that Commander Shepard and the stars of the single-player campaign won't be playable in multiplayer.
"In multiplayer, players will create custom characters to fight on different and unique fronts in the war," the developer writes. "This will include the ability to play as favorites like Turians, Krogans, Asari and more… each with their own unique set of abilities."
Much more at the Mass Effect 3 forums.
Mass Effect 3: Galaxy at War and 4 player co-op multiplayer announced [BioWare - thanks, DiebytheSword!]