It’s just about the worse kept secret of this year, but confirmation arrived a few days ago that Mass Effect 3 would indeed be getting some sort of multiplayer component. This announcement was met by hail of abuse from gamers incapable of actually giving Bioware a chance and waiting to see what they would deliver. Gamers screamed that it would take away from the singleplayer and that a versus based multiplayer would suck. But if we learned one thing from Ubisoft’s Assassins’s Creed: Brotherhood it’s that we shouldn’t judge it before we actually get to try it.
Well, Bioware have released the first details on Mass Effect 3’s multiplayer aspects, and it’s looking quite interesting indeed. And before you start whining that splitting the team up to create a multiplayer element will ruin the singleplayer, Bioware have confirmed that a second separate team will be working on the multiplayer, so the singleplayer won’t see a drop in quality.
So what’s this multiplaye? Why, good sir, it’s co-op. Bioware have confirmed that four-player co-op is going to be in Mass Effect 3, allowing players to take part in a series of missions separate from the main storyline, but that will directly impact the story, but more on that in a second. These new missions will allow players to select from a variety of classes, including aliens such as the Krogans, and take on the enemy to liberate parts of the galaxy.
The Galaxy at War is a new game mechanic introduced into the main campaign and directly affects Sheppard’s attempt to save the galaxy from the Reapers. Chris Priestly of Bioware explains it thusly: As a bonus to the campaign, Bioware is introducing the Mass Effect 3: “Galaxy at War system, a new way for players to manage and experience the galactic war from multiple fronts, including a new 4-player co-op mode. The key to saving the galaxy is the “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. Players can impact their game’s Galactic Readiness level in multiple ways via the Mass Effect 3: Galaxy at War system, including multiplayer. Other platforms and interfaces will be announced in the coming months. It is important to note that the system is entirely optional and just another way players can have control over your game experience – it is still possible to achieve the optimal, complete ending of the game in Mass Effect 3 through single-player alone.”
So there we have it; Galaxy at War essentially lets you track your way efforts, with every planet and species you sway to your side giving you a better chance of surviving the Reaper invasion, with the co-op missions that let you liberate sections also having an impact, though it’s important to remind you that the co-op missions are entirely optional and you can still get a perfect ending by simply playing on your own.
At the moment the multiplayer aspects of Mass Effect 3 are actually looking pretty damn interesting, having avoided going down the typical Deathmatch road and given us something unique instead. And the Galaxy at War mechanic sounds rather cool, allowing you to get a better sense of just how big this final battle will be. But the biggest question remains whether Bioware can find a way of implementing the story-driven elements of the game into co-op, or whether it will just have to go for straight shooting.
And if you’re still not sold, here’s an FAQ:
Why include 4 player Co-op multiplayer in Mass Effect 3?
- Being able to explore and fight alongside your friends in the Mass Effect universe has always been something we thought would be fun and compelling, and many players have asked for it for a long time as well. Mass Effect 3 is the best place for us to introduce multiplayer through co-op because of the premise of the game – all out galactic war.
Why only 4 player co-op? What not a versus mode?
- We have always maintained that we would only add multiplayer into the Mass Effect series if it made sense and did not compromise the power of the single player campaign. Fighting together against a common threat was the multiplayer experience that made the most sense for Mass Effect 3. The way we have designed co-op as a wayto take control of key conflict zones in the galaxy is a natural extension of the premise of Mass Effect 3.
Why did you decide not to include it as a part of the main campaign?
- Our priority and focus with Mass Effect 3 has and always will be to deliver a complete and satisfying single player experience.
Does the addition of co-op multiplayer missions impact the scope or quality of the single-player experience?
- No. A dedicated team from our recently formed BioWare Montreal studio has been focused on creating the multiplayer game features while the main game continued to be developed by the team in BioWare Edmonton. Both teams are integrated under the same leadership group that produced Mass Effect 1 and 2, led by Casey Hudson. BioWare remains dedicated to delivering one of the most amazing single-player campaigns gamers have ever experienced.
How did developing multiplayer impact the single player game?
- BioWare is dedicated and focused on delivering an engaging, fun, and action-packed experience for Mass Effect 3, one that lives up the BioWare standard. To reach that level of quality, last year BioWare opened a studio in Montreal that is home to designers, programmers, engineers, and other developers. Both studios work together as partners, lead by the core Mass Effect team, unified in a single vision. Under the direction of Casey Hudson and other team veterans, both studios make contributions to both the single player and multiplayer modes in Mass Effect 3. Rest assured that no compromises were made to either of these modes in the development of Mass Effect 3.
Which characters can I play in co-op multiplayer? Can I play as Commander Shepard?
- Commander Shepard’s part in the war will take place in the single-player campaign, as will that of other beloved characters in the franchise such as Garrus, Ashley, and Liara…these characters do not appear in the multiplayer missions. In multiplayer, players will create custom characters to fight on different and unique fronts in the war. This will include the ability to play as favorites like Turians, Krogans, Asari and more… each with their own unique set of abilities.
What if I don’t like multiplayer – will my experience be negatively impacted?
- Mass Effect 3 is a complete, standalone game that will deliver a satisfying story experience, even if you choose not to try multiplayer. The Mass Effect 3: Galaxy at War system and all of the individual components are meant to complement that amazing game and can be enjoyed on their own or as part of the Galaxy at War experience.
What if I am not good at / do not like multiplayer? Will my readiness rating go down?
- ME3 is a story about a war against overwhelming force where the most you can hope for us survival. The more you do to fight that war, the more you can change that story into a more optimistic one. You can reach the highest levels of success in the single player experience alone, but Galaxy at War gives you alternative ways to get there. It’s about choice, and allowing players to find their own ways to stay immersed in the Mass Effect universe.
Will you be adding any additional maps or modes through DLC?
- We can’t comment on specifics right now, but can confirm that we are planning on having DLC for Mass Effect 3.
Do save games from ME1 or ME2 impact the co-op multiplayer missions?
Do characters level up in co-op multiplayer? What is the progression system?
- Character progression, weapon upgrading and leveling up is present in co-op. We’ll release more information on this topic in the months leading up to launch.
Is there more info about the other platforms of Mass Effect 3: Galaxy at War?
- We are not going into details about the other components of the Galaxy at War at this time except to say we are designing each to make sense for that platform. Each component will be able to affect a player’s “Galactic Readiness” level in a different way. Again, participation in any or all ME3:GaW elements is entirely optional.