Rumors & speculations have abounded for a while now, but this week BioWare finally confirmed that Mass Effect 3 will have online multiplayer. According to official sources, ME3 will have two types of multiplayer: cooperative multiplayer & “Galaxy at War.”
Missions in co-op are your standard fare, allowing for up to four players to fight against waves of enemies in various locations. Because you obviously can’t have a squad of Shepards, players create their own characters. They’ll be able to choose from the six main races (Asari, Human, Drell, Quarian, Krogan, Turian & Salarian) of either gender, as well as from the six classes available in the game. Players will also level up through the various battles, with a cap set at 20.
Online co-op will be linked to the Galaxy at War feature. Being successful in co-op will unlock resources, known as “War Assets.” These assets include things like fleets & armies. The whole idea is to increase your “Galactic Readiness” for the confrontation with the Reapers. BioWare also plans to release other interfaces that contribute to your readiness through means of iOS & Facebook. Although I haven’t read anywhere what these specifically will be, I imagine it will be like some of their previous games on Facebook that unlocked exclusive content or whatnot.
Not much is known about how this feature will directly affect single-player games (maybe because we don’t really know what the single-player campaign will involve as far as gameplay). However, BioWare was quick to qualify that the multiplayer is completely optional. Although they say that multiplayer affects the final battle, the same results can be gained during the single-player campaign.
Personally, I don’t care one way or another about multiplayer — maybe because none of my friends play Mass Effect. So long as I’m not penalized for not playing it, I don’t care. Don’t give me a crappy ending because of it, & don’t withhold the best toys either.
It seems strange to me to add multiplayer to a series that’s been completely single-player oriented, but I suppose it makes some sense now. The final game is meant to be about a galaxy-wide war, so adding multiplayer that doesn’t involve Shepard seems a logical step.
Most likely, I’ll probably give the multiplayer a try… but only after I’ve already beaten the game once. Just to see if it does add anything.