After rumours , hints , and finally yesterday's confirmation , we now have concrete details of Mass Effect 3's co-operative multiplayer mode. A post on the Bioware forums explains the four player co-op mode can optionally impact the outcome of the single player game.
Check inside for a full breakdown of how this will work.
The co-op mode won't star Commander Shepard or any of his or her crew. Instead, you'll play as a special forces team fighting in another part of the galaxy, representing the larger scale of the war against the Reapers. You'll be able to customise your team by choosing from a variety of familiar Mass Effect classes and races like Asari, Krogan and Turians, each with special abilities.
The most interesting part of the announcement is how it will impact on the single player game. While the multiplayer mode is separate from the main story, it contributes to something called the 'galactic readiness level' which represents how prepared the galaxy is to fight off the Reaper threat. Having a high galactic readiness level is vital to getting a good ending to the story, but Bioware were keen to stress it is perfectly possible to get the best ending while only playing the story mode and ignoring the multiplayer completely. This all forms part of Mass Effect 3's 'galaxy at war' system, which will see players able to affect their galactic readiness via a variety of methods across different platforms, although exactly what those other methods are is currently under wraps.
The multiplayer components are being made by a separate team at the newly formed Bioware Montreal, allowing Bioware Edmonton to continue focusing on the single player story. This comes as something of a relief to fans, some of whom were concerned that the addition of multiplayer would detract from the main game.
I was sceptical about the inclusion of multiplayer into such a heavily story driven series, but the new mode sounds like it could be a lot of fun. Will you be sticking to the single player? Or will the lure of playing as your own Krogan Battlemaster be too strong?