The December issue of Official Xbox Magazine US has revealed a lot more details regarding the recently announced Mass Effect 3 multiplayer . Which has apparently been in the planning stages ever since the first Mass Effect, but was the first time producer Casey Hudson felt comfortable integrating it into the series, in keeping with the theme of 'Galactic War'.
Check inside for a full explanation of how multilayer will work, and how it will integrate with Mass Effect 3's single player story.
The article, spotted Sticky Skills , finally explains how exactly the multiplayer component will affect the single player campaign. Completing side missions and plot points in single player will earn you a currency called 'war assets' which enables you to 'buy' allies, fleets and other support options to aid you in the fight against the Reapers. Completing all or most of the content in single player will net you enough war assets to save the galaxy, but you can also earn them by playing the multiplayer mode. This means that multiplayer is entirely optional, offering an alternative method of completion to those that don't want to explore all the sidequests. I wonder if this could be a reaction by Bioware to the number of people who never actually finish their games. Personally I always like to do everything I can in RPG games anyway, but that won't stop me trying the multiplayer on for size.
According to the article the co-op mode will you playing as a four man team under the command of Admiral Hackett, returning from the previous games. You'll be defending key single player locations against increasingly difficult waves of Cerberus foes, much like Dawn of War's Last Stand mode. Each stage offers eleven waves of enemies, from stealthy assassins to armoured mechs. There will also be objectives scattered around the map, such as retrieving data or protecting an ally while they hack a terminal.
You'll be able to play as races and classes from the Mass Effect universe, with Drell (aka: Thane's race from Mass Effect 2) joining the previously announced Asari, Krogan and Turian options. Solider, Infiltrator, Sentinel and Engineer classes were also revealed, with more to follow. It seems likely that the other single player classes, Vanguard and Adept, will appear, although they may play differently in multiplayer. Each race and class will have special abilities, such as the Krogan's charge attack.
You can level your characters up to level 20 during the multiplayer, with each class levelling separately. You'll also be able to upgrade your armour and weaponry, picking which powers and weapons to take with you before the action starts. There's no word yet on the extent of character customisation, although you will be able to choose your gender (unless you're an Asari, presumably).
Finally defending areas will bring them up on a strategic map, viewable from outside the game via Facebook and mobile devices, which will also have their own tie ins to 'Galaxy at War', although we're still waiting on the details for those.
It's all shaping up to be a very exciting addition to the series. As I said yesterday I was initially sceptical about the need for multiplayer in Mass Effect, but everything released so far leads me to believe it would be very good, and won't be a detriment to the single player at all. The idea of participating in the same war as Commander Shepard, but from a different perspective is a good one, and should really give the conflict a sense of scale.
Mass Effect 3 will be out on March 6th 2012, my birthday. I think I might have to book some time off.