Mass Effect 3's Co-op Multiplayer Fully Detailed By BioWare, Is 'Entirely Optional'

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 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."

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 favourites 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, Richard!]


    So "entirely optional" unless you want to see all of the possible story arcs, in which case it's mandatory. (If I've understood correctly)


      I don't think you've understood correctly.

      “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.”

      That said, I almost came to the same conclusion as you.

        Sure, you can still get to one of the endings with SP only - but it looks to me like there's an alternative pathway (if not ending) that is co-op only.

          After reading the FAQ in the full link on the BW forums, your success in ME3 will be determined by a "readiness to fight" indicator. The readiness to fight is determined by how much you fight in the war leading up to the final missions i would presume (not spoiling for hyper sensitive people). The more that you fight, complete missions and gain allies adds to this metre (which is invisible behind the scenes obviously...) and the level of your readiness to fight will determine how positive or negative the ending may be.

          From what i understood from the FAQ is that the CO-OP simply adds to this readiness to fight indicator. You can still achieve the most optimal outcome in ME3 without having to touch the co-op experience (only if you make the best choices though i would presume).

          This line sums it up nicely "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."

            Ah OK, that'd be alright then. I did have a glance over the FAQ but didn't catch that bit.

            If we're capable of seeing everything in the game with SP only, but co-op can be played as well, it doesn't bother me.

            I don't know anyone who plays ME, and my LANing days are over, so I'd miss out on any exclusive content for co-op if there were any. I'd be disappointed for a story-centric SP game to have MP-only parts.

            Fortunately it doesn't look like that's the case!

              Any idea if it will be Xbox live only?
              I don't have my xbox connected to the internet all the time, so I don't have a gold account.

              I wouldn't mind this with some same screen/split screen action, but otherwise I won't use it (and it sounds like fun)

                Yeah quite a few people are asking that at the moment. Nothing has been confirmed and most likely won't be confirmed until Wednesday but i would imagine that it would at least have 2 player split screen, although i doubt that they would have 4 player splitscreen or local.

            Yep - and nice explanation.

            That's exactly how I understood it, co-op is just another way to raise the level, as is playing single-player.

    So it's Co-op, not Versus? That actually sounds pretty damn amazing. I was hesitant but this could turn out awesomely.

    So you can't bring your own custom Shepard to the arena. I am disappoint.

    Sounds like Shepard is not in the co-op...?

    Don't know why I never considered co-op as an option, I just couldn't see competitive multiplayer working for Mass Effect. Co-op, however, sounds fun.

    As someone who enjoys co-op gaming, I don't understand how this can be "entirely optional".

    Being optional means there is the option to not play it but if it exists, then I must play it.

    After the BF3 beta, PSN crash and now this, the biggest lesson of the year is that gamers are a bunch of whiny, pessimistic, self-entitled bitches.

      ^^This... Seriously the amount of bitching i have seen about the above and this is ridiculous. If you don't want to play co-op then don't play it. If you want to play then play it. Seriously get over it.

      I agree with you on the BF3 beta - don't complain about which maps you're getting - but not the other two.

      At least from what I saw, people were more worried about personal details being stolen than not being able to play games. That's being worried about privacy and security, not entitlement.

      I would hardly class this as entitlement either - after playing two games in a series, people are emotionally-invested. I think people jumped the gun a bit with reactions, but people were just concerned about a favourite series having a direction change (which looks to be unfounded).

      I know it's crazy right, people who will be buying a product being uncertain of its quality. That's crazy! Customers should shut up and accept what's given to them. That's the Nintendo way!

    I. Am. Going. To. Be. KROGAAAANNNN!!!

      I would be, too, except that I know based on my playthrough of ME1 & 2, being Krogan leads to being dead.

      I'm sorry Wrex and Grunt. I will avenge you.

    Well a little bit more positive than yesterday.

    Got a nagging feeling they're designing ME3 for two audiences: SP die hard bioware fans who will take time to explore every little area and do every optional side mission. Then there are those who will rush through the main missions only and jump straight to multiplayer.

    I'm guessing the SP will be the same as ME2 = do every optional SP mission and you have a serious shot of getting the best outcome. Rush through it you're probably going to die.

      If you spend too long doing side missions beyond a certain point you start losing NPC crew.

        Oh I know. But I also know not to go to the Reaper IFF mission until I've finished everything else. ;)

    I'm just so confused about why they don't let two additional players take over your team-mates in the regular campaign. I mean... er... I can't see why they wouldn't implement this. It feels like a no-brainer to me.

      It's probably really hard to design the encounters and levels so they work well with an NPC squad *and*/or a human one.

      Plus all the story elements would be really hard to do. Do the people playing as squadmates just sit there while Shepard has dialogue?

      It could work if they designed it from the ground up, but I like this idea better - a separate series of co-op levels and the main single-player campaign for Shepard and NPCs alone.

    So it's Gears of War's Horde mode / Halo's Firefight mode which allows me to engage in co-op craziness with my friends in my favourite gaming universe of this generation? Plus it contributes to the successful outcome of my single player mission to save the galaxy?

    Well hot dog.

      One little thing though... Facebook and social media games can die in a fire. I shan't be using them on my quest to save the galaxy.

    Really, really enthusiastic about this. Great idea.

    It also soothes the hearts of raging fans that you can get the 'maximum best ending' with single-player alone. The co-op is just an added bonus for people who want to use it.

      Also: that means there'll be more ways to raise the meter?

      Facebook social game?

        Exactly what I was thinking. More facebook game for me to plough through with my OCD for having all the item. BAH!

    Yeah "other platforms" means facebook, and maybe iOS as well I imagine.

    It'll be Horde Mode. There I called it.

    Well this explains the delay. Co-op multiplayer is the only way to include multiplayer this late in the series. I'm glad they didn't just shoehorn in competitive multiplayer like for Dead Space 2.

    I'm still dissapointed though, any resources spent developing co-op multiplayer is resources that could have otherwise have been spent adding new N7 missions, armours and weapons in the single player campaign.

      Meh, there is such a thing as too much. I mean, do you know how many N7 missions are in the game? Perhaps if they did spend more resources adding them they would end up repeating the concept. Armours aren't that resorce-taxing, so I expect to see a healthy amount of those. Ditto for weapons.

      The new co-op feature is being completely developed at the new Bioware studio in Montreal, seperate from the studio in Edmonton which has worked on the SP campaign. Therefore, no resources are being diverted at the expense in making various features for single player.

    Great another Co-Op shooter. Fucking Bioware, what have you become? Whoever decided that it was a good idea to have Co-Op ANYTHING in Mass Effect should be fired, then fire anyone who agreed with that decision, and then fire anyone who worked on it just to be safe. If I wanted ANOTHER generic Co-Op / FPS shooter I'd get Gears of War or Rage, I don't want that crap, I want a Sci-Fi Role Playing Game.

      Here's a fun fact: the co-op is completely optional! Don't like it? Don't play it. It's that easy.

        "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.”"

        Fuck Bioware.

    Wow, I think I have the dumbest reason to be disappointed with BioWare ever. In my mind this should all be three player. That's how big the Mass Effect groups are. I know it's so small and stupid that it shouldn't even register but for some reason it's standing out to me. It's not even breaking any established canon or anything, it just feels wrong to me. =(

    This of course raises the question: If your co-op partner is playing as Shepard's love interest....

    After hearing that ME3 was going MP I was raging.
    But after reading this, im pleasantly surprised.
    Im actually looking forward to this feature as ME feels like it was geared for Co-Op play

    What?!? 'Change' to a format being met with fan rage? Dammit people, the internet is no place for completely mindless hate spewing!

    Oh, wait.

    Still feels like some half-arsed tacked on "feature" to me. ANd no matter what they say about it being "optional", I bet that those that don't use the co-op option will miss out somewhere.

    I've always had two concerns with multiplayer in the mass effect series :
    1 - that the development of the MP component would take dev resources away from the single player campaign resulting in something that is less than the epic conclusion to the triliogy that people want.

    2 - That Mass Effect has always been such a 'personal' story. Almost everything about it is decided by the player; What you look like, how you act, who you are in universe, who lives & dies, who you have weird alien sex with etc. & all of that is enhanced by some pretty strong storytelling. Every telling of Shepherd's story is in some way going to be unique to that player. & on some level, I think multiplayer would almost feel a bit wrong. Like an invasion of privacy or something... weird, I know.

    In a perfect world, I'd like to see Bioware put 100% of their dev team onto the single player until it's 100% done and then ship the game. Followed by a free dlc that is the co-op component that follows the events of ME3 from the viewpoint of a different set of characters...

    I still think I'd prefer a dedicated multiplayer spinoff as the next game in the series, not as a part of ME3. But still, I cant change what EA are making Bioware do...

      Well for 1, the same department and resources are dedicated to the solo experience while another department is making the solo campaign, so there is no resources being taken, 100% of the team that made ME1 and ME2 will be putting their all into ME3.

      and for 2, This co-op enhances the personalisation of the game, while you play Shepard and make his/her decisions in the game, you also can make and customise your own character in the co-op that fights the battle elsewhere, I do not see what is not to love there.

      Put your mind at peace, ME3 will be great :)

    I don't get all the bitching. For a game series KNOWN for giving the player choice and the freedom to tackle things the way they see fit, people are complaining about ANOTHER option to do things their way???

    Bioware know what they are doing. More than any of you naysayers ever would. I know who's hands I'd trust the Mass Effect universe in...

    I'm going to keep my Mass Effect universe '12-year-old/fratboy/douchebag free' thank you very much.

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