An interview with Mass Effect 3 Producer Jesse Houston reveals a whole heap of information about the multiplayer side of the upcoming sci-fi epic.
Mass Effect 3 is bringing a serious change to Commander Shepard's Intergalactic Party Bus: multiplayer! Saving the galaxy will no longer have to be a solo endeavor; this time around you'll be able to team up with friends and family to put the boots to the Reaper horde. But how is BioWare going to turn a single-player game into a multiplayer experience without making a mess of it all?
Decisions made in the first two Mass Effect games will have an effect on the Galaxy At War system, Houston explained in a recent interview, but not directly on the Galactic Readiness level. [If you're not clear on what "galaxy at war" and "galactic readiness" mean, a bit more insight is available here.] But while BioWare Edmonton General Manager Aaryn Flynn said in October that gamers can stick to the single-player game and not miss out, Houston suggested otherwise.
"Multiplayer will definitely have an effect on your single-player experience through the Galaxy at War system, so as you play the MP and the co-op and the more successful you are, the more that will affect your Galactic Readiness level which will then affect your end game result," he said.
At the same time, Houston emphasized that gamers who stick to single-player will still be able to get the "absolute best ending" and that multiplayer is intended strictly to offer up new ways to get there. "We don't want to create situations where MP players have something that SP players couldn't otherwise see," he said.
Other tidbits of note: a system to deal with griefers will be in place, there will be leaderboards and squad banter, friendly fire won't be an option at launch but could be added later and there will be "a lot of BioWare Social Network integration," although the details on that are still being worked out. The PC version of the game will require a one-time online activation but can be played offline thereafter, and no local co-op through split-screen or LAN support will be offered but, like friendly fire, could possibly be added in the future.
The BioWare blog interview actually covers a lot of other ground too and although some of it is rather vague, if you're interested in Mass Effect multi it's definitely worth a look. Mass Effect 3 comes out on March 6, 2012, for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC.