Yes, it was confirmed completely, officially and undeniably earlier today that Mass Effect 3 is going to have a cooperative multiplayer element, but we were still lacking some details regarding what it was, how it worked, and why it was even included in the first place.

Luckily, Chris Priestly of BioWare has chimed in with a handy-dandy FAQ detailing all kinds of things you might want to know regarding Mass Effect 3‘s co-op.

Up till now, the entire Mass Effect series, including Mass Effect 3, were focused entirely on single-player affairs that told the story of Commander Shepard and his/her journeys through the galaxy that put him/her up against galactic threats. While playing alone, players were still accompanied by squadmates who can prove more than a little useful during combat engagements, hence offering good reason for a 4-player co-op mode that could work.

Before addressing the burning questions you may have, let’s first look at what the cooperative mode in Mass Effect 3 is all about. Of course, the underlying theme of ME3 has to do with rallying all the forces in the galaxy to aid Shepard in defeating the Reaper threat, because nobody wants to succumb to a race of sentient alien starships. Good or bad, the conclusion of ME3 will be the last we see of Commander Shepard and yes, the bad ending does have the Reapers killing everyone and taking over.

Here’s the official description of Mass Effect 3‘s “Galaxy at War” cooperative mode:

As a bonus to the campaign, BioWare is introducing the Mass Effect 3: Galaxy at War system, a new way for players to manage and experience the galactic war from multiple fronts, including a new 4-player co-op mode. The key to saving the galaxy is the “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. Players can impact their game’s Galactic Readiness level in multiple ways via the Mass Effect 3: Galaxy at War system, including multiplayer. Other platforms and interfaces will be announced in the coming months. It is important to note that the system is entirely optional and just another way players can have control over your game experience — it is still possible to achieve the optimal, complete ending of the game in Mass Effect 3 through single-player alone.

We’re not going to cover every single one of the questions in the FAQ, should you want to read through them yourself, direct yourself to the BioWare message board.

Here are a few choice questions that you might have wanted to know the answer to:

Why have co-op at all?

Being able to explore and fight alongside your friends in the Mass Effect universe has always been something we thought would be fun and compelling, and many players have asked for it for a long time as well. Mass Effect 3 is the best place for us to introduce multiplayer through co-op because of the premise of the game — all out galactic war.

Will my aversion to multiplayer impact my galactic readiness?

ME3 is a story about a war against overwhelming force where the most you can hope for is survival. The more you do to fight that war, the more you can change that story into a more optimistic one. 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.

Do I have to play multiplayer?

Mass Effect 3 is a complete, standalone game that will deliver a satisfying story experience, even if you choose not to try multiplayer. The Mass Effect 3: Galaxy at War system and all of the individual components are meant to complement that amazing game and can be enjoyed on their own or as part of the Galaxy at War experience.

Players will be able to level up separately in the multiplayer, so there is a perpetuity that is available to ensure that, if you decide to dive into the co-op, you will be rewarded for your efforts by improving your particular character. Save games from either ME1 or ME2 will not have a bearing on the multiplayer component of ME3, owing that you are not using Commander Shepard or any other character who will be directly tied to the single player story in multiplayer.

However, players will be able to create characters of different races like Krogan, Asari or Turians and each race will have their own particular attributes unique to them.

It sounds like the multiplayer will be mission-oriented and will allow for teaming up with friends to complete objectives that may have an impact for Shepard’s mission. Until we hear more, we can compare to a blend between Modern Warfare‘s Spec Ops and RAGE‘s Legends of the Wasteland, with a much more bigger implication upon completion. Of course, further information will be made available in the coming months.

How does a cooperative element in Mass Effect 3 make you feel? Will it add to your experience or do you think it’s an unnecessary addition?

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Mass Effect 3 releases March 6, 2012 for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC.

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Source: BioWare

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