It was possible that it would co-op, then it wasn’t going to have co-op. Now it might have co-op. This is the tale of BioWare’s Mass Effect 3, one of the most anticipated games of the year which is no longer even coming out this year.

Despite the game design of the Mass Effect series allowing for the player to constantly be supported by two AI-controlled teammates, the series has yet to introduce multiplayer functionality that would allow real-life people to take control of said characters. As it turns out, Mass Effect 3 may change that.

After rumors of a potential multiplayer mode shipping with the third and final installment in the Commander Shepard story arc, BioWare firmly denied that there would be any sort of multiplayer. One the one hand, the games offer an in-depth story meant for a single person to experience, but on the other, an added multiplayer option would make sense with the franchise’s heavy push towards the action-shooter genre.

Eurogamer has learned through sources that BioWare Montreal is working on Mass Effect multiplayer, whether that be for ME3 or another title in the franchise. Another source says it is part of Mass Effect 3, describing it as a separate multiplayer mode that features “competitive elements.” The obvious comparison is to Gears of War’s Horde mode (Cliffy B is happy I wrote that).

At E3 last week, they asked BioWare co-founder Ray Muzyka to address the rumor and he didn’t exactly shoot it down.

“We haven’t talked at all about multiplayer in the Mass Effect franchise, but we’re exploring multiplayer in all of our games and all of our franchises. It’s always an idea we’re interested in… The short answer is we have no comment on that. But we’re interested in the idea of multiplayer.”

That’s certainly not a denial, like what we heard before was.

Mass Effect 3 was originally slated to release in November, a rather rushed release date considering Mass Effect 2 only debuted in January of 2010, less than two years apart. It of course was recently pushed back several months so it’s likely that multiplayer is a feature they are working on implementing to keep it competitive with other shooters such as Gears of War 3.

They’re also working on adding Kinect support as we saw demo’d during the Xbox 360 E3 press conference last week, a feature that allows the player to issue voice commands to their teammates and speak out the options from the dialogue wheel during conversations.

From what we saw at E3, the game looks great so we expect the delay to coincide with the addition of more features.

If you’re a fan, you must read our E3 Mass Effect 3 previews:

Mass Effect 3 releases on March 6, 2012 for PC, PS3 and Xbox 360.

Follow me on Twitter @rob_keyes.

Source: Eurogamer