Ever since Mass Effect debuted in 2007, featuring a protagonist who was always joined by squad mates on the battlefield, many players wanted to experience that sort of in-depth gameplay with friends. As it turns out, multiplayer is something BioWare wanted to include ever since ME1 and with Mass Effect 3 they're finally getting their chance.
After months of rumors and speculation, it was finally confirmed in October that BioWare would include a multiplayer mode in Mass Effect 3, with word that it would be 100% optional, yet tied into the story of the game. Since the story and characters are of utmost importance to BioWare, the new 4-player co-op experience lives by the same principles and core values of the series: story-telling with lasting implications.
GT.TV’s Geoff Keighley headed to BioWare Edmonton to take a look at some new gameplay footage for Mass Effect 3 - which aired last night and can be seen below - and along with unveiling brand new footage and details about the planet Mars and how it plays into the game's story, BioWare's Casey Hudson spoke a little about multiplayer and why Mass Effect 3 was the only game for them to include it in.
"We don't want to take anything away from what it's like to be Commander Shepard, but that's what Mass Effect 3 gave us in terms of an opportunity to do multiplayer. It has a different story concept. It's based on total galactic war where it's not just Commander Shepard that's in this fight, but there are countless soldiers out there fighting for key locations. In multiplayer, you get to be one of those characters."
Again, since story is what multiplayer is based on, Mass Effect 3 really was the only way to include a separate multiplayer mode that worked within the confines of the game's story. Mass Effect 1 followed Shepard and the crew of the Normandy discovering and proving the existence of the Reaper threat, while at the same time, making a mark on the galaxy for the human species. In the sequel, Shepard and his crew were again playing lone wolf as they single-handedly dealt with the Collectors while working for the shady Cerberus group and The Illusive Man. In ME3, everyone's involved and that's where you (and your friends) can fight the good fight on different fronts while Shepard does his thing.
That's not to say this is the "only" way to include co-op multiplayer in the series - BioWare could have have included multiplayer within the main story with friends taking on the roles of Shepard's squad mates (a la Lord of the Rings: War in the North) - especially now that the game has pushed towards being an action game more than an RPG. But we can appreciate maintaining the immersive and rich single-player experience of the core game.
So how does multiplayer customization and progression work now that players can finally step into the shoes of non-human characters?
"You start out as a human, but you're starting to unlock all of the characters that we've never let players play as before. So you can be an Asari, you can be a Krogan, you can be a Drell, and all of these different characters that have special abilities that are really awesome but didn't make sense for Commander Shepard."
Check out some of the multiplayer gameplay in one of the later segments of the video below:
If you watch the entire episode, there are a few other neat tidbits for diehard fans, including a little info on Freddie Prinze Jr. playing new character James Vega who is described as a "big, bulky fun guy." The voice recording sessions were rather emotional and that's a credit to the writing talent and the acting talent of the team behind the game - There were instances where voice actors and others in the booth would even cry while recording. Foreboding, much?
Players will get a chance to try out Mass Effect 3's single-player campaign as well as the new co-op multiplayer mode with the demo, which debuts on February 14, 2012 (Valentine's Day!).
Mass Effect 3 finally releases on March 6, 2012 for the PC, PS3 and Xbox 360.
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Source: Game Trailers