More details have emerged about Mass Effect 3's surprising decision to include multiplayer. This time they're talking about what Galaxy At War might be, and much more information has arrived from elsewhere.
And it seems that the single player game could well be affected by playing not just the multiplayer, but any number of side-projects BioWare tack on to the release of the game.
Earth is pretty idyllic in the Mass Effect universe. A couple of hundred years have seen the weather get a lot worse, but life for the well-off is super-fine. It's not so great for the poor, although genetic disease is mostly eradicated, and pollution's been dealt with. Unlike so many universes, where Earth lies as a wasteland, in ME it's a jewel in the galaxy.
Which makes it quite a big deal that it has been captured by the Reapers.
Things have taken a turn for the worse, and according to the details released by EA today, the entire galaxy is "on the verge of extinction". So it's time to take Earth back. That's the beginning of the latest game, and the Galaxy At War multiplayer all ties into this.
It all takes place in the form of four-player co-op. As we already knew, you play as one of a team of Special Forces soldiers, protecting resources and assets for the war. There's six classes to choose from (for of which are Soldier, Infiltrator, Engineer and Sentinel), from six races. They be: Human, Krogan, Asari, Drell, Salarian and Turian (the only right choice). This will, apparently, take the form of a survival mode, where you face increasing waves of enemies. Eleven waves, in fact, per section. During this you can progress your character, as well as having an effect on your single-player success, sort of, if you want.
But it works both ways. Success in single-player side-missions and even the main plot will gain you "War Assets", which can then be used in the MP to get stuff like allies, fleets and facilities. Which in turn means you can better supply Shepard in the SP, and so on. The quote from OXM, as reported by Stick Skills, reads:
"The more you play and build up your multiplayer characters to survive increasingly tough odds, the more power and influence your single-player Shepard will wield by the time the endgame comes based on the amount of War Assets earned."
However, if you're completest enough in the SP, you apparently won't need to take part in the MP at all to receive all the same bonuses. Gosh, it sounds maddeningly and unnecessarily complicated.
And it seems the links are even more complex than first thought. It's not just the multiplayer that will effect your single-player game, but apparently all the other space junk that's released alongside the game - presumably Facebook, iOS, and the like. That's what I'm interpreting from this passage in the game's press release:
"With the Mass Effect 3: Galaxy at War system, players will fight for the survival of the galaxy against an ancient alien race known only as, Reapers, in both the single player campaign and through a suite of Mass Effect games and applications. Progress made in each of the components of the system, including the new multiplayer mode, will directly link back to the player’s main campaign, helping Commander Shepard rally the forces of the galaxy to eliminate the Reaper threat once and for all."
This also means the game will be coming with an "online pass". Oh goodie.
So there you go. I really have no idea what to make of it, other than to quite aggressively feel that if I'm required to take part in some co-op in order to be able to properly enjoy the single-player campaign, I'm going to be furious. The implication appears to be that I will not, especially if I chase after all the side-quests, which I certainly will. But this is tenuously thin ice BioWare have chosen to tread, especially for a company formerly so deeply dedicated to single-player gaming. While I have not a scrap of evidence, and the claims are that they've been planning to include such a component since the first game, this really does reek of marketing before design. However, I've still enough faith in BioWare to assume that they'll get this right. Right?