BioWare has revealed the first details on Mass Effect 3 multiplayer, and moved to calm concerned fans worried by its inclusion.
As revealed by Eurogamer in June, Mass Effect 3's multiplayer is a standalone, four-player co-op experience that is separate from single-player.
Today, following confirmation of the mode's existence by an Australian magazine, BioWare went into further detail.
Success in multiplayer will have a "direct impact on the outcome of the single-player campaign", BioWare said on its forum, and teaming up with friends provides "an alternative method of achieving ultimate victory against the greatest threat mankind - and the entire galaxy - has ever faced".
A choice of classes and races, including the Turians, Krogans and Asari, all lifted from an "elite Special Forces squad", is available, sans Commander Shepard and his crew. The missions centre around liberating key territories from enemy control.
Character progression, weapon upgrading and levelling up are all featured in co-op. "We'll release more information on this topic in the months leading up to launch," BioWare said.
Tied into how the multiplayer will impact the single-player is the Galaxy at War mode, a sort of overarching mode that determines your game's "Galactic Readiness". Several different aspects affect your Galactic Readiness, including people, weapons, resources, armies and fleets.
"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," BioWare noted.
But why do multiplayer in the first place?
"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," BioWare explained.
"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."
Then: "Our priority and focus with Mass Effect 3 has and always will be to deliver a complete and satisfying single player experience."
BioWare also confirmed that BioWare Montreal, a studio set up only a year ago, played a central role in the creation of the Mass Effect 3 multiplayer experience - again, first revealed by Eurogamer in June. "Rest assured that no compromises were made to either of these modes in the development of Mass Effect 3," BioWare insisted.
BioWare's overriding message is that Mass Effect 3's multiplayer is optional.
"Mass Effect 3 is a complete, standalone game that will deliver a satisfying story experience, even if you choose not to try multiplayer," it said. "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."
Meanwhile, Mass Effect main man Casey Hudson took to Twitter to offer one final reassurance: "Yes, co-op MP missions for Mass Effect. They're real and they're spectacular. Rest assured they're nothing of what you've feared."