Mass Effect 3: Galaxy at War introduces 'Galactic Readiness'

So how exactly is Commander Shepard going to fight off the universe-threatening geth in Mass Effect 3? BioWare has announced the "Galaxy at War" system that expands the game experience beyond just the single player campaign, and lets you "experience the galactic war from multiple fronts." Your actions through the main story, as well as other components of the "Galaxy at War" system, will help determine your "Galactic Readiness." By participating in every aspect BioWare plans on introducing in this mode, you'll not only see the broader scope of the war, but you'll be better equipped to win the game. Part of the "Galaxy at War" system is the new 4 player co-op mode, announced yesterday. "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," BioWare explains on its forums. "And many players have asked for it for a long time as well." The co-op mode is being developed outside of BioWare Edmonton; multiplayer duties are being handled by BioWare Montreal. And although "success in multiplayer will have a direct impact on the outcome of the single player campaign," it's still largely a standalone experience. Firstly, save files from Mass Effect 1 and 2 won't impact this mode. In addition, characters from the single player story, such as Shepard, Garrus, and Liara will not appear in the multiplayer missions. Instead, you'll create yet another new character for multiplayer. Excitingly, you won't be forced to play as a human, and can choose to be a Turian, Krogan, Asari, and more, "each with their own unique set of abilities." The RPG themes continue into the multiplayer, with character progression, weapon upgrading, and leveling up all present in co-op.

None of these characters are playable in co-op

BioWare is adamant that the addition of co-op and the "Galaxy at War" system will in no way affect the single player campaign negatively. "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." "Our priority and focus with Mass Effect 3 has and always will be to deliver a complete and satisfying single player experience." It's clear that many other aspects of "Galaxy at War" have yet to be revealed, and BioWare reiterates that participation in any of these extra modes is optional. "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." So, if half your crew died during the final stand in Mass Effect 2, you might want to bolster your odds a bit with some co-op gameplay...