Rumors of Mass Effect 3 meaning Shepard may no longer be flying solo have been ringing about earlier this year, so it is not really a surprise that confirmation of a multiplayer mode was first confirmed by the cover of PC PowerPlay, and then expanded on in BioWare's forums. The name of the game is Galaxy at War, which informs what will be happening.
Naturally, many are skeptical, myself included, on a series that has built itself on choice and creating our version of Shepard suddenly deciding to implement a multiplayer mode in the final installment of this particular trilogy. For those worried, it appears BioWare Montreal has been working on the multiplayer, leaving the main Mass Effect team to work on the solo content. The forum's details offer a bit more of a view as to how this will all be happening, however. First, the multiplayer will be focused on cooperative play only, and limited to four people at that. As to whom you can play?
Commander Shepard's part in the war will take place in the single-player campaign, as will that of other beloved characters in the franchise such as Garrus, Ashley, and Liara...these characters do not appear in the multiplayer missions. In multiplayer, players will create custom characters to fight on different and unique fronts in the war. This will include the ability to play as favorites like Turians, Krogans, Asari and more... each with their own unique set of abilities.
Since there is the Galaxy at War angle, this does rather make sense. Of particular interest in the beginning of that post is this bit: "Success in multi-player will have a direct impact on the outcome of the single player campaign, giving players an alternative method of achieving ultimate victory against the greatest threat mankind - and the entire galaxy - has ever faced."
Which, at first glance, makes me want to object to this point made later in the same post: "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."
It will likely be a matter of semantics for some, but I am rather curious as to how this will all play out in terms of what those extra options might be, and if I truly experience the range of Shepard's options. Personally, I don't relish jumping into multiplayer my first playthrough, nor do I want to miss out on other ways of completing the game. As I don't have a full view, and the information on that front is rather incomplete at the moment, I will reserve judgment. It has the potential to be interesting, sure. Whether it will? I suppose we'll have to wait and see.