Mass Effect 3 producer Jesse Houston has taken time out from finishing the highly anticipated title to answer some of fans' questions about the game's new features. Besides addressing how players' progress in Mass Effects 1 and 2 will affect the ME3 experience, Houston tackles some of the most persistent concerns about the game's new multiplayer mode, such as the relationship between multiplayer and singleplayer and the alternatives to online multiplayer (spoiler: there aren't any).
The game's new "Galaxy at War" system measures your Shepard's Galactic Readiness and weighs possible outcomes of the game's final battle, factoring in not just single-player performance in Mass Effect 3, but your actions in earlier games. “Multiplayer will definitely have an effect on your single-player experience through the Galaxy at War system,” explains Houston, “so as you play the multiplayer and the Co-Op and the more successful you are, the more that will affect your Galactic Readiness level which will then affect your end game result.”
The multiplayer game will have its own XP trees for as many characters as you see fit to build, too. “There will be a lot of interesting races that you may not expect to be able to play as” in multiplayer, promises Houston, suggesting that some of the series' races will show a new side in this new mode; “That said, we’ll be releasing more and more characters through DLC later.” There's also a standalone armor customization section for multiplayer, which Houston says will offer more options tailored to the mode: “single-player guys have something that feels better for single-player and multiplayer guys have something that feels better for multiplayer.”
There are trade-offs, but BioWare won't be scrapping any established features: just putting limits on what's possible in the new areas. Kinect is out for multiplayer: “[Kinect] is about squad command and interacting with the world,” explains Houston. “Contextually speaking that doesn’t work as well with multiplayer... So with that in mind, Kinect will not work in multiplayer.”
Local multiplayer is also a no as well, at least initially, though Houston says split-screen or LAN play are “definitely on the table.” Houston promises even players on limited bandwidth ought to find the multiplayer experience rewarding: “our servers themselves are quite bandwidth friendly and most of the multiplayer elements involved in that are peer to peer based. So if you are in a bandwidth poor country, and you are playing with your friends you are still going to find it to be a relatively good experience.” And at worst-case scenario, there's still, you know, a whole new Mass Effect game for you to play.