When multiplayer modes are confirmed by a company like BioWare, you know it's not going to be a standard deathmatch or tacked on co-op.
Sure enough, the long-rumoured Mass Effect 3 multiplayer modes offer a different spin on four-player co-op thanks to the developer's new Galaxy At War system, which has been detailed on the game's official forums.
The new online mode is separate to the single-player and allows up to four players to team up and take on co-operative missions to clear out the enemy forces from key territories in the Mass Effect universe. As they progress, the improve what's referred to as 'Galactic Readiness', i.e. humanity's ability to fend of the Reaper invasion.
In keeping with BioWare's transferable data from Mass Effect 2 and 3, the Galactic Readiness level will be reflected in gamers' single-player campaigns, boosting their chances at achieving a perfect ending. However, BioWare has stressed that Galaxy at War is an optional method of doing so - fans can still achieve the same ending solely through single-player.
Rather than playing as Commander Shepard, players create their own customisable character, allowing them to pick from humans and alien races such as the asari, turians and krogans. These characters can be upgraded as they progress through Galaxy at War.
BioWare has confirmed that DLC will be available for Mass Effect 3 and that Galaxy At War will be brought to "other platforms". More details are expected in the coming months.
Mass Effect 3 is due for release on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC on March 2012.