That's right. From the mouth of the man himself, Casey Hudson, a multiplayer experience for all who will play Mass Effect 3! It is a four player co-op experience that if played, will boost the chances of Commander Shepard kicking Reaper butt cheeks! If ignored, and a player opts not to play the multiplayer, it will not negatively affect the single player campaign. So it's a win-win on all fronts!
The co-op missions are mostly about capturing and defending key positions around the galaxy in aid of the galactic war. Players will have the choice of selecting a variety of Alien races, and corresponding classes, and teaming up with buds to kick ass. Characters chosen on the multiplayer will have their own leveling aside from the single player, and moral choices from ME1 and 2 will not impact any element in the Multiplayer. The multiplayer is being handled by Bioware's newer crew in Montreal, and will not take away from the single player.
Along with the news of the multiplayer, Bioware announced that a system which determines battle-readiness for facing the Reapers will be available dubbed Galaxy at War. It is a quirky way of managing player stats that will include multiplayer progression, and hints at other possible Mass Effect apps and games. Meaning the multiplayer will not be the only manner in which to raise the survival rate of the war. Again, using the Galaxy at War system is optional, and will not negatively affect the single player. It really is a WIN-WIN!
All in all, Casey Hudson assured that the best possible outcome can be achieved by just playing the Single Player campaign without further association with the multiplayer or future apps. So for all you worrywarts (DefHalan!), skipping the multiplayer will not take away from the experience.
Keep an eye, ear, sixth sense open for more details as the release date approaches! Visit Bioware.com for more news!
(Great.... Now should I be Turian Infiltrator, or Quarian Engineer? Or maybe Krogan Vangard? Decisions decisions.)