Mass Effect 3's multiplayer was a dark horse hit. Given Mass Effect's single-player RPG status, nobody expected a multiplayer arena shooter game mode to be any good. In actuality, the game mode turned out to be a blast, the only knock against it being participation was nearly required to achieve the best possible single-player ending. While #Bioware eased off of that in later patches, it made for a riotous start for the game. Fitting, perhaps, given its riotous conclusion.
In an interview with Kotaku, Bioware producer Mike Gamble explained Mass Effect: Andromeda's multiplayer will not be required for singleplayer, but they will dovetail:
"There's a system that we use called the Strike Team system, and fundamentally it allows you to go between singleplayer and multiplayer within the game[...] I can tell you that there's a loading screen - it's not entirely seamless - but it won't require you to stop your game and restart in a different mode. Because narratively it's all connected, it makes a lot of sense."
While this connection between multiplayer and singleplayer could be innocuous, it starts to set off some alarms based on Mass Effect 3's launch experience. Narrative framing for the multiplayer portion of the game is pretty cool — knowing you were a group of experts helping Shepard against the Reapers was great motivation — but explicitly tying it to the campaign runs the risk of alienating a portion of the playerbase.
Both Mass Effect 3's launch tactics with multiplayer and Andromeda's described approach are clearly aimed at encouraging players to try the game mode for the first time. They put the game mode front and center, nudging players to get their toes wet and try something new in the hopes they discover they enjoy it. Make the motivation too great, however, and the people who buy Bioware titles explicitly for a single-player experience lose out. Make it essential to the story — or even essential to a sliver of the story — and someone is going to feel they've been burned.
At the same time, I'm not sure people who are already eager and invested into the multiplayer are interested in first loading up their single-player campaign before being able to jump in. Will that be necessary? Will multiplayer be accessible both from in-game menus and the main menu? We don't know yet. Bioware has been relatively tight-lipped about the content of Mass Effect: Andromeda, following the trend set by Bethesda with Skyrim and Fallout 4: say little, launch the game, and watch the magic happen.
In any case, Mass Effect's multiplayer is at its best when it stands on its own two feet, neither propped up by or trying to prop up the singleplayer campaign. If the content is good — and in Mass Effect 3, it was really good — people will find it and play it. I, personally, dumped plenty of hours (and cash) into Mass Effect 3's multiplayer and fully intend to do the same with #Andromeda. If jumping in requires extra clicks and loading time, however, my chances of opening the game just to play a few multiplayer matches start to dwindle. Tethering the two game modes together doesn't reduce the barrier to entry. The opposite is achieved instead.
Given how little we know, it's possible my hand-wringing worry will be for naught. But given how little we know, I can't bring myself to do anything else. Prior experience has a way of inducing concern.