The Mass Effect franchise has had a pretty rough last few years. 2017’s Mass Effect: Andromeda was supposed to launch the series in an exciting, next generation direction. What we got was a very buggy, inconsistent game that felt, quite frankly, very blah. Nothing great, nothing terrible, but definitely not the sequel game the series deserved. For years Mass Effect fans begged for the original trilogy to come back, allowing the old and new to enjoy the series’ highest points. Fortunately, EA finally listened to their fans and announced Mass Effect: Legendary Edition. This remaster packages all 3 games and (most) of all the DLCs released. We even managed to get our first looks at the changes coming to this remaster. Admittedly, a lot of the more major changes are focused on the original Mass Effect, with Mass Effect 2 and 3 receiving interesting updates. So, as a diehard Mass Effect fan, let me take you through the 10 best and 3 potentially worst changes coming to Mass Effect: Legendary Edition, starting with the best.
All Three Games and (Most) DLC Bundled Together
While this might at first seem like an easy “best thing” to include, it really is remarkable to see all 3 massive games being bundled together in one collection. These aren’t short games; each game will take you 20/30/40 hours to complete, and even then you won’t have seen everything the games have to offer. Additionally, this collection includes over 40 DLC from all 3 games. These easily expand your gameplay time quite a bit and offer new characters (Mass Effect 2) or in depth backstories (Mass Effect 3) to fully flesh out the experience.
Original Mass Effect’s Remastered Visuals
Out of all three of the Mass Effect games, the first game is easily the one that is really starting to show its age. At the time (2007) there wasn’t any game quite like it, boasting impressive graphics and beautiful worlds to discover. Fast forward to 2021, and…it’s pretty rough. Environments aren’t that pretty anymore, character details are barebones, and certain locations look very bland. In our first few looks at the Legendary Edition version of Mass Effect, we can see the beauty return to these worlds. Environments are given rich details, characters and armor are given a fresh coat of paint, and everything has a nice new sheen of quality over it. Keep in mind, this isn’t a full remake, so it still will show a 2007 game underneath. That said, the work done on the visuals already shows that the original game will be a treat to return to.
Original Mass Effect’s Remastered Gameplay
The original Mass Effect game’s combat feels a bit odd to go back to today. The series hadn’t turned to the more action-focused gameplay found in Mass Effect 2 and 3. It did feature action gameplay, although it was a bit more janky back then. Movement wasn’t terrific, guns had very weird sway and attributes, the power menu was a bit too busy, and weapon overheating was obnoxious (don’t try to defend it, you know it wasn’t fun to have your gun overheat all the time). Thankfully, BioWare has revealed that the first game should be a bit more in line with the games that followed, tweaking the gameplay to reflect the more action-oriented style of later games. Unfortunately, we haven’t seen much of this in action yet, but the way BioWare has described it, it sounds like the clunky gameplay of the original will finally be put to rest.
Improved Mass Effect’s Cover Mechanics
Do you know the great thing about cover mechanics? Being able to actually go into cover when the action really gets going. You know what isn’t great? Going “into cover” only be constantly hit by bullets and enemies. The original Mass Effect had this problem going for it. The cover system didn’t really work as your character was never truly in cover. Your character crouched behind objects but not in a traditional way, meaning you spent the campaign constantly taking damage in cover. The remastered version of Mass Effect is again taking cues from Mass Effect 2 and 3 by taking the cover mechanics of those games and bringing them to the original game.
Improved Mako Controls
The most broken aspect of the original Mass Effect game was the Mako. Don’t try to justify it either, it’s not a charming control scheme. The Mako is your tank that you get to drive around quite often in the first game. It’s your mode of transportation on numerous important missions, yet it is broken. The Mako controls on its own terms, meaning the rules are the rules until they aren’t the rules. It’s slow, janky and borderline not fun. Thankfully, the developers have been aware of this for some time and are finally fixing this. Unfortunately, much like the gameplay section above, BioWare hasn’t shown us anything specifically on this yet. However, telling us that they are fixing the Mako control system is a HUGE deal and an extremely welcome change.
Updated Camera Locations in Cutscenes
Here’s something that was really, really weird in Mass Effect 2 and 3, the odd camera placements in dialogue/cutscenes. You remember how in Mass Effect 2 the camera was frequently focusing in on Miranda’s butt whenever you needed to talk to her? Or how the camera in Mass Effect 3 oddly was too low in “sit down Shepard cutscenes”, resulting in some weird shots of Shepherd’s crotch? This meant that if you’re playing as FemShep, you get a strange look up their skirt or dress that felt really weird. It was smaller things like this that, when going back to see now, are very odd and a bit out of place. BioWare has said that they are going in to move the camera around a bit to make this better in a number of cutscenes, which is good. I never really understood why I was talking to Miranda’s ass during her loyalty mission.
Improved Shepard Customization Options for All 3 Games
For a game that wanted you to make Shepard your own, there were very few ways to truly customize your character. Granted, it was a different time, and character customizations were still getting the kinks worked out (still are, if you ask me). Yet Mass Effect always had an issue with making Shepard your own as moving away from the default appearance usually meant choosing between 4 or 5 alterations. Again, BioWare has listened and stated that more customization options will be available for the trilogy. This finally means that more people will get the chance to make Shepard their own and not be forced to play as boring Default 1 or boring Default 2.
Remastered All 3 Games in 4K
While closely connected to the overall visual upgrades being added to the whole trilogy, hearing that all aspects of all 3 games are being remastered in Ultra 4K is a nice cherry on top of it all. Cutscenes are given a full-blown 4K treatment, which gives every character and world more life. Just look at the above picture of Thane from Mass Effect 2. This cutscene is fully remastered in 4K, giving Thane more facial details and outfit details. It might be small, but its this type of change for all 3 games that is going to make this trilogy really pop for newcomers (and impress longtime series fans).
Performance Mode Options
Again, a smaller detail, for sure, but a welcomed one for console players. BioWare is adding the option in the remastered trilogy to play the game in 2 modes: Quality Mode and Framerate Mode. In Quality Mode, the frame rate goes down to how the original trilogy played but increases the visual quality on-screen. This means that environment and character details are given an extra boost. In Frame Rate Mode, the game’s visual quality remains at a “normal” level, while the entire game locks down a high FPS and maintains it throughout your experience. It’s a nice touch being added to video games lately and allows the players good performance options for their choosing.
Default FemShep Has Been Given Mass Effect 3’s Improvements
If you ever played as FemShep in the Mass Effect series, you’ll no doubt realize the character has gone through quite a few changes in all 3 games. Mass Effect 3‘s FemShep was specifically redesigned to be THE default FemShep, which looks absolutely nothing like Mass Effect‘s default FemShep. BioWare has now stated that the Mass Effect 3 FemShep will be the default Female Shepard for the whole remastered trilogy. It might be a smaller thing for some as most people fully customize their character and rarely use the defaults. Yet BioWare taking the much loved version of FemShep and making her the default for the whole trilogy is a welcome change.
No doubt there are even more great changes being done to the Mass Effect Trilogy in this new collection. Personally, I’m super excited for these changes and want to jump right into the game right now. However, despite all these improvements, there are 3 changes made in Mass Effect: Legendary Edition that aren’t for the better. Here are 3 that stood out to me in the previews:
Still Missing Pinnacle Station DLC After 12 Years
It’s kind of crazy to think that there exists content for the original Mass Effect game that has not been enjoyed by the entire fanbase. Pinnacle Station DLC was originally released in 2009 for Xbox 360 and PC and added a unique combat simulation expansion to the game. Was it great? Not really, it didn’t add anything special to the experience. However, this DLC has never been re-released ever since, despite a Trilogy pack containing “All DLC” that came out in 2012. Why? Because BioWare doesn’t have the original source code for it. Even the DLC’s developer (Demirgue Studios) doesn’t have a working copy, citing data corruption on all backups. This means that you aren’t getting the full DLC set for the original Mass Effect game again, which is a shame that no one has figured out a solution over the last 12 years because this has been a known issue for that long. It not being included is the worst because so many people felt that, finally, BioWare would have figured this out and included the DLC in the remaster. Nope, it’s not and likely never will be again. Its fate is to be forever stuck in a server on the Xbox 360 store.
Visual Alterations May Ruin Mass Effect’s Original Atmosphere
Despite taking about how great all the visual updates are going to be for the original Mass Effect, it’s the above screenshot provided by BioWare that has me quite worried. The screenshot is taken from the first planet you visit in Mass Effect, Eden Prime, and is meant to show a twisted, distorted, sinister location to begin your adventure. The problem is the remaster removes all of that in favor of a sunny, normal looking world with a strange alien ship in the middle of it. To me, there’s something lost in the visual change. You no longer feel creeped out by the world you just landed on and the horrors you’re about to discover. The strange atmosphere the original game created on Eden Prime is gone. This makes me worried about other locations in the game. Have they also been altered, losing the atmosphere of the original game in favor of prettier graphics (and lens flares)? I hope not, but needless to say, this shot of Eden Prime has me a bit worried.
Remastered for “Next-Gen” But Completely Ignoring Next Gen
This collection is advertised as “Remastered for a New Generation” and boasts impressive features, such as Ultra 4K HD and HDR for all three titles. It was even announced originally with enhancements for PS5 and Series X…only for BioWare to completely backtrack the next gen. Now, BioWare says that the games won’t have any next gen features or advantages and will only be using “backwards compatibly” on PS5 and Series X. So, the series is being remastered in 2021 to take advantage of next gen by ignoring next gen hardware completely? Yes, the games are playable on PS5 and Series X, but this seems like a letdown that you’re only able to enjoy them through backwards compatibly. It seems like a very odd move to announce PS5/Series X enhancements, only to then pull all of it. The games will no doubt look and play great on these next gen systems, but it’s an odd change BioWare has made in the 3 months since the announcement. Hopefully, it’s one they will reconsider.
So, there you have it. Our 10 Best Changes (and 3 Worst) coming to Mass Effect: Legendary Edition. Overall, I can’t help but be extremely excited for this collection as it’s something I have been begging to have for years now. Fortunately, I won’t have to wait long as Mass Effect: Legendary Edition launches on May 14th.