It’s happening, folks. The release of the Mass Effect: Legendary edition draws near, and with it, there’s a lot of news. When first announced, I wondered what BioWare would improve – as did we all. That’s in large part because the term ‘remaster’ has proven to be vague, at best. Mass Effect could use a facelift, especially the first game, so I’m excited to share the good news: This game will not be a lazy remaster.
Mac Walters, the Mass Effect: Legendary Edition project director, said it best: “We talk about it sort of like we were restoring a beautiful, beloved car. But then it quickly turned into sure, if that car had been buried in cement, and every time you tried to clear off some of the cement you were worried about dinging the paint or ripping off a mirror.” He’s talking about the concept of remastering the trilogy, despite the ending of the entire series leaving a bad taste in our mouths. Still, we want it.
What will the Mass Effect: Legendary Edition include?
There’s a lot of fan expectation for the content that BioWare will include in the game. The Legendary Edition bundles the Shepard trilogy into one game, with no changes to the story. That consists of the ending that many people bemoaned, including me. The game will upscale Shepard’s journey with 4K enhanced visuals, textures, and models. Also, console players will be able to play in 60 frames per second (fps). BioWare is including a high refresh rate and ultra-wide 21:9 display support on PC. PC players can also use a controller!
It will include most of the game’s DLC packs, including promo equipment, like the Blood Dragon Armor from Dragon Age! I did say mostly, though. BioWare can’t include one piece of DLC, and it’s not for lack of trying.
According to Game Informer, Mass Effect’s Pinnacle Station DLC is not in the game, but that’s not for lack of trying. Demiurge Studios created the Pinnacle Station DLC, not BioWare. Mac Walters confirmed that trying to get the source code was “an emotional roller coaster.” As described, the team tried to contact everyone with a connection to the DLC. They went as far as contacting Demiurge, but the backups of the code they sent over contained mostly corrupted data.
Walters explains that they would have to rebuild Pinnacle from the ground up to include it in the Legendary Edition. “It would basically take us another full six months just to do this with most of the team we’ve got. I wish we could do it. Honestly, just because this is meant to be everything that the team ever created, brought together again – all the single-player content. And so, leaving it all on the cutting-room floor, it was heartbreaking.”
What about multiplayer?
The company is not remastering the multiplayer. Mass Effect 3 had a fun multiplayer mode, but BioWare wants us to relive the story. Players can still play the multiplayer in the original series, though, as it does not have dedicated servers. They use peer-to-peer to connect players: One player is the host of the game, and the rest connect to the host.
While the story won’t see any changes, character customization is getting overhauled. There will be a higher range of available skin tones, hairstyles, and makeup options. Thankfully, we will be able to carry over our appearance seamlessly throughout each game. Also, Female Shepard finally gets her due!
Mass Effect always allowed the choice between two Shepards, but only the male version had a default look. BioWare did not give our female Commander, wonderfully voiced by Jennifer Hale, a default look until Mass Effect 3. For the first time, players will carry her default look from the first game to the last.
Other enhancements include a boost to the Mako’s speed and control, as well as improved AI changes, the removal of class-based weapon restrictions, and a new XP rebalance I’d like to touch on. Players will reportedly not be able to reach the game’s level cap without New Game Plus. I’m not sure that’s a good idea, but I agree with more consistent autosave points, the modernized HUD, and a reduction in mini-games.
The First Mass Effect looks like a Remake
BioWare released Mass Effect in 2007, and anyone who goes back to play will agree that it shows. The first Mass Effect is a far cry from what came after. The crew and the Mako movement is clunky, and HUD is dated, inventory management is a nightmare, and the environments could use some love. That aside, it is a critical game, and I love it for all its flaws. After all, the video game convinced me, a former PlayStation fanboy, to buy my first Xbox console.
At the moment, it appears that improvements to Mass Effect 2 and 3 will be minimal compared to the first game. Game textures look like natural materials thanks to visual upgrades, and oddly shaped heads and eyelashes appear smooth. There will be improvements to Aim assist and a zoom snap that allows sharp focus on a target when aiming. Remember the hidden loading screens that processed during a ride on the Citadel’s lifts? That’s drastically cut down from 52 seconds to 14 seconds.
It is my sincere hope that Mass Effect is getting the remaster treatment to bring everyone up to speed for the next game. Whether or not that is true, I’m excited to experience this story again. Mass Effect is one of those video games that redefined what a game can offer. I know it’s going to hype up my need for the new Mass Effect, but we’re not likely to see that game for a while. Until then, this will satisfy me.
The Legendary Edition will be out on May 14 for PlayStation 4, Windows PC, and Xbox One, and is available on Xbox Series X|S and the PlayStation 5 due to backward compatibility.