With a month to go before the launch of Mass Effect Legendary Edition, BioWare has provided an in-depth look at how they’ve adjusted their classic trilogy’s gameplay for its definitive version.
BioWare pulled back the curtain on the remaster in February, and now gone into the nitty-gritty details about how the games have been “calibrated” for new audiences. As originally promised, the team sought to unify the experience across all three games, making it “better across the board” without “unnecessarily [changing] what our fans have come to love about each game.”
This means that the original Mass Effect has seen the most change. Unlike its successors, it drew on more “traditional RPG mechanics” like the pen-and-paper system they used in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic—leading to guns that felt inaccurate.
The team improved weapon handling by reining in reticle bloom, improving the aiming-down-sights camera, improving aim assist, reducing cooldowns, and making headshot damage apply to all “relevant” enemies. Weapons will be available to all classes without penalty, but specializations are still class-specific. Melee attacks are mapped to a button instead of being context-sensitive, and Commander Shepard can finally sprint properly outside of combat. Experience has been redistributed, more cover has been added, and certain annoying boss fight areas have been redesigned.
Veterans of the original Mass Effect may be wondering about the notorious Mako vehicle. BioWare calls its revamped engine “smoother” while retaining its “loveable” character. It has been given a heavier feel, improved shields and camera controls, a new thruster, and will take damage accordingly from touching lava instead of jumping straight to the game over screen. And speaking of annoying systems, inventory management should be less tedious with new junk and sorting options.
“Hundreds of legacy bugs” have been ironed out across all three games, and audio remixed. DLC items and packs have been incorporated directly in accordance with their power, meaning you can’t simply jump to your favourite overpowered bonus weapon this time around, and the Expanded ending DLC is fully incorporated. New achievements have been added, however, and some now carry over progress universally.
As the player controls Commander Shepard throughout, attention was paid to unify their appearance across the trilogy. New options have been added to the character creator, and the player can choose to carry their Shepard’s look over or redefine it for each game. The “FemShep” design from Mass Effect 3 is now the default option for female characters, right from the start of the story, though her original look is still available as well.
As Mass Effect 3‘s Galaxy At War feature relied on its multiplayer mode and companion app to help determine the galaxy’s readiness for the ultimate showdown, the system needed to be overhauled to remove these external factors. Instead, how much content you complete across the trilogy will determine who joins Shepard for the final battle. For instance, if you jump straight to Mass Effect 3, “you’ll have to do just about every option available in the game to be eligible for an ending that doesn’t result in massive galactic losses.” Players who carry over progress from the rest of Shepard’s journey will have the best chances, and ultimately preparations will be harder to achieve than in the original extended version.
All told, BioWare seems to have made the right calls to modernize their classic trilogy while also keeping the experience recognizable. Old fans and curious newcomers can see the fruits of the team’s labours for themselves when Mass Effect Legendary Edition launches on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC May 14.