Bioware has revealed the first look at Mass Effect Legendary Edition, the 4k remaster of its iconic trilogy arriving on May 14.
Liana Ruppert of GameInformer provided the exclusive first look at the long-awaited package, which will include the original three games and all their DLC content—40 expansions, missions, and items—in one complete package, using one launcher. The trilogy has been fully remastered for 4K, including enhanced models and environmental effects. Several quality of life improvements have been made as well, but have not yet been detailed.
However, Unreal Engine 3 is still beneath the hood. The team looked into upgrading to Unreal Engine 4, according to Director Mac Walters, but ultimately decided the translation would strip away the core experience.
“Every moment, every scene… everything would have had to essentially be redone from scratch. We knew at that point that we’d really sort of start to take away the essence and spirit of what the trilogy was,” Walters told IGN. “Taking the house-plans and completely rebuilding it again somewhere else, I think you end up losing a lot of that soul, that naivete that they might have had that made it so successful and gave it that atmosphere, that feeling,” added Lead Environmental Artist Kevin Meek.
Mass Effect Legendary Edition will not include the multiplayer from the third installment, however, due to the inherent complications of adding the second gameplay mode. This may be a letdown for some, as it’s the only way to play as the series’ nonhuman races, but Bioware deemed it detrimental to the entire project.
Instead, that energy was channeled into updating aspects of the single-player experience and unifying the three games. The original received extra attention—as it has aged less gracefully than its sequels. The inventory system has been updated (along with a more universal UI across the trilogy), weapons outside of Shepard’s class will no longer be penalized, some notorious fights have been tweaked, the Mako’s controls have been tweaked, and elevator loading times have been cut dramatically.
In terms of visuals, the updated default female option for Commander Shepard is now available across all three games, along with expanded hair and skin options to better reflect persons of colour. An upscaling AI was utilized to improve textures, and it shows in places like Tali’s hood or Liara’s skin.
Nonetheless the Mass Effect Legendary Edition shouldn’t alienate fans from their favourite installment, as the team aimed to sand down rough edges instead of rebuilding entirely. New players and old fans can step aboard the Normandy on May 14, on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, or PC, or in compatibility mode on next-gen consoles. Preorders are available now at $79.99 CDN. For the diehards, Bioware is offering a Collector’s Edition “cache” on its store, featuring a 1:1 replica of Shepard’s N7 helmet and other goodies—but not a copy of the game itself.