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Time to relive these classics once more...

The original Mass Effect trilogy is one of the great milestones in Bioware's history as a developer. A true galactic epic that spawned a rich and extensive lore that developed over three games, even allowing us to import our saved games to continue our decisions and variants of Shepard. That is why when Mass Effect: Legendary Edition, a collection of remasters of the first three installments, was announced, many fans were delighted, but not much detail was given about the improvements and news that the compilation would have. Until just the other day.

All the improvements and news of the Mass Effect trilogy: Legendary Edition

It's not N7 Day, but as if it were. On February 2nd, Electronic Arts and Bioware, who are in charge of their own remastering of the original material, showed how they intend to improve and update a product that contains somewhat outdated works if we take into account what has advanced in videogame development technology since 2007, 2010 and 2012, the respective release dates of each of the original installments.

It is usual in other recent remasters that Electronic Arts has released in recent times (such as Burnout: Paradise or Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit) that an external studio is commissioned to update the resolution, unlock or increase the frames per second, improve the quality of some textures generally using a quality PC of the time... and not much else. They are generally somewhat vague updates that don’t usually have much more argument for their purchase than being able to play titles that you did not have the opportunity at the time and with a bit more quality than a simple way to play it via backward compatibility.

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However, the fact that a part of Bioware themselves are behind the remaster made us think of something else. It was already clear since it was announced that this original trilogy does not arrive in the form of a remake (something we would’ve preferred, really), but after Mac Walters, Crystal McCord and Kevin Meek, project director, project director and producer and the director of scenes and characters, respectively, have revealed about the remaster, I have come to the conclusion that considering the Legendary edition mere remasters is perhaps an understatement.

What's in Mass Effect: Legendary Edition?

To quickly summarize what this compilation includes, you have this list of improvements and additions:

  • Mass Effect 1, Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3 in the same pack, with a new launcher that allows you to change games.
  • More than 40 DLCs, including the main expansions, weapon packs, armor, old pre-order bonuses, etc. All of them available from the beginning.
  • 4K and HDR remastering.
  • 60fps on PS4 Pro, Xbox One X, and next-gen consoles (PS5 and Xbox Series X / S)
  • Visual improvements (models, lighting, shaders, FX).
  • Unzipped and rescaled textures in resolution.
  • Supports high refresh rates and 21: 9 widescreen resolution on PC.
  • Gameplay improvements.
  • A universal character creator for all three games.

All three games were originally developed for the same console cycle (first Xbox 360, with the first exclusive release, and later coming to PS3) and all were developed on the successful Unreal Engine 3 graphics engine. With Mac Walters saying "The first thing we did was Call Epic and ask what it would look like if we took it to Unreal 4” and that "It became clear very quickly that this level of jumping would fundamentally change what the trilogy was, how it felt and how it was played."

Now, discarding that jump Unreal Engine 3 to Unreal Engine 4 was also for technical reasons because the programming languages ​​of Unreal Engine 3 simply does not allow the assets to be copy-pasted to UE4 and each asset and each scene would have to be redone, the development team began so-called digital archaeology dig into its own source code to see what could be useful, what had to be discarded and what could be improved to raise the bar in general terms without giving up the original essence.

Mass Effect: Legendary Edition includes more than 40 downloadable content from the original trilogy, These include:

  • The Sky is Falling - Mass Effect 1
  • Genesis - Mass Effect 3
  • Zaeed: The Price of Vengeance - Mass Effect 2
  • Kasumi: Stolen Memory - Mass Effect 2
  • Shadow Corridor - Mass Effect 2
  • Embers Pack - Mass Effect 2
  • Overlord Pack - Mass Effect 2
  • Normandy Impact Zone - Mass Effect 2
  • Arrival - Mass Effect 2
  • Genesis 2 - Mass Effect 3
  • From the Ashes - Mass Effect 3
  • Extended Version - Mass Effect 3
  • Leviathan - Mass Effect 3
  • Omega - Mass Effect 3
  • Citadel - Mass Effect 3
  • Promos:
  • Recons Operation Pack (Dr Pepper promo)
  • Collector's Edition weapons and armour
  • Terminus weapons and armour
  • M-29 Incisor
  • Dragon Blood Armor
  • Inferno Armor
  • Recognition hood
  • Sentry interface
  • Umbra Visor
  • N7 Warfare Team
  • AT-12 Raider
  • Chakram Launcher
  • M-55 Argus
  • M-90 Indra
  • Reckoner Night Armor
  • Weapons and armour packs:
  • Equalizer Pack
  • Aegis Pack
  • Firepower Pack
  • Cerberus Weapons and Armor Pack
  • Arc projector
  • Mass Effect 2 Alternate Appearances Pack # 1
  • Mass Effect 2 Alternate Appearances Pack # 2
  • Firefight Pack
  • Groundside Resistance Pack
  • Mass Effect 3 Alternate Appearances Pack
  • N7 Collector's Edition Pack

But there's more.

Of course, one expects improvements that increase the visual level of the work (I mean, we are talking about games where 2 out of the 3 are over a decade old). So, because of this, texture rescaling software has been used so that the new 4K resolution was not abandoned by the resolution of its assets. In total, hundreds of elements have raised the level of their textures "at least 4 times, and can have even 16 times more definition". This was explained by Kevin Meek.

The development team of these remasters was divided into scenarios and each one was taking notes on the elements in which the player's eyes are usually fixed when navigating through the levels. In this way, doing this, it was then possible to better optimize which elements required replacement or improvement by new or redesigned assets. This will be observed with dozens of elements of the environment that could go unnoticed, but surely we would notice that they aren’t on the same level of detail.

Faces are one of the main things that have been heavily focused on the development of this collection as the facial models were ones of the characteristics that have aged the worst (looking at you, Mass Effect 1), although there is still a lack of quality when we compare them to other games that have released recently or will be released around the release date of this collection, although, the trilogy as a whole has been improved. Like, official Fem-Shepard model has been added for the entire trilogy, which matches that of the reversible cover of Mass Effect 3 (This is incredible in my opinion). In addition, the character creation adds new customisable options for our character, which, just like the previous games, can be imported from one game to another, without having to go through the whole ordeal again.

Gameplay improvements in Mass Effect 1

Now, let’s get to the elephant in the room. If there was one thing Mass Effect: Legendary Edition has to get right, it’s updating the original game’s controls. Everything from character models to settings like Eden Prime has received updates. These updates include updates to gameplay, which has been a point of contention for gamers ever since its release. I mean, just play it now, it was clunky 10 years ago and it’s clunkier now.

Bioware has expressed that it has been a more complicated task they could’ve imagined. Why is this, well, the first Mass Effect still fans (myself included) that feel that the deeper RPG elements were stripped back in the subsequent sequels, because despite being clunky, MS1 has that je ne sais quoi that 2 and 3 lack. However, in terms of gameplay, I feel that almost everyone agrees that the first Mass Effect needed to be updated, but this is a tight rope to tread upon because you do not want to mess with an RPG’s passionate fanbase.

Kevin Meek has expressed that “With the Mass Effect 1 gameplay we had from people who said we should get rid of it and bring the [Mass Effect: Andromeda] gameplay somehow, to people who said it was their favourite and we shouldn't touch it at all”, followed by “What we have done is through a series of small changes to eliminate all that friction, where the cameras will follow the character and interpolate your movement, or go into cover a little easier. Being able to command your squadmates using your different commands on where it should be. None of this takes you too far from the soul of what it was before, but it all starts to blend together to a point where going back to the original game to capture footage feels clunky and difficult to move... just doesn't feel good in comparison. I think if we had scrapped the system, we would definitely have lost a lot of people on the 'Mass Effect 1 is my favourite game' side. "

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mass effect legendary edition 2 1

In fact, the changes are numerous. Improvements include an auto-aiming system, more consistent auto-save points (I lost countless hours by forgetting to save, then again, the “me” of over 10 years ago wasn’t the best gamer), and improvements to some of the most frustrating boss encounters, like the fight with Benezia. The infamous elevator sections, which could take more than a minute in the original game, now take less than 15 seconds and gives the option to skip the dialogue, whoever those people are, I don’t want to be associated to them (I joke). The previously clunky inventory system is now more in line with that of the PC version and, according to Walters, introduces additional enhancements that are designed to smooth out the harshest aspects without "breaking everything." In addition, the Mako's handling has also been softened to make it more in keeping with the times.

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mass effect legendary edition 1 1

When it comes to the gunplay in Mass Effects 1, there's been a bunch of innovative changes have been made. For example, Sniper rifles can now be carried by Vanguards, according to Walters: "at least you won't feel completely useless",  what does this mean? Well, he goes further by saying "What they always complained about is that you put someone in line with your sniper rifle and still missed". I’m sure all of this sounds like excellent news because when it comes to that last line, yeah, this isn’t X-com, why am I missing this crystal clear shot.

Anyway, my frustrations aside, we here at GamesAtlas are very happy to know that Mass Effect: Legendary Edition will arrive on May 14, 2021, on PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 and it will be playable through backward compatibility on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X / S, although it will not receive its own optimization patch. Kind of a bummer, if I’m honest.

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