The upcoming remaster for the iconic Mass Effect trilogy is out next month on May 14th, and so far we’ve seen brief teasers of graphics comparisons, but haven’t heard a lot about what is actually changing gameplay-wise as BioWare aims to bring all 3 games into a more cohesive hole. Thankfully, a new blog post by BioWare gives us a lot of juicy details.
It’s no secret that the original Mass Effect was the black sheep of the trilogy as it was the most different compared to the other two. Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3 felt very similar in gameplay, but ME1 was a whole other ball game. As such, BioWare is updating all 3 games for the Mass Effect: Legendary Edition to bring them more in line with each other, but a lot of changes are happening to the original Mass Effect 1 whilst still retaining its core identity.
“We heard the consistent feedback that it was pretty frustrating to take a few shots with an assault rifle and suddenly have the reticle enlarge to span a large portion of the screen,” BioWare said regarding ME1’s combat. “So we looked at tuning the mechanics to provide better handling without outright scrapping the spirit of the original games.”
So here’s a full breakdown of some of the biggest changes and updates coming to the Mass Effect Legendary Edition.
Combat tuning (Mass Effect)
- Shepard can now sprint out of combat
- Melee attacks are now mapped to a button press rather than automatically occurring based on proximity to an enemy
- Weapon accuracy and handling has been significantly improved
- Reticle bloom is more controlled
- Weapon sway removed from sniper rifles
- Aiming down sights/”tight aim” camera view has been improved
- Improved aim assist for target acquisition
- All relevant enemies now take headshot damage in the first game
- Previously some did not, including humanoid enemies
- Ammo mods (Anti-Organic, Anti-Synthetic, etc.) can now drop throughout the whole game
- Previously, these stopped dropping at higher player levels
- They are now also available to purchase from merchants
- All weapons can be used by any class without penalty
- Specializations (the ability to train/upgrade certain weapons) are still class-specific
- Weapons cool down much faster
- Medi-gel usage has been improved
- Base cooldown reduced
- Levelling benefits increased
- Increased Liara’s bonus to cooldowns
- Inventory management improvements
- Items can now be flagged as “Junk”
- All Junk items can be converted into Omni-gel or sold to merchants at once
- Inventory and stores now have sorting functionality
- Some abilities have been rebalanced
- Weapon powers (i.e., those that are unlocked on each weapon type’s skill tree) have been improved:
- Effectiveness/strength is increased (duration reduced in some cases)
- Heat now resets on power activation
Additional gameplay improvements (All)
- Squadmates can now be commanded independently of each other in the first Mass Effect, the same way you can command them individually in Mass Effect 2 and 3
- Some boss fights and enemies in the first game have been tweaked to be fairer for players but still challenging
- Cover has been improved across the trilogy
- Additional cover added to some encounters
- Entering and exiting cover is now more reliable
- XP has been rebalanced in the first game
- Ammo drops have been rebalanced in Mass Effect 2
Additional to the improvements outlined above, XP has been rebalanced in Mass Effect 1 to allow players to “more reliably get to higher levels on a single playthrough” without having to replay the game again in order to do so. To help with that, there is also no longer a level cap during the first playthrough.
Ammunition has also been adjusted in Mass Effect 2 as apparently ammo drops were “spawning too scarcely” in the original release, so drop rates for ammo have been increased in ME2 - more specifically the sniper rifle as that had a reduced drop rate already in the original release.
The Mako (Mass Effect)
- Improved handling
- Physics tuning improved to feel “weightier” and slide around less
- Improved camera controls
- Resolved issues preventing the Mako from accurately aiming at lower angles
- Shields recharge faster
- New thrusters added for a speed boost
- Its cooldown is separate from the jump jets’
- The XP penalty while in the Mako has been removed
- Touching lava no longer results in an instant Mission Failure and instead deals damage over time
Even if you loved the way the original Mako handled, BioWare has revealed some interesting improvements to the handling. Not only will the vehicle feel a little less light and floaty, but they’ve also added some thrusters to the rear of the vehicle separate to the jump jets, so you can use both simultaneously or independently.
Unifying & modernizing the trilogy (All)
- New unified launcher for all three games
- Includes trilogy-wide settings for subtitles and languages
- Saves are still unique to each game and can be managed independently of each other
- Updated character creator options, as mentioned above
- FemShep from Mass Effect 3 is the new default female option in all three games (the original FemShep design is still available as a preset option)
- Trophies across the trilogy have been updated
- New trophies have been added to the trilogy
- Progress for some now carries over across all three games (e.g. Kill 250 enemies across all games)
- Trophies that were streamlined into one and made redundant were removed
- A number of trophies have had their objectives/descriptions and/or names updated
- Integrated weapons and armor DLC packs
- Weapons and armor DLC packs are now integrated naturally into the game; they’re obtainable via research or by purchasing them from merchants as you progress through the game, rather than being immediately unlocked from the start. This ensures overall balance and progression across ME2 and ME3
- Recon Hood (ME2) and Cerberus Ajax Armor (ME3) are available at the start of each game
- Additional gameplay & Quality of life improvements
- Audio is remixed and enhanced across all games
- Hundreds of legacy bugs from the original releases are fixed
When it comes to the entire trilogy as a whole, BioWare outlined some interesting improvements. First of all, the character creator is now unified across all 3 games along with some new additions like more skin tones and hairstyles. You can also use the same character code across all 3 games giving your own Shepard a consistent look across the whole trilogy (but you can also change their appearance at the start of each game if you wish).
Of course, the Mass Effect games let you import decisions you made from previous titles that could affect the story and gameplay in the sequels. But if you don’t necessarily want to play one of the games in their entirety straight away, the ME Legendary Edition will include the Mass Effect: Genesis comics so you can make major choices from previous games without having to actually play them.
Other improvements that have already been mentioned include unifying the default FemShep model across all 3 games that was introduced in Mass Effect 3. But if you preferred the Mass Effect 2 model then that one is still available as a preset.
Galaxy at War rebalancing (Mass Effect 3)
The final game of the trilogy, Mass Effect 3, tasks players with ultimately defeating the reapers and saving the entire galaxy. It’s not an easy fight, and requires players to make certain choices throughout the game (and series) in order to stand a chance and not face severe losses. That was the Galaxy at War feature, and was influenced by your ‘Galactic Readiness’, which itself was influenced by multiple factors.
One of those factors was multiplayer and the ME3 companion app. Though since neither are featured in the Legendary Edition, BioWare has rebalanced the entire system in order to make it more fair. However, that does not mean it will be an easy task as you’ll still have to do a lot of work in order to get the best outcome possible.
“If you only play 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. Playing the first two games and carrying over your progress is the most reliable way to get good results in the final hours of the Reaper War. For comparison, if you previously played ME3 with the Extended Cut (which included Galactic Readiness rebalancing), fully preparing for the final fight will be more difficult to achieve in the Legendary Edition.”
BioWare also revealed that the default ending to Mass Effect 3 will now be the Extended Cut.
There has also been some rebalancing in Mass Effect 2 via the Paragon-Renegade system. Some legacy issues apparently meant that some reputation statistics were not displayed correctly, and even meant that some specific dialogue options were completely prevented from being chosen.
Those issues have now been resolved and means that “key moments that have been notoriously difficult to achieve in ME2 (and impacted ME3) can now be completed more reliably, leading to better results in the story’s final act.”
So that’s all the major gameplay changes happening to the Mass Effect Legendary Edition, but BioWare teased there is “more to come” regarding information before the game’s release, which will include a much more detailed breakdown of the visual changes they have made to the original games.
What do you think? Are you excited for the Mass Effect: Legendary Edition? Which game are you most excited to play (or replay)? And what changes/improvements outlined above excite you the most? Let us know!