Mass Effect Legendary Edition improvements, as detailed by BioWare

Shepard's getting a facelift.

Mass Effect Legendary Edition will feature a list of improvements meant to bring the popular sci-fi trilogy into the modern age, EA and BioWare have declared.

Speaking with Stevivor as part of a special preview event, BioWare’s Mac Walters, Project Director on the Legendary Edition bundle, said his team’s goal was to improve upon and moderise the original while keeping true to it at the same time.  While a host of UI and visual improvements will take centre stage in the bundle, BioWare drew the line at creating new content as it would “fundamentally” change the original experience. In the same vein, a decision to move the game into Unreal Engine 4 was considered, but ultimately abandoned.

Mass Effect Legendary Edition will bundle Mass Effect, Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3 alongside all DLC and even the Genesis comics that provided a shortcut into Mass Effect 2 for those who hadn’t played the original. Each title has been remastered in 4K and HDR, with enhanced visuals including models, lighting, shaders, textures and visual effects. The title will run at 60FPS (frames-per-second) on Xbox One X and PS4 Pro — and of course, at that same rate on current-gen consoles including Xbox Series S & X and PS5. It also offers controller, 21:9 monitor and “high refresh rate” support on PC.

Each title will be available right from the start, with any of the games able to be started at any time from a single, unified launcher.

Will Mass Effect Legendary Edition change the trilogy’s ending?

Those hoping for a change to the trilogy’s controversial ending will be sadly disappointed — though the inclusion of more than 40 pieces of DLC means Mass Effect 3‘s Extended Cut is part of the offering.

“We wanted to include as much as the content as possible as DLC, and incorporate it into the experience as if you’d downloaded that content,” Walters said. “The Extended Cut… will be the experience for everyone playing the Legendary Edition.

“To me, the Extended Cut was really that opportunity for us to add a little bit more love and a little bit more context around the ending,” he continued, “so to me, that’s part of the canon.”

Will Mass Effect Legendary Edition include multiplayer?

BioWare also confirmed that multiplayer will not be offered as part of the Legendary Edition.

“Our focus really was on the single-player experience,” Walters affirmed. “The overall Mass Effect Legendary Edition is a better representation of the original trilogy because we were able to focus on those single-player modes.”

How does Mass Effect Legendary Edition handle character creation?

Mass Effect Legendary Edition will offer a single, unified character creation tool between all three bundled titles, meaning you’ll be able to take exactly the same character through each title.

“Character customization features unified creation options that persists across all three titles and is complete with an improved and expanded selection of hair, makeup and skin tone options,” EA advised in a press release. “The iconic Female Shepard default appearance from Mass Effect 3 is now available as the default female Shepard appearance in character creation in all three games, further adding to the unified experience across the trilogy.”

BioWare also confirmed that existing character codes can be imported into Legendary Edition as well.

How has Mass Effect 1 been updated?

Walters said that he “struggled to play [2007’s version of] Mass Effect 1,” as part of a recent playthrough, adding, “there’s a lot of friction.”

To alleviate some of those concerns, BioWare took great strides to modernise gameplay. First, more detail and texture has been added to playable and non-playable characters, worlds and skyboxes. Next, interfaces and UI have been updated (and you can see a small example of that in the Mako comparison shots above). Combat has been enhanced through improved aiming — both in the form of “adhesion” which will help remain locked on to a target while strafing alongside a “zoom snap” when entering tight aim — alongside revamped squad controls and AI. Finally, Mako handling and cameras have also been enhanced.

As you’d expect, some of the enhancements detailed for Mass Effect either came from — or will be added to — Mass Effect 2 and in order to unify the experience.

What about elevator loading times?

Producer Crystal McCord confirmed that loading times have generally been improved across all platforms — and those playing on Xbox Series S & X and PS5 should experience even more of a boost off an SSD. As a result, elevator sequences are drastically shorter than in the original Mass Effect.

It was also confirmed that players will now be offered an optional “skip elevator” prompt when a level has loaded and play can continue… but those wanting a more accurate experience straight out of 2007 can obviously sit and wait.

What other improvements were detailed?

A listing of additional improvements as detailed by BioWare are as follows:

  • Camera interpolation/smoothing
  • More consistent auto save points
  • In-score aim smoothing
  • Cover pass
  • Dedicated melee button
  • Improved enemy AI
  • Improved squad/AI controls
  • Minigames unified across platforms
  • Removed class-based weapon restrictions (can’t train but can use)
  • Removed aim class-based aim penalties
  • Rebalanced XP for 60 level cap (new game+ not required)
  • Improved boss encounters
  • Improved cooldowns for first aid
  • More unified control scheme between games
  • Reduced difficulty/frequency of minigames
  • Modernized hud
  • “and more!”

Mass Effect Legendary Edition heads to Windows PC via EA Play and Steam alongside Xbox One and PS4 on 14 May 2021.

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Steve Wright

Steve's the owner of this very site and an active games journalist for the past ten years. He's a Canadian-Australian gay gaming geek, ice hockey player and fan. Husband to Matt and cat dad to Wally and Quinn.