Publisher Electronic Arts and developer BioWare have published a detailed overview of the improvements to Mass Effect 1, 2, and 3 included in Mass Effect Legendary Edition, from gameplay tuning to rebalancing and more. Next week, the companies will provide an additional look at the remastering process with a focus on the visual changes across the trilogy.
Get the details below.
■ Table of Contents
- Combat Tuning (Mass Effect)
- Additional Gameplay Improvements (All)
- The Mako (Mass Effect)
- Unifying and Modernizing the Trilogy (All)
- Galaxy at War Rebalancing (Mass Effect 3)
■ Combat Tuning
“I don’t need luck—I have ammo.”
Combat in the Mass Effect trilogy has evolved across the series, with each game’s experience being different. We wanted to make the experience better across the board, but we didn’t want to unnecessarily change what our fans have come to love about each game. That proved a unique challenge, as the first game is quite different from the second and third in terms of gameplay and combat. Mass Effect was heavily influenced by traditional RPG mechanics, like the randomness of a dice roll and pen-and-paper stat building. As a result, weapons in Mass Effect often felt less accurate and reliable than the gunplay in Mass Effect 2 and 3.
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, so we looked at tuning the mechanics to provide better handling without outright scrapping the spirit of the original games.
In the first Mass Effect, accuracy (including reticle bloom and weapon sway) has been tuned across all weapons to allow players to maintain more consistent firepower while still managing their shots/overheat meter. We’ve also improved the aiming down sights (ADS) camera view to be tighter on combat so that ADS is more accurate (like the second and third games), and we’ve improved the aim assist to provide better precision. These small behind-the-scenes changes collectively make combat much “snappier,” putting more control into the player’s hands.
Abilities have also been rebalanced in the first game. For example, the “Immunity” ability now grants a powerful defensive buff that lasts a brief period of time instead of being a small buff that lasts indefinitely.
The following overview lists gameplay changes we made specifically to the first Mass Effect, with the goal of bringing it a bit more in line with the rest of the trilogy:
- 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
“If this is a war, I’ll need an army…or a really good team.”
Beyond general gunplay changes, we’ve made some specific changes to encounters, enemies, and how you engage in combat. We found a few opportunities to bring the first game in line with the second and third games, and we also found some systems across the whole trilogy that needed a tune up.
Without spoiling too much for new players, one example is the boss encounter on Noveria. The boss room has been slightly reworked, keeping it very familiar but making it less cramped. You’ll also be much less prone to being thrown around by biotic abilities.
Other targeted combat updates we’ve made include:
- 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 (details below).
- Ammo drops have been rebalanced in Mass Effect 2 (details below).
With combat comes XP. XP gained during the first game has been rebalanced for better consistency, especially towards the game’s end. Players who complete most aspects of the game should be able to more reliably get to higher levels on a single playthrough rather than needing to play through a second time to do so. Additionally, there is no longer a level cap on a first playthrough.
As a final gunplay change, we also tweaked ammunition in Mass Effect 2. We found that ammo was spawning too scarcely in the original game, so we’ve increased the drop rate for ammo in Mass Effect 2, particularly when using a sniper rifle since that had a reduced ammo drop rate in the original release.
■ The Mako
“It’s got heart, you know?”
But of course, we’ve got to talk about the (in)famous M-35 Mako. This legendary vehicle from the first Mass Effect has been “calibrated” to perform better than ever. In the original game, the physics tuning for the Mako made it feel too light and bouncy, even at times becoming uncontrollable, but it’s now a much smoother ride while still being “loveable” like before. (Yes, you can still drive off cliffs to your heart’s content).
Its functionally has also been improved with faster shield recharging and new thrusters added to the rear, allowing for a speed boost when you’re inevitably trying to scale up the side of a near-vertical cliff. (We all do it.) This boost’s recharge is independent from the jump jets on the vehicle’s underside, so you can use both at once or separately.
These are the calibrations you can expect to experience when driving the Mako:
- 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
■ Unifying and Modernizing the Trilogy
“Well, what about Shepard?”
For the Legendary Edition, our goal was to tune up the trilogy and make it more consistent from game to game while honoring the things that made each unique.
For example, we’ve unified Shepard’s customization options in the character creator and even added some new options, like additional skin tones and hairstyles. You can use the same character creator code (seen bottom-left in the image below) across all three games, meaning your Shepard can now have a consistent appearance across the trilogy, or you can choose to change their appearance at the start of each title. Customization options and character appearances have also been improved with updated textures and hair models.
We’ve also added the Mass Effect: Genesis comics by Dark Horse into the base experience before Mass Effect 2 and 3 as an optional experience so players can make choices from previous games no matter where they choose to start.
Of course, the Legendary Edition includes a variety of additional enhancements. Here are some of the things you can look forward to:
- 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).
- Achievements across the trilogy have been updated.
- New achievements have been added to the trilogy.
- Progress for some achievements now carries over across all three games (e.g. Kill 250 enemies across all games).
- Achievements that were streamlined into one and made redundant were removed.
- A number of achievements have had their objectives / descriptions and / or names updated.
- Integrated weapons and armor downloadable content packs.
- Weapons and armor downloadable content 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 Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3.
- Recon Hood (Mass Effect 2) and Cerberus Ajax Armor (Mass Effect 3) are available at the start of each game.
- Additional gameplay and quality of life improvements.
- Audio is remixed and enhanced across all games.
- Hundreds of legacy bugs from the original releases are fixed.
- Native controller and 21:9 display support on PC, with DirectX 11 compatibility.
■ Galaxy at War Rebalancing
“Consider yourself reinstated, Commander.”
As Commander Shepard, you’re tasked with the hardest mission of all: defeating the Reapers and saving the galaxy from annihilation. This comes to a head in Mass Effect 3 when the galaxy unites, but your choices from across the trilogy lead you there and determine who fights at your side. The Galaxy at War feature puts you in the heart of the Reaper War from the Normandy’s Combat Information Center, which has been rebalanced in the Legendary Edition. For example, Galactic Readiness is no longer impacted by external factors that aren’t part of the collection, like multiplayer or the old companion app for Mass Effect 3. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean defeating the Reapers will be easy.
The more content you complete across the entire trilogy, the more likely you’ll be prepared for the final fights in its conclusion. 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 Mass Effect 3 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. And on that note: the Extended Cut ending is now the game’s default finale.
However, readying your intergalactic armies will be made a bit easier by a number of critical bug fixes and backend improvements made to the Paragon-Renegade system in Mass Effect 2; we resolved some legacy issues that inhibited accurate reputation stats from being displayed and outright prevented certain dialogue options from being selectable when they should have been. Because of this, key moments that have been notoriously difficult to achieve in Mass Effect 2 (and impacted Mass Effect 3) can now be completed more reliably, leading to better results in the story’s final act.
“You know, for old time’s sake.”
Getting to go back to the roots of the Mass Effect franchise—our roots, as a team now celebrating our 25th anniversary—has been an incredibly nostalgic and emotional experience for us, and we’re sure a lot of you will feel similarly when you get to play Legendary Edition! We’ve heard from so many of you that you want a way to play the original trilogy today, either for the first time or the…well, let’s just say “again.” We don’t need to keep count.
Returning to where it all began, as members of our team revisited the work they did over a decade ago, has been a bit surreal, but it felt like the right thing to do; a passion project from us to thank you for the many years of incredible support. (And maybe to help tide you over until the next game, too!) There’s more to come, including a deeper dive into the visual changes we’ve made, so stay tuned for that! Also, thanks for requesting this so much that you practically willed it into existence! It’s meant a lot.
From all of us on the Mass Effect team,
Good luck, Commander.
IGN has also published a performance preview video which looks at the improved Mako controls, revamped Noveria, and combat changes in the original Mass Effect, as well as some subtitle changes in Mass Effect 2 and 3.
Watch the footage below. View the screenshots at the gallery.