BioWare is making some major changes to Mass Effect for the remaster
One of the big questions about Mass Effect: Legendary Edition is how it will bring the games in the trilogy together into some sort of mechanically coherent whole. The first game in the series came out way back in 2007, after all, and significant changes were made over the subsequent releases.
BioWare detailed a number of those changes in a blog post that went up today, running down what players can look forward to in the updated games. Some of what it covers has already been announced—fewer gratuitous butt shots, better handling in the Mako—but this provides a much more detailed rundown of everything from combat updates to an overhaul of Mass Effect 3's Galaxy at War system.
Combat changes are probably the most noteworthy overall, as Mass Effect 1 plays dramatically differently than Mass Effect 2 and 3. The first game "was heavily influenced by traditional RPG mechanics," which added an element of randomness to firefights and had the effect of making weapons sometimes feel less accurate and reliable than they are in the sequels, which are more shooters by nature.
"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," BioWare said.
As a result, the original Mass Effect will see the following changes in the Legendary Edition:
Other "targeted combat updates" include:
Ammo drop rate has also been increased in Mass Effect 2, and XP rewards in Mass Effect 1 have been rebalanced and the level cap removed to ensure that players can "more reliably get to higher levels on a single playthrough."
The character creator has been revamped to make it more consistent across all three games, and will enable players to carry a consistent, customized look through the entire trilogy. The original FemShep design from Mass Effect 3 will be the default female option in all three games, and if you prefer the Mass Effect 2 FemShep, that model is available as a preset as well.
More across-the-board enhancements:
Mass Effect: Legendary Edition will not support Mass Effect 3's multiplayer mode, which is a shame because it's really good. More practically, it also impacts the singleplayer campaign: Playing online was required to increase your "Readiness Rating," which has a big influence on the outcome of the war against the Reapers. It's possible to get the best campaign outcome without playing online, but it takes a lot of extra effort. With multiplayer out of the picture, the Legendary Edition will instead focus on side content from across the entire trilogy.
"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," BioWare said. "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."
The good news is that, thanks to bug fixes and improvements to the Paragon-Renegade system in Mass Effect 2, "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."
If you do want to jump straight into the big finish, the Mass Effect: Genesis interactive comics created by Dark Horse will be included ahead of Mass Effect 2 and 3, so you can incorporate major plot point choices from previous games without having to actually power through them.
As for the infamous Mako, I will say (definitely not for the first time) that I liked it the way it was, and its removal from Mass Effect 2 and 3 was a big disappointment. That said, I think these changes sound acceptable:
BioWare said that more information on changes being made for the updated trilogy, including a deeper dive into graphical updates, are on the way. Mass Effect: Legendary Edition is set to come out on May 14.