Mass Effect: Legendary Edition Remaster Debuts on May 14

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The updated, polished version of the original three Mass Effect games, dubbed Mass Effect: Legendary Edition, will launch on May 14. We now know more about the release, and how each game has been updated.

The new Legendary Edition of the game isn’t a remake of the original trilogy, it’s a remaster. It doesn’t contain new content that wasn’t in the first three games and it doesn’t change the controversial ending of the third. It’s a visual and cosmetic overhaul with some additional improvements to standardize character creation. The game was developed for the PS4 and Xbox One and will run in backward compatibility mode on the PS5 and Xbox Series X. Multiplayer is not included, and there’s no word on whether enemy AI has been tweaked or improved. Load times are much reduced, particularly on the new Xbox Series X|S or PlayStation 5 platforms.

All three versions of the game are still built with Unreal Engine 3, and Bioware used AI upscaling to polish the textures, VentureBeat reports. AI upscaling is a hot topic these days, so we’re not surprised to see it being used in game development or remastering as well. Here’s an example of upgraded frames from ME1, compared with ME1: Legendary Edition.

The original ME1 Mako, in all its loathsome glory. I’m not sure if any game in 2007 had good driving controls, but I am sure that ME1 would not be on that list. Fans variously hated the Mako’s driving, its weapon aiming (or lack thereof), or the way it handled on various terrain.

We don’t know if it handles better, but it sure looks better. You can tell we’re looking at an Unreal Engine 3 game, but it’s a really nice UE3 game.

The character creator has reportedly been spruced up, with more options and variety in hairstyles. The first game has also received a user interface and UI overhaul to bring it into line more with later titles. I’m actually a little concerned about that, where the first game is concerned. Mass Effect 2 and ME3 took somewhat different approaches to how weapons and weapon loadouts were handled, but they had more in common than not. ME1 had a tendency to bury the player in gear that had to all be sorted through manually. Hopefully, Bioware found a way to solve that particular problem.

A few other changes include better auto-aim functionality on consoles and better controls for both the Mako and its cannon. There is one major feature removal, however: Multiplayer is not included. The new games support 4K and HDR at up to 60fps. The PC version will support controllers and 21:9 displays. Character models have all been overhauled, as have vehicles and settings. You can see Thane in two different versions of the same shot below:

Original Thane.

Remastered Thane. The lighting is a nice touch, but the detail upgrade to Thane himself is subtle.

Of the three games in the series, ME2 is typically the best-regarded. ME3 is… not the best regarded. Without trying to rehash the entire problems of ME3 and its ending, I’ll just say that Shamus Young did a pretty good job of covering the plot holes in Mass Effect a few years back.

So far, the remaster looks like it could be a great way to revisit some of the best original sci-fi world-building we’ve ever seen in a video game. Even if you don’t like how the series ends — and I don’t — Bioware did a fantastic job of creating multiple species and showcasing how differently they see the galaxy. The Quarians, Geth, Krogan, and Salarians all feel like different species. I wouldn’t necessarily have minded a remade trilogy with some tightened plot arcs and a better ending, but Mass Effect is a good enough series that I’m tempted to pick up the Legendary Edition myself.

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