One of the most highly-anticipated video game launches next month is that of Mass Effect Legendary Edition, a remastered collection of the acclaimed trilogy of sci-fi roleplaying games from developer BioWare and publisher EA.
The collection will be available worldwide on May 14 for PS4, Xbox One as well as PC, and includes the single-player content as well as over 40 pieces of DLC (downloadable content) from the Mass Effect, Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3 games, including promo weapons, armours and packs, remastered and optimised for 4K Ultra HD.
In Mass Effect, the player creates their own character named Commander Shephard, who commands a space ship called the SSV Normandy, leading an elite recon squad across a galaxy in turmoil. Shephard’s story continues through the next two games in the epic trilogy, and sees the player have to make many critical decisions that have a lasting impact on the game’s story.
In a recent post on the PlayStation Blog, EA/BioWare Community Manager Jay Ingram provided some insight on what can be expected in the remastered and enhanced compilation.
Touching on combat tuning, Ingram said, “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.”
An overview was shared, listing gameplay changes that have been made specifically to the first Mass Effect, with the goal of bringing it more in line with the rest of the trilogy.
Among the changes are: the ability to sprint out of combat; melee attacks are now mapped to a button rather than automatically occurring based on proximity to an enemy; weapon accuracy and handling has been significantly improved; all relevant enemies now take headshot damage in the first game; ammo mods can now drop throughout the whole game; all weapons can be used by any class without penalty, while specialisations (the ability to train/upgrade certain weapons) are still class-specific.
In addition, weapons cooldown much faster; medi-gel usage has seen improvements such as reduced cooldown and increased levelling benefits; inventory management improvements; some abilities have been rebalanced; and improved weapon powers.
Ingram also shared some other gameplay improvements. “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.”
Other targetted combat updates that have been made include: squadmates can now be commanded independently of each other in the first Mass Effect, the same way they can be commanded 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, with additional cover added to some encounters, while entering and exiting cover is now more reliable.
It was also shared that XP has been rebalanced in the first game. Elaborating further on this, Ingram said, “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.”
Ammo drops have also been rebalanced 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,” said Ingram.
Updates were also shared on the vehicle from the first Mass Effect, the M-35 Mako, which Ingram said 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.”
The calibrations that can be expected when driving the Mako include: improved handling; improved camera controls; shields recharging faster; the addition of new thrusters for a speed boost; the removal of the XP penalty while in the Mako; and touching lava no longer results in an instant mission failure, and instead deals damage over time.
In the blog post, Ingram proceeded to highlight, “For the Legendary Edition, our goal was to tune up the trilogy and make it more consistent from game to game while honouring the things that made each unique.”
“For example, we’ve unified Shepard’s customisation 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 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. Customisation options and character appearances have also been improved with updated textures and hair models.”
The Mass Effect: Genesis comics by Dark Horse have also been added 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.
Additional enhancements to look forward to include: a new unified launcher for all three games; updated character creator options; trophies across the trilogy have been updated; integrated weapons and armour DLC packs; as well as additional gameplay and quality of life improvements, such as remixed and enhanced audio across all games and hundreds of legacy bugs from the original releases being fixed.
“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 the player in the heart of the Reaper War from the Normandy’s Combat Information Centre, 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.”
The community manager highlighted that 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.
“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 the Legendary Edition!” added Ingram.