It’s finally time. Easily one of the most requested remasters ever is not that far off from launching on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC, on May 14th and after having the opportunity to give it a look last week it’s safe to say I’m very excited.
Let me get this straight, though: this is no remake. Mass Effect Legendary Edition is a remastered collection of the first three Mass Effect games and all of the DLC that came with them – whether it’s Citadel, the Genesis comics or Lair of the Shadow Broker, everything that was ever released for Mass Effect 1 to 3 is included, bar the latter’s ever-popular multiplayer mode.
Mac Walters, Project Director on Mass Effect Legendary Edition, says their “focus was [solely] on the single-player experience,” and that ultimately “the product as a whole is a better representation of the trilogy because we’ve been able to focus on the single-player components.”
It’s unfortunate, of course, given how great the multiplayer is in Mass Effect 3. That said, fans who have played the series before no doubt remember it more for the story than anything else – and this collection comes content complete, remastered in 4K HDR for the current generation of consoles. There’s enhanced visuals across character models, lighting, shaders and general FX, with many thousands of textures upressed to meet modern gaming standards.
Kevin Meek, the Environment and Character Director on Mass Effect Legendary Edition, says that this was a main focus for the team: “we really wanted to… make sure you can sit there on your couch with your modern day console or your PC… and be able to experience that trilogy again without being distracted by the art.”
During the game’s presentation I was particularly impressed with the way the team have gone through and reworked cinematic scenes, which now offer better visual clarity and fidelity. According to Walters, it was all about “bringing the game and the franchise to where we saw it in our mind’s eye at the very beginning.” And while it may not sparkle when compared directly with the newest of titles coming through on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series consoles, it’s certainly a massive upgrade on what we originally ventured through.
Of course, Legendary Edition will be forwards compatible, too. It’ll work on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series consoles and will make use of the PlayStation 4 Pro & Xbox One X enhancements, most notably bringing a locked 60 frames per second. From the sounds of things, players on base consoles will be relegated to 30fps. PC players are getting some love with the collection, as well, with high refresh rate and native ultrawide (21:9) support.
Another impressive inclusion is the universal character creator. No matter which game you start with, you won’t be confined to that title’s particular character creation system. There are now more options to customise your Shepard (like new hair styles and an expanded range of skin tones), and this suite of options will be accessible no matter what Mass Effect title you jump into first. It’s also worth noting the Legendary Edition has a single launcher rather than a separate one for each game – another neat little inclusion.
I didn’t get much of a look in on gameplay, though what I did see looked great. The work the team has done on the original Mass Effect in particular is fantastic. There’s an improved combat hub included in the original, as well, and the game looks much smoother than its 2007(!) release. Having only ventured through the original a couple of years ago, going off the changes here I’m still bloody keen to rip into it again. And yes, the Mako has had a bit of a rework. Rejoice!
Mass Effect 2 and 3 also look excellent, though it is hard to argue against them still looking great to this day. Here, refinements to character models and clothing really pop when compared to the original games. It’s the little things, like general gameplay and quality of life improvements, that’ll make these two more enjoyable experiences. This sentiment is echoed through Crystal McCord, a Producer working on Mass Effect Legendary Edition, as the development team had a small group of players they’d regularly consult with, finding out what people were asking for while keeping with the original feel of the trilogy.
We’re not too far away from the launch of Mass Effect Legendary Edition, and by all accounts it’s shaping up to be something special for fans and newcomers alike. The team are clearly passionate about this series and ensuring the collection meets expectations, and the small glimpses I’ve seen look extremely promising. I can’t wait.
Mass Effect Legendary Edition launches May 14 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.