Bioware Breaks Down Gameplay Changes Made to the Mass Effect: Legendary Edition

Unifying the trilogy was a top priority.

Mass Effect: Legendary Edition, the remastered collection of Bioware’s original trilogy, is coming out just under a decade after Mass Effect 3’s launch in 2012. While Bioware has said it’s looking to keep the original games as intact as possible, the studio has also acknowledged that some aspects are dated, need to be retooled due to the lack of inclusion of ME3’s multiplayer mode, or just need to be made more uniform between all three games.

In a blog posted today, Bioware broke down several technical changes made between tuning the combat of the first Mass Effect, making the Mako a tolerable vehicle to drive, and creating a universal character creator so your version of Commander Shepard can look the same across all three games.

Here’s a bulleted list of changes made to Mass Effect’s combat, which was decidedly more RPG systems-driven than its sequels. These changes will make the entire experience tighter, and in some cases such as cover and melee mapping, 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
  •  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

Other balance changes include XP consistency in Mass Effect, and ammo drops in Mass Effect 2.

You may also like:

Also on Mass Effect’s list of changes is the Mako. The vehicle has reached meme status for its poor handling over the years, and it was hard to imagine the game would be presented to a new audience without something being done about it. From the looks of it, Bioware is improving the physics around the thing, meaning it won’t feel like you’re constantly losing control.

  • 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

What’s most exciting for me personally is updates to game’s character creator. Specifically, unifying the whole thing so Commander Shepard can look consistent through all three games. That unification seems to be at the heart of a lot of decision made in the Legendary Edition, as Bioware illustrated with the following changes:

  • 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 DLC packs
    • Weapons and armor DLC 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 ME2 and ME3
    • Recon Hood (ME2) and Cerberus Ajax Armor (ME3) are available at the start of each game
  • Additional gameplay & 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

One big question was what Bioware would be doing about Mass Effect 3’s “Galactic Readiness” mechanic. The system in place in the original game was that your Readiness would determine how effective your in-game resources were and which ending choices were obtainable. The percentage would range from 50 percent to 100 percent, and your War Asset points would be multiplied by that percentage, giving you an ultimate score and determining how the endgame could go. From the sound of it, the entire system has been rebalanced to require you to play a significant amount of the entire trilogy. Playing just Mass Effect 3 will mean you’ll have to basically play a completionist playthrough to gain access to every ending choice.

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 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. And on that note: the Extended Cut ending is now the game’s default finale.

Mass Effect: Legendary Edition is coming to PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on May 14, and will receive additional technical updates for PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S.