When we talk about updates made to Mass Effect with the Legendary Edition remasters, most people mention the graphical updates and changes made to the handling of the Mako vehicle (which, in my opinion, didn’t help that much). But there is one major change that’s flying under the radar, and having played the 2007 RPG over a dozen times; I can tell you it needs to be sung from the rooftops as a game-changing update.
Fuck Mass Effect’s save system and thank you to Bioware for addressing it.
When I would let people borrow my copies of the Mass Effect games over the years, the first thing I said to people was “save every chance you get” when playing through the original game, specifically. Not because the game was punishingly difficult, but because Mass Effect was so lacking in autosaves that it took me one or two painful lessons learned to realize that the hard save is your greatest companion. It’s not Garrus Vakarian; it’s not Urdnot Wrex. No one in Mass Effect has your back like a nice save of your progress. Because the game itself was certainly not going to have your back on that front.
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I remember one specific instance on the game’s snowy planet of Noveria, where I had to drive through squads of Geth during a snowstorm to reach the Peak 15 facility. That was tricky enough, given the whole undrivable Mako situation, but even when I reached the other side of the storm, another group of synthetics was waiting to trade gunfire with my squad and me. But I was still new to the game and learning the ropes. So I did lose that fight the first time….only to find the last time the game saved was before I’d even departed for Peak 15.
Mass Effect’s autosaves were so sparse back then that it was one of my biggest concerns going into Legendary Edition. I ctrl+f’d every technical update Bioware released headed into the remasters’ release, only to never see specific mention of it. But I’m happy to report that autosaves are much more frequent in the original game’s remaster. I still had a few moments where it felt like I could’ve used a couple more, however.
On the planet Virmire, there’s a midpoint where you can get into a conflict with one of your squadmates that may have deadly consequences. I managed to talk them down but realized I’d used a different set of dialogue options that didn’t result in a bonus to my version of Commander Shepard’s Renegade points like I wanted. I went to reload and pick the right dialogue options, only to realize my most recent save was about 20 minutes prior. So I guess it still pays off to be vigilant with your saves, even if the game is more concerned with putting a safety net under you than it was 14 years ago.
For more on Mass Effect: Legendary Edition, tune into 99 Potions, Fanbyte’s RPG podcast, where we just did three retrospective episodes on the trilogy.