Shepard sees a Reaper in Mass Effect: Legendary Edition

The vanguard of our own destruction — the Reapers have came back in Mass Effect: Legendary Edition.


BioWare

Mass Effect: Legendary Edition delivered remastered versions of Commander Shepard’s adventures to PS4, Xbox One and PC on Friday. It’s the very first time we’ve experienced the epic original three set and all its downloadable content in one big collection, in 4K Ultra HD at 60 fps. You can also play on PS5 and Xbox Series X and S via backward compatibility, which will cut down your time and energy spent looking at loading screens.

BioWare’s original trilogy arrived in 2007, 2010 and 2012, bringing gamers right into a sci-fi universe in which humanity has discovered the secrets of faster-than-light travel and has journeyed across the galaxy, allying it self with alien races as you go along. 

You play as customizable hero Shepard and gather an excellent squad of now-iconic characters as they uncover the horrifying threat of the Reapers, a machine race intent on purging the galaxy’s sentient life. Your choices determine the fates of the allies, enemies and billions across the galaxy, carrying between games in the trilogy and creating a unique narrative for every player. The series sold millions of copies every game was critically acclaimed, despite some controversy within the third game’s ending.

Given how long ago the trilogy came out, the team behind the Legendary Edition had to put in a gargantuan effort to bring the the pieces up to a standard that will satisfy the gamers of 2021 while remaining true to the classic experience. Their work included improved character models, high-resolution textures, new lighting, depth of field as well as other visual updates, along with some control tweaks.

We got our first look in the collection back in February, having a trailer that reminded fans how glorious this trilogy was and how much we missed Liara, Garrus and company since we last saw them in 2012. 


Ahead of Legendary Edition’s release, I chatted over Zoom with project director Mac Walters and with character and environment director Kevin Meek about those emotional attachments, the changes they’ve made to the games, how they think Mass Effect 3’s ending will go down in 2021 and the chances of its multiplayer mode making a return. Here’s a transcript from the interview, edited for clarity.

The trailer you guys released back in February a new huge impact — the main one on the official channel alone has more than 3 million views. It also made me a little misty-eyed to some degree I didn’t expect. Why do you think the series has such resonance?
Walters: The trailer focused a great deal on the characters and moments from the games, but layered on top of that was that it was everybody’s own personal experience. The goal of the trilogy was this epic space saga, however, you got to pilot the span of the narrative. Not only the course of the action, however, you got to tell your own story through it. I think which makes it so much more personal to everyone. That was our hope with the first trailer, to remind people of moments that mean something special for them again, because of that component of choice.

Mako in Mass Effect: Legendary Edition

The Mako was challenging to control in the original Mass Effect, but the developers improved the vehicle’s handling in Legendary Edition.


BioWare

So so what do you want players to feel when they boot off this collection for the first time?
Walters: That’ll be quite personal, for anyone who is a new player or someone returning to it. I hope people feel a sense of wonder, having the ability to experience all three games in a new way with all the updated graphics. And you can now experience it as a trilogy, with all the downloadable content when you need it.

Meek: They are old games, but they have still held up over the passage of your time. Looking at the original release, we sometimes found there was clearly a sense of friction within the controls or distracting moments in the art. We tried to lessen — sometimes literally — a lot of what you’re seeing and experiencing. You can experience that story since it was meant to be, and you really immerse yourself. That’s the things i want people to fall into if they first boot it up.

Walters: So ideally, people playing it say “Yeah, this really is how I remember it.” Then we’ve successfully remastered their memory and nostalgia — it’s evoking exactly the same feeling and experiences. It’s only when they actually compare it to the original they see how much work was done.


What advice could you give to fans looking to enhance their playthrough, with this new version of the trilogy, apart from switching from Paragon to Renegade or vice-versa?
Meek: I’d suggest for people to test different character classes. When I played Mass Effect 1 for the first time, I played as being a soldier — the generic right-down-the-center option, with entry to all the weapons. I did not know what type of game it had been going to be or the actual biotic powers were. 

Now we’ve eliminated lots of those class restrictions on weapons. You can choose Vanguard, which gives you a bunch of biotic powers and still use whatever weapons want. And when you get to Mass Effect 2 and 3, those powers allow you to do all these really fun things like lifting people up and throwing them off buildings, and warping your self across chasms to slam into enemies.

Walters: Another good one is the DLC, especially in 2 and 3, if you didn’t play it before. We used that additional content to experiment with the amount design and gameplay — there’s some really cool and fun stuff. If you finish Lair of the Shadow Broker (a piece of DLC from Mass Effect 2), you can re-spec all your characters, plus each one of these other cool bonuses that include it. 


Whenever I’ve discussed this collection to people, many of them will bring up the negative reaction to Mass Effect 3’s ending. What would you say to those players, particularly those on the fence about the Legendary Edition?
Walters: The ending’s extended cut was part of the DLC, so that’s part of your new baked-in experience of the Legendary Edition. But I suppose people have to make up their very own minds about it — we haven’t changed any of the story. It’s also been a little bit of time, so people play through it as a whole and then reassess. If they still have exactly the same feelings about it then, that’s fair. I know I viewed the trilogy in a very different way now that it’s as a whole. I’m hoping other people might find it that way as well.

Meek: I think the sci-fi beats of the ending might hit people in a different way now than they might have nine in years past. Playing it as a whole trilogy and treating it together giant arc, rather than three arcs, goes a long way to potentially changing people’s experiences.




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What can next-gen players like people on PS5 and Xbox Series X|S are expectant of in terms of the performance improvements compared to PS4 and Xbox One?
Walters: It’s more in line with high-end PC performance. You can get the full 4K experience closer to a 60 fps right across the board. And an SSD just makes things load faster — it’s like magical technology from the future, I really like it. So it can make those elevator rides [in Mass Effect 1] even shorter if you want.

Thane in Mass Effect: Legendary Edition

Drell assassin Thane Krios is looking moody in the new collection.


BioWare

Is there any possibility of the Mass Effect 3 multiplayer mode (which isn’t in the Legendary Edition) returning in some form? I got super into it straight back then because you could try all the different abilities and zip around as an Asari or one of the other races.
Walters: I would never say no to that — we would like to see what kind of reception the Legendary Edition gets together with what the demand to get the multiplayer is. And then we’ll ask yourself if we have this resources and time for you to bring it to the high quality level we and enthusiasts want.

Can you present us a hint in relation to the next Mass Effect? And are you planning for you to have players’ decisions around the Legendary Edition aspect in?
Walters: Yeah, that one’s the no comment. Good consider though, I like the item.