In 2021, BioWare and Electronic Arts gave a special treat for every Third-Person action RPG fan. Mass Effect Legendary Edition, comprising the first three installments of the series, was released after overall overhaul, as well as detailed improvements. But what are the exact changes, you may ask? Without any sidetracking, let’s get into comparison.
Understandably, all the differences between Mass Effect Legendary Edition vs original may be divided into two categories: Visual changes and Gameplay changes.
Graphic-wise, Legendary Edition has been given a great facelift, especially the first part of the trilogy. The locations and environment textures look richer and are now highly nuanced, giving off denser, more palpable vibe.
Particular effort has been put into improving water surfaces and fire physics in Mass Effect 1. Color parameters like grading, saturation, contrast, and white balance have been upgraded too, along with shadow and lighting effects. Of course, Legendary Edition fully supports 4k resolution now, bringing HDR settings to the table too. You may also choose 60 FPS refresh rates to make adventures of Shepard’s team look even more realistic.
Another non-banal changes consist of the redesigned main menu, ME1 HUD having more cohesive and precise look, with medi-gel count, shield, and both Shepard’s and squadmates’ health bars placed in the bottom-center of the screen – and, last but not least, having some cutscenes realigned to much more favorable angles.
To top off the topic of visual changes, it’s worth mentioning that all location designs in Mass Effect 1 have been retro-implemented from the third installment. For example, The Presidium is now an exact copy from ME3.
Another similar feature regards Character creator. Female version of Shepard has been also back-ported from ME3 and is a new default option for ME1 and ME2. You have an opportunity to choose the previous one as well, or you may forget about it altogether and make ourselves a Femshep from scratch, the way you want her to look. It really comes down to your imagination. What’s more, many customization options like hair or skin color have also been brought from Mass Effect Andromeda.
Letting off some steam after plowing through almost all essential visual changes in a rather hectic way, let’s move on to… loading times. So… anyone wants to talk about long elevator rides with repetitive dialogues? Oh, come on, I can’t be the only one who misses those times you couldn’t skip the gazillionth repetition of a certain line you have heard a couple of elevators before?
Just kidding… Of course, I don’t miss it. Quite frankly, I cherish the fact that Legendary Edition has skippable elevator rides. What that mean is – loading times were significantly shortened, in turn making the game more dynamic. I know, I know, Mass Effect purists may be disgruntled, however only slightly, because after all you get to decide. You may either ride along listening to Garrus’ elevator courtesy or Wrex’s smart-mouthed bugging just like in the original games, or you may give it a rest and leave the lift already.
Now, about that Mako physics… Yes, its ever-bouncy, ropy maneuvering and the general unLAVAble status were improved, at least partially. In a somewhat unknown turn of events, though, hitting the lava lake on Nonuel STILL results in an instant game-over, unlike driving into pools of lava on Therum. The latter miraculously damage Mako over time. Strange, indeed…Perhaps only Protheans knew why is that so… Nevertheless, BioWare once again gave a nod to Mass Effect purists and enabled switching the Mako physics modification off. Overzealousness on developer’s part or an embarrassment of riches? I’ll let you decide.
Speaking of abundance, as far as downloadable content is concerned, Legendary Edition is truly like a land of milk and honey. All single-player DLC is at hand (apart from Pinnacle Station from ME1, whose source code was lost)! Moreover, DLC weaponry and armor are distributed evenly, either by being found in levels or at Merchants.
Also, when it comes to weapon handling, all Mass Effect arsenal has been given real freedom, to whom it may belong. What does it mean exactly? Well, all guns can be used by any class. To sum it up curtly, “At last”, said the Engineer, finally zooming through the scope of a sniper rifle.
Another major difference between the Legendary Edition and the original trilogy is Mass Effect 3 Multiplayer or, rather, a lack of one. The initial idea to include it was ditched by the studio. Rumor has it, BioWare would have had far too less time and put far too much effort to have it brought into the final cut. Anyway, do you know anyone who has ever played Mass Effect’s Multiplayer? I don’t…
Wrapping up the gameplay changes issue, it is necessary to pinpoint that giving orders in ME1 looks virtually the same as in ME2 and ME3. You may command your squadmates individually and their combat AI has been significantly boosted. Unfortunately, or fortunately, so has your enemies’… On the other hand, nobody said battling Reapers would be a walk in the park.
There are lots of other changes, some with greater, others with lesser significance to the overall perception of Mass Effect Legendary Edition. Addition of Photo mode, Hardcore and Insanity difficulties available right form the start, enhancement of sound effects of weapons – I can carry on almost forever.
Sure, the game still has some bugs (simultaneously having tens of them fixed!), some other features might have been worked out differently, yet playing a game without quirks is like playing a perfect game. And perfect games are…boring. What’s even more important – they never can achieve a legendary status. And all the aforesaid changes in Mass Effect trilogy prove one thing: the legendary edition of BioWare’s opus magnum truly lives up to its name.