BioWare today confirmed one of the worst-kept secrets in video games: an HD remaster of the Mass Effect trilogy will be coming to Xbox and PlayStation consoles, as well as PC, in 2021. The company also surprised fans, however, by announcing that an all-new Mass Effect game is additionally in the works.
BioWare general manager Casey Hudson revealed the news in a post on the BioWare Blog this morning.
“We really struggled to keep this one a surprise,” Hudson admitted, “But now it’s official: today we announced the Mass Effect Legendary Edition!”
The remastered edition will include all single-player base content and DLC from all three games in the original Mass Effect trilogy, Hudson confirmed, optimized for 4K Ultra HD. “Our goal was not to remake or reimagine the original games but to modernize the experience so that fans and new players can experience the original work in its best possible form,” Hudson explained. “It’s been amazing to see the adventures of Commander Shepard take on new life in super-sharp resolution, faster frame rates, and beautiful visual enhancements.”
The Legendary Edition should be available in “spring” 2021 for XBox One, PlayStation 4, and PC, with forward compatibility and “targeted enhancements” for XBox Series X and PlayStation 5.
A long time coming
Mass Effect first hit the world in the heady heyday of 2007—a banner year for gaming that launched not only that franchise but also brought us the first installments of Assassin’s Creed, BioShock, Portal, The Witcher, and Uncharted, among others. Mass Effect‘s 2010 sequel, Mass Effect 2, was a resounding hit. ME2 won a staggering number of Game of the Year awards at the time and, a decade later, still routinely shows up on best-of-decade and best-game-ever lists.
Two years later, Mass Effect 3 (2012) proved significantly more controversial. Launch reviews were largely positive, but the negative fan reaction to the game’s last act and final conclusion was strong enough, and widespread enough, that BioWare released a revision to the game’s last mission and final cutscenes as a free DLC three months later.
As time has passed, however, the trilogy overall has remained a huge fan favorite, in large part due to the strong character writing and—let’s be very real, here—the options for romance among those characters.
But while time has been mostly kind to the content of the trilogy, the actual act of playing through the Mass Effect games has become, well, an enormous chore. The game originally launched on the XBox 360 and PlayStation 3 in addition to the PC, now two full console generations ago. EA released a omnibus edition of all three games in November 2012, for the first-ever N7 Day—but even that compilation edition is now 8 years old. Chasing down all the DLC for the first two games, which launched before the advent of EA’s Origin platform as a one-stop shop, can be another headache in and of itself. With the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S landing any day, along with massive improvements in PC graphics, the Legendary Edition will be a welcome update.
And, eventually… MORE Mass Effect!
BioWare also confirmed that it is actively working on “the next chapter of the Mass Effect universe,” under the auspices of an unnamed “veteran team” inside the company.
Hudson said very little about the project, other than to drop one image as a vague tease. “We are in early stages on the project and can’t say any more just yet, but we’re looking forward to sharing our vision for where we’ll be going next.”
This news comes as much more of a surprise than the remaster, as many fans had worried BioWare had perhaps written off new ME games for good.
Five years after the end of the original trilogy, the studio tried to keep the franchise alive with 2017’s Mass Effect: Andromeda. Reviews for the Ryders and the Pathfinder crew were weaker overall than for the original trilogy, though, and the game struggled to find quite the same foothold in fans’ hearts. Rather than releasing a year’s worth of DLC, as is BioWare’s habit, the studio’s sci-fi storytelling crew were redirected instead to work on the also-poorly-received online shooter Anthem.
We are likely in for a long wait, however. Fans have already been waiting more than six years for the next installment in BioWare’s other tentpole franchise, Dragon Age. The studio shared a peek at work for that as-yet-unnamed title over the summer, and while it seems to be a long way from launch, it still seems probably that it would land before a new Mass Effect.