The long-awaited Mass Effect Legendary Edition bundle will be available for Xbox and PlayStation consoles and PC on May 14, publisher EA said today.
BioWare, the developers of the fan-favorite Mass Effect trilogy, confirmed in November that a 4K remaster was on the way sometime this spring. The Legendary Edition includes all three Mass Effect games as well as all their single-player DLC content. PC players will be able to purchase and play the Legendary Edition on both Origin and Steam. Console players can pick it up for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, with forward compatibility to the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S.
In addition to 4K support and HDR compatibility, the Legendary Edition includes remastered character models and improved textures, EA said, as well as improvements to shaders, VFX, lighting, shadows, depth of field, and other visual elements. Pre-rendered cinematic scenes have also been upgraded, and controller support has been added to the PC edition.
“Remastering a game, let alone three, is a huge undertaking as there’s over 100 hours of gameplay included, but we wanted to do this for our fans as well as a new generation of gamers looking to jump into the iconic story of Shepard,” said Mac Walters, who served as lead writer on the original trilogy and project director for the Legendary Edition. “It’s been an incredible journey revisiting the stories, characters, and iconic moments of the Mass Effect trilogy, enhancing the experience for modern platforms while staying true to the spirit of the original.”
The three Mass Effect games in the core trilogy were released in 2007, 2010, and 2012, and although their story and characters remain popular, age has not necessarily been kind to the actual experience of playing them, especially the first. ME1 definitely needed the most attention of the trilogy, Walters told Eurogamer in an interview.
The team at BioWare considered upgrading the entire trilogy to Unreal Engine 4 but backed away from that idea after discovering that doing so would basically break the games. Walters told Eurogamer that early development was like working on a classic car and finding “that car was buried in cement, and every time you tried to dig it out you were worried about dinging the paint or ripping off a mirror.”
The first game not only looks sharper in the Legendary Edition but also handles better. Its creaky, old user interface has been swapped for a version players will recognize from ME2 and ME3, and controls for the Mako—the fancy space ATV into which Shepard and her companions cram to explore planets—have been upgraded. Weapons and combat also behave more similarly to their counterparts in the other two games. And the famously long elevator rides on the Citadel, used to hide loading screens, will be significantly shorter (but perhaps, we can hope, still equally awkward, depending on the combination of characters riding together).
Shepard herself has also been upgraded: the improved default appearance for the female version of the character that BioWare designed for ME3 is now available in all three games, and Sheps of any gender can benefit from an increased array of hairstyle and skin tone options, especially for Black hair.
If the game itself isn’t “immersive” enough for you and you really need to feel like you’re literally inside it, BioWare’s Legendary Cache comes with a wearable replica of Shep’s venerable N7 helmet*, but not a copy of the game. (*Replica not rated for space travel; please do not try to eject yourself from an airlock at home.)