Back on N7 day (November 7th 2020) BioWare dropped the huge news that Mass Effect: Legendary Edition was a thing.

We also received this amazing teaser;

Now even more exciting, we have MORE news! Including a release date and full cinematic trailer;

What we know now

All three titles have received a full 4K remaster with support for HDR and 60fps, on console and PC. Along with the base games, they will also feature all the associated DLC content. How these games will actually play is still somewhat of a mystery. Will we be able select which game we’d like to play? Will the game be one long epic space opera that plays out as a narrative? These questions, I’m sure will be answered soon, as we now have an official release day of May 14th 2021.

More information on the remastery wizardry (I know remastery isn’t a real word, but it should be) has also been released, so I thought I’d take this moment to give you the low down. Let’s start at the logical beginning, Mass Effect 1. Released way back in November 2007, this is by far the most dated of the 3 titles in the trilogy, and one that required the most work. Reports have stated that it has received and extensive overhaul, especially to some of it’s locations. BioWare have, themselves, said that planets such as Eden Prime, Ilos and Feros look far closer to a full remake than just a remaster. ME1 has also seen other tweaks, including fan-requested improvements to the Mako vehicle’s, sometimes, comical driving experience, various combat changes and much faster Citadel lifts. Which means no more nipping out to make a cuppa whilst your character waits patiently in the lift.

Dope, my rides here

More options

The remaster across the whole trilogy includes remastered character models too, meaning no more play-doh faced Shepard’s I’m afraid. However, they’ve also expanded the universal character creator and an option to use the male or female Shepard across all three titles.  There are noticeable improvements to Shepard’s range of available skin tones, hairstyles and makeup options, for a more diverse range of possibilities. So, clayface may be out, but with new options, you can truly hone your character creations. Personally, I was boring and went with stock Shepard when I first played.

“don’t worry I’ll get those cavities out

BioWare have said there are “tens of thousands” of updated textures, shaders, visual effects and lighting changes, plus a new bokeh-style depth of field.

Work on the Legendary Edition began in early 2019, when a small team within BioWare finally got the green light. There had been on/off talks within the studio for half a decade to get a trilogy remaster off the ground – some of which got further than others – but it was the return of studio boss Casey Hudson, a Mass Effect veteran, who finally pushed the project into being. Mac Walters, Mass Effect’s long-time writer, producer and now project director of the Legendary Edition said in an interview to Eurogamer;

“I was probably in half a dozen meetings over probably almost as many years asking ‘are we going to do it?’, ‘how about now?’,” recalls Mac Walters, Mass Effect’s long-time writer, producer and now project director of the Legendary Edition. “If anything, I would say having Casey Hudson back in the studio at the time, he was obviously very passionate about the trilogy for obvious reasons and he was very supportive of it. I think that really helped get it over that initial inertia, [where you just] need to kind of get something moving and then you’re doing it. And it just seemed to click this time and away we went.”

The ME team also discussed with Epic Games the possibility of moving the entire trilogy onto Unreal Engine 4, though abandoned that idea after realising many of the game’s systems would no longer be compatible. Walters compared the project’s early months of work to starting restoration on a classic car – then discovering “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”.

Yeah yeah we’ve all seen Star Wars

On Switch, Walters doesn’t rule out Legendary Edition for Nintendo’s console down the road, if we potentially see a newer, more powerful Switch console, but said the remaster project was originally targeting PC and consoles. “Personally, I’d love it,” he said. “But ultimately, I think we had a path set and it was like, let’s finish that, then let’s see sort of where we’re at.”

But wait, there’s more!

A special collectors edition of Mass Effect: Legendary Edition has also been announced; Mass Effect Legendary Cache. Within the collection you get:

  • Key art steel case
  • 1:1 Scale replica N& Armour Helmet
  • Canvas art print of The Normandy
  • Morality spinner pin
  • N7 Acceptance letter

Unfortunately you don’t receive a copy of the game, but LOOK at that helmet! BioWare have even released an unboxing of it. And I want it now, even more!!

The future?

The next instalment in the Mass Effect universe, I say universe and not series, as we still have little detail on where the story will take us, was teased on December 11 2020.

We can say for sure it will feature a well known character from the series, Liara T’soni. we can also take an educated guess and say it will feature the Milky Way and will continue the story after the Reaper War. However, and this the big kicker, Liara T’soni is an Asari and they can live for 1000 years. So as for time frames, this throws up a lot of questions. We can gain further info from images that come from the newly-released BioWare: Stories and Secrets from 25 Years of Game Development coffee table book, which were then posted to Tumblr by user Felassan.

The images shows structures strikingly similar in design to the Remnant architecture already featured in Mass Effect Andromeda. The Remnant were a mysterious, advanced civilisation that seemingly ruled Andromeda and then vanished before the events of Mass Effect Andromeda itself. One image appears to show the construction of a new Mass Relay – the hairpin-like structures which shot the Normandy around the Milky Way back in the original trilogy. This one is even labelled “MR-7”, leading us to believe there are more out there. Do these teasers point to a continuation of the Andromeda story? (I hope it’s story and not gameplay).

Mass Effect project director Mike Gamble is quoted in the BioWare book: “There’s an incredible universe of history to draw from, and many more stories for us to tell. We’re focusing on creating something truly for the fans.”

The next new Mass Effect game is still a long way off – further away than Dragon Age 4, which itself isn’t coming before 2022 – but with the trilogy’s Legendary Edition close to release, the franchise’s future seems secure once again.