Electronic Arts and BioWare published an in-depth overview on how they have modified the Mass Effect trilogy, revealing how much they changed.
„[…] The first game is quite different from the second and third in terms of gameplay and combat. Mass Effect was heavily influenced by traditional RPG mechanics, like the randomness of a dice roll and pen-and-paper stat building. As a result, weapons in Mass Effect often felt less accurate and reliable than the gunplay in Mass Effect 2 and 3,” BioWare wrote. They also provided an example of a reworked ability: „the “Immunity” ability now grants a powerful defensive buff that lasts a brief period instead of being a small buff that lasts indefinitely.” Here’s a list of the gameplay changes:
„Shepard can now sprint out of combat. Melee attacks are now mapped to a button press rather than automatically occurring based on proximity to an enemy. Weapon accuracy and handling have been significantly improved. Reticle bloom is more controlled. Weapon sway removed from sniper rifles. Aiming down sights/”tight aim” camera view has been improved. Improved aim assist for target acquisition. All relevant enemies now take headshot damage in the first game. (Previously some did not, including humanoid enemies.)
Ammo mods (Anti-Organic, Anti-Synthetic, etc.) can now drop throughout the whole game. (Previously, these stopped dropping at higher player levels. They are now also available to purchase from merchants.) All weapons can be used by any class without penalty. Specializations (the ability to train/upgrade certain weapons) are still class-specific. Weapons cool down much faster. Medi-gel usage has been improved (Base cooldown reduced. Levelling benefits increased. Increased Liara’s bonus to cooldowns.)
Inventory management improvements. (Items can now be flagged as “Junk.” All Junk items can be converted into Omni-gel or sold to merchants at once. Inventory and stores now have sorting functionality. (Some abilities have been rebalanced. Weapon powers (i.e., those that are unlocked on each weapon type’s skill tree) have been improved: effectiveness/strength is increased (duration reduced in some cases), Heat now resets on power activation.).”
They modified other things in the gameplay, so here’s another list: Squadmates can now be commanded independently of each other in the first Mass Effect, the same way you can command them individually in Mass Effect 2 and 3. Some boss fights and enemies in the first game have been tweaked to be fairer for players but still challenging. Cover has been improved across the trilogy. (Additional cover added to some encounters. Entering and exiting cover is now more reliable.) XP has been rebalanced in the first game. Ammo drops have been rebalanced in Mass Effect 2.”
Here’s what they say about the XP changes in Mass Effect: „[XP has been] rebalanced for better consistency, especially towards the game’s end. Players who complete most aspects of the game should be able to more reliably get to higher levels on a single playthrough rather than needing to play through a second time to do so. Additionally, there is no longer a level cap on a first playthrough.” The ammo tweak in ME2 follows: „We found that ammo was spawning too scarcely in the original game, so we’ve increased the drop rate for ammo in Mass Effect 2, particularly when using a sniper rifle since that had a reduced ammo drop rate in the original release.”
What about the M-35 Mako? „In the original game, the physics tuning for the Mako made it feel too light and bouncy, even at times becoming uncontrollable, but it’s now a much smoother ride […]. Its function has also been improved with faster shield recharging and new thrusters added to the rear, allowing for a speed boost when you’re inevitably trying to scale up the side of a near-vertical cliff. This boost’s recharge is independent of the jump jets on the vehicle’s underside, so you can use both at once or separately.” And here’s a list of changes: „Improved handling (physics tuning improved to feel “weightier” and slide around less). Improved camera controls (resolved issues preventing the Mako from accurately aiming at lower angles). Shields recharge faster. New thrusters added for a speed boost (its cooldown is separate from the jump jets’). The XP penalty while in the Mako has been removed. Touching lava no longer results in an instant Mission Failure and instead deals damage over time.”
Unifying and modernizing the trilogy was also an important thing for BioWare: „We’ve unified Shepard’s customization options in the character creator and even added some new options, like additional skin tones and hairstyles. You can use the same character creator code across all three games, meaning your Shepard can now have a consistent appearance across the trilogy, or you can choose to change their appearance at the start of each title. Customization options and character appearances have also been improved with updated textures and hair models. We’ve also added the Mass Effect: Genesis comics by Dark Horse into the base experience before Mass Effect 2 and 3 as an optional experience so players can make choices from previous games no matter where they choose to start.”
And here’s the list they provided about the updates BioWare made: „New unified launcher for all three games. (Includes trilogy-wide settings for subtitles and languages. Saves are still unique to each game and can be managed independently of each other.) FemShep from Mass Effect 3 is the new default female option in all three games (the original FemShep design is still available as a preset option).
Achievements across the trilogy have been updated. (New achievements have been added to the trilogy. Progress for some achievements now carries over across all three games (e.g. Kill 250 enemies across all games). Achievements that were streamlined into one and made redundant were removed.) Integrated weapons and armour downloadable content packs. (Weapons and armour downloadable content packs are now integrated naturally into the game; they’re obtainable via research or by purchasing them from merchants as you progress through the game, rather than being immediately unlocked from the start. This ensures overall balance and progression across Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3. Recon Hood (Mass Effect 2) and Cerberus Ajax Armor (Mass Effect 3) are available at the start of each game.)
Additional gameplay and quality of life improvements. (Audio is remixed and enhanced across all games. Hundreds of legacy bugs from the original releases are fixed. Native controller and 21:9 display support on PC, with DirectX 11 compatibility.),” BioWare wrote.
And Mass Effect 3’s feature, Galaxy at War, also received an overhaul: „[…] The Galaxy at War feature puts you in the heart of the Reaper War from the Normandy’s Combat Information Center, which has been rebalanced in the Legendary Edition. For example, Galactic Readiness is no longer impacted by external factors that aren’t part of the collection, like multiplayer or the old companion app for Mass Effect 3. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean defeating the Reapers will be easy. The more content you complete across the entire trilogy, the more likely you’ll be prepared for the final fights in its conclusion. If you only play Mass Effect 3, you’ll have to do just about every option available in the game to be eligible for an ending that doesn’t result in massive galactic losses.
Playing the first two games and carrying over your progress is the most reliable way to get good results in the final hours of the Reaper War. For comparison, if you previously played Mass Effect 3 with the Extended Cut (which included Galactic Readiness rebalancing), fully preparing for the final fight will be more difficult to achieve in the Legendary Edition. And on that note: the Extended Cut ending is now the game’s default finale. However, readying your intergalactic armies will be made a bit easier by several critical bug fixes and backend improvements made to the Paragon-Renegade system in Mass Effect 2; we resolved some legacy issues that inhibited accurate reputation stats from being displayed and outright prevented certain dialogue options from being selectable when they should have been. Because of this, key moments that have been notoriously difficult to achieve in Mass Effect 2 (and impacted Mass Effect 3) can now be completed more reliably, leading to better results in the story’s final act,” the team says.
IGN published a performance preview video (embedded below), which looks at the improved Mako controls, revamped Noveria, and combat changes in the original Mass Effect, as well as some subtitle changes in Mass Effect 2 and 3. Mass Effect Legendary Edition will launch on May 14 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One (with the new consoles getting backwards compatibility support), and PC (Steam, Origin).