Mass Effect Legendary Edition – What’s Different?

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Bioware took lessons from Bethesda and Todd Howard. They’ve repackaged Mass Effect, slapped on an adjective subtitle and charged $60 for it. And because Mass Effect is one of my favourite games of all time I immediately bought it. Excited to get into the action and fight some Reapers again.

A little eagerness never killed anyone, eh, Jenkins?

So, what is it?

Mass Effect Legendary Edition (MELE, for simplicity) is basically a dedicated launcher and the combination of all of the ME games and their collective DLC, add-ons, and extras, all in one place. Which, and I can’t stress how much I like this, can be on STEAM. Not only have they just collected it all in one spot, but they’ve also remastered the graphics, (ME 1 most importantly,) and made a handful of other small changes to the entire series. I’ll start in reverse chronological order, as ME2 and ME3 seem to have the fewest real changes. Please note that this is by no means an exhaustive list of all the changes they’ve made, this is really just what I’ve noticed. 

The Changes

Mass Effect 3

Now, first off I’ll say that I haven’t finished ME3 yet. I’m not even halfway through, in honesty. But the only real difference I’ve noticed between the Original and this newly remastered edition is the implementation of the “extra” gear. In the Original, when you shelled out extra for the sweet added weapon and armours, they would be immediately added to the Normandy’s armoury for you to use. As soon as you find your first weapon on Mars, you can pick between some of the most powerful weapons the game has. In the new version, these powerful added weapons are only found in merchant inventories. So really, they just made it a little more fair, which I don’t really fault them for.

They’ve also added a Photomode, which I’ve, somewhat ironically, had to take a regular screenshot of to show you. If you want any customized and high-definition images of the Mass Effect universe, then this is the way to get’em. The last major change was the lack of multiplayer. I never personally used it much, so I don’t miss it, but it would have been neat to try it again. It also means they get rid of the thing that makes your total Military Strength more effective the more multiplayer you play, which I never really liked. Six up, half dozen down, I say.

Apart from that. I haven’t noticed that much of a difference. All the same Mass Effect goodness I’ve come to expect, just a little more balanced and photogenic. 

Mass Effect 2

Pretty much the same story as ME3. The game play is largely untouched. I’m sure there has been a lot of work put into it on the back end, so it’s kind of a good thing I don’t notice. But the weapon add ons and armours aren’t given to you immediately, and can be found in the world or at merchants. That’s pretty much it, and I have completed 2, with 0 squad members lost, I might add. 

I always imagine Shepard picking team members using little figurines on their desk

Mass Effect

Now, the original Mass Effect is where the most changes happened. The most obvious is the graphical update, which brings it to the same level, more or less, as Mass Effect 2 and 3. The most important change, in my opinion, was the weapon training skills for the various classes, which got rid of the accuracy increases from progression. This was huge for me. It never made sense to me that a highly decorated combat veteran could only aim while holding specific guns. It brings ME1 more in line with 3, allowing any class to use any combination of weapons. But it isn’t quite the same, at higher difficulties you’ll lose out on damage by not using the “right” weapons for your class. As long as you have an appropriately leveled weapon, though, you won’t have any problems using any weapon your class isn’t “trained in”. 

Oh hey, look, graphics!

Another big change was the weapons themselves, adding a little more of the “horizontal” aspect to the guns that ME2 and 3 have, while still maintaining the mostly vertical shooter-looter gear progression from the original version. What I mean is that the various brands of weapons in ME1 act a little differently. Probably most noticeable in the assault rifles. Some brands are full auto, like normal, but some are burst fire, other semi-auto. Damage vs fire rate, that sort of thing. So you can do a little bit of customization for play style, rather than purely going for stats. 

The female Shepard is now standardized in a much similar way to the male Shepard, giving her the ME3 default for all of the games. Which I enjoy as I’ve always liked that face, and the consistency is nice. But if you always customize it’ll be a largely toothless change. 

You guys remember Nihlus?

Apart from that, it’s just the same game, they’re all the same games, thankfully. There’s a reason the Mass Effect series is iconic, and Bioware wasn’t stupid enough to change that. The depth of characters, the galaxy at stake, the choices. Everything that made Mass Effect Mass Effect is still there, It’s just in a shiny bow and a few quality of life upgrades. (and balance patches.)  

The photo mode. I am not a photographer, I don’t know what all the buttons and options do, so the only advice I can give is that the camera position is fixed where it was upon entering Photo Mode, so if you want a low angle on something, look up before you pause. Everything else you can figure out with a little experimentation and probably some basic knowledge of cameras.  

If you’ve ever enjoyed the Mass Effect series, and you want to stroll down memory lane (or just want one place to find all your ME games.) then MELE is 100% worth it. (bear in mind I am a huge ME fanboy so I’m not hard to please, and definitely biased in this specific context.)  

If you’d like to read more about MELE, Jason Moth ranks and discusses the DLCs here!

We also recommend checking out this article where we delve deep into the science behind Mass Effect’s mechs.


James Greene

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