Mass Effect Legendary Edition: Rebalancing, tuning, & mechanical improvements

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Mass Effect Legendary Edition: Rebalancing, tuning, & mechanical improvements

A detailed look at the gameplay calibrations found in this enhanced trilogy, arriving May 14 on PS4.

Ever since we announced Mass Effect Legendary Edition on N7 Day and revealed a first look at it earlier this year, your passion and excitement have blown us away. Today, we’d like to give you more details on what you can expect to see in this remaster. You’ll find the latest information on the Legendary Edition, from gameplay tuning to rebalancing and more. Next week, we’ll provide an additional look at the remastering process with a strong focus on the visual changes across the trilogy.

Let’s get into it. Here’s what this post contains, in order:


“I don’t need luck—I have ammo.”


Combat tuning

Combat in the Mass Effect trilogy has evolved across the series, with each game’s experience being different. We wanted to make the experience better across the board, but we didn’t want to unnecessarily change what our fans have come to love about each game. That proved a unique challenge, as 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.

We heard the consistent feedback that it was pretty frustrating to take a few shots with an assault rifle and suddenly have the reticle enlarge to span a large portion of the screen, so we looked at tuning the mechanics to provide better handling without outright scrapping the spirit of the original games.

In the first Mass Effect, accuracy (including reticle bloom and weapon sway) has been tuned across all weapons to allow players to maintain more consistent firepower while still managing their shots/overheat meter. We’ve also improved the aiming down sights (ADS) camera view to be tighter on combat so that ADS is more accurate (like the second and third games), and we’ve improved the aim assist to provide better precision. These small behind-the-scenes changes collectively make combat much “snappier,” putting more control into the player’s hands.

Abilities have also been rebalanced in the first game. For example, the “Immunity” ability now grants a powerful defensive buff that lasts a brief period of time instead of being a small buff that lasts indefinitely.

The following overview lists gameplay changes we made specifically to the first Mass Effect, with the goal of bringing it a bit more in line with the rest of the trilogy:

  • 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 has 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


“If this is a war, I’ll need an army…or a really good team.”


Additional gameplay improvements

Beyond general gunplay changes, we’ve made some specific changes to encounters, enemies, and how you engage in combat. We found a few opportunities to bring the first game in line with the second and third games, and we also found some systems across the whole trilogy that needed a tune up.

Without spoiling too much for new players, one example is the boss encounter on Noveria. The boss room has been slightly reworked, keeping it very familiar but making it less cramped. You’ll also be much less prone to being thrown around by biotic abilities.

Other targeted combat updates we’ve made include:

  • 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 (details below)
  • Ammo drops have been rebalanced in Mass Effect 2 (details below)

With combat comes XP. XP gained during the first game 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.

As a final gunplay change, we also tweaked ammunition in Mass Effect 2. We found that ammo was spawning too scarcely in the original game, so we’ve increased the drop rate for ammo in ME2, particularly when using a sniper rifle since that had a reduced ammo drop rate in the original release.


“It’s got heart, you know?”


The Mako

But of course, we’ve got to talk about the (in)famous M-35 Mako. This legendary vehicle from the first Mass Effect has been “calibrated” to perform better than ever. 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 while still being “loveable” like before. (Yes, you can still drive off cliffs to your heart’s content).

Its functionally 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. (We all do it.) This boost’s recharge is independent from the jump jets on the vehicle’s underside, so you can use both at once or separately.

These are the calibrations you can expect to experience when driving the Mako:

  • 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


“Well, what about Shepard?”


Unifying & modernizing the trilogy

For the Legendary Edition, our goal was to tune up the trilogy and make it more consistent from game to game while honoring the things that made each unique.

For example, 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 (seen bottom-left in the image below) 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.

Of course, the Legendary Edition includes a variety of additional enhancements. Here are some of the things you can look forward to:

  • 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
  •  Updated character creator options, as mentioned above
    • 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)
  • Trophies across the trilogy have been updated
    • New trophies have been added to the trilogy
    • Progress for some now carries over across all three games (e.g. Kill 250 enemies across all games)
      • Trophies that were streamlined into one and made redundant were removed
    •  A number of trophies have had their objectives/descriptions and/or names updated
  • Integrated weapons and armor DLC packs
    • Weapons and armor DLC 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 ME2 and ME3
    • Recon Hood (ME2) and Cerberus Ajax Armor (ME3) are available at the start of each game
  • Additional gameplay & Quality of life improvements
    •  Audio is remixed and enhanced across all games
    •  Hundreds of legacy bugs from the original releases are fixed


“Consider yourself reinstated, Commander.”


Galaxy at War rebalancing

As Commander Shepard, you’re tasked with the hardest mission of all: defeating the Reapers and saving the galaxy from annihilation. This comes to a head in Mass Effect 3 when the galaxy unites, but your choices from across the trilogy lead you there and determine who fights at your side. 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 ME3. 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 ME3 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 a number of critical bug fixes and backend improvements made to the Paragon-Renegade system in ME2; 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 ME2 (and impacted ME3) can now be completed more reliably, leading to better results in the story’s final act.


“You know, for old time’s sake.”


Getting to go back to the roots of the Mass Effect franchise—our roots, as a team now celebrating our 25th anniversary—has been an incredibly nostalgic and emotional experience for us, and we’re sure a lot of you will feel similarly when you get to play Legendary Edition! We’ve heard from so many of you that you want a way to play the original trilogy today, either for the first time or the…well, let’s just say “again.” We don’t need to keep count.

Returning to where it all began, as members of our team revisited the work they did over a decade ago, has been a bit surreal, but it felt like the right thing to do; a passion project from us to thank you for the many years of incredible support. (And maybe to help tide you over until the next game, too!) There’s more to come, including a deeper dive into the visual changes we’ve made, so stay tuned for that! Also, thanks for requesting this so much that you practically willed it into existence! It’s meant a lot.

From all of us on the Mass Effect team: “Good luck, Commander.”

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35 Comments

  • Very interesting blog post!

    I have a small question about the trophies: will there be three trophy sets (with a platinum for each game)? If that’s the case, in which set the unified trophies for the trilogy will be featured?

    Anyway can’t wait to revisit the trilogy. Mass Effect is such a journey.

    • Same question here!

    • The way they detailed the trophies sounds very interesting. It sounds like there will be ONE trophy list for the entire trilogy, since (for example) that 250 kills can be unlocked from across all 3 games. But time will tell.

    • The problem is if there’s one trophy list, that means only 50-60 trophies to grab and only one platinum, instead of 150+ trophies (with DLC) and three platinums.

      Most compilations have this system like Crash Trilogy, Spyro Trilogy, Bioshock Trilogy… But there has been instances where there was only one platinum trophy for the whole collection (The Walking Dead Definitive Edition, Wipeout Omega Collection, THPS 1+2)…

      Time will tell, but I think we’ll get 3 platinums nonetheless. :)

  • One positive one negative!

    That is a really smart way to deal with GaW in Mass Effect 3, really impressed they came up with it!

    I am concerned that auto converting all your junk items into omnigel is going to break the game. I always had a lot of junk and if I can just make them all health items by pressing a button in the menu, I’ll essentially have infinite health. Worried about that.

    • Wait, wasn’t it medi-gel that heals you? Omni-gel is the stuff that you spray on locks you don’t want to hack into and the mako when it breaks down. It doesn’t heal you I think

    • Yea, omnigel was the stuff you used to just bypass hacking so you could basically open everything. They made a quip about it in the Shadow Broker DLC.

  • Nice to see a bit of work put into this. The best move was EASILY not wasting development time, by doubling it, by porting over to the crappy Frostbite engine.
    Play your cards right and I may buy this………. in 1 or 2 years after additional patches to fix it that Bioware is now synonymous with and for 8 bucks. Still has that cancerous EA logo on it unfortunately though. Haven’t bought an EA game in over 7 years and I ain’t about to break that wonderful streak.

    • worried about the cancerous EA logo? how much time have you worried about the cancerous Ubisoft logo. They haven’t even patched the gamebreaking bugs out of Valhalla before introducing even more MTX. EA is at least showing some sign of wanting to be something other than your punching bag for all things bad.

    • I’d rather it be a different engine. In 2021 we get a new game release with UE3 at the helm. It’s going to be a terrible looking game with a crispy resolution on Pro. Yeah, no native PS5 release, thanks👍.

      What should’ve happened, a move to UE4. Heck, UE5 is around the corner. I’d take a move to Frostbite over a lack of effort. At least textures would look decent and if they don’t understand that engine by now, then how technically sound are they?

      This is a lazy remaster. Over six months into a new gen we get an UE3 release exclusively on last gen. I’ll buy it because I love Mass Effect, real Mass Effect, not that Andromeda filth. But as a PS5 owner I’m insulted and embarrassed for the franchise. Andromeda showed how little the care, and this weak port reinforces that.

      Can’t wait to play the PS4 Pro version on my shiny PS5 and 120hz tv..

    • That’s completely on you that you ever thought a remaster was going to change to an entirely different engine.

  • We need a Eden Prime demo before release. Please.

  • Liking a lot of what I’m seeing here and else where. However questions:

    1) Will all three have platinum trophies? I read some where there were some consolidated and new trophies that apply across the entire trilogy now. It would be rather dumb to require the entire trilogy worth 3 platinums in order to get just one.

    2) Was anything done to improve the visual quality of the extended ending of ME3 to bring it in line with the rest of the trilogy? Putting aside the trash fire that is the ending of Mass Effect 3, the visual quality was a rush job. I’m hoping we’re getting in engine cutscenes to replace what has been referred to as a slide show. Which I agree, its like the story board artsts work was considered acceptable for the final product. I really think this should be changed, even if the ending itself is still bad, it should be more consistent.

    Anyway super excited to play this 3 games again. I’ve been putting it off for the last few years when the rumors started to fly. It’s been a long wait, but it’ll be worth ti. Thank you for taking the time to do this. Playing it on PS5 with all of the bells and whistles including a solid Remote Play puts a big ol’smile on my face.

    • All of the OS5 bells and whistles?

      Advanced DualSense implementation? Ray tracing? 120hz? Tempest audio? How fast are the loads? 2 seconds? Does it have a native PS5 release?

  • How about your give us an option to view the character models and camera angles as the game developers intended? Not these politically correct edited changes.

    • 100% this.

      They took time to hide Miranda’s body but can’t implement a native PS5 release?

      Weak. So weak. It reminds me of the PC nonsense surrounding the original game and the non nude sexual scenes that were so minor it baffles me as to why it was a problem. Yet Witcher 3 is wildly praised with no issue..

    • You do realise this is being done by the original developers, right? They’re not “censoring” or “hiding” anything. They just looked at the scenes again and wondered why the hell are we made to ogle Miranda’s ass during this emotional scene about her sister’s life being in danger instead of talking to her face, and changed it accordingly. If that change offends you then maybe you should grow up.

  • These changes seem like half-measures which leave the three parts of the game still too dissimilar, but they are certainly better than I was expecting from the announcement. Still, I’m not sure I want to re-play (much less re-buy) such long games if the experience isn’t significantly different. Too many other games to experience for the first time. I would definitely have taken the plunge if the trilogy was fully unified, with the superior cover combat (minus ammo pick-ups) and movement and equipment systems of ME2 and ME3 combined with the fuller RPG elements of ME1 carried all the way through the trilogy.

  • Never played the Mass Effect trilogy and I’ve been waiting for this release since the PS4 generation started. It’s time!

    • I have played the original games even the Mass Effect Trilogy but were so dissapointed from PS4 games and ME Andromeda that i prayed a remaster of trilogy would be released on PS4 and a miracle happened

  • general-alex7698

    I will say some, who voice their opinions on how the game’s graphics are based on UnrealEngine3 and that being a bit old, do have a a point and how we’re on UnrealEngine4 moving onto UnrealEngine5, and how the game should be a bit more upscaled.

    But at the same time I’m not making the game and yes I know it’s like we’re putting out money for it so we should get more for what we paid for. For me it’s I’m just glad there’s a remaster. Got their dev team back together for the most part to do one. Props on the dedication. I have it on preorder already.

  • FYI for anyone who hasn’t already heard: the game has been updated to remove the more provocative shots of Miranda. So whether you like looking at beautiful women or just want the game to be as authentic as possible, that imagery doesn’t reflect the values of the developers so it’s been removed.

    • Give it a break. They removed scenes where the camera pans on her ass while she’s lamenting about her sister. If that sort of thing upsets you, be sure you explain that in your post so people can disregard your opinion entirely. Can’t believe people are still screaming censorship about something that has no effect on the game in any conceivable way.

  • Very happy with what I am seeing so far. Previously, I said I would never buy another BioWare game, after they dropped the ball so hard on Andromeda, and then released the ultra disaster that is Anthem. But this is probably a day one buy for me. The original trilogy is among my favourite games of all time, so nostalgia is going to bite me.

    I really wanted a 4k60fps version of these games, so I’m hoping that things are as good as we’re seeing for the overall package, and so they can set the tone right for the next Mass Effect game. Especially if they are, somehow, bringing Shepdogg back.

  • I am excited….mostly.
    Trophies – don’t care, would rather have none and just have a great game.
    Remastering for last gen consoles – bummer :(
    Mako improvements – OH THANK YOU!!!!
    Price – wow, bought all of them before, you didn’t remake it for ps5 nor add more content but you want me to pay again just because Sony won’t let us play ps3 games on our ps4 or ps5 without the god awful Now service…..Really want this but I am thinking like others and I may wait for it ti go on sale before buying this time…..I mean, no DLC just for this one?

    I personally would have liked to see Andromeda in with this along with the DLC that were promised and then ripped away because fanbois have nothing better to do than complain. Andromeda wasn’t super bad, boring a lot but that could have been fixed. I didn’t even mind the animations as I know the story is not true and total immersion would never happen – seriously, the animations took you out of full immersion is what people said….guess the nudity wasn’t good enough for them *sigh*

    Anyway, looking forward to it but still wish there would be something else added…..

    • I mean it’s 60$ for 3 games although yes old but with all dlc. They could of been greedy and asked for more. I’m fine paying 60$ for all 3 with dlc. I honestly can’t wait. I’ve wanted these games to be brought forward for years.

  • Where is the PS3, Vita, and PSP closing store sales…?

  • Unfortunately I have never played ME but I have pre-ordered this and are waiting with baited breath

  • Y’all have no idea (I’m sure you do even more than myself) how much this means to me. I fell all the way in love with this game from the start. I remember when I first got the original ME when I was like 14 or 15 it was I think 20bucks at gamestop and I had the cash surprisingly enough so I picked it up and couldn’t put it down. I love everything about the first game. It’s mechanics were horrible but that’s why I love it so much. It feels like a video game. Not all advanced like games do today that don’t give me that same feeling that they did when I was a kid. That feeling carried through all three games original games. The first time I beat ME3 I friggin cried so hard and immediately started over again from the beginning and it felt genuine and nostalgic all at once. Then Andromeda came out and I LOVE THAT GAME. And I’m so disappointed that there wasn’t more in it like the first 3 but it had so much potential to be more and idk why it wasn’t. I love that game so much. I cannot wait to play this. It will be the only thing I play for many many months. I feel it in my bones. That you all so much for doing this. I was devastated when I first heard this wasn’t happening so seeing this now is so heart-warming and I can’t wait to be reintroduced to this badass roster of characters and my babygirl NormandySR1.!

  • It looks like the recycled cancer won’t stop…such a shame.

  • How about the quest system from 3? There were no markers telling you if you had the item or not or where to go to turn it in. This was fixed in andromeda, but what about this?

  • monty slimming in the kitchen and slimming the cupboard and draws is causing to much trauma to my head and brain from the vibrations

  • I wonder if they added all the multiplayer exclusive weapons in mass effect 3 to the campaign.

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