Here’s how Mass Effect Legendary Edition improves gameplay

We’ve already seen plenty on how Mass Effect Legendary Edition will improve the graphics of the Commander Shepard trilogy, but EA and BioWare have offered up considerably less detail on the gameplay changes coming to the remaster. That’s changed, thanks to a new in-depth blog post.

From a top-line perspective, we already knew about many of these changes. The first Mass Effect will have its combat retuned to feel a bit closer to the second and third games. The Mako will handle better. Customization options for Shepard are now unified across all three games.

But the amount of new detail on each of these points is pretty staggering, akin to patch notes for all three games included in Mass Effect Legendary Edition. Let’s take them one by one.

Mass Effect Gameplay

Here are the official notes for the gameplay rebalance in the first Mass Effect:

  • 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

Further Gameplay Tweaks

Here are some general gameplay changes covering all the games in the series (with our added details in brackets):

  • 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 [You’ll be able to reach a higher level more easily, and there’s no longer a level cap for your first playthrough.]
  • Ammo drops have been rebalanced in Mass Effect 2 [You’ll find ammo more easily, especially for sniper rifles.]


Here are the updates specifically pertaining to the Mako, that much loved, much hated rover you’ll use to explore (especially in the first game):

  • 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

UI, Customization, and Integration

And here are the changes to the character creation and game interfaces, designed to streamline everything and make the trilogy feel more cohesive:

  • 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)
  • 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
    • A number of achievements 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
    • Native controller and 21:9 display support on PC, with DirectX 11 compatibility

Galaxy at War

Finally, BioWare detailed its efforts to rebalance Mass Effect 3‘s Galaxy at War feature, which measured your preparedness for the final confrontation against the Reapers with a sort of metagame layer. In the original release, the multiplayer and companion app influenced your Galactic Readiness. Since there’s no multiplayer this time around, everything has been reworked to ensure it’s still possible to get the galaxy into fighting shape without those external factors.

Here’s the official rundown:

“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.”

As you can see, that’s a whole lot of detail we didn’t have before. But if you crave even more info, there’s a bit more detail on some of these points in the blog post itself.

BioWare also promises that they’ll offer a similar breakdown of the visuals—in case seeing the game in action wasn’t enough for you—in the coming days.

Mass Effect Legendary Edition arrives on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Windows PC on May 15th.

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