THE WAIT WAS WORTH IT - ALL ABOUT MASS EFFECT LEGENDARY EDITION

 Throughout the past generation of consoles, Electronic Arts has sat on a gold mine that has refused to do anything about it. We are talking, of course, about re-editions of Mass Effect - to improve the graphics, the gameplay was a little modernized, all the additions were added to the collection, and so on. The fans' pleas were heard, and in the spring the Mass Effect Legendary Edition will be released - a compilation that includes three numbered parts of the series.


About him in a closed presentation told developers at BioWare has : Project Director Mack Walters (Mac Walters), producer of Crystal McCord (Crystal McCord) and the leading artist of environments and characters Kevin Mick (Kevin Meek).


THE WAIT WAS WORTH IT - ALL ABOUT MASS EFFECT LEGENDARY EDITION

What have you done and what have you added?

As Walters said , negotiations on the creation of remasters began a long time ago, but only in 2019 the case got off the ground. Then the BioWare team began to think about what exactly the remaster should be. The most obvious decision was to transfer all games with a third to the fourth version of the Unreal Engine, but Epic Games , who created these engines, made it clear that it would not be so easy.


The simplest example is the Kismet scripting language, in which there is no way to copy everything from the old version and paste into the new one. Therefore, every scene, every frame had to be re-made from scratch. Because of this, the spirit of the old Mass Effect could disappear. Therefore, we decided to keep the games as they were, correcting the roughness and flaws that you expect to see fixed in such a re-release.


Although the engine hasn't changed, a lot of work has been done. All games support 4K-resolution and HDR, “tens of thousands” of textures have been made many times better, great attention has been paid to character and environment models, lighting, special effects and much more. On Xbox One X and PlayStation 4 Pro, games play at 60 fps (as well as on the new generation of consoles for backward compatibility).


All three parts are launched from a single launcher, and in order to connect them with each other even more tightly, the developers have made a single character editor for all games. It will have a few more options, including additional hairstyles and skin tones. At the same time, the standard female version of Shepard, the design of which was finalized for the third part (and slightly tweaked in the remaster), can now be selected in each Mass Effect.


But the main thing is that the collection really includes all the content and all existing add-ons. At the presentation, they showed a large list, which included a dozen and a half story add-ons (including Mass Effect 3: Extended Cut and interactive comics Genesis and Genesis 2), about ten sets of weapons and armor, as well as a pack of DLCs created in collaboration with other developers and iron manufacturers. There will even be Reckoner Knight Armor - armor that was awarded for completing the Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning demo . Some bonuses will be available immediately, some will be unlocked during the passage.

How will the graphics change in the trilogy?

The Mass Effect trilogy looks faded today, in particular due to low-quality textures by today's standards, so they decided to pay attention to them from the very beginning of development. According to Meek , all uncompressed textures were processed by artificial intelligence, which raised their resolution. Some of them quadrupled, and some - even 16. After this procedure, the developers have already seen a lot of progress and on its basis, manually polished individual elements. 


It resembles a situation when development is nearing the end, everything is already ready, there is not enough time for anything, but suddenly the manager comes to your office and says that the release has been postponed for several months. And you can make a bunch of changes to the interface, to textures, character models, special effects ... In reality, this almost never happens, but something like a dream scenario happened here.


We were shown comparisons of old Mass Effect with updated ones, primarily paying attention to textures. The increased quality is hard to miss, especially in Mass Effect 1 . The characters' eyes have become larger, all sorts of icons and symbols on their clothes are much clearer, their hair looks more like hair. There were real-time reflections in windows where there wasn’t even a hint of them.


In the scenes from Mass Effect 2, characters also look better, the light falls more realistically on their faces and clothes, and the increased texture resolution is especially striking when objects are shown up close. The shot with Thane Krios was especially revealing - now the scales on his head stand out better (also thanks to the lighting), and how luxurious the collar looks with high-quality texture ... But remember that this is a remaster, not a remake like Demon's Souls - a huge leap forward you shouldn't expect in the schedule.


They wanted to bring the visuals in games to the same level, and therefore the characters and opponents required a special approach. Each of them was improved by hand - first we looked for the highest quality versions of the models, and then they finished painting the details. At the same time, it was necessary to watch out for errors that could appear due to the use of newer textures on older models - for example, the SR-2 logo on clothes could not be in the first part.


Some characters like Liara and Kaidan stick with you throughout the trilogy, and it was necessary to make sure that the sense of the past between different parts of time is preserved. Kaidan has more gray hair in Mass Effect 3 , Liara is turning from closed to the third part into confident and tempered. The appearance of the heroes must match their stories. 


Textures alone, of course, cannot be dispensed with - as an example, we were shown a frame with Shepard, where nothing visually changed, except for the texture resolution, and it looked sad. But everything began to transform with the addition of effects: tone mapping, volumetric lighting, depth of field, subsurface scattering on the skin, background shading - with all this, the picture is much richer and more natural.


How will graphics change in Mass Effect 1?

While creating Mass Effect 2 and 3 , the team learned a lot, and the developers tried to use this knowledge in the remaster of the first part, without destroying the atmosphere loved by the fans. Many locations have undergone a visual upgrade, and this greatly helped Derek Watts (Derek Watts), artistic director of the original trilogy.


To show the difference, we were shown a few shots. The first is a location on Eden Prime with improved textures on the bridge and stones. This was not enough for the authors - due to the fact that the sun was always behind and the player did not see it throughout the entire level, the planet looked lifeless, and the depth was not felt. Therefore, the sun was moved - now its rays illuminate surfaces with high-quality textures. If earlier only the red sky indicated that the planet was attacked, now they could convey this with the help of smoke, ash on the ground, and so on.

 

We have much more opportunities now. This is how we would make these locations if we were developing the game today. It's an important part of our job to tell stories about the universe through our environment. [In the case of Eden Prime] we felt for the first time that we were re-creating our game. We used these ideas and started applying them to the rest of the episodes.


Another example is Ilos, where there are more puddles and vegetation on the ground, and there are more vines on the walls. When Mick launched a special video comparing the locations, all doubts disappeared - the difference in places is enormous. The planets are much more lively thanks to lighting, greenery and other details. If something is destroyed or attacked, there is now a thick black smoke at the place. Lava no longer looks like a red-black texture - you can see small explosions and other effects.


There are also many changes in the Citadel: fountains look more realistic, somewhere there is more furniture, somewhere - plants in pots. On the one hand, nostalgia for the soapy Mass Effectmay be the reason why longtime fans of the series will refuse to accept this visual upgrade. But judging by the presentation, even they will appreciate the work done.


How will the gameplay change in Mass Effect 1?

As McCord said , the writers have taken a close look at all the discussions on the Internet and tried to compile a list of things that Mass Effect fans would like to see fixed. In addition, the team gathered a small group of Mass Effect fans, streamers, modders and cosplayers and talked to them about possible innovations.


The main question that worries everyone: how long will the elevator ride take? From now on, they only last 14 seconds instead of a minute, and the process can be accelerated by pressing the skip button. Will rides on the Mako be more fun? They will - now he can accelerate, and his physics has been improved. On the PC, the game will receive full support for gamepads - we should expect more modern assistance in aiming with a sight "magnetic" to enemies.


The rest of the innovations were listed in a list:


  • smoother camera;
  • more logically placed autosave points;
  • smoother aiming;
  • separate button for melee strike;
  • improved artificial intelligence of enemies;
  • improved companion management;
  • the same mini-games on all platforms;
  • similar control schemes in all mini-games;
  • similar character control schemes throughout the trilogy;
  • reduced difficulty and frequency of mini-games;
  • no class restrictions associated with weapons (the skill will not increase, but you can use the weapon);
  • lack of penalties in the aiming mode, which were available for certain classes;
  • New Game + is not required to reach level 60, so the experience gained has been rebalanced;
  • improved boss battles;
  • changed recovery time for the first aid kit;
  • modernized interface.


“When you look at the work done on the remaster of the first Mass Effect , it feels like you're playing it again for the first time. It occurred to me and to those who tested the game. It feels very fresh and you have a lot of fun going back into it and reliving all those moments, ”added Walters . Among the testers of the early version of the remaster, there were also newbies who had never completed the original, and their feedback was also useful - if somewhere they did not quite understand what to do, the developers tried to improve these moments.

Mass Effect Legendary Edition is not a remake, but a remaster. This, for example, is indicated by old animation - as explained by Walters , the tools are no longer relevant, and the side effects of the smallest changes can negatively affect the entire game. But the authors tried to fix the bugged animations - if earlier someone moved unnaturally in cut scenes or someone had slanting eyes, then in the re-release there is no such thing.

Whatever the case, it was worth the wait. First Mass Effectnow it looks much better (many will probably have the feeling that it was like that, but this is not nearly so), the picture has been improved in all parts of the series - even the graphical settings on the PC no longer differ from game to game. I'd like to try it all out on my own - we just have to wait until May 14, when the trilogy starts on PC and consoles of both generations.

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