It’s a long time overdue, but Mass Effect is finally getting a re-release with the upcoming Legendary Edition. The trilogy will have updated graphics, improved gameplay, and run in 4K at 60fps (unlocked for PC). However, you don’t have to wait until May to play a Mass Effect remaster.
Despite the impending May release of Mass Effect: Legendary Edition, there’s plenty of reasons to go ahead and play through the series right now. For one, the dialog and story of all three games are influenced by Shepherd’s actions and attitude. To truly see all that the trilogy has to offer, you should play through it twice, once following the Renegade path and once as a Paragon. Even taking the time to beat the games right now would still leave you with the possibility of doing another playthrough when Mass Effect: Legendary Edition releases.
Those that own the Mass Effect trilogy on PC can already access graphical updates, gameplay fixes and tweaks, and even entire feature overhauls for free. These games have enjoyed a dedicated modding community for years, which continues to improve upon the original foundation.
How to play a Mass Effect remaster right now
The first thing players need to do to remaster the trilogy with mods is purchase the Mass Effect games and their DLC on PC. Steam and Origin versions will both work, so if you already own them on one platform, you don’t have to buy them on another.
However, for those buying the series on PC for the first time, I recommend using Origin. The reason for this is that the Steam version of Mass Effect 2 requires you to manually download and install the DLC, which is inconvenient. Additionally, Mass Effect 3 on Steam has technical issues that don’t seem to affect the Origin version. Since they’re all available on EA Play, you can even save money by using a trial and playing through all three before it runs out.
Whatever avenue you decide to use to install the Mass Effect trilogy, keep in mind that the ME2 and ME3 DLC must be purchased separately. EA has thankfully done away with BioWare points, and it’s not a frustrating mess to buy the DLC now.
Once you have all the games and DLC installed, you’ll need to take a trip over to NexusMods. My suggestion is to open the A Lot Of Textures mod page for Mass Effect, Mass Effect 2, and Mass Effect 3 and study the readme there.
Installing Mass Effect mods seems more intimidating than it actually is. The big thing to remember is that content mods come before texture mods. This means that you should install ALOT, MEUITM, and ALOV last.
As for picking what other mods to use, I suggest going with the ALOT author’s suggestions found on the pages for that mod linked above. However, note that almost none of the mods need to be installed manually. You can download ME3Tweaks, which will find your Mass Effect installations and help you back them up. You can then just drag and drop the zip files for content mods onto the ME3Tweaks window, and it’ll automatically install them. On the off chance a mod isn’t compatible with ME3Tweaks, you’ll need to do a manual install, but that’s relatively rare.
Remaster Mods vs. Mass Effect: Legendary Edition
So, of course, there are some disadvantages to using mods over a professional remaster like Mass Effect: Legendary Edition. Most notably, the combat in the original Mass Effect has not aged well, and mods can only do so much. Mods also have to work within the original game engine framework, so limitations from then apply now as well. Again, the first Mass Effect is the title where these are most noticeable. Given that mods add elements to the game that the original developers didn’t plan for, you’ll likely also run into the occasional crash or bug.
It’s likely the devs have ported Mass Effect: Legendary Edition into Unreal Engine 4 or 5. As such, the trilogy will benefit from modern effects and will probably see performance boosts. EA has also said that some of the more annoying issues with combat in the original Mass Effect have been adjusted.
EA has made it clear that Mass Effect: Legendary Edition is targeting primarily visuals and performance. That means the added and restored content that mods to the original games bring will be unavailable, at least in the short term. The Mass Effect 3 Expanded Galaxy Mod, in particular, is an incredible piece of work that is vastly superior to the original, which I wouldn’t want to play without. Hopefully, mod creators will port these to the Legendary Edition so we can have the best of both worlds.