As reported recently, the rumoured Mass Effect Trilogy remaster has been delayed until 2021. The report indicates the reason for this being the original Mass Effect “currently does not live up to the quality of the rest of the package”. It’s important to note this remaster is still not officially confirmed, it’s just been the subject of multiple leaks, depicting it as a terribly kept secret.
Regardless of its existence or not, talk of the original Mass Effect not living up to its sequels is something worth thinking about. For those who don’t know, Mass Effect is a sci-fi series where you play as customisable protagonist Commander Shepard. Shepard leads a team to stop a machine race known as The Reapers from destroying all advanced sentient life in the galaxy.
A delay to better align the original with its two sequels may just be to enhance the graphics. However, it would more likely involve improving some gameplay mechanics. Mass Effect 2 released three years after the original, sporting several major gameplay changes – including a better cover system, simplified loot system, simplified customisation and a more action style approach to the gameplay. Mass Effect 2was also more linear and focused as opposed to the original’s open-world planets.
While some indeed prefer the first game’s style, it feels there is a general consensus that its sequels are the peak of the series and have aged far better.
If this remaster rumour is accurate and more time is being put into the first game, it is unlikely any fundamental changes will be made. We are unlikely to see a massive overhaul to the gameplay and level design that would involve new dialogue recordings or environmental redesigns. Too many changes would alienate fans of the original game and risk it straying too far from the original vision.
The likely gameplay changes, if any, would be quality of life improvements. I believe we could see improvements to the cover system and tighter, more responsive controls. This would especially be needed for the infamous Mako – a tank vehicle you can drive during the game. I think we are also likely to see a more refined user interface.
While these improvements would certainly alter the original game’s feeling, I believe it would help align Shepard in the original Mass Effect better with the faster paced action hero we embody in the two sequels. The Mako sections would benefit by feeling less comical and more serious. The first game’s narrative stakes aren’t lower than those of its sequels and I believe a more intense, fast paced gameplay would give it a more immersive feeling.