So, earlier this year, EA announced that they like money (no surprises there) and that they’re extremely interested in profiting off our nostalgia by remastering several beloved games from their back catalogue. Without missing a beat, players gleefully interpreted this little kernel of news as ‘a remastered Mass Effect Trilogy is in development!’
It’s easy to get swept up in this line of wishful thinking. I mean, I did. So much so that it got me daydreaming about how BioWare has the unique opportunity to ‘do a George Lucas’ and change a lot more with these games beyond a simple remaster. With that in mind, here’s my no-holds-barred wishlist on how the Mass Effect games could be zhuzhed up for a re-release.
Except for the Galaxy Map music. That is objectively perfect. If BioWare fiddles with it, there’ll be hell to pay.
1. Rethink the Mako
Even the games’ most generous fans admit that only a mother could love Mass Effect’s Mako driving sections… probably because it handles like a cinder block with D20s for wheels. The obvious fix would be to outright remove the Mako, but I think that’s a bad shout. Instead, they should rework the Mako by taking a page out of Final Fantasy XV’s book and double down on the road trip vibe.
Picture it now. Shepard and his team are kicking back in an open-top Mako, cruising around a planet’s surface. In the rear view mirror, Shepard spots Garrus cosying up to a magazine. “What’re you reading there, Garrus?” asks Shepard. Without even looking up, Garrus warmly replies, “Just reading about an Asari vineyard on Thessia that’s said to produce some of the finest wines in the galaxy. When this is all over, maybe we should celebrate with a bottle.” Mass Effect’s best moments have always been the little scenes where Shepard bonds with the crew. This overhaul would nicely facilitate more of these quirky interactions. Plus, who doesn’t want to play ‘Eye Spy’ with this crew?
2. Face up those faces
Having just replayed the trilogy, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the writing and voice acting still hold up. What hasn’t aged quite as gracefully are the facial animations, particularly the human and Asari faces. Several emotional moments are stilted since everyone has that glassy-eyed ‘BioWare Face’ that’s incapable of conveying any emotion more complex than ‘did I leave the stove on?’ Also, is it just me, or does every human look a bit shiny? Light bounces off foreheads and cheekbones as if organic skin was replaced by the same plastic used for Buzz Lightyear’s face. BioWare needs to hire an eyebrow animation specialist, or just someone with the power to defeat the uncanny valley – Mass Effect characters deserve to look better than this.
Also, on the topic of faces, we don’t ever need to see Tali’s face. Less is more.
3. Elevators are Obsolete
Despite the Citadel being the most advanced technological marvel in universal existence, I’d rather jettison myself out the nearest airlock than ride another one of its elevators. Previously used to mask load times, Mass Effect’s lengthy elevator rides will effectively be rendered obsolete if next-gen consoles can deliver on the promise of ultra-fast SSD loading. So scrap the old ways. Instead, I imagine a Mass Effect game where the entire Citadel is rendered as one giant, seamless environment to explore without the hassle of loading screens. Gotta travel long distances? No problem! My dream Citadel would be connected by elevators that function more like those pneumatic tubes in Futurama, swiftly ferrying people around in real time. This transportation system not only screams sci-fi, it’ll give the Citadel a new-found sense of scale and architecture, as next-gen hardware could finally give the Mass Effect games the tech needed to realise BioWare’s vision for this world.
The downside of this is we’d lose an excuse to listen to galactic radio or more tasty nuggets of character dialogue that filled the awkward silence of elevator rides. All the more reason to retrofit the chatter to my revamped Mako concept above.
4. Just… get rid of James
The dude looks like he got lost on his way to a Gears of War audition, and now he’s past the point of admitting his mistake. Seriously, he’s the only brand new squadmate in Mass Effect 3, and he’s cracking jokes like he’s been here since the beginning. You ain’t my friend “bro”! His sole purpose in life is to sit in your Squad Selection menu, screaming “Pick me, pick me!” like he’s desperate to get drafted for Shepard’s dodgeball team. Just… end this bench warmer’s suffering and scrub him from the game. Or, better yet, turn him into a Krogan! He’s already a hunky meathead, so the swap would be seamless! Then maybe, just maybe, I’d dare to take him out on missions.
5. Fix the Ending, Damnit!
Finally, the elephant in the room. There was outcry after players discovered that none of Shepard’s choices mattered leading up to the final moments. Instead, they got to pick from a set menu of three outcomes – all of which were underwhelming. The Extended Cut DLC did some welcomed damage control, but now BioWare at long last can give die-hard fans the ending they deserve: Shepard and Garrus enjoying a bottle of wine together as Earth explodes behind them in a fiery supernova, thus annihilating the Reapers.
In all seriousness though, a cheap and easy fix for this would be if Mass Effect 3 flagged up the existence of its Citadel DLC and strongly recommended players experience it before tackling the final battle. Not only did this DLC chapter allow the writers to flex their comedic muscles, it somehow ended up providing a better sense of closure to the saga than the game’s official ending.
Whatever the remaster decides to fix up, it’ll no doubt be a great excuse to step back onto the Normandy and hang out with the N7 crew. The worlds and characters BioWare created here are astonishingly detailed and worthy of adoration. A decent remaster would reaffirm this series’ legacy as one of the greats and maybe even prove there’s still an appetite for these games in a post-Andromeda world.
Writer of words for tired eyes and lover of games that make me smile. Blogger and YouTube content creator who can’t keep quiet when it comes to gaming. Don’t like my work? Fight me IRL in Smash Brothers.