“Well over thirty thousand” textures tweaked.
Just a week ago, BioWare was waggling its seductive wares at Mass Effect fans by breaking down the various tweaks and enhancements included in its upcoming Legendary Edition remasters. Things are getting a bit more specific this time around, however, with the developer now taking time to highlight the visual improvements purchasers can expect when the trilogy hits Xbox, PlayStation, and PC on 14th May.
“Our goal from the onset,” BioWare explains, “was to improve and enhance the visuals while staying true to the original aesthetics of the trilogy that have become so iconic and genre-defining over the past decade. A remaster rather than remake allowed us to build upon the original assets in a way that resembles the polishing phase in a normal development cycle, while also being able to utilise the advantages of much more modern hardware and software.”
BioWare’s blog post then offers a detailed breakdown of the three-pronged process the developer undertook when assessing and, eventually, implementing its art adjustments for the Legendary Edition. The highlights, however, include the fact the studio ultimately made the decision to improve every single texture in the Mass Effect trilogy in order to make the most of newly supported 4K resolutions – meaning “well over thirty thousand individual textures” were massaged into the modern era.
BioWare says it also identified the assets, including characters and generic props, that appeared across multiple games, then took the best version available, made further improvements, and ported them across all three titles to create a “more consistent and higher-quality” look – although it notes it trod carefully to ensure the process “didn’t flatten the sense of the passage of time and the overall narrative.”
Elsewhere, the developer tweaked lighting and shadows to ensure all three Legendary Edition entries reflected the learnings implemented in later games, and its artists even populated the trilogy’s more barren areas with props as part of a pass to eliminate assets or locations that were felt to visually detract from the overall experience.
There’s a lot more detail in the blog post – BioWare says textures and material were adjusted to react to light more realistically, for instance, while VFX and shaders for skin, hair, and eyes also saw improvements – but the proof, as they say, is in the pudding. So wrap your eye-mouth around the before-and-after comparison video above to learn more.
Whether BioWare’s changes ultimately improve or compromise the original experience is probably down to personal taste, but it’s clear an admirable degree of thought and dedication has gone into the development of Mass Effect’s Legendary Edition. We will, of course, be able to draw more definitive conclusions about the remasters come 14th May.