After months of leaks and speculation, Bioware finally revealed the Mass Effect Legendary Edition, a collection of the first three games in the franchise.
While fans will no doubt be looking to put on their N7 armour and head back out into the galaxy as Commander Shepard, there's a lot riding on this title – even though many will decry it as just a remaster.
Bioware Do We Go From Here?
Over the last console generation, Bioware released three titles, each progressively dipping in quality.
Dragon Age: Inquisition, the third in the studio's fantasy RPG franchise, won multiple Game of the Year awards. While not the kind of game that defined a generation, it was an early example of a solid adventure with some neat ideas and great characters.
2016's Mass Effect: Andromeda was dismissed as a hollow imitation of the original trilogy, although it's actually a pretty fun spacefaring romp now that the bugs are gone.
The latest, Anthem, was an attempt at a live-service game that lacked many of the fundamentals, allegedly due to leadership issues and an inability to follow the key learnings of other titles (according to this report from Kotaku).
It's reductive, sure, to boil down those years between multiple studios into three titles, but the downward trend is undeniable.
It's telling, then, that with Mass Effect on somewhat of a hiatus since Andromeda that Bioware is currently working on Dragon Age 4 instead.
Arguably the studio's biggest franchise, the remaster has a lot to prove.
The Shepard Is My Lord
The remaster offers an interesting choice for Bioware. Do they upscale the resolution and present the game as it was, or do they look to refine some of the rougher edges.
The first Mass Effect, for example, still requires players to press the "Back" button on Xbox to throw a grenade – a hallmark of a game that was more RPG than shooter (something the following games improved upon).
The trilogy has been available on PC for years, and with that comes a huge number of mods. The community has tweaked away at the games for the better part of a decade at this point, meaning Bioware is faced with the unenviable task of going one better.
"Our goal was not to remake or reimagine the original games, but to modernize the experience so that fans and new players can experience the original work in its best possible form", Casey Hudson notes in the blog post announcing the remaster.
Here's hoping that the combat mechanics from Mass Effect 2 or 3 find their way into the original game, for example, or that those famous elevator rides are made just a little easier to bear.
This is a chance for Bioware to return to some of their finest work, building out their space opera for a new generation of gamers.
Of course, the game's release on Xbox One and PS4 (as well as PC) feels perhaps poorly timed given the arrival of newer, more powerful consoles. Hudson promises "forward compatibility and targeted enhancements on Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5", but what that could be is anyone's guess.
For now, we know that three of the greatest RPGs ever made will be re-released in 4K, with "faster framerates, and beautiful visual enhancements", and while that'll be enough to get us through to Spring 2021, fans will undoubtedly want more tangible upgrades as we get closer.