Mass Effect Doesn’t Need to Be Remastered. Seriously.

If what was trending on Facebook last week is any indication, there are quite a few fans who are upset that the Mass Effect trilogy is not likely to be remastered in the near future. Frankly, I don’t get why that’s a point of irritation. I mean, sure. The first Mass Effect was released back…




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If what was trending on Facebook last week is any indication, there are quite a few fans who are upset that the Mass Effect trilogy is not likely to be remastered in the near future. Frankly, I don’t get why that’s a point of irritation.

I mean, sure. The first Mass Effect was released back in 2007. Graphics have changed a lot in the last decade, and the game does look a bit dated. But ME3 was released in March of 2012. That’s not even five years. While there have been graphical advances since then, I hardly think it’s worth the massive effort it would take to remaster the game.

Jack and Female Shepherd in Mass Effect 3 Cutscene
If you think this looks bad, you’re probably spoiled

The possible remaster for Mass Effect recently made headlines when EA executive Patrick Soderlund said in an interview that BioWare would like to remaster some of their older titles. Some fans took this to mean that a Mass Effect remaster could be in the works, but this idea was shot down by another EA exec, Peter Moore, who says that the team wants to be “focused on delivering for the future.”

(The article I read was in International Business Times. You can read the article for yourself.)

Naturally, fans took to Facebook and Twitter to express their disappointment, which is really stupid. First, no one said that there were active plans to remake Mass Effect. For those who have forgotten, there are a number of other IPs in BioWare’s back catalogue, including Neverwinter Knights, Knights of the Old Republic, and Jade Empire – all of which would benefit from a major overhaul more than the Mass Effect trilogy. Folks heard talk of remastering old titles and assumed Mass Effect. There’s an old adage about the word ‘assume,’ so don’t make an ass of yourself.

A scene from Neverwinter Nights
A scene from Neverwinter Nights

ME2 and 3 look perfectly fine today and are just as playable as they ever were. Graphics have improved a lot, but not enough to make Mass Effect 2 look bad. I play it on a six-year old 360 with a crappy TV and it still looks good, so don’t tell me it needs to be remastered.

My second point is this: the only Mass Effect that would really benefit from a remaster is the first one, but even there a straight remaster wouldn’t be enough to bring it up to speed with the latter two games. The entire dynamic of the game is different. Where the second two games focused on cinematic narratives placed on carefully crafted worlds, the engine for the first game was built almost entirely around the Mako. It lacks the carefully crafted appearance and cinematic appeal  of the rest of the series. A remaster wouldn’t fix the mechanic of driving the Mako over increasingly repetitive terrain on cookie-cutter planets across the galaxy. The game would still stand out from the latter titles, remaster or not. And while Mass-Effect-with-new-graphics would be cool, I’d much rather have a new game entirely. I’ve already poured over 100 hours into the first Mass Effect. I don’t need to revisit it a fourth time.

Let’s Talk About Remastered Games

Remastering classic games has become something pretty popular in the last few years. There has been an increasing interest in nostalgia and classic games from the ‘80s and ‘90s, leading to both nostalgic Kickstarter releases of new games and modern hi-def remasters of classic titles. The first two Monkey Island games were remade in 2009 and 2010, respectively. Those same two respective years saw the re-release of remastered editions of the first two Broken Sword point-and-clicks, which I have described as the last great adventure game series of the last millennium. Grim Fandago was remastered in 2015, and a Kickstarter was recently successfully funded to remaster the original System Shock from 1994.

Monkey Island 1990/2009
Monkey Island 1990/2009

Do you know what the difference is between these titles and a remaster of Mass Effect? All of those games were made using truly obsolete graphics. The first Monkey Islands were created before the first game was ever put onto a CD-ROM. System Shock and Grim Fandango date back to a time when CGI animation was very rudimentary, and the first System Shock is so dated that it’s almost unplayable graphically. A remaster of 19- and 22-year-old games is perfectly reasonable. Is a remaster of a 5-year-old game reasonable?

Which brings me to Bethesda and Skyrim. The fifth entry into the Elder Scrolls pantheon was released in 2011, and the graphics at the time were phenomenal. I have played the game on ultra-high graphics on my PC, and the graphics are still phenomenal. Maybe they aren’t quite on par with The Witcher III, but there is four years’ difference between the two. Why on earth do I want to shell out another $60 for a game I already own that doesn’t even add any new content? Are you seriously telling me that I and hundreds of thousands of other people have waited half a decade for a new Elder Scrolls game just to have an old release thrown back at us? Even if they are including all the DLC with the Skyrim remaster, that’s still $60 I would much rather spend on a new game.

Speaking with my coworkers at McDonald’s, it’s obvious that a lot of people believe that the Skyrim remaster is restoring a ton of unfinished content (one claims 100 hours worth of game play), as well as adding virtual reality support. Unfortunately, those are just rumors. Hype. Not an ounce of it is true. These guys are going to shell out that extra $60, and they’re going to be pretty disappointed.

I just don’t understand why people are clamoring for Mass Effect: Remastered. Personally, I feel that I’ve already spent enough money on the Mass Effect trilogy. I would much rather invest in a new game then spend $60 to play three games I already own, just because they have revamped graphics.