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Mass Effect Legendary Edition Graphical Enhancements Are Based On Fan-Made Mods

Mass Effect Legendary Edition’s many graphical improvements were achieved using AI upscaling techniques that Bioware originally discovered in fan mods. The devs aimed for better results than the mods, as they have access to the original, uncompressed assets.

On the popular Nexus website, mods like A Lot Of Textures for the Mass Effect trilogy were downloaded more than a million times, with A Lot of Videos also having hundreds of thousands of downloads. Both projects aim to increase the texture and video resolution in the classic games, and Bioware is not only aware of them but used them as a bottom-line benchmark while working on the re-release.

Speaking to PC Gamer, Bioware’s Mac Walters confirmed the developers “actually early on looked at some mods,” considering them the studio’s minimum bar for graphical enhancement. The developers have even spoken privately to some modders about how they can work together. Walters believes “the modders have limited access to the game’s assets, while the developers have full access” and much more resources.

Legendary Edition environment director Kevin Meek said he was initially skeptical of AI upscaling mods, though he ended up really impressed after a closer look. According to Meek, these results have given the devs “the confidence to follow this path.” The team got to work on the uncompressed source, full-resolution textures, and that was far more effective.

Mass Effect’s new visual enhancements are not only limited to AI-upscaled textures or improved cinematics. The team has to manually tweak every character model in the trilogy. Bioware has also reworked the lighting and shadows, added new environmental particle effects, and changed the entire mood of several scenes, mainly in the first entry.

It looks like many developers are paying attention to the fan work these days while considering re-issue. For example, recently we learned that CD Projekt Red might include fan-made mods, such as The Witcher 3 HD Reworked, for the game’s next-gen update. CDPR said the studio “does not have any binding agreements at this time,” so it’s yet to be seen.

Mass Effect Legendary Edition will have Quality and Framerate modes on all platforms. PC players can expect 240 fps, while console players will get up to 120 fps. The anthology will require almost 85 GB of free space on Xbox, and roughly 80 GB on PlayStation.

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