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All three remastered Mass Effect games and their DLC are 90% off on Steam

Reap the savings

Thane in a Mass Effect Legendary Edition screenshot.
Image credit: EA

I don't tend to do a lot of videogame discount posts because I have a mortal fear of enriching my backlog, but when I see the entire Mass Effect trilogy and all of its expansions for around the price of a slightly aristocratic sandwich, I am compelled to share. The Legendary Edition of BioWare's ravishing sci-fi RPG series is 90% off on Steam until 13th May. That translates to 6€, $6 or £5 for all three main games and 40 DLC packs, plus bells and whistles such as 4K Ultra HD and beefed-up character models. If you haven't played a Mass Effect game before, this is a pretty good place to start.

It's curious to think of somebody playing Mass Effect for the first time today, in that I can't disentangle my understanding of the series from my memories of how gaming has evolved both as an art-or-entertainment form, and as a community that continues to have a fractious relationship with wider culture. When I think of the first Mass Effect - which owes its existence partly to BioWare being denied the Star Trek license - I think not just of the janky combat, the exhilarating ambience of the Normandy and the mesmerising Vigil theme, but of Fox News attempting to make a controversy out of the game's sex scenes back in 2007. They brought on some guy called Geoff Keighley to serve as a punching bag, if memory serves.

The second game, for me, exists more as a set of design and narrative questions but also, as a vigorous anti-sequel: it's both a cleaner, more assured RPG shooter and the kind of thwarting of player investment and expectations many developers would fear to try. It begins by (spoilers, I guess?) trashing your ship and scattering your crew to the solar winds, who are very different people when you reunite with them years later. It then tries to demolish your crew again in the shape of an endgame mission which is very hard to clear without casualties.

Mass Effect 3, finally, is an apocalyptic spectacle both within the universe and in terms of fanbase management. It was saddled with the job of tying up two instalments worth of plot threads and branching choices. The backlash to its endings, which BioWare eventually changed via DLC, is... interesting to reflect on in today's service-game dystopia of perpetual updating. The game itself is very good, though not as lean and debonair as Mass Effect 2, which remains my favourite.

Strange memories on this misty London morning in 2024. If you've played the original games and would like to know what the remaster adds, know that it's not as Legendary as it could be. Or at least, that was Katharine's verdict back in 2021 when the Legendary edition launched. They've probably done a bit of updating in the meantime.

BioWare have struggled to follow the Mass Effect trilogy's success. Mass Effect: Andromeda was a bit of a turkey, though I thought its combat had sparkle. Mass Effect 5 is an unknown quantity, beyond the teaser video below, though we do know that the project's senior staff includes veterans of the first three games. Beyond that, there are a couple of forthcoming games from ex-Mass Effect talent that could be styled "spiritual successors": Exodus, which introduces the problem of time dilation, and the currently untitled first game from Mac Walters's new studio, Worlds Untold.

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