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Mass Effect: Legendary Edition uses Unreal Engine 3 for good reason according to the developers

Mass Effect Legendary Edition
(Image credit: BioWare)

Mass Effect: Legendary Edition won't be powered by Unreal Engine 4 when it releases later this year.

The modern remaster, which will be released on May 14, will be running on the older Unreal Engine 3, which is what was used by the original Mass Effect trilogy when it first came out.

According to BioWare project director Mac Walters, who worked on the original Mass Effect trilogy, the reasoning behind this move to not use the upgraded engine is to essentially maintain the feel of playing the original games in all their early 2000's glory.

Speaking at a presentation showing off Mass Effect: Legendary Edition, Walters explained: "One of the things we did early on, to sort of set some context, is we actually talked to the people at Epic and we said, 'What would this look like if we brought it into Unreal 4?'"

He goes on to say: "And it very quickly became clear that that level of jump would really change fundamentally what the trilogy was, how it felt, how it played."

Since Mass Effect: Legendary Edition is a modern remaster for current-gen consoles, you might think this to be something of a glaring oversight, or at the very least a fancy way of saying that this will just be a graphically better-looking version of Mass Effect, but there's seemingly a bit more to it than.

During the presentation, Walters dove a little deeper, explaining that some of the scripts in Unreal Engine 3 don't have an alternative to use in Unreal 4, which means that so much of the base game would have to be re-made from scratch as the older assets wouldn't have transferred over.

"Every moment, every scene, everything would have had to have been essentially redone from scratch and we knew, at that point, that we'd really be taking away from the essence and the spirit of what the trilogy was," Walters explained.

That's not to say that Mass Effect: Legendary Edition won't look good on the PS5 or Xbox Series X, with BioWare stating that it has added more rendering power to the game, implementing things like dynamic reflections on surfaces.

Not to mention the Legendary Edition will be able to hit 4K HDR and 60FPS on the PS4 Pro, PS5, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S and Xbox One, with the PC version having completely unlocked framerates. Along with the Mass Effect: Legendary Edition release date announcement this week, it's been a good week for N7 fans.

Itching to jump back into the role of Captain Shepard? See what's new in Mass Effect: Legendary Edition graphics comparison.

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Jack Webb

I'm a freelance reporter for Gamesradar - games and films are my jam, so you'll mostly find me gushing about my undying love of Xenoblade Chronicles, Lord of the Rings, and how Persona 4 Golden changed my life.