Game developer BioWare just released a new official remastered comparison trailer for upcoming collection Mass Effect Legendary Edition.
According to the developers, the goal for the remaster was to improve and enhance the visuals while staying true to the original aesthetics of the trilogy. It has become iconic and genre-defining, which is why it would be bad if they changed everything. They chose a remaster rather than a remake since it allowed them to build upon the original assets in a way that resembles the polishing phase in a normal development cycle. This also allowed them to take advantage of the much more modern hardware and software.
The development of this remaster took three phases, which are building the foundation, modernization efforts, and rebuilding worlds.
In Building the Foundation, they first identified and catalogued every asset in the trilogy. The Legendary Edition allowed up to 4K resolutions compared to the original that would go up to 1080p resolutions, but was often running at 720p or lower. To do this, they increased the engine limits on texture sizes so that the textures used now are now in their full resolutions.
In phase 2, this is where the art team was added to the main one. They started with the title that needed a lot of improvement, which was the original Mass Effect. They used the latest assets that were improved with updates or DLC. They used those as their base and then improved it further then ported it across the whole trilogy. This resulted in more consistent and higher-quality assets.
Cinematics in the trilogy were improved too. Whenever possible, the team would re-render the pre-rendered cutscenes in 4K. They revealed that if it was impossible to re-capture, they had to utilized an AI upscale program on the original uncompressed videos. They then tweaked the color correction, added or composited additional details and visual effects, and other improvements.
In phase 3, BioWare had to rebuild the worlds instead of just improving individual assets. They were now moving to make broader improvements to levels and features. All familiar locations have been improved with the new technology and has more texture and color to it compared to the original. In Eden Prime, they actually used assets from Mass Effect 3: From the Ashes DLC to incorporate the overall atmosphere and specific buildings.
The video shows a lot of the improvements from all phases. Mass Effect Legendary Edition is looking to be one hell of a remaster to check out when it lands on May 14 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC.