10 Technical Changes Between Mass Effect 1 and 2

BioWare’s decision to release a remastered Mass Effect collection has forever been near the top of fans’ video game wish lists. With Mass Effect Legendary Edition, old fans get to re-experience a beloved series with improved graphics and gameplay (and plenty of mods). But newcomers get the opportunity to see what all the fuss is about, too.

The Mass Effect series has some of the best story elements in RPG history. From the immense details of the varying alien worlds to the frightening imminent arrival of the genocidal Reapers, BioWare developed a space adventure like no other.

While Mass Effect excels in the narrative department, the first game was hampered by questionable technical decisions that we wish BioWare would’ve fixed for the collection. Nevertheless, BioWare did make major adjustments in the sequel, Mass Effect 2, that elevated the gameplay to higher levels.

10 Gun Ammo Vs. Overheating

Although Mass Effect 1 presented a brilliant opening act in the trilogy, its gunplay and overall combat were subpar. Guns in the first game operated on a cooldown system, meaning, Commander Shepard and the crew’s weaponry did not require ammo or reloading. The cooldown system wasn’t necessarily at fault for the poor combat in Mass Effect 1, but it certainly didn’t help the issue.

Adjusting to traditional ammo and reloading helps the flow of combat in Mass Effect 2. The majority of shooters utilize normal ammo and reload functions, making that change a familiarity to the sequel’s gameplay. Picking up ammo will restock Shepard’s weapons to the max, so having to frantically search for ammo shouldn’t be an issue.

9 Vault Over Cover

Finding a suitable cover position in the middle of a firefight can be the difference between life and death. In Mass Effect 1, Shepard must’ve lacked upper body strength because they were unable to vault over cover to advance on defeated enemies. Things have changed this time around, as the Commander can fully scale over obstructions to gain better tactical positioning.

Like the newly added gun ammo, being able to vault over cover reinforces and improves Mass Effect’s action. There are still moments where Shepard will hide behind the wrong side or seem to be superglued to the cover, but overall this feature has improved. BioWare even designed certain environments that could only be accessed through vaulting.

8 Weapon Loadouts

Mass Effect 1 suffered from its generic, yet awkward, inventory system. There was no real sense of organizational thought put into its structure. Weapons discovered in the wild could not be compared with currently equipped weapons, allowing Shepard’s inventory space to grow exponentially. Armor sets that weren’t compatible with certain characters were still visible on the menu with the inability to just hide them.

To clean up the inventory, BioWare essentially scrapped the inventory system completely and replaced it with loadouts. Shepard will still find weapons and armor sets, but the amount got drastically reduced. There’s no time wasted trying to compare weapon stats. Once players find a suitable gun, there’s a good chance that it’ll be in the loadout for the entire game. Unlike Mass Effect 1, not every character can use every gun, so consider that, along with power sets, in determining Shepard’s fireteam.

7 No Visible Sprint Bar

Even though Mass Effect is widely praised, it still contains plenty of flaws. Many of the flaws are more annoyances as they don’t hinder the overall gameplay. But one flaw that should not be brushed aside is Shepard’s lack of conditioning.

Commander Shepard is the first human Spectre in existence. They saved the galaxy from a brainwashed Spectre and prevented galactic genocide from the Reapers. So why can’t they sprint for more than 10 seconds? At least in Mass Effect 1, players could see when Shepard was about to become fatigued. For some reason, BioWare removed the ability to see the sprint bar but didn’t improve Shepard’s actual sprinting.

6 Security Bypass

Releasing in 2007, Mass Effect contains a lot of functions that many current players might consider prehistoric. When trying to hack security consoles for gear or credits, players would have to complete a rather simple button copying task, similar to Simon Says. There was a varying level of difficulty, but it only amounted to adding an extra one or two buttons to the sequence.

BioWare properly improved on that feature by completely scrapping the Simon Says task and replacing it with matching conduits and lines of code. Some locked objects require Shepard to match a set of three or four conduits, while others task them with selecting the proper code sequence.

5 No Active Mini-map

BioWare’s decision to remove the mini-map from Shepard’s active HUD in Mass Effect 2 is a puzzling one. Instead of having the map permanently on-screen, players must click on the analog sticks for the mini-map to flash on-screen with an indicator for the current objective.

Not having a permanent mini-map also affects Mass Effect 2’s combat. Instead of always knowing where enemies are, players are essentially blind to pinpoint locations. However, players can see where enemies are when they bring up the weapons or ammo power wheel.

4 Mission Recap

To properly showcase the benefits of each mission, BioWare added a recap screen after every completed mission. The recaps summarize what Shepard and their crew accomplished, how many credits and experience points were earned, and any weapons or armor schematics unlocked.

Mass Effect 2 has more RPG-type systems than its predecessors, such as adding in the planetary resources to upgrade the Normandy crew and the ship. The added resources mixed in with the returning galactic credit system might cause some confusion, so implementing a recap helps players stay organized.

3 Scan Planets

Sometimes, the Normandy stumbled upon a planet in Mass Effect 1 that it either couldn’t land on or simply not part of the mission. But there would be a short description of the world. For Mass Effect 2, BioWare developed a bit more of an incentive for intergalactic adventurers.

Instead of finding minerals scattered on the planet’s surface by using the Mako, the Normandy upgraded its scanning capabilities. Now, the Normandy can scan planets from orbit to collect precious mineral resources to further upgrade weapons, armor, powers, and various systems on the ship. Planets are labeled by how lush with resources they are: Rich, Moderate, Good, Poor, and Depleted.

2 Fuel Depots

The Galaxy Map makes its return as being the primary method of interstellar travel. In Mass Effect 1, Shepard would access the map from the center of the Normandy and navigate to which system and planet to land. In the sequel, BioWare expanded the Normandy functionality in regards to the Galaxy Map.

When Shepard interacts with the map and selects a different system, a cut scene will appear as the Normandy blasts through a mass relay. Once the scene ends and brings the Galaxy Map back onscreen, if the destination is outside the system where the mass relay connects to, then the Normandy must use fuel to travel to the other star system. Fuel can be purchased at Fuel Depots, which are typically located near mass relays. If the Normandy runs out of fuel, the ship’s artificial intelligence, EDI, will re-fill the fuel gauge with some of the mineral resources found from scanning planets.

1 Paragon/Renegade In-Game Moments

One of the major positives about Mass Effect is how deep its dialogue options are. The first game introduced the Paragon and Renegade system, in other words, good versus evil. A moral system isn’t new to RPGs, but BioWare did an amazing job with consequences and how one playthrough wouldn’t be the same as another.

To up the ante a bit, BioWare introduced in-game moral opportunities that could greatly influence that given situation. Some might include a Paragon opportunity to save a hostage, instead of harming or killing them to get the mission completed, or a Renegade opportunity to knock out an unsuspecting Batarian. The added twist is not all Renegade options are necessarily “evil” because sometimes a Renegade act might help in the long run. Adding the in-game moments also forces players to give Mass Effect 2 their undivided attention.

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