The best Mass Effect mods were treated as a baseline for graphical enhancements by BioWare when the games were remastered for Legendary Edition. The studio also worked with several modders to ensure that the new versions of the classic space opera trilogy about the dangers of dating a colleague would be just as tweakable, if not more so.
Thanks to modding tools and countermeasures software, they finally are.
To install most of these mods, you need ME3Tweaks Mod Manager. It allows you to modify all three games in Legendary Edition, and you can also use it to modify the original versions, though all links here will be against the remasters. The Mod Manager also lets you back up the important files of each game, and each mod you download can be imported into a library before it is used.
It makes it easy to enable and disable most mods, but note that texture mods work differently – once installed on one of the Mass Effect games, you will not be able to modify it anymore. If these are graphical enhancements you are looking for, make sure you are happy with your loadout before adding a mod like ALOTT. Other than that, the loading order has no effect on Mass Effect mods. The sound you just heard is Skyrim modding that breathes a sigh of relief.
Not everyone noticed it, but in the original Mass Effect games, sprint only made you move faster during combat. The rest of the time, by holding down the button, you simply zoomed the camera out in a dramatic way to do so. seem as if you were driving faster while rolling over the citadel once more. (Speedrunners used to throw grenades at their feet, so Shepard would get hurt, fooling the game into thinking they were in a fight to activate the version of sprint that actually made them move faster.)
Legendary Edition fixes this, and sprinting really makes you go faster. However, it keeps the first two games’ absurdly short limit on how far you can run before you get tired. The Unlimited Sprint mod extends this duration – it’s not really unlimited, but it’s such a huge increase in Shepard’s endurance that you rarely reach the end. It also removes the limit of Mako’s boost in ME1.
Having downloaded gigabytes of improvements to all three games, I can confidently say that being able to move on really is the most significant improvement an impatient player can make.
Pinnacle Station was an extension to the first game developed by an external studio, and thanks to corrupt source code, it had to be omitted from Legendary Edition – restoring it would have delayed its release by six months. For DLC that was never as beloved as Lair of the Shadow Broker or Citadel, it was not worth it. Modders have no such concerns, and Pinnacle Station was rescued from the rock floor by the ME3Tweaks team.
This DLC adds a training facility that Shepard can visit to hone their skills while hunting Saren. Inside its simulator, you battle virtual enemies in four different modes across multiple maps, working your way up a ranked ladder. There’s a small side quest involving a soldier accused of hacking the simulator and an apartment that Shepard can hang out in.
The modded version actually fixes some bugs found in the original, and enhances it with music and rebalanced matches to fit the Legendary Editions changed match. It’s quite an achievement.
In ME1, it’s just part of the game to jump back and forth between your journal and the galaxy map to figure out where to go for various side quests. A really boring part of the game. Galaxy Map Trackers removes that frustration and puts labels for all of these UNC tasks on the map screen. Even the ones you have not triggered yet are there, marked with ‘Anomaly’.
One drawback is that if a task happens to be in the same cluster as a main mission, the side quest label takes precedence. You will need to click around to find out where e.g. Feros is. Still, it’s probably a minor annoyance, as there are only a handful of story missions in ME1, and they’re easier to keep track of than the rest of the game, which is an explosion at the sidequest factory.
During your last confrontation with Saren, he brags about how Sovereign upgraded him after your match at Virmire, yet he looks exactly alike throughout the game. In hindsight, it’s a little strange that the Council was so confident in him when he got bolted a getharm on. Concept art makes it seem as if the intention was that Saren should only look like he does during the finale, and become more inhuman every time he performs, and that’s what Saren Stages does.
It comes with an option to give the Saren black robes and look more like the concept art in his first scenes, or an option to keep his armored, military look but downplay the mechanical elements.
A major overhaul of Normandy and the things you can do on it in ME3, the Galaxy expands adds a firing range to the ship, lets you assign secondary officer positions as well as doctors, Marines and engineers, gives teammates extra casual clothing to wear, and more. (The free EGM Armors add, as the name suggests, additional armor.)
EGM’s quality of life enhancements include one that lets you choose whether to slow down every time you pass the scanner or not, and that alone makes it important to me. The tweak that makes Shepard hold the right weapon in cutscenes is also compatible with ME2.
If you’re annoyed about having to play Circle Frogger in ME1 when examining an alien artifact or hacking a door, remove it against it. When you open a locked container, you will have the option to play the game or bypass it with omni-gel as usual, except that the omni-gel cost will be reduced to zero. However, you still get XP so you will not be underdeveloped just because you are lazy.
Mission-related mini-games remain, so you still have to make the Towers of Hanoi puzzle on Noveria, and it will cost omni-gel to bypass the mini-games when you activate the transmission tower and deactivate fusion torches in Bring Down the Sky. But most of the time you will be able to ignore them.
There are also Skip Minigames for LE2 if ME2’s hacking games are the ones you want to do away with. You can get rid of them completely, or make the hacking screen appear as usual, but defeat it with a single click if you find it more satisfying.
Similarly, One Probe All Resources trivializes Mass Effect 2’s planet scan. I once met a couple playing ME2 together and sent the controls back and forth because one of them enjoyed the battle while the other enjoyed the meditative planet scan. However, if this is not your thing, this one allows you to deplete any resource on a planet as well as bring any anomalies on the surface up with a single probe. The elevated graphs that show every resource you receive at once and peak so high that they somehow break the user interface are pretty good.
Photo mode is nice, but it would certainly be nice to be able to move the camera further away. With this mod for ME1 you can. There is also improved photo mode (LE2) and improved photo mode (LE3) for the successors. All three deactivate the collision and allow you to speed up the camera with the numeric keypad: pressing 2 sets it to double speed, 3 to triple speed, and 1 returns it to default.
Being able to turn off Mass Effects vignetting in photo mode – this is what makes the corners of the screen dark to draw your eyes towards the center – makes it clear how aggressively the effect is implemented in these games. If it bothers you in the way that lens radiance, chromatic aberration, motion blur, depth of field and all the other cinematic graphic effects seem to disturb people, Vignette Remover makes it up.
(Spoilers for ME3 ahead.) The Happy Ending mod is a bit misnamed as it reinstates cut-dialogue to expand Admiral Anderson’s dying words and make that scene even more sad than it already was – there’s a standalone mod called Anderson’s Final Conversation Restored if that’s the only change you want.
Beyond that, this one cuts out against the catalyst, also known as Starchild, by simply having Shepard press a button to start the end, where all the harvesters are destroyed (you know, the red one), while it unfolds if you has a high enough Effective military strength score to watch the epilogue in which Shepard survives.
The courage also erases the scenes of Normandy crashing into a random garden world, and any hint that the mass doctrines were damaged. It removes the more controversial elements at the end, but if your beef was that so much went inexplicably, The Unofficial Mass Effect 3 Epilogue Slides might be for you. It’s not a mod, just a site that asks for some details about your playthrough and then presents page after page with fan-written follow-ups to fill in the blanks regarding the state of the galaxy and all your companions after the finale.
The community patch compiles a large number of bug fixes for ME1. Did you know that Legendary Edition got rid of the flash on the galaxy map that guided you toward unmarked points of interest in the asteroid belts? With this courage, it’s back. It also sets a flag for Conrad Verner to correctly remember which option you chose when you spoke to him, though it will take a similar patch for ME2 to get that flag to trigger the unused dialogue that Paragon players otherwise never got to see. Meanwhile, there’s Conrad Verner Remembers, a solution that adds a picture of him to your cabin you’re looking at to set the flag, and Conrad No Apology for ME3.
There is also a LE3 Community Patch for the third game, and one for the second game is underway.
If Legendary Edition graphics are not improved enough for you, these mods will push them even further. To install A Lot of Textures, you need a separate program called MassEffectModder. It will take a while to install both the textures and the upscaled static lighting, which are available as a separate file for each game. Thanks to the way these games work, it will be for mods when you’re done – you will not be able to install more for the games you have restructured unless you first delete the game folder and reinstall it from scratch .
A lot of videos are an easier installation that works through ME3Tweaks just like the other mods on this list. It replaces the pre-rendered cutscenes with 4K versions running at 60fps instead of 30. Even if you do not have a 4K screen, the increased frame rate is a nice bonus.
Commander Shepard as Green Lantern? It just makes sense. Captain Marvel too. However, I’m not so convinced about the Harley Quinn outfit. This mod for ME2 and ME3 includes lots of new outfits that FemShep can wear, mostly based on superheroes, some of them bordering on NSFW. If you want to look like Samus from Metroid, then do it. You must first install Invisible Vanilla Armor Parts (LE2) and Invisible Vanilla Armor Parts (LE3).
While we’re at the more silly end of the modding spectrum, here’s one that replaces ME3’s reapers with fraudsters from Among Us. If you prefer something more classic, here’s a mod to swap them out with Thomas the Tank Engine. While you’re at it, why not replace the font of all ME2’s text with cartoon without, your absolute monster? Okay, we’re done here.