Maybe I’m missing something, but Mass Effect Legendary Edition’s new level scaling system has me baffled.
There are a lot of little changes beyond the graphical overhaul present in the new version of 2007 classic Mass Effect that’s included in Mass Effect Legendary Edition, the newly-released remaster. These range from changes to the way weapons handle and work to bug fixes and the like – but I just don’t get the new Level Scaling setting.
The original Mass Effect had a level cap of 60, which was admittedly fairly difficult to hit without jumping into new-game plus. The level scaling setting allows you to flick between two modes: the original classic leveling and new ‘Legendary Mode’ leveling – which changes up the XP distribution and level-up process, introducing a new level cap of 30.
The mode basically halves the levels you can gain in the first Mass Effect, but also doubles the amount of skill points received for each level gained. This means that you’ll level up less often than in the original game, but each time you do level up you’ll get more skill points. That balances things out so that when you hit the level cap of 30, you can still more or less max out all of the skills on Mass Effect’s skill tree.
So, I understand what it does – but I’m still not sure that I really understand the utility of the change. Is it to bring the first Mass Effect in line with the sequels, which both have 30-level basic progression? Has XP distribution been adjusted in such a way that it’s now easier to hit the level cap on your first run through?
It seems I’m not the only one confused; a thread on the Mass Effect reddit has people scientifically comparing XP gain and level ups between the two modes to try to figure out what exactly they’re doing.
If it’s all about letting people hit the level cap I sort of understand that, though at the same time I’m also not entirely on board with it. There’s a lot of joy in new game plus play-throughs of the first Mass Effect, perhaps thanks to its more in-depth RPG systems and mechanics when compared to its sequels. It’s also more fun to see different character origins and outcomes. By requiring you to play more than once to hit the level cap, the original release encouraged these actions.
For better or worse, the Legendary Edition wants you to forge on into Mass Effect 2 – and so perhaps the level scaling has been adjusted to ensure people can get the maximum bonus on their save file import into the second game.
If it is that, I’m even then still pretty puzzled; because honestly, who cares? The bonuses for importing a level cap Shepard into ME2 are pretty minor, maxing out at level 5. The games are too different for anything else. Mass Effect 2 to 3 is where proper, more cohesive character progression and skill continuity kicks in.