Though the sales figures aren’t public yet, it’s safe to assume that Mass Effect Legendary Edition has been a massive success for EA and Bioware. The updated graphics and modernized features have certainly impressed fans of the series, and while newcomers and those with accessibility needs might be slightly less enthusiastic about the remaster, it’s clear that the collection has moved a lot of copies. There’s a good chance EA is already in the process of looking for the next trilogy to remaster. Dragon Age might seem like a safe bet, especially with Dragon Age 4 on the horizon, but if I was Mr. EA right now, I’d be doing everything in my power to make a Dead Space Legendary Edition happen ASAP.
The Dead Space trilogy is desperately in need of a Mass Effect-style remaster. In fact, I would argue that a Legendary Edition makeover would serve Dead Space even better than Mass Effect. The two series have a lot in common already. Mass Effect and Dead Space had an alternating release schedule throughout the late 2000s and early 2010s (2007, 2010, and 2012 for Mass Effect; 2008, 2011, and 2013 for Dead Space) and both moved in a more action-heavy and narratively controversial direction as the series progressed. Mechanically, however, Dead Space may actually hold up better than Mass Effect. The one thing that the series needs the most right now is just a fresh coat of paint. While the Mass Effect remasters didn’t make enough changes to improve the original games’ quality of life, the fewer changes made to Dead Space, the better.
Dead Space’s greatest strength is its atmosphere and pacing — two qualities that make the game, at least the first one, practically timeless. Like the best Resident Evil games, Dead Space’s environments and level design still feel modern and accessible. The labyrinthine space stations, each splattered with gore and retrofitted with Cronenbergian meat structures, are rich with environmental storytelling and seeping with dread. The moment-to-moment gameplay is anxiety-inducing even today, despite some of the outdated graphics and numerous bugs. The same can’t really be said about Mass Effect, which shows its age every step of the way.
Mass Effect is beloved by its fans because of its story, characters, and world-building. Those are timeless qualities, but unfortunately, the combat and level design feel pretty outdated. The first Mass Effect, in particular, suffers from clunky cover-shooter sequences where enemies take repeated shots to the head without reacting until they die. Every level of Mass Effect feels like a series of endless, winding hallways filled with the same three enemy types. The Legendary Edition has done a lot to improve the gameplay, but not nearly enough. Shepard can now sprint out of combat, melee attacks now have their own button, and you can use any weapon with any class without penalty, but these changes weren’t nearly enough to make the combat feel modern. The Mako is probably the perfect microcosm for the Legendary Edition’s updated gameplay. It was terrible in the original. Now it’s better, but it’s still kind of bad.
A Dead Space remaster, on the other hand, could probably leave almost all of the gameplay alone and it would still feel great to play. The biggest issues with playing Dead Space in 2021 are just visual flaws and bugs. Particle effects like electric currents, sparks, and flames could be vastly improved. Isaac’s gravity tether looks particularly dated with stringy white lines that connect his hand to distant objects. These kinds of fixes, as well as some fancy new ray-tracing, would go a long way in making Dead Space playable in the modern era. The Dead Space games are also known to be fairly buggy. Sometimes when Isaac reloads he will animate as if he’s loading a different gun. Brutes can sometimes run right through Isaac without knocking him down. There are also a few game-breaking bugs, especially in the zero-g sections. If a remaster could fix these issues and spruce up the graphics, it would be a dream come true for Dead Space fans.
The big elephant in the room, of course, is Dead Space 3. A game that, much like Mass Effect 3, is generally regarded as the weakest entry in the series. Unless Dead Space 3 were to get a full-blown remake ala Resident Evil 2, there’s not a lot that a remaster could do to fix the game’s biggest problems. Dead Space 3 lost a lot of the tone and atmosphere from the first two games. For many, it lost the heart and soul of the series by leaning too hard into action and spectacle. While the criticisms are fair, I think a remaster would also give us an opportunity to re-evaluate both the game and the series as a whole. Mass Effect Legendary Edition has certainly given a lot of us a new perspective of the series, including Mass Effect 3, and has even led some to re-examine the much-maligned Mass Effect: Andromeda. It’s likely, then, that a remaster would give new life to Dead Space 3 and allow some to appreciate the game in a new light. Maybe Dead Space 3 was ahead of its time, and only a fancy remaster can show us the error of our ways.
The Mass Effect trilogy needed a lot of updates, but by comparison, Dead Space needs relatively little to bring it up to today’s standards. If EA is looking for another trilogy to remaster, and it should be, then Dead Space is unequivocally the way to go.
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