Official PlayStation Podcast Episode 395: Up To Bat

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This week the team steps up to bat and chats with Ramone Russell about new features coming to MLB The Show 21 and details on the Jackie Robinson Foundation MLB The Show Scholars supported by PlayStation Career Pathways Program. 

Stuff We Talked About

  • NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139…
  • Final Fantasy XIV
  • Returnal
  • Outriders
  • It Takes Two

The Cast

Tim Turi –  Senior Content Communications Specialist, SIE

Kristen Zitani – Content Communications Specialist, SIE

Brett Elston – Manager, Content Communications, SIE

Thanks to Cory Schmitz for our beautiful logo and Dormilón for our rad theme song and show music.

[Editor’s note: PSN game release dates are subject to change without notice. Game details are gathered from press releases from their individual publishers and/or ESRB rating descriptions.]

Share of the Week: Moonlight

Last week, we asked you to step into the moonlight and share your best moments with the moon using #PSShare #PSBlog. From well framed shots to stunning moonlit creations, here are this week’s highlights: 

Mudokons stare up at the moonlit sky in this Oddworld: Soulstorm share by NoomiPlay

PatmanVP perfectly frames the moon in this share from Ghost of Tsushima Legends.

The moon rises over this solemn scene from Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, shared by 3mpireTimes.

Spacer’s Choice MoonMan Helmets light up this vendor encounter from The Outer Worlds, shared by Nu_Lupo.

The Dark Knight descends over Gotham in this share from Batman Arkham Knight, shared by CaliOcelot.

MartinNebelong crafted a beautiful moonlit scene from scratch in Dreams.

Search #PSshare #PSBlog on Twitter or Instagram to see more entries to this week’s theme. Want to be featured in the next Share of the Week? 

THEME: Zoomed In

SUBMIT BY: Wednesday 9 AM PT on April 21

Next week, getting a macro view of your favorite games. Share zoomed in shots from the game of your choice using #PSshare #PSBlog for a chance to be featured. 

Want to share more of your epic photo mode moments? U.S. players can enter the Red Bull Capture Point competition* for the chance to win some thrilling prizes. See full details at

*Red Bull Capture Point Official Contest Rules:

THIS IS A SKILL CONTEST. MUST HAVE ACCESS TO PS4/5 CONSOLE, PLAYSTATION™NETWORK, TWITTER® ACCOUNT, AND THE PARTICIPATING GAME(S). Starts February 1, 2021, ends May 21, 2021. Open to legal US residents, 18+. To enter, capture in-game image and share on Twitter with #RedBullCapturePoint and #contest. All entries must be submitted by May 2, 2021. Limit: 18 entries per person. For prize categories, judging information, restrictions, and Official Rules: Sponsor: Red Bull North America, Inc., 1740 Stewart St., Santa Monica, CA 90404.

How to become a glorious warrior in Chivalry 2’s closed beta

At long last, the battle shall commence! We’re excited to announce that pre-orders are now available for Chivalry 2 on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 Both versions come with a guaranteed spot in the Cross-Play Closed Beta on April 23-26. 

The Chivalry 2 Closed beta is guaranteed with all pre-orders of the game and will be available on April 23, 2021 at 10:00am PT / 6pm BST / 7pm CEST. To download it to your PlayStation 4 or PlayStation 5 system, visit the Chivalry 2 page at PlayStation Store, and simply add the beta to your library. 

To celebrate the news, we present this special animated trailer that reveals the motivations of the Agatha Knights – one of the two factions you’ll play as in Chivalry 2 along with the Mason Order.  

How to become a glorious warrior in Chivalry 2’s closed beta

Buy Chivalry 2 on PlayStation 4 and you’ll get a free upgrade to the PlayStation 5 version. 

Chivalry 2 is enhanced for PlayStation 5 and features 4K visuals and DualSense controller adaptive triggers and haptics. A few examples:

  • On the left trigger, holding block gets harder as your stamina falls
  • The right trigger will increase pressure for bows as you hold back the string
  • Localized haptic feedback on strikes let you feel where every hit lands

Chivalry 2 is a multiplayer first person slasher launching June 8 that throws players into the thick of epic, medieval warfare. Fight in massive 64-player battles across a variety of maps that feel straight out of the best medieval movies of all time. Whether you’re sieging a walled city to assassinate the heir to the throne, or setting a village on fire while peasants (and chickens) scream in protest – in Chivalry 2 you’ll use the freedom of traditional FPS-style control to become a whirlwind of steel on the battlefield. 

Our team Torn Banner Studios is composed of industry veterans as well as members of the original development team for Chivalry: Medieval Warfare (2012). Chivalry 2 began development in 2017 and we’re so excited to finally unleash the full game in June 2021. 

The Cross-Play Closed Beta (April 23-26) will be a global test with servers available worldwide.

Here’s a tease of what you’ll be able to try out in the Cross-Play Closed Beta:

  • Wage war in The Siege of Rudhelm, an epic Team Objective mode map that sees you protect or invade an entire city and its castle
  • Continue the fight in more Team Objective, Team Deathmatch and Free-for-all maps
  • Find your fit: play as 12 subclasses ranging from Skirmisher (hybrid melee/ranged fighter) to Poleman (fighter that keeps opponents away with long melee range)
  • Cut your teeth in a full tutorial- – learn every technique in the book.

The full release will include all of the above — and more. In total you’ll fight in five unique Team Objective mode maps, which are sprawling, multi-stage levels where attackers have to push through each stage successfully or risk the entire game ending early. Siege entire cities in this mind-blowing game mode that truly feels like all-out war on a massive scale. 

Chivalry 2 at full release will also have three additional, normal size maps to conquer in traditional Team Deathmatch and Free-for-all modes. But the conflict won’t end there! Much, much more content will be added after launch, including more maps, weapons and game modes. 

As the battle approaches, here’s five tips for how to succeed in the Cross-Play Closed Beta:

  1. Swing with your hips, not your eyes! Think of the crosshair as the direction your character’s hips face. When you swing a weapon, you can turn your hips to accelerate into a hit.
  2. You can hold down a block if you’re feeling overwhelmed — but be sure to aim your block at the point of your enemy’s strike in order to parry, then riposte and earn the advantage. 
  3. Look around you. Make use of interactive traps including spikes, bear traps, chandeliers and more to kill your enemy without even clashing your swords. 
  4. No fight is complete without a bit of banter. Cycle the voice line and emote menus to shout out hundreds of hilarious character voice lines on demand. 
  5. Feeling desperate? Chuck your weapon at the enemy and then pick up anything you can find around you to use as your improvised tool of death. How about a wagon wheel, a giant tree limb, or even a full sized church bell? Anything goes.

Onward to glory!

New RE Village demo comes to PS4 and PS5 April 17

Resident Evil has always had a home on PlayStation platforms, and we’re happy to announce that the PlayStation Nation is going to be the first to get access to a new demo for Resident Evil Village on PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 4! This was just one of the many announcements at today’s Resident Evil Showcase, so read on for more info on the demo, the return of the ever-popular The Mercenaries game mode, and more.

Miss today’s Resident Evil Showcase stream? Catch up now:

New RE Village demo comes to PS4 and PS5 April 17

Ethan Winters’s journey takes shape in a new Resident Evil Village trailer

Resident Evil Village is less than a month away, so we’re once again entering the world of survival horror to bring you a brand-new trailer that debuted earlier today. The creeping dead of the village is the least of Ethan Winters’ worries as he plunges further into the unknown in order to rescue his kidnapped daughter and seek answers to haunting questions about why the heroic Chris Redfield has taken such a dark turn. Who, or what, will Ethan find waiting for him at the end of his journey, and what terrifying foes will he encounter along the way? The latest trailer provides a few clues, so be sure to check it out.

New RE Village demo comes to PS4 and PS5 April 17

Resident Evil Village gameplay demo + pre-download

We know you’ve been waiting for this one – a new demo is on the way for both PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 4, with a special structure that gives you a limited opportunity to explore the world of Resident Evil Village in the weeks leading up to the game’s launch across three different windows of availability. The demo only needs to be downloaded once, and will only be available during specific dates and times. Check out the schedule below for more info:

30-Minute demos


North America: April 17 @ 5pm to April 18 @ 1am (Pacific Time)

Europe: April 18 @ 7pm to April 19 @ 3am CEST 

Asia: April 18 @ 5pm – April 19 @ 1am HKT


North America: April 24 @ 5pm to April 25 @ 1am (Pacific Time)

Europe: April 25 @ 7pm to April 26 @ 3am CEST

Asia: April 25 @ 5pm to April 26 @ 1am HKT

60-Minute demo

Village & Castle: 

North America: May 1 @ 5pm to May 2 @ 5pm (Pacific Time)

Europe: May 2 @ 2am to May 3 @ 2am CEST

Asia: May 2 @ 8am to May 3 @ 8am HKT

The first demo period allows you to check out the snow-covered remnants of the titular village for 30 minutes, giving you a glimpse into the frost-capped remains of what once was, and perhaps giving you a taste of what the game’s combat has to offer. Better keeps your wits about you. The second demo period will drop you into the halls of Castle Dimitrescu where you’ll be given a separate 30 minute experience that is sure to be a bloody good time. Unlike the expansive village, the castle is full of narrow hallways and cramped corridors that make it difficult to tell what could be around each corner.

The final demo period will give you a total of 60 minutes to explore both the village and castle, and you’re free to use those 60 minutes however you wish. How much time will you spend seeking answers in the village, and how long will you brave the castle’s corridors to uncover its dark secrets? That part’s up to you, but we encourage you to share your experience playing and speculate on what secrets the full game holds.

Pre-download Demo on PS4 and PS5

Prepare to enter the world of survival horror by pre-downloading the Village demo today on PS4 and PS5.

The Mercenaries mode explodes in to Resident Evil Village

Survival horror meets high-stakes combat in the return of The Mercenaries game mode! This fan-favorite mode has appeared in multiple Resident Evil games since its introduction in Resident Evil 3: Nemesis on the original PlayStation, and now makes an action-packed return in Resident Evil Village. As with previous versions of The Mercenaries, this arcade-style mode tasks you with racking up points and finishing stages quickly, changing the game’s focus to a fight against time to achieve a high score rather than the fight for survival of the main campaign. Just keep an eye on the ticking timer – running out the clock means your time is up.

Some new additions have been made to this mode compared to previous games, as well. As you fight your way through locales filled with enemies, you’ll be able to acquire useful bonus skills that can increase firepower, boost your move speed, or provide other beneficial effects. Each skill you add will help you take down enemies and rack up a high score for your current attempt, and will carry over between stages. Once a stage is completed, you’ll be given the opportunity to spend your hard-earned coin with The Duke – a mysterious merchant from the main game – to buy supplies and upgrade your weapons before moving on to the next stage.

The Mercenaries is an endlessly replayable mode that you’re sure to want to try again and again. Learn each stage and discover new ways to take down waves of enemies as you chase down the highest rank possible.

The Mercenaries will be included as a bonus mode for Resident Evil Village, and you’ll need to complete the game’s story before you can unlock it. We hope you enjoy this exciting twist on what the main campaign has to offer!

Upgrade your weapons to increase firepower and more in Mercenaries 

That’s a lot to unpack from the Resident Evil Showcase! There’s only a few weeks left until fear surrounds you. Resident Evil Village launches on May 7, 2021 on PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 4 (with a free digital upgrade to PlayStation 5 in North America). Your purchase of Resident Evil Village also grants you access to download the online multiplayer game Resident Evil Re:Verse for free once it’s available.

Be sure to keep an eye out for the demo once it’s live, and get ready to once again enter the world of survival horror with Resident Evil Village on May 7.

Change the course of history with Wanderer – a time travel PS VR adventure

The fate of humanity lies in your hands. No big deal right? We hope you have your time travelling shoes ready people ‘cause we’re super excited to finally share our teaser trailer for Wanderer! Get your first look below at this epic and unique VR adventure – brought to PS VR by our New Zealand-based indie game studios Oddboy and M Theory.

Change the course of history with Wanderer – a time travel PS VR adventure

Wanderer takes you back through the ages to reshape humanity’s fortune. Playing as Asher Neumann, you’re thrust into an unexpected journey to change the course of history. 

You find yourself in an alternate, apocalyptic timeline where the search begins for your grandfather’s lost apartment and the mysterious artifacts that are hidden within. With the discovery of an unusual wristwatch, you forge a friendship and unlock the power to traverse time and space.

Wanderer combines a unique blend of escape room-style puzzles and hands-on action sequences that will see you bring together objects and events from various time periods in sometimes unlikely and inventive ways. Take a step back into history, with full motion control on dual PS move controllers, to experience beautifully detailed worlds that come to life with realistic and innovative physics-based interactions.

Uncover traitors in the dying days of an arms race as you crack codes during WW2. Prepare intricate machinery alongside frenzied inventor Nikola Tesla as you help prepare his world power machine. Take the stage in 1969 and give the performance of a lifetime to unite a generation. Defend a king and civilization from what seems to be an inevitable downfall in the 1500s. Accompanied by a cinematic score, Wanderer captures and intricately weaves the sounds of these environments with the story as it unfolds

Will you have what it takes to navigate the secrets of the past and prevent the collapse of civilization?  Do you follow what you know to be true or are there forces at play beyond your control? 

Now, if only we could all time travel to Q3 2021 when Wanderer is set for release. We can’t wait for you to jump in! In the meantime, let us know what you’re excited about most in the comments below.

Days Gone PC gameplay revealed, launches May 18

Days Gone is coming to PC! We cannot wait to see more players experience the epic journey of Deacon St. John, a former outlaw biker now drifter and bounty hunter trying to survive in a post- apocalyptic open world where danger lurks around every corner. Explore the sprawling Pacific Northwest high-desert on your trusty Drifter bike as you try to maneuver around collapsed bridges, abandoned vehicles, ambush traps and blocked tunnels. Scavenge supplies from abandoned buildings to craft assorted items, barter with local camps and gear up for the ride through an infested ever-changing environment.

We are very excited to share our first look of Days Gone on PC with our features trailer. Catch a glimpse on what PC features you can expect to see when booting up Days Gone for the first time on May 18, 2021. Days Gone is available now for Pre-Purchase from a range of digital retailers, including Steam and Epic Games Store.

Days Gone PC gameplay revealed, launches May 18

Our team has been hard at work to deliver our new and returning players a unique experience with Days Gone on PC. Here are the added features that can be seen from the trailer:

This World Comes For You

Take on the relentless Old Sawmill horde with 21:9 ultra-wide monitor support. Come across various enemies in this harsh open world including humans, wildlife and feral creatures known as Freakers, with unlocked framerate. Fighting hordes that range up to 500 Freakers at one time has never felt so real.

Be in Control

Traverse the vast Farewell Wilderness with our new display customization options that include increased level of detail, foliage draw distances and graphical customization. Play Days Gone the way you want to play. Use 1st and 3rd party controllers, or ride the Broken Road with input support for mouse and keyboard.

 Photo Mode

Capture the realistic and detailed world of Days Gone through the new super resolution photo mode. Share your photos with us across our Bend Studio social channels; Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. We can’t wait to see what shots you come up with!

Captured on PC using ultra-wide monitor support.

Days Gone on PC will release May 18, 2021 on a range of digital retailers, including Steam and Epic Games Store.

Tools Up! announces Garden Party, a trio of DLC episodes

Spring has finally arrived and Tools Up! is back with an all-new DLC, Tools Up! Garden Party. Gather your friends or play it yourself on PlayStation 4, but hop to it because these gardens need your help!

Tools Up! announces Garden Party, a trio of DLC episodes

The DLC consists of three, separately-released episodes, each with 15 unique levels, new tools, and mechanics, as well as a challenging opponent. While episodes 2 and 3 are coming soon, Episode 1: The Tree House is ready to play now.

What is waiting for you in Episode 1?

What is one of the most important things in any garden? Beautiful and lush green grass of course! It’s so nice to lie on it and look at the blue sky, right? Tools Up! Co. love it too, but there’s lots of work to be done before anyone can rest.

In Tools Up! Garden Party you’ll grow grass from seed. To get the best results though, you’ll have to first pull up any old grass and prepare the soil well for planting. And of course you’ll have to water your seedlings too.

Have you been getting a lot of rain? Because it looks like your lawn is completely out of control! No big deal, just start the lawn mower and give the grass a trim. Wait—we said no big deal, but you know to not run over your friends right? Right

If you find a lawn mower to be too difficult a tool, get back to the basics and use scissors or even your hands. Experiment to discover all the ways different tasks can be completed.

Not only does Tools Up! Garden Party introduces a lot of new mechanics and tools to the game, now, some tasks can be completed in more than one way. Anything goes when you’re in the wilderness of the great outdoors! On top of all your gardening duties, you’ll have to solve the mystery of the tree house before you can call the job done. Work your way through all three episodes and uncover the truth hidden in the treetops on PS4.

The official Drone Racing League Simulator launches today

The Drone Racing League Simulator, the official game of the Drone Racing League (DRL), the #1 drone racing property in the world, is now on PlayStation 4. If you’ve ever dreamed about flying FPV (First Person View), DRL SIM is the fastest, easiest, and most cost-effective way to get the drone skills you’ll need to soar while experiencing the most immersive, out-of-body sensations only FPV drones can provide.

DRL drone and simulation engineers built the simulator with true-to-life drone components, physics, and aerodynamics, enabling players to fly, build and race drones exactly the same as in real life (IRL). The world’s best pilots fly in DRL and train, compete and win professional contracts in the DRL SIM — as seen on NBC, Twitter, Facebook and other premier sports networks around the globe. 

The official Drone Racing League Simulator launches today

And now you can, too! Download the DRL SIM today to master these drone skills:

Learn to fly

The DRL SIM features 54 training missions that’ll teach you how to hover, pitch, yaw, and other skills you’ll need to learn to navigate a drone without crashing and breaking the bank on your new drone.

Each mission takes only a few minutes and you can hop around the training as you like, but be prepared: the challenges get harder as you advance. 

You’ll get real-time feedback to help you improve and once you complete the tutorial, you’ll be able to fly high-speed FPV drones IRL nice and smooth — because as DRL pilots know — slow is smooth and smooth is fast. 

Design a supercharged drone

With the game’s interactive workbench, you can choose from real DRL drones flown by the best pilots in the world or design your own supercharged drone through tens of thousands of different combinations, customizing everything from the drone’s size, weight, thrust, prop colors, and more. 

Choose from thousands of motors, batteries and props, licensed from top drone manufacturers, to control the air flow, set top speeds, and control launch-to-flight acceleration rates. Plus, you’ll get to unlock over 50 epic drone skins to cover your quad with a sleek canopy. 

Make your one-of-a-kind drones public to share with other players in the DRL SIM community too, or keep them private and hog that quad for yourself.  

Race like the pros

Race like the DRL pros through a real-time multiplayer mode, battling it out against friends and competitors across more than 20 unique maps — including 18 replicas of real DRL courses as seen on TV — like the sports and entertainment arena, Allianz Riviera in France, U.S. Air Force Boneyard map of a deserted airport, and Hard Rock Stadium, home to NFL’s Miami Dolphins in Miami Gardens, Florida. 

Navigate nonstop obstacles including diamond-shaped gates, tight corners and real-world forces like gravity and turbulence. Watch your performance in the advanced replay system and compare your times against players and pros on the leaderboard. And take your new drone skills for a spin offline to feel what it’s like to fly like a bird, soaring through the world from a drone’s eye view.

Mass Effect Legendary Edition: A detailed look at visual enhancements to the celebrated trilogy

Welcome back, everyone!

The art of Mass Effect supports and builds a universe in which rich stories and characters can be fully realized. It may sound somewhat counterintuitive, but as artists—especially on this remaster—we want players to be able to experience the trilogy again, or for the first time, without being distracted by the art.

Our goal from the onset was to improve and enhance the visuals while staying true to the original aesthetics of the trilogy that have become so iconic and genre-defining over the past decade. A remaster rather than remake allowed us to build upon the original assets in a way that resembles the polishing phase in a normal development cycle, while also being able to utilize the advantages of much more modern hardware and software.

Mass Effect Legendary Edition: A detailed look at visual enhancements to the celebrated trilogy

Within this blog, we’ll give you an in-depth look at our remastering process with a specific focus on key changes and improvements made to the visuals. Here’s what’s included:

For those interested in the technical aspects of game development, it’s probably no surprise to hear that changing almost any asset or system can (and will) break something else. When a game is in its final state, it generally resembles a house of cards. The simple process of blowing the dust off, let alone implementing foundational changes like updating the version of the engine, will undoubtedly cause unexpected issues. Remastering a single game is a deceivingly complex process, so creating a proper plan for how best to mitigate risk while reopening three games to full development was foremost on our minds.

We took a three-phased approach to remastering the trilogy.

“The Lazarus Project will proceed as planned.”

Phase 1: Building the Foundation

We started Phase 1 by identifying and cataloguing every asset in the trilogy. How many particle effects, 3D models, textures, levels, GUI (Graphical User Interface) elements, sounds, cinematic movies, etc. actually exist across the trilogy, and on average what are their quality levels? Do the source assets (content creation files) still exist? What percentage of those assets should we improve, and on average, how long will each asset type take to improve? Knowing the sheer numbers of assets and their quality levels shaped our strategy for improving each “type” of asset.

The original trilogy was released entirely on a console cycle that allowed up to 1080p resolutions but was often actually running at 720p or lower. Now, the remaster is releasing on hardware that allows 4K resolutions, so the answer for how many textures we wanted to improve was easy: every single one of them. For the trilogy, this is well over thirty thousand individual textures.

First, we increased the engine limits on texture sizes, so any textures that were authored larger than could be used on-disk could now use their full resolutions. We then wrote some batch processes that worked along with an AI up-res program to increase the original uncompressed textures to four times their originally authored sizes. Our batch tools made special considerations to maintain the validity of special texture types, like normal maps or masks to ensure colors didn’t contaminate each other.

At this time, we also incorporated some more modern texture compression techniques that would allow those textures to hold onto more of their quality on disk. Meanwhile, our programmers were hard at work upgrading our version of Unreal Engine 3 to a more updated and unified version. With the game playable again, and a much higher base resolution to work from, we began to improve assets by hand.

“The process is as important as the result.”

Phase 2: Modernization Efforts

Phase 2 was the beginning of what we would consider full-scale development. The art team was now fully on board, and our content creation tools (many of which naturally changed and improved throughout the trilogy) had been stood up, unified, and made to work with more modern content creation programs. Eager to dig in, we started off where we knew the biggest improvements were needed: the original Mass Effect.

Some assets—most frequently, characters and generic props—were shared between the games, and many had already been improved in a later title or DLC. For those cases, we generally used the improved asset as our base, improved it further, and then ported it across the whole trilogy. This resulted in more consistent and higher-quality assets, but we had to carefully ensure this process didn’t flatten the sense of the passage of time and the overall narrative. 

For characters who appeared in all three games, like Liara, Garrus, Kaiden, Captain Anderson, and more, we maintained slight changes throughout the trilogy as they aged, matured, or…got hit by a rocket. Obviously, we couldn’t let uniforms branded with “SR2” sneak their way back onto the crew of the Normandy SR1, and we still liked how the Alliance Admiralty uniforms became more militarized and sleek as the trilogy progressed, so we improved each version of those outfits individually.

Our character artists worked their way through a prioritized list of hundreds of armors, creatures, characters, guns, and vehicles across the whole trilogy. They would frequently take an asset back to its original high-poly sculpt, focus on achieving a consistent texture resolution, add supporting 3D geometry where needed, and fix errors with baked normal maps or texture mapping. Central to our efforts was increasing the sense of realism in the surface response.

While the games don’t use PBR (physically based rendering), we could still work with the textures and materials to ensure plastics, fabrics, and metals reacted to light in a more convincing way. Similarly, we dedicated a significant amount of time to improving skin, hair, and eye shaders across the trilogy. Our tech animators then re-skinned (i.e. set each vertex to move properly when attached to an animated skeleton) each improved mesh and imported it back into each game as needed.

The VFX (particle effect) artists were busy extending the length and smoothness of animations for things like smoke and fire, while also adding more secondary emitters to beef up the overall look of each effect. A fire might now have secondary smoke trails and sparks, explosions fling chunks of rubble, and the muzzle flash on your weapons now subtly illuminates Shepard and their surroundings. New environmental particle effects were added throughout the trilogy to better enhance the mood and a space’s sense of life. As many of you have already noticed, we also sharpened up and added secondary elements to the trilogy’s iconic horizontal lens flares.

Many GUI images also needed extra love and attention. In 4K, smooth flowing lines that once only took up a few hundred pixels on screen now expanded across thousands or tens of thousands of them. We had to completely rebuild many elements from vector images to achieve needed clarity and crispness, while other images could be run through secondary, non-automated AI processes to sharpen and clean up artifacts.

We also improved all cinematics across the trilogy. Whenever possible, we completely re-rendered the pre-rendered cutscenes in 4K. When it was not possible to re-capture, we utilized an AI upscale program on the original uncompressed videos. In both workflows, we tweaked the color correction, added or composited additional details and visual effects, and even smoothed out some edges frame-by-frame so they didn’t feel dated when compared to actual gameplay. Cinematic designers fixed dozens, if not hundreds of bugs that occured in live-action cutscenes and conversations. Don’t worry though; the “What’d you just say?” head spinning meme still exists if you know how to look for it.

During this phase, environment artists completed passes through each level of the trilogy, performing targeted fixes on any asset or location that visually detracted from the overall experience. This included adding props to exceptionally barren areas, remaking low-resolution or stretched textures, smoothing out jagged 3D assets, and modernizing shaders on surfaces with poor lighting response. At this point, we also began resolving hundreds of bugs, from minor things like floating assets, to major game-breaking collision issues—including a very frequent global issue where players could easily teleport on top of assets and become completely stuck.

Our lighting designers followed closely behind the level artists, ensuring that all of the beautified environments and characters were always shown in their best, well, light. Mass Effect’s specific lighting style features high-contrast spotlights and a heavy use of complementary colors. That style was refined heavily throughout the trilogy, so we were able to bring many of those improvements back into the first game. We focused on maintaining that high-contrast look while adding natural bounce lighting to ensure characters are lit more consistently and beautifully.

We made systemic upgrades to shadows and added or improved post-process effects such as screen space ambient occlusion, anti-aliasing, and bokeh depth of field (increasing the cinematic quality for out-of-focus cameras). We were also able to bring down engine features that existed in Mass Effect 3, such as dynamic volumetrics, to help unify the look of the first two games.

Players will have more opportunities to see their improved characters reflected in-game, as the trilogy also includes new real-time reflections.

“Cultural artistic expression reflects philosophical evolution.”

Phase 3: Rebuilding Worlds

In Phase 3, we began looking at opportunities to make broader improvements to levels and features, rather than just updating the individual assets. By this point, we’d manually improved thousands of assets, but there was still a significant quality jump between the first two games.

To guide this effort, we compared the levels we shipped to their original concept art, design intentions, and artistic inspiration. We also took dozens of screenshots of our currently up-res’d levels and sent them over to Derek Watts (the Mass Effect trilogy’s art director), who used them as a base for new concept art paint-overs. These “broad brush” adjustments were much faster to work on in professional photo editing software.

Here are some examples:

Feros has a few very visually distinct sections, including the colony and the highway that leads to the ExoGeni Corporation building, the aqueducts, and the Thorian lair. The former of these now features stronger smoke and fire effects, more buildings to fill out the skybox, and much more damage and debris to better showcase the attack by the geth. We also leaned into the visual atmosphere of the creepy, dark interiors with directional light shafts guiding players to uncover the mysteries of the Thorian (that sounds creepier than ever, thanks to its new audio mix).

Edmontonians are no strangers to brutalist architecture or the blistering cold, so we’ve always felt quite at home in Noveria. Lighting was reworked throughout the level, the storm outside was intensified, and we accentuated the differences between the hotel area and the Synthetic Insights lab to hopefully improve your ability to navigate the mission’s early sections.

Eden Prime is the first location you land on in Mass Effect. It’s described to you as a verdant paradise planet under attack by an unknown alien ship, but the sight that greeted players didn’t always align with that image. Luckily, in the Mass Effect 3: From Ashes DLC (which is, of course, included in the Legendary Edition) we’d already revisited Eden Prime, so we could incorporate  its overall atmosphere and specific buildings. We’ve moved the sun’s placement  so that the player’s path forward is now illuminated by evening light while the burnt red sky looms behind, punctuated by falling ash and tracer fire. We also improved the planet’s surface with additional fire and battle damage, more foliage, and destroyed structures littering the crater Sovereign leaves behind.

Numerous quality-of-life changes and expanded features rolled out in this phase, many of which were detailed in our previous blog, so be sure to check that out. Notable improvements include an updated HUD for the first game and UI consistency improvements across the trilogy, such as tech UI elements appearing in blue and biotic UI elements appearing in purple in the first game (they were originally swapped). The custom character creator has been unified and expanded upon greatly, and some of your favourite casual outfits from Mass Effect 3 are now available in Mass Effect 2, as well.

“I’m Commander Shepard and this is my favorite store on the Citadel.”

When we started working on the Legendary Edition, we were overcome with a sense of nostalgia and curiosity. We know there is really something special in how the art and narrative work together to create this fully realized universe. To us, there’s a sense of “soul” to these games, and we truly believe we’ve been able to strike a balance between making meaningful enhancements while retaining the same atmosphere and feel of the original releases. The launch is now only a month out, and we can’t wait to let you experience these improvements while creating new Mass Effect memories for yourselves!

 Until then,

Good luck, Commander.

Aloy Arrives in Fortnite as the latest member of the Gaming Legends series

Hello, PlayStation fans. No stranger to thriving in the wild, Aloy — as you know well from Horizon Zero Dawn and the upcoming Horizon Forbidden West — is soon joining the fray of Fortnite’s Primal Season.

As Aloy arrives as the latest member of the Gaming Legends series, we’re making the occasion extra special with a new tournament and Limited Time Mode. Read on for the Aloy items that will be entering the Fortnite Item Shop, as well as info about the Aloy Cup and the Limited Time Mode “Team Up! Aloy & Lara.”

Introducing the Horizon Zero Dawn Bundle

Outcaster, seeker, and champion, Aloy enters the fray alongside familiar mementos of her Horizon Zero Dawn adventure. In addition to the Aloy Outfit, all these items will be available for purchase in the Item Shop starting April 15, 2021.

Though Blaze may not be a crafting resource on the Island, you can still use it for show via the Blaze Canister Back Bling. Also, glide into battle with the Glinthawk Glider and strike objects with the Aloy’s Spear Pickaxe. Using the Heart-rizon Emote, express yourself with the Focus effect, and inspired by the Shield-Weaver armor, adorn your weapons and vehicles with the Shield-Weaver Wrap.

All items in the Horizon Zero Dawn Bundle will be available individually, but the Bundle includes the Aloy the Skywatcher Loading Screen as an added bonus. Additionally, anyone who owns the Aloy Outfit and plays Fortnite on their PlayStation 5 will unlock the Ice Hunter Aloy Style, based on the Banuk Ice Hunter outfit from Horizon Zero Dawn.

Compete in the Aloy Cup for a chance to unlock the Horizon Zero Dawn Bundle early

Fitting for the Primal Season, bows are more prominent than ever on the Island. One of Aloy’s main weapons in Horizon, demonstrate your bow precision in the upcoming Aloy Cup, available only on PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 4. This Duos tournament happens April 14, and the top performing teams in each region will unlock the Horizon Zero Dawn Bundle before it enters the Item Shop.

In the Aloy Cup, you and your Duos partner will compete to be the last team standing, but the twist is that you’ll get bonus points for eliminations with a bow. Players are able to compete in 10 matches in their region’s three-hour time window, and the specific timing for each region can be found in the Compete tab in-game. Full rules are available at the Fortnite website.

Two gaming legends join forces in the “Team Up! Aloy & Lara” limited time mode

When Fortnite’s current Season began, gaming icon Lara Croft was one of the varied veterans of the wild to join the primal fight. Starting April 16, fellow members of the Gaming Legends series Aloy and Lara are assembling for a new Limited Time Mode: Team Up! Aloy & Lara.

Players will automatically be outfitted as either Aloy or Lara in this Duos mode, with their teammate being outfitted as the other. At your disposal will only be the bow for Aloy and Dual Pistols for Lara — keep an eye out for wildlife and master your crafting skills to upgrade your weapons.

Team Up! Aloy & Lara will run from 6AM PT / 9 AM ET on April 16 to 6AM PT / 9 AM ET on April 18.

Good times on the horizon

In both this Season and future ones, we look forward to seeing your adventures on the Island with Aloy. As with Kratos, we’re delighted to have such an esteemed gaming icon join the Fortnite roster.

From Angie Smets, Studio Director & Executive Producer at Guerrilla:

“We’re thrilled that Epic has invited Aloy to play! As a fast, agile hunter and a proven competitor, we know she’ll make an amazing addition to the Fortnite universe.

Moreover, Epic has done an exceptional job with Aloy’s kit, including her outfit and spear, staying true to her likeness in Horizon Zero Dawn. Even better, they’ve included fun and authentic extras like her Glinthawk glider, Blaze Canister backbling, and Shield Weaver wrap. There’s even a special emote which Horizon fans are sure to love.

Special thanks to all the devs at Epic for making this exciting collaboration happen. We can’t wait to see Aloy glide into battle.”

Set your focus on Island victory like never before.