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Image: BioWare

The iconic spacefaring adventure "Mass Effect" is back today with "Mass Effect: Legendary Edition," a single, remastered version of all three games.

Why it matters: There is no series like "Mass Effect" — even when it comes to BioWare's other choice-driven RPGs like "Dragon Age." "Mass Effect" is a big ol' space adventure first and foremost, but it’s also about loyalty, love, and tough calls.

"Mass Effect" follows Commander Shepard — a hero players can customize for looks and gender — across three games as they wage war against a galactic threat known as the Reapers. Key choices carry through all three games, whether it’s who survives, or who you ally yourself with.

  • "Mass Effect" (2007) is a classic sci-fi thriller, where Shepard races to stop a turncoat operative hungry for power.
  • "Mass Effect 2" (2010) is a miscreant adventure centered on building a ragtag squad, culminating in a final "suicide" mission where everyone's survival is on the line.
  • "Mass Effect 3" (2012) brings the trilogy to a close through a more somber, war-focused story about loss and consequence.

BioWare has also updated the game to be more inclusive.

  • Environment and character director Kevin Meek previously told Axios that a top priority was improving customization options for non-white characters — especially when it comes to hair.
  • A canonized version of the female version of Shepard (aka FemShep) wasn't created until "Mass Effect 3." Legendary Edition finally puts the red-headed FemShep front and center from the start by using her as the default female option.

The ending of "Mass Effect 3" ending was notoriously divisive among fans who believed their choices were ultimately inconsequential to the game's three outcomes; they signed petitions, made FTC complaints, and sent passive aggressive cupcakes.

  • Eventually BioWare released an "extended cut," a free download that expanded on the game's final mission and ending.
  • In Legendary Edition, the extended cut is now the definitive conclusion.
  • The greater argument about BioWare's call is that it set a precedent for fans to impose their will over creatives. Consider the modern equivalent: the successful fan push to release the Snyder cut of "Justice League."

What's next: A new game is currently in production — and seems to tie into the entire series so far.

Go deeper

Right-wingers making McCarthy sweat for future Speaker post

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy stands with his Republican colleagues outside the House on Nov. 17. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Right-wing elements in the Republican Party are complicating House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's attempts to become the next speaker of the House should the GOP take back the majority in 2022.

Why it matters: While McCarthy has worked carefully to build trust among the conservatives who tanked his chances at clinching the speakership in 2015, they're still circling ahead of the next Speaker vote in January 2023.

59 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Congress sprints to meet crush of deadlines

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Congressional leaders have been pushing off vital action for months — and a lot of it will catch up with them in December, which begins Wednesday.

Driving the news: Funding for the federal government is set to expire at midnight on Friday. There are also consequential deadlines related to the debt limit, President Biden's agenda and annual actions like voting on the National Defense Authorization Act.

59 mins ago - World

U.S. fears Iran won’t scale back to 2015 nuclear deal

Officials gather in Vienna on Sept. 29 for the first day of renewed nuclear talks with Iran. Photo: EU Vienna Delegation/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

U.S. officials have extremely low expectations as world powers resume negotiations with Iran to curb its nuclear program, believing the Iranians aren't yet ready to negotiate seriously, Axios is told.

Driving the news: Senior officials in the U.S. intelligence community have assessed the new Iranian president, Ebrahim Raisi, thinks of his predecessor, Hassan Rouhani, as a weak accommodationist who negotiated a bad deal with the U.S. and other world powers in 2015.