Mass Effect Legendary Edition Level Scaling explained: the difference between Legendary and Classic Modes
Mass Effect Legendary Edition isn’t just a visual overhaul of the Mass Effect Trilogy - it actually makes some changes to the systems of the game here and there, most specifically to several mechanics in the original Mass Effect. One such changed mechanic is the level scaling - though for the sake of purists, BioWare has also included the original level scaling, too.
The game will flash up a choice between Legendary and Classic Level Scaling right at the start, alongside picking a difficulty, choosing Shepard’s character class and picking a pre-service history and psychological profile. Naturally, this choice has left some a little stumped, though.
Mass Effect Legendary Edition Level Scaling: Legendary vs Classic Mode
The in-game description defines the level scaling as follows: “In classic mode, the original 1-60 level range will be used instead of the new 1-30 level range. XP and talent points progression remains the same, but the number of levels is doubled.”
What does this mean? Well, first thing’s first - the number of levels is halved - but you’ll still grow Shepard at the same rate. That means that while you’ll level up half as often and have a halved maximum level in the new Legendary Mode, you’ll gain double the number of Skill Points to spend for each level.
That means that you’ll still max out your skill points when you reach the level cap - which is Level 30 in Legendary Mode and Level 60 in classic mode. Additionally, your Mass Effect 2 save import will still recognize your overall level when compared to the level cap.
Basically, it appears that Classic Mode offers the player more chances to level up in a more minor, incremental way - but more often. Whereas in Legendary Mode, you’ll level up slightly less often, but each time you do level up you’ll have significantly more skill points to spend.
Anyway, the point is to say that neither of these modes is more difficult than the other - it’s simply a difference in how the numbers are crunched. It appears you’ll top out at the same point in the level cap, and the level scaling featured in Legendary mode is the same, based on difficulty - where enemy levels only scale to you fully and at all times if you’re playing on Insanity, the hardest difficulty.
Enemies have been rebalanced in Legendary Edition along with its many other combat changes, however, so regardless of if you choose classic or Legendary Level Scaling, you’ll find that encounters feel different and reward slightly different XP amounts compared to the original game.
BioWare has essentially made this level scaling change to bring the first Mass Effect in line with its two sequels, which also had 30-level progression arcs. So it’ll make the cadence of regularity of leveling up more similar to those games, but it changes little else.
We’ve had plenty of experience with the original game, and have now done two play-throughs of the remastered version of Mass Effect with the Legendary Edition Level Scaling and found it to be balanced. It’s the default setting - and unless you’re a real original version purist, we suggest sticking with that one. If nothing else, it’ll better prepare you for that save import to carry over some of your progress and choices to Mass Effect 2 and 3.
The good news is that you can change your Level Scaling option at any time in the options menu, and the game will do the maths to switch you back and forth seamlessly - so just get started and experiment in-game if you so desire.