Journalism Student most of the time, one of HackerNoon's Junior Editors for the rest of it.
2012’s Mass Effect 3 ended one of the greatest trilogies in gaming history on a controversial, tri-coloured note. While the game’s combat mechanics were head and shoulders above its predecessors, many felt that the story failed to end on a satisfactory note even if the journey to get there was incredible. Almost a decade on from its initial release, talented modders are still creating Mass Effect 3 Mods that build on the game and elevate it beyond its original state.
The Mass Effect 3 Nexus has everything from texture improvements that rival even the Legendary Edition’s improved textures to hair mods, remakes of the game’s most iconic levels and even new endings for the game.
The effort that these modders have put into their work is as impressive as it is expansive and you won’t be alone if you feel overwhelmed by the mods available. If you want to play Mass Effect 3 with a fresh new coat of paint, give these mods a shot.
The game’s original hair mods aren’t very expansive. Restricted by the fact that Shepard is a commissioned officer in the Alliance Navy, Shepard can’t reasonably have amazing, physics defying hair. Fortunately, with Mass Effect 3’s Hair Mods, Shepard can ignore the grooming standards.
There are two main hair mods to pick from.
1. Hair Mods as DLCs by ElysiumFic
ElysiumFic/Mass Effect 3 Nexus
Out of the two options on this list, this hair mod is significantly easier to use. The way the mod is designed is significantly less finicky than the alternative and the quality is comparable. As the mod suggests, you’ll get to add more hairstyles to your game both for male and female Shepard.
Unfortunately, development stalled early on and some features like being able to see the hairstyles in character creation are not available.
2. 125 Hairstyles for Femshep and MShep by Girlplaysgame
Pudgethefish/Mass Effect 3 Nexus
If you’ve spent even a short amount of time looking for Mass Effect 3 hair mods, the collection from Girlsplaygame has probably turned up. They’ve made an expansive collection of hair mods for you to install into your game and have even provided instructions for installation. It’s not as easy as ElysiumFic’s method and may be incompatible as ME3Explorer, needed for these hair mods, is not used by the newer mods on list. Some modders even discourage it. Still if you do decide to use these hair styles, Girlsplaygame have a guide you can refer to.
The Legendary Edition isn’t the only way to get Mass Effect 3 to look better. In fact, Bioware’s own improvements were benchmarked against mods. As always, there’s an abundance of mods that change Mass Effect 3’s visuals through upscaling textures to modifying characters in the game.
1. A Lot Of Textures (ALOT) for ME3 by CreeperLava
CreeperLava/Mass Effect 3
This incredible graphical overhaul upscales pretty much every texture in Mass Effect 3 to a more modern standard. With this installed, it will be hard to find any pixelated patches on walls, even if you’re all but licking walls searching for them. ALOT makes the game much more palatable if you’ve gotten used to the new decade’s far more advanced graphics.
What the installer looks like
What is arguably most impressive about ALOT is the installer it comes with. The mod comes with its own installer that keeps things streamlined. More importantly, it’s compatible with many of the game’s other graphics mods and will be able to install them alongside itself which is incredibly helpful.
2. A Lot Of Videos (ALOV) for ME3 by Mellin and the ALOV Team
ALOT can change plenty but Mass Effect 3’s pre-rendered cutscenes were beyond the Mass Effect 3 Mod. Fortunately, Mellin and the ALOV Team managed to fill that gap with their remake of Mass Effect 3’s cutscenes. Thanks to their work, the game’s lower-than-1080p cutscenes are no longer and the replacements don’t even stand out.
Download it here
3. Ottemis’ HR Mods
Creeperlava’s ALOT project covered plenty of textures but because of some questionable decisions made do not contain updated textures for everything. Ottermis’ expansive collection of Mass Effect 3 Graphics Mods fills the gaps in ALOT. Each item modified has its own page and listing all of them out here would make this article absurdly long. Just head over to Ottermis’ profile below to take a look at what they’ve made.
4. Ellise’s Complexion Tweaks
Sheploo Complexion Tweak/Ellise/Mass Effect 3 Nexus
Ellise’s various complexion tweaks give you the option to have a significantly different appearance on many prominent figures in the game. These modified complexions generally lend themselves to a lighter look to the affected characters. It can be refreshing to see the characters appear that way though it is ultimately more of a stylistic choice more than it is a simple upgrade.
There are plenty of complexion tweaks to choose from and it would be easier to simply visit Ellise’s profile below.
All of the mods above improve the Mass Effect experience in their own, specific ways but some modders have gone far beyond that, creating mods that make sweeping changes over certain levels and even the entire game. These are Mass Effect 3’s best mods because they give you whole new reasons to play the game.
1. Expanded Galaxy Mod by Kinkojiro, rusm0, Mellin and lmorri8165
KkJiro/Mass Effect 3 Nexus
The Expanded Galaxy Mod is a must-have for any modded playthrough. While the Nexus page goes into detail about what the mod adds to the game, the actual list of additions is so substantial there is a TVTropes page dedicated to this mod. Some of the changes are even affected by choices made all the way back in the first game!
EGM adds a significant amount of content surrounding the Normandy, letting it participate in many of the game’s most important moments such as the evacuation of Thessia. Its performance in these moments is dictated by new upgrades you can make for the Normandy, similar to Mass Effect 2’s system, and assigning crew members to important tasks. You’ll need to find and locate these upgrades and crew members in the Galaxy Map and even in some levels.
The Normandy herself will be affected by the story with characters coming on board and staying when appropriate, adding some life to the ship. For example, Jack and her students would come on board after completing Grissom Academy.
EGM goes even further by adding new mechanics to Shepard through a new cybernetics system that gives new combat bonuses like a 250% increase to melee damage at the cost of weapon damage. The system lets you mess around with new builds and makes the game less stale if you’ve already beaten it multiple times.
There’s far more to be said about this mod that I haven’t covered but it’s better left as a surprise.
Many of the mods below are actually add-ons for EGM though they would be incredible in their own right.
2. Ark Mod by Kinkojiro
KkJiro/Mass Effect 3 Nexus
The Ark Mod acts as a bridge between Mass Effect 3 and Mass Effect: Andromeda and brings with it two brand-new missions, five revamped missions with new enemies and even new armour and weapon mods for Shepard.
The mission itself is a treat. It’s best experienced as a complete surprise but, suffice it to say, the mission would stand out as one of the series’ greatest levels if it was included in the vanilla game.
3. Spectre Expansion Mod by Tydeous
Tydeous/Mass Effect 3 Nexus
Shepard being a Spectre was a huge deal in the first game that didn’t receive the attention it should have in subsequent games. The Spectre Expansion Mod rectifies this by letting Shepard put their Spectre authority to use. The mod doesn’t add or change existing levels but does introduce plotlines resolved through text adventures that see Shepard make difficult decisions across the galaxy. This mod adds depth to the world by involving races like the Elcor and Hanar that weren’t given the focus that they deserved in the plot.
This mod is also one of EGM’s add-ons and complements the mod incredibly well.
4. Project Variety by Scottina123, Mellin, NoiraFayn, Jenya, Furinax, Audemus and FairfieldFencer
Scottina123/Mass Effect 3 Nexus
Project Variety is a massive overhaul of small changes that improve the game for the better. Small changes like Turians holding turian-manufactured Phaestons instead of human-manufactured Avengers might seem like a small change but it is only a small point on a 40-page long list of changes made by this expansive mod.
With it installed, you can expect to see a much wider variety of species throughout the game and even have some cut content restored. Small inconsistencies such as corpses wearing the wrong uniforms or non-Alliance personnel wearing the uniform are fixed. It all comes together to create a significantly more immersive experience that lets Mass Effect 3 live up to its lore.
Mass Effect 3’s levels were good but Orikon made them better. Climatic moments like the battle to retake Earth and the mission to Thessia were some of the harshest, most gut-wrenching moments in the series that hammered home the true cost of the Reaper War.
Orikon has managed to significantly overhaul those moments in the mods that they’ve bundled into a single collection.
1. Priority Earth Overhaul Mod
OrikonTheModder/Mass Effect 3 Nexus
The Priority Earth Overhaul Mod is all about showing you the force you managed to bring together for the final battle. It’s full of fanservice moments like Garrus turning out an entire platoon for Shepard to a brand-new speech sequence from Hackett and much more.
The level itself is overhauled with squadmates from past games joining you for the level and real-time updates to your war assets as the battle drags on, letting you know what this attempt is costing the galaxy.
After playing the ending with this mod on, the original experience doesn’t even come close.
2. Immersive Thessia Mod
OrikonTheModder/Mass Effect 3 Nexus
The Immersive Thessia Mod isn’t as impressive as the Priority Earth Overhaul Mod but it’s still an incredible mod to install. It has a few restored mechanics, new sounds and visuals that add to the atmosphere of the level and a refresh to the final fight to give a fresh new take of beating the daylights out of the annoying rat Kai Leng.
On playing through the mod, Thessia will truly feel like a world on the verge of collapse and the game is so much more for it.
3. Prologue Overhaul Mod
The Prologue Overhaul redoes the introduction to the game by adding new moments like slightly extended conversations and new details to the background in the Prologue’s cutscenes. It’s great when you’ve started the game multiple times and want a breath of fresh air for the game.
Orikon has made adding all three of these mods incredibly easy with their own installer that simplifies the process. Even if the other mods are too daunting, these won’t be. You can download them at any of Orikon’s mod pages.
4. Final Confrontation Overhaul Mod
OrikonTheModder/Mass Effect 3 Nexus
The Mass Effect series might have good gameplay but it was the control you can exert over the world through Shepard that made it special. So why, then, did we end the series by shooting Marauder Shields?
Orikon’s Final Confrontation Overhaul mod changes that by hinging the success of Shepard’s mission on their ability to convince The Illusive Man to stand down. It has brand new UI elements and options to take in the conversation.
The final confrontation is more of a battle of wits and determination than mowing down enemies down the barrel of a gun. Truly, a more fitting end.
This mod isn’t part of the Orikon Collection at the time of publishing and must be downloaded separately.
Mass Effect 3’s notorious ending has been tackled by more than a few modders and has been changed in three different ways.
1. LIME Less Is More Endings by deager
ME3deager/Mass Effect 3 Nexus
The Less Is More Endings mod gives you two choices on how to end the game, one significantly less depressing than the other. It cuts out most of the exposition at the end of the game and leaves only the important parts. It’s much more concise but doesn’t wrap up the story as well as the vanilla ending.
Download it here
2. ITEM - Indoctrination Theory Ending Mod by Reven100
Revan111111/Mass Effect 3 Nexus
As the name implies, the Indoctrination Theory Ending Mod leans into the popular Indoctrination theory by providing tweaked dialogue and cutscenes during the final moments of the game to give people who subscribed to the theory a more satisfying ending.
3. MEHEM The Mass Effect 3 Happy Ending Mod by MrFob
This incredible ending mod gives the series an undeniably happy ending to cap off the series. It might be a bit too unlikely for most people to consider but it’ll make sure you won’t be ending your playthrough depressed.
Most impressive are the brand-new animated cutscenes that make the bulk of the changes. They aren’t as sharp as Bioware’s and they look especially out of place with ALOV installed, but they are a great way to change the ending without using walls of text.
This ending is also, undoubtedly, the most uplifting out of all of them with many of the consequences between the three normal endings removed entirely with only the best outcomes left in.
4. Citadel Epilogue Mod by Deager
olson367/Mass Effect 3 Nexus
The Citadel DLC was a light-hearted send-off for the cast of Mass Effect. With its absurd story mixed with some of Bioware’s finest writing and finished off with a hilarious party, the Citadel DLC was a break from the misery of Mass Effect 3’s campaign.
This mod changes it to place the DLC after the main story which doesn’t really work from a narrative perspective, considering most vanilla endings. Deager went further by removing references to the Reapers and the war from most dialogue, changing the context of the adventure from a break to a finale and celebration of the series. It’s perfect.
Mass Effect 3’s modding scene is one of the most vibrant, considering the high barrier for entry the game has for modding. There are enough new things on this list for you to mix up your next playthrough. The overarching changes from the Extended Galaxy Mod add new layers to the game while the Orikon Collection makes stand-out moments stand out more The endings even give the series a finale that can be tailored to your tastes.
There’s a lot to calibrate on this list, but it’s completely worth it.
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