Mass Effect Legendary Edition features an expansive character creator, with even more options for customising Shepherd's appearance than there were in the trilogy's original release. But many long-time fans have been wondering whether it's possible to import their old Shepherd into the remastered version.
The good news is that the devs at BioWare anticipated this popular request. There is a way to reintroduce your original Shepherd into the new versions of the games — though it'll require a bit of patience, the right resources, and an understanding of face codes.
- How to find your face code in the original Mass Effect trilogy
- What to do if you want to extract a face code from Mass Effect 1
- How to import face codes into Mass Effect Legendary Edition
- Limitations and possibilities of the face code system
How to find your face code in the original Mass Effect trilogy
It may seem obvious, but let's begin by clarifying that you'll need access to your old Mass Effect saves in order to import your Shepherd's appearance from those games into the Legendary Edition. So to begin with, dust off your PS3/Xbox 360/late-2000s gaming PC and load up a save file featuring the Shepherd you want to use.
Enter the Squad menu and look in the top left-hand corner. You should see something called an Identity Code: a string of numbers and letters not dissimilar to an IP address. This 36 character code contains the details of your Shepherd's unique physical appearance. Copy it down exactly as it appears and double-check for good measure.
What to do if you want to extract a face code from Mass Effect 1
The method described above works in the original release versions of Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3.
However, if the Shepherd face you want to import is from your old Mass Effect 1 save, there are a few extra steps you need to follow. This is because Identity Codes (rebranded as face codes for the Legendary Edition) weren't introduced until ME2. As long as you have a copy of the original Mass Effect 2 on the same system, though, you can still get hold of a face code.
Start a new game in ME2 and, when the option appears, select Import ME1 Character. The ME1 Shep of your choice will be imported into ME2's character customisation screen, and the game will generate an Identity Code for them. Copy it down and continue as above.
How to import face codes into Mass Effect Legendary Edition
Now that you've copied down the old face code, it's finally time to start up Mass Effect Legendary Edition.
Start a new game and choose Enter New ID. Before getting deep into customisation territory, you'll need to make a few choices with regards to backstory, character class, etc. Just make sure that you select the same gender as the Shep you want to copy across when prompted to choose.
Once you're into the Character Appearance section, you should see a text box at the bottom of the screen that simply says Code. Copy across the 36-character Identity Code you took from your old save, and you should see a familiar face reconstruct itself.
Limitations and possibilities of the face code system
If you copied the code correctly, Shepherd's facial structure — including things like skin tone, eye and hair colour, etc. — should copy across.
However, bear in mind that the Legendary Edition is designed as a graphical upgrade. Not only will everything look at least a little different, but there are more options in character creation than there were before, and so some nuance might be lost. The imported face should be pretty close, but you still might need to tweak a few things to get them looking exactly how you remember them.
Furthermore, it's important to know that only Shepherd's appearance can be carried across. In every other way they will be a completely new version of the character. They're a blank slate in terms of stats, alignment, relationship values, etc.
One major upside to all this, though, is that you can potentially import someone else's Shepherd design using their face code. Fans of the series have been sharing their Identity Codes since the original trilogy came out. And with the release of the Legendary Edition, it seems likely that we'll see a resurgence in people sharing their unique Shepherd creations with the world.
For more Mass Effect nostalgia to get you hyped for the Legendary Edition, check out our interview with several members of the voice cast, including Jennifer Hale (FemShep).