If, like me, you’ve been hoping to see a more strategic, scaled-down version of Mass Effect’s setup, then you’re in luck: the Binary Helix mod group (named after the genetic engineering company in Mass Effect) is created Override Relay (opens in new tab) Project Stellaris – Complete conversion of a space strategy sim into a Mass Effect setting.
Stellaris has a history of great all-conversion mods, and previous efforts brought Star Trek (opens in new tab) and warhammer 40k (opens in new tab) Live in the environment. Also, talented modders have made separate plugins for Stellaris based on Mass Effect in the past, but Beyond the Relays wanted to recreate the entire setup based on its political climate and space travel rules.
In the current version 0.7.0, Beyond the Relays offers 24 civilizations to choose from, including sub-variants of the main race such as Asari and Turians, and minor races such as Volus or Vorcha. The project also includes unique models of ships and locations, such as the Citadel and Omega deep space stations.
In a particularly exciting move, Binary Helix recreates the star system and mass relay network in Mass Effect, the mod’s galaxy map containing 400 solar systems, based on the game and the official legendary solar system. Galaxies are organized into clusters connected by mass relays, and the map can be played in a basic sandbox mode, or in a scenario that replicates the relative positions and prestige of factions in the Mass Effect series.
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Binary Helix has some big plans for the mod’s future – the main priority in the near and mid-term is tweaking the various factions’ AI so that Beyond the Relays’ political sim is closer to Mass Effect. One example provided by one of the team’s leaders, Arrenius, was to make militaristic turians act more like the paternalistic oversight forces of the Mass Effect series than conquering imperialists. Likewise, the team is trying to rebalance the mod’s wars to better reflect the Mass Effect series’ UN-style interstellar order. Arrenius describes making military units more expensive to build and lose, encouraging smaller conflicts in more peaceful galactic civilizations.
In the long term, Binary Helix hopes to implement a full advisor for each playable faction, and currently has a writing team collecting material. Implementing the main forces of the Mass Effect universe — the Castle Council and the Reapers — is also possible, but Arrenius believes that goal is still a long way off.
Mass Effect really helps with further exploration and adaptation, and the Binary Helix team has done a great job of incorporating a wealth of background knowledge and politics into the 4X format.You can follow the team’s beyond relay Discord (opens in new tab), mod database (opens in new tab)and Steam Workshop (opens in new tab)and Binary Helix is actively looking for new writers, coders and artists to volunteer for the project.