There was a time that BioWare games were the biggest deal in gaming. The Canadian developer’s legacy of all-time classics is well known. Mass Effect, Knights of the Old Republic, and Baldur’s Gate are some of the biggest names in gaming.
While BioWare’s quality has fallen off lately, there’s no denying the quality of titles in their portfolio. That’s why we’re going to dive in and rank every BioWare game from worst to best. By every, I do mean every BioWare game, even the ones you completely forgot about!
As always, this is a list of my personal preferences, not Metacritic ranking. There’s a very, very strong chance that you’ll disagree with my opinion for the best BioWare games and that’s okay! That’s what the comment section is for anyway. On with the list!
Mass Effect Galaxy
Remember when I said I’m talking about some of the games you completely forgot about? Mass Effect Galaxy was one of those games! Released in 2009 for iOS, Galaxy was a top-down shooter that didn’t work.
The game’s controls are downright abysmal. It felt more like a cash-grab than an actual mobile game. The less I speak about it, the better.
Much has been made about Anthem’s troubled development. Jason Schrier did excellent reporting for Kotaku that highlights everything that went wrong. When I say everything, I do mean everything; Anthem was doomed from the start.
The game sounded like a great idea on paper that never translated. A looter-shooter where you essentially live out your greatest Iron Man fantasies is a fantastic idea. However, the problem was a combination of developmental frustrations due to the Frostbite engine, an understaffed studio, and constant changes.
Anthem was one of several recent BioWare games that weren’t fun and didn’t work on a technical level. A recipe for absolute disaster.
Mass Effect: Andromeda
Like Anthem, Jason Schriefer also dove into the developmental issues with Andromeda. Like Anthem, the Frostbite engine was an issue, but I can argue that the game has more problems.
In terms of its scope and scale, Andromeda is arguably too revolutionary. The idea of exploring and discovering hundreds of planets in a new galaxy is excellent on paper but utterly impractical in practice. The cut-back scope, combined with bugs and technical issues at launch, led to a poor launch.
For me, though, the biggest problem is the characters. They are bland, boring, and lacking. The original trilogy had a voice cast that packed a serious punch. Andromeda’s voice acting is downright bad.
Dragon Age Legends
I bet you also forgot about this game, too!
Dragon Age Legends was a mobile-style game available on Facebook. Surprisingly, it wasn’t terrible! It wasn’t exactly good, either, which is why it lands here on the list. I wonder how it would have been received today with mobile gaming far more popular. Maybe it could have enjoyed success instead of being deactivated from Facebook.
The first of all BioWare games is Shattered Steel, released in 1996. It plays similar to the MechWarrior franchise, where players wreak havoc in a mech-inspired vehicle. It’s fun for some mindless action but doesn’t do much beyond that—a solid game for sure, but one that’s honestly not memorable.
Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood
I know you didn’t forget about this one! BioWare made a Sonic RPG for the Nintendo DS back in 2008. Despite a level of excitement leading into the game’s release, it didn’t meet expectations.
While the game looked sharp for a DS title, the story and combat were severely lacking. The narrative, in particular, felt schizophrenic. It was half homage to the lighter, campy side of Sonic and half dark, mature themes influenced by BioWare. The result was a disjointed mess that’s better left in the past.
Dragon Age II
This is where all BioWare games start to shine. Moving forward, there’s not a bad game in this list, but the ones that fail to rank higher have issues stepping away from the shadows of the giants. Therefore, it makes sense that we now talk about Dragon Age 2, a great game that can’t surpass the weight of its predecessor.
Combat felt better in Dragon Age 2, but the game’s story and gameplay took a step back. One thing that held the game back was its incredibly short development time; publisher EA only gave BioWare 14-16 months for development. BioWare magic delivered a quality game, but in reality that BioWare magic was a demoralizing crunch period.
Given this, it’s no surprise that the game is lacking compared to others in the franchise. It’s a miracle the game managed to be enjoyable at all.
Neverwinter Nights is a Dungeons and Dragons fan’s dream come true. An expensive game with endless replayability, it was a revolution when it was released in 2002. Offering a fantastic campaign, impressive graphics for the time, and a toolset to allow customization and tinkering, tabletop RPG fans were a tremendous virtual translation to tabletop D&D.
Dragon Age: Origins
The original Dragon Age is a work of art. Its ability to deliver a modern interpretation of Neverwinter Nights resulted in runaway success.
More than just a fantasy version of Mass Effect, Dragon Age: Origins offered a tactical and strategic take on combat. It delivers a system that traditionalists and modern RPG fans alike can enjoy.
There are some inconsistencies in the stories being told, which brings it down on the list. Not every character or narrative was created equal. Still, there’s no denying the legacy and impact the game has.
Out of all BioWare Games, MDK2 is the biggest oddball of the bunch.
Ironically, it’s a sequel to a game BioWare didn’t develop; usually, BioWare works on the original titles, and others work on the follow-ups, as is the case with Knights of the Old Republic and Neverwinter Nights. Furthermore, the game stars Kurt Hectic, a corny but typical name that represents the early 2000s perfectly, Dr. Fluke Hawkins, and Max.
Max is a dog, by the way, who smokes cigars and contains an impressive arsenal of automatic weapons.
Known for its quirky humor and, at times, high level of difficulty, MDK2 sounds like a game made in 2020, not 2000. It’s definitely worth a trip down memory lane.
Star Wars: The Old Republic
While The Old Republic was never going to live up to the incredibly high expectations it had coming in; it’s still an enjoyable MMORPG. The RPG part carries it, offering some of the best story-based content ever seen in an MMO.
After releasing in 2011, BioWare Austin has continued to support Star Wars: The Old Republic with a bevy of content, building upon each previous expansion. Is it an MMO on the level of Final Fantasy XIV? No. Is it an enjoyable sequel to Knights of the Old Republic that offers many storylines, questing, and satisfactory combat? Yes.
Dragon Age: Inquisition
The one knock I have on Inquisition is that the game plays out like a single-player MMORPG. As much as I like MMORPGs, I was hoping for something more.
Still, there’s no denying how incredible Dragon Age: Inquisition is. The follow-up to the disappointing Dragon Age 2 is one of BioWare’s best games ever. The fact that I still have seven games to talk about is a testament to what’s left on my list of all BioWare games ever made.
The marriage of combat between the tactics of the original Dragon Age and the faster action of the second works wonders. Combined with an enjoyable and gorgeous open world, excellent writing and characters, and a gameplay loop that keeps you motivated to move forward, it’s easy to see why Inquisition is such a smash hit. Is it perfect? No, but it didn’t have to be.
If we’re talking about games I want sequels to, Jade Empire tops my list.
BioWare took a significant gamble trading in their familiar fantasy settings for an original IP based deeply on Chinese culture and mythology. Knights of the Old Republic doesn’t count in my mind since that’s an already established franchise. BioWare had no world-building really to do there. The risk paid off; Jade Empire is a beautiful game, filled with satisfying combat, an engaging narrative, and plenty of consequences for your actions.
Please, BioWare. I would like a Jade Empire sequel. Will you kindly give us one?
As much as I love Mass Effect, it has many problems. Like all BioWare games, however, the story’s charm and characters elevate it to something extraordinary.
The original Mass Effect is the weakest of the trilogy due to poor controls. Building relationships with your crew, highly enjoyable quests, and seemingly endless ways to personalize your experience more than make up for those shortcomings.
The start of a planned trilogy, Mass Effect set the framework for what was to come. It’s the rockiest of the trilogy for sure, but it’s still a masterpiece.
The original Baldur’s Gate is a crowning achievement in RPG game design. I already talked about how important Neverwinter Nights was for D&D-inspired gameplay. That game wouldn’t exist without Baldur’s Gate.
Its isometric camera style was similar to Diablo, but the gameplay was infinitely deeper. Instead of focusing on combat, dungeon grinding, and acquiring loot, Baldur’s Gate gave players a world filled with characters to converse with and secrets to discover.
Mass Effect 3
Out of all BioWare games, you can argue that Mass Effect 3 was the first time they had a chance to finish a story. While they’ve developed plenty of sequels, this was the finale of a trilogy. Story and character arcs would conclude, the consequences for your decisions and actions will be finalized, and the fate of the galaxy is in your hands.
Even though Mass Effect 3 had some severe issues sticking the landing, specifically with how it handles the finale of the Reaper threat, the rest of the game is an absolute delight. Character and side-story resolutions are beyond satisfying. Combat is the best it’s ever been in the franchise.
Ending controversy aside, Mass Effect 3 delivers. BTW, be sure to check out our collection of the Best Mass Effect Legendary Edition Mods.
Baldur’s Gate Ii: Shadows of Amn
Remember how I said the original Baldur’s Gate is a crowning achievement? Shadows of Amn came in and said, “look at me, I’m the captain now.”
Baldur’s Gate II is how you make a sequel to an all-time classic. It improves the foundation of the original in every possible way. The game is bigger, the story is just as engaging, and the possibilities are endless. It is one of the best RPGs of all time, and yet, it’s third on this list.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
While the Baldur’s Gate franchise may have put BioWare on the map for RPG fans, it was arguably Knights of the Old Republic that brought the developer to the mainstream. KOTOR is an all-time classic, one of the best Star Wars games and original Xbox games ever made. The game is so beloved that it remains in the news even today. It was released for Nintendo Switch recently and is being remade as well.
Diving into the fabled Old Republic in Star Wars lore, KOTOR delivers in every possible way. The combat’s system mixed in the tried and true formula established in Baldur’s Gate and Neverwinter Nights while bringing a cinematic flair and feel. What pushes KOTOR over the top, though, is the morality system.
Each and every action affects the outcome of your story. While it wasn’t the first game with a morality system, it was arguably one of the first to embrace it in to the game’s entire DNA fully. Despite its age, KOTOR holds up exceptionally well today and, on many developer lists, would be the best in a portfolio.
Mass Effect 2
It’s no contest. Out of all BioWare games, Mass Effect 2 is undoubtedly the best. Like Baldur’s Gate II, BioWare addresses the issues and concerns with the first while staying true to what makes the franchise great. Combat and controls are tighter and infinitely more enjoyable.
An already memorable cast of characters is, against all odds, made even better. The voice cast delivers, featuring additions by Martin Sheen and Carrie-Anne Moss. The new crew-mates, highlighted by Mordin Solus, are stellar.
Mass Effect 2’s most remarkable accomplishment may be that it’s able to successfully tell a self-contained story despite being the middle child. Again, the Mass Effect trilogy was always planned so they knew there would be the third game in the series. Yet the game-specific narrative can deliver a satisfying beginning, middle, and end.
The BioWare Games list I put together likely has its fair share of critics so now’s the time to sound off in the comments section and tell me why I’m wrong… or right.