This is going to be a huge year for BioWare. The studio is celebrating its 24th anniversary this May, which will be preceded by the release of Anthem on 22 February – if that weren’t enough, we’re also expecting to hear more on Dragon Age 4 at some point before 2019 draws to a close. What we’re saying is that there’s no better time for us to revisit the studio’s huge library of releases; What better way to pave a trip down memory lane than with a ranked list of the best BioWare games?
This ranking has been determined by the highly scientific method of popular vote from the GamesRadar team. Our list doesn’t adhere to a ‘one game per series’ rule because, honestly, what kind of monster would make you choose between your children?
Looking over the best BioWare games is like looking over the evolution of the RPG genre. It's fascinating to see the studio grow and evolve between each of its releases – to see the studio further establishing what makes a good BioWare game. Not every game made by BioWare is a classic, but they have all certainly have left an impression on us.
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16. Shattered Steel (1996)
This action title offered little beyond delivering on the fantasy of running around in your own giant robot – and sometimes that’s all you need. As BioWare’s first developed game it would be remiss of us not to include it here. Founded in part by a number of freshly graduated medical students, their career success not only granted them the resources to develop their first game but also an appropriate company name. In this late MS-DOS game, BioWare’s trademark ambition shone through with destructible environments, a campaign that visits five different planets, and seven giant robots to choose from – each with their own individually voiced onboard computer. Beginning life as a proof-of-concept demo, it was submitted to ten publishers with seven of those responding with an offer. The rest, as they say, was history.
15. MDK2 (2000)
As unexpected an entry in the BioWare back catalogue then as it is today, BioWare co-founder Greg Zeshuk said at the time that the studio’s aim with MDK2 was to explore a new direction “beyond the constrictive environments established in other 3D games.” Back in 2000, this multi-platform third-person shooter from the Baldur’s Gate developer certainly offered that. Beginning moments after the first game’s conclusion – of which BioWare had no involvement with – the improbable trio of Kurt Hectic, Dr. Hawkins, and Max soon discover an alien invasion they thought they’d defeated is in fact still very much in-progress. Criticised at the time for occasionally frustrating difficulty, it delivered on variety across its ten levels and an off-beat sense of humour that was praised for being true to its predecessor despite the new developer.
14. Mass Effect: Andromeda (2017)
In 2017, Shepard was out and Ryder was in. This hugely-anticipated standalone sequel followed a few hundred settlers that left the Milky Way Galaxy in search of a new adventures, landing in the Andromeda Galaxy centuries after the controversial conclusion to Mass Effect 3. The game, the first next-gen installment to the famed RPG series and focused on humanity’s attempts to find a new home world and overcome a new enemy that was threatening its very existence. While BioWare sought to introduce a bigger focus on exploration than past installments, across some of the largest environments it had ever created, Mass Effect: Andromeda failed to hit the mark. The combat was more action than RPG, the game was riddled with distracting bugs and glitches, and the story never quite lined up with the promise of the premise; there was a lot to like about Andromeda but it, sadly, never quite cut its own path in defining itself in contrast to the original trilogy.
13. Dragon Age 2 (2011)
The Hawke’s decade long journey from zero to Kirkwall’s Hero proved the awkward middle child of the series. While it boasted impactful story moments, they were too often squirrelled away from the main story – which itself many felt often struggled to maintain tension. This too wasn’t helped by the somewhat lacklustre presentation, featuring more than its fair share of dungeons you’ve definitely fought your way through before. Combat was also praised and criticised in equal measure, with your AI comrades dishing out attacks that complemented your abilities but the action itself often felt repetitive due to a lack of enemy variety and high spawn rate.
12. Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood (2008)
Who better to develop Sonic’s first foray into the RPG space than BioWare? By 2008 the studio had more than proved itself as a studio, and this is one of those wonderfully strange creations that flew under the radar at the time. Sonic Chronicles may not have offered a level of depth and complexity that we had come to expect from BioWare, but The Dark Brotherhood is still remembered today for its surprisingly involved story, which came with a doozy of a cliffhanger and some of Sega’s most iconic faces along for the ride. The blue hedgehog’s first jab at turn-based combat offered a unique spin via timing-based prompts on the Nintendo DS’s touch screen.
11. Baldur’s Gate (1998)
The high bar for Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, it was met with almost universal acclaim in 1998 but, if you can believe it, it’s success was wholly unexpected by even the developers themselves. Publisher Interplay initially predicted low sales, even going so far as to allegedly forecast none at all within Britain. In the late 90’s role playing games on PC were in their waning years but Baldur’s Gate is largely credited with the genre’s reinvigoration. Adventure replete with that unforgettable, cheeky tone was waiting around every corner and the series became known for offering a world that was consistently rewarding to get lost in. The Infinity Engine’s debut in this title and popularity among developers of early noughties RPG’s afterwards contributed to its lasting impact and enduring influence.
10. Star Wars: The Old Republic (2011)
The fastest growing MMO in the world when it launched in 2011, acquiring one million subscribers in its first three days online, it’s still alive and kicking today though now as a free-to-play title. Regular content updates are largely to thank for its longevity but also, instead of attempting to reinvent the MMORPG wheel upon release, it served up a refined experience and today boasts six huge expansions. The Old Republic may never have reached the same heights as Star Wars Galaxies in the eyes of many fans, but it’s still proven to be a wonderful and tightly constructed MMO experience. Worried about how BioWare may handle Anthem and the Games as a Service model? Look no further than The Old Republic for a boost in confidence.
09. Mass Effect 3 (2012)
Looking back at it now, you have to wonder whether Mass Effect 3 ever stood a chance. It was charged with wrapping up a trilogy defined by choice and consequence, so of course some players were disappointed by the lack of choice and degree of consequence presented in those fateful endings. Still, unwarranted backlash aside, Mass Effect 3 was an otherwise excellent entry to the series; The game delivered the kind of story beats, delightful character interactions, and large-scale scenes of action that can only come from a world that had been lovingly crafted and evolved across an entire console generation. Mass Effect 3 may not have reached the heights of its predecessors, but it still stands as one of the most underrated releases from BioWare.
What's our top pick? Click 'next page' to conclude our countdown of the best BioWare games.