Since its 1995 inception, BioWare has established a strong reputation as a pioneer developer in the video game genre of role-playing games. Best known for franchises such as Dragon Age, Star Wars: The Old Republic and Mass Effect, the Canadian company has frequently impressed critics and players alike with its rich storytelling, world-building, and character development.
Frequently sporting immersive gameplay, engrossing combat mechanics, and thought-provoking moral choices for players, BioWare’s commitment to detailed landscapes and world design has also helped many of their games avoid looking overly dated in the years after their release. This has ensured many maintain their relevance and player interest long after they first hit the stands in a way that is often difficult to pull off in the ever-evolving video game medium. With their consistent commitment to intricate narratives and player agency, BioWare have plenty of great games from yesteryear that withstood the test of time and remain addictive to this day.6 Jade Empire
This 2005 action extravaganza boasts a rich world modeled on Chinese mythology full of different combat systems for players to put to good use. Despite a positive critical reception, Jade Empire’s sales were less than stellar, ultimately bottling this game’s franchise potential.
Transporting gamers to a supernatural world of detailed landscapes, mythical monsters, and martial arts, Jade Empire set itself apart at the time with its remarkably immersive world-building. Almost 20 years later, its storytelling and character development remain top-notch, with the hero’s journey it sends its players on still packing a dramatic punch. Exploring compelling themes such as loyalty, destiny, and identity, the game adds layers of complexity to the proceedings with its difficult player choices and companion character dynamics. With a fluid, dynamic approach to combat, atmospheric music and design, and a compelling, imaginative narrative, Jade Empire is an underrated gem that has proven to be a timeless cult favorite over the years.5 Neverwinter Nights
First released back in 2002, Neverwinter Nights focuses on the Forgotten Realms campaign setting from Dungeons and Dragons. The highly acclaimed RPG offers both a deep single-player campaign and a robust multiplayer mode for players to enjoy.
As is customary with RPGs, everything kicks off with players creating their own character from scratch. From there, a slew of monster fights and exciting locations to explore becomes the norm as gamers make their way through the city of Neverwinter. The titular setting is brimming with political intrigue and dark secrets, building up a compelling main plot for players to uncover. With a wide-branching narrative and player decisions having potentially major impacts on the story’s progression, Neverwinter Nights succeeds in handing gamers an immersive, remarkably personalized, playing experience. With a dedicated modding community consistently keeping the game fresh, this thrilling piece of DnD gaming is still a rewarding experience today thanks to its emphasis on player customization and storytelling.4 Dragon Age: Origins
The first entry in the Dragon Age series takes players into the Kingdom of Ferelden during the return of the Darkspawn, monstrous creatures from deep underground. Right off the bat, the game’s replayability is huge thanks to it offering six different player character origin stories depending on the player’s race and class choices.
Boasting a rich, in-depth fantasy world full of wonder and curiosities, Dragon Age: Origins’ mastery of establishing political landscapes and mythologies is a key aspect of its immersive appeal. With a deep, complex narrative on offers, the players’ journey to unite the divided nations of Ferelden as the Gray Warden is a dramatic, immersive task that captures the dark fantasy genre perfectly. Like so many RPGs, Origins boasts a choice-heavy story that can alter greatly depending on the player’s decisions, further adding to its replay value. Thanks to its supreme world-building, compelling storylines, rewarding, strategic gameplay, and respectable graphics and design, Origins is as fun now as it was back in 2009.
Set thousands of years before the events of the films, Knights of the Old Republic takes players in a Wild West-style era in which both the Jedi and the Sith are riding high. The move into an ancient era of Star Wars lore immediately set this game apart from everything else in the franchise, becoming a must-play for fans looking for a new story.
In what has become a standard in RPGs in the years since, KOTR has an innovative morality system as players navigate the dark and the light of the Force. The system ties in with complex choices that often have far-reaching consequences in the game, adding more depth and replayability to it. The narrative of the game is among the very best in both Star Wars and RPG history, chock-full of plot twists, world building, and colorful characters. With an immersive, turn-based combat system, memorable character, and a phenomenal soundtrack from composer Jeremy Soule, KOTR is as much a thrilling, Force-using treat for players now as it was back at the time of its July 2003 release.2 Baldur’s Gate 2: Shadows Of Amn
First released back in 2000, Baldur’s Gate 2 quickly established itself as landmark moment in RPG gaming thanks to its immersive plot and strategic combat. Brimming with political intrigue and rich character development, Shadows of Amn quickly outshone its predecessor.
As is to be expected for a game modeled on the Dungeons and Dragons format, the player character is blessed with multiple colorful companions to journey through the Forgotten Realms with. The diverse cast of companion characters all offer their own captivating backstories and personality profiles. Thanks to the many interactions, personal quests, and dialogue trees on offer throughout the game, connections between the player character and the companions are effectively established.
The strategic combat system, which permits players to customize their party for each battle, maintains a diverse variety of combat encounter, keeping the game engaging through multiple playthroughs. Overall, with its expansive open world, intricate plotting, and the longevity of its modding community, Baldur’s Gate 2 remains an RPG gem more than 20 years after its initial release.1 Mass Effect 2 Established Itself As One Of Gaming’s Finest Sequels
Taking the highly acclaimed world-building and storytelling of the original and cranking it up to 11, Mass Effect 2 proved to be superior to its beloved predecessor in almost every way. Players catch up with Commander Shepard as a new team is assembled to tackle the deadly Collectors threat.
The heavy focus on character development and interpersonal relationships among the characters is incredibly well-executed throughout. The blend of engaging dialogue and acts of loyalty make it easier for players to grow attached to the characters, making their high stakes mission all the more intense. Not only that, but the choices that players made in the previous game have an impact on the sequel as well.
The combat mechanics are all also high-quality, keeping the action slick and straightforward throughout. Boasting several exciting DLCs – including Lair of the Shadow Broker, which has a narrative so good it gives the rest of the game a run for its money – and more than one potential dramatic ending, Mass Effect 2remains a thrilling sci-fi ride long after its January 2010 release.