BioWare is one of the most celebrated and critically-acclaimed video game studios in history, particularly when it comes to RPGs. The studio has released games that have been hailed as masterpieces, but some of its other titles have failed to impress fans and critics alike. Its latest game, the co-op shooter RPG Anthem, has been widely criticized since its February 22 launch, and stands as one of the worst-reviewed games BioWare has produced to date.
There have even been some claims that Anthem is the lowest-reviewed BioWare game in history, and while that is true for its PC and console releases, it’s not accurate when examining the studio’s full library of 19 released games. For that reason, we decided to take a look at all of BioWare’s games, and rank them based on their review aggregate score.
To compile this list, we used the score for the platform that had the most reviews. So, for example, if the Xbox 360 version of Mass Effect 2 had more reviews than its PS3 counterpart, we went with the Xbox 360 score. Typically the difference in review score was just a few points, and so it didn’t have any major impact on the ranking.
It’s also important to note that reviews are still coming in for Anthem, and while we don’t expect its score to shift much in either direction, its final score could still end up being different than what’s listed here.
While there seems to be a lot hate directed at Anthem, it’s not technically the worst-reviewed game in BioWare history. Back in 2009, BioWare released a top-down shooter for iOS devices called Mass Effect Galaxy, which abandons the studio’s usually high production values for uninspired comic book cut-scenes that tell a story that didn’t really need to be told. Presented as a sort of companion piece to Mass Effect 2, Mass Effect Galaxy does give a little more backstory to the popular character Miranda Lawson, but accomplishes little else beyond that. For these reasons and reportedly poor controls, Mass Effect Galaxy is the worst-reviewed game in BioWare’s library.
While Mass Effect Galaxy is technically the worst-reviewed BioWare game, it’s understandable that some fans may disregard it because of its status as a cheap mobile spinoff. Anthem, on the other hand, is a triple-A game that has been hyped for years, and if review scores are any indication, it has seriously failed to live up to that hype. While the game has some dedicated followers, many have complained about its repetitive mission structure, excessive grind, and weak story. Coming off the disappointing Mass Effect: Andromeda, BioWare needed Anthem to be a win, but its failure to please critics and fans seems to have had a direct impact on sales, and may put its future as a live service game in jeopardy.
For a short time in the early 2010s, Facebook games were all the rage. In an attempt to capitalize on the success of browser-based games like Farmville, many triple-A game publishers created Facebook spinoffs of their most popular franchises, with EA and BioWare putting out a Dragon Age strategy game for the social media platform called Dragon Age Legends. Dragon Age Legends failed to generate much interest, and lasted only about a year before its servers were shut down due to lack of revenue. However, it’s still possible to download a free, single-player version of the game through BioWare’s website.
The original Mass Effect trilogy stand as some of BioWare’s most celebrated work to date, and so expectations were high for Mass Effect: Andromeda. Unfortunately, the game was burdened by a troubled development cycle, and was mocked upon release for its hilariously outdated facial animations. Until Anthem‘s launch, Andromeda was known as the worst-reviewed BioWare game on PC and consoles, but to its credit, BioWare did attempt to fix some of its issues with post-launch patches.
Long before BioWare was known as an RPG studio, the company released its very first game in the form of a mech simulation title called Shattered Steel. Reviewers of the time found the game’s action quite fun, but felt that the overall experience lacked depth and innovation. For a first title, though, BioWare could’ve done much worse.
In one of the most bizarre collaborations in history, BioWare teamed with Sega to create a Sonic the Hedgehog RPG for the Nintendo DS called Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood. Sonic Chronicles received mixed reviews upon release, with many critics praising its combat system and visuals, while expressing disappointment that its story didn’t match up to BioWare’s standards. Perhaps BioWare could’ve delivered a sequel that would’ve addressed those complaints, but plans for Sonic Chronicles 2 appear to have been scrapped after EA’s acquisition of the studio.
After BioWare released the critically-acclaimed Dragon Age: Origins, it immediately set to work on a sequel. Given just over one year to complete the game, BioWare had to rush development on Dragon Age 2, resulting in a product that was greatly reduced in scope when compared to its predecessor. However, Dragon Age 2‘s story and gameplay were strong enough to keep it from being universally panned, and the game was also a decent sales success for BioWare.
While some may have preferred to see BioWare produce a single-player sequel to Knights of the Old Republic, its Star Wars: The Old Republic MMO has still been quite the success. Earning strong reviews at release and even winning some Game of the Year awards, the MMO has only improved with age, with BioWare releasing new story expansions and free content updates to keep players engaged. Anyone interested in The Old Republic can try it for free, and see just how well BioWare did with its first attempt at an MMO.
MDK2 is an oddball in BioWare’s library, as its a direct sequel to a game developed by a completely different studio, and it’s a third-person shooter without the deep RPG elements that the company is known for. MDK2 sees players take on the role of Kurt Hectic, Max (a robotic dog that smokes cigars), and Dr. Hawkins in various levels that all feature different styles of gameplay. The game is notable for its sharp sense of humor, and while some took issue with its high difficulty level, it received generally positive reviews across the board.
BioWare made a name for itself with its isometric action-RPGs like Baldur’s Gate and Neverwinter Nights. Dragon Age: Origins was meant to be a return to that kind of game, but with a more strategic, modern take on combat and an even deeper focus on narrative. Many would agree that BioWare largely met its goals with Dragon Age: Origins, which was successful enough to launch yet another major franchise for the studio.
Neverwinter Nights saw BioWare adapt the Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition rules into a video game, and it was hugely successful in its efforts. Not only did the game feature a massive campaign with robust multiplayer options, but its creation tools and DM Client give it virtually infinite replayability. Indeed, Neverwinter Nights still has an active community of players, even though it’s nearly 20 years old at this point.
Jade Empire is one of the most unique games in BioWare’s library, dropping the studio’s usual penchant for sci-fi or high fantasy settings for an original one based on Chinese culture and mythology. But even though it has a unique setting and an innovative martial arts-themed combat system, Jade Empire still feels like a traditional BioWare game thanks to its riveting story that is full of player choice. Let’s just say there’s a reason why fans often get excited whenever there’s news on a possible Jade Empire sequel.
After a somewhat lackluster reception to Dragon Age 2, Dragon Age: Inquisition redeemed the franchise with impressive open world environments, a well-written cast of interesting characters, and a refined combat system that built on what Dragon Age: Origins did right. Numerous gaming publications named Dragon Age: Inquisition as their Game of the Year in 2014, and it’s often hailed as one of BioWare’s absolute best works.
When Mass Effect released back in 2007, it launched what is arguably BioWare’s most popular franchise to date. The original Mass Effect earned widespread acclaim for its engaging story, and high level of player choice that had a direct and clear impact on its narrative. Built for replayability, Mass Effect players were encouraged to replay the story and continue leveling their version of Commander Shepard as they shaped the plot in any way that they saw fit. Combine the top-tier storytelling with genuinely exciting combat and it’s no wonder Mass Effect was such a big hit in 2007.
Simply put, Baldur’s Gate is the game that put BioWare on the map. Credited with revitalizing the PC RPG market, Baldur’s Gate is an isometric action-RPG that is similar to Blizzard’s Diablo, but with significantly more in the way of player choice. The game is considered a classic of its genre, and modern fans will soon have a chance to see what all the fuss is about. That’s because Skybound Games has announced plans to re-release Baldur’s Gate on Switch, PS4, and Xbox One in the near future.
Mass Effect 3 has one of the most polarizing endings in gaming history, with its finale so harshly criticized that BioWare literally patched in a new one. But even those who hated Mass Effect 3‘s ending can still appreciate what the rest of the game has to offer, which is a series of emotionally-charged and action-packed events that deliver proper sendoffs to some of gaming’s most memorable companions. Mass Effect 3 is full of series-best moments, and deserves its reputation as one of BioWare’s most highly-rated games despite the controversy surrounding its ending.
After the near-universal acclaim for Baldur’s Gate, it was going to be hard for BioWare to top it, but it apparently did just that with Baldur’s Gate 2: Shadows of Amn. A massive adventure, Shadows of Amn improved upon just about everything in the original Baldur’s Gate, and has retroactively been hailed as one of the absolute best RPGs ever made.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic laid the groundwork for what BioWare would do with the Mass Effect franchise, but it still holds up on its own as a hallmark action-RPG. Leveraging the Star Wars license masterfully, Knights of the Old Republic tells an original story that includes one of the most shocking twists in gaming history. The game won numerous Game of the Year awards in 2003, and considering how successful BioWare was with developing it, it’s a shame that EA apparently won’t let the studio work on a Knights of the Old Republic 3, despite it having the exclusive rights to make Star Wars games.
Mass Effect 2 is peak BioWare. Players were able to carry over their progress from the original Mass Effect, and could see how their choices in the first game had a direct and profound impact on the game world. The original’s interactive storytelling elements were greatly expanded on, and Mass Effect 2 also made an effort to trim the fat, delivering a more technically-sound experience that abandoned the more frustrating gameplay elements from the first game. The suicide mission at the center of Mass Effect 2‘s story gave every choice added weight, and against all odds, BioWare delivered a cast of companion characters that were arguably even more interesting than those in the original game. Mass Effect 2 is a landmark video game, and stands as not just one of the highest-rated BioWare games, but one of the highest-rated video games, period.
While its certainly had its missteps, BioWare has produced an impressive library of work so far. Its two most recent releases, Anthem and Mass Effect: Andromeda, may leave some fans skeptical about the studio’s future games, but there’s reason to be hopeful as well. Casey Hudson, the game director of Mass Effect 2, returned to BioWare in 2017, and while he likely came back too late to really have a significant impact on Anthem‘s direction, he may very well ensure that BioWare’s future projects are more in line with the quality fans expect.
As for what the future holds for BioWare, we know that the studio will do its best to improve Anthem with content updates, and we also know that it has a new Dragon Age game in the works. Likely slated for next-generation consoles, we know next to nothing about the next Dragon Age at the time of this writing, but here’s hoping it’s more in line with Inquisition than Dragon Age 2.
Anthem is out now for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.