OPINION PIECE: BioWare- Is All The Hate Justified?

Posted By | On 15th, Oct. 2011 Under Editorials | Follow This Author @Shubhankar2508


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For a long time now, BioWare has been counted amongst not only the top RPG developers in the gaming industry, but the top game developers period. They’ve delivered several games that simply took our- and many others’- breath away, like the Baldur’s Gate 1 and 2, Knights of the Old Republic, Neverwinter Nights and more recently, the Mass Effect series and Dragon Age: Origins.

However, in light of recent events, BioWare have started receiving more hate than respect, more disgust than love. Dragon Age II, people say, was the beginning of BioWare’s downfall, and that even with the Mass Effect series, they’re trying to attract the “Call of Duty” crowd. But is it fair to “hate on the”, as we say, after all BioWare has done in the past many years?

Baldur's Gate- one of the finest RPGs ever created. Has everybody forgotten the all the excellent games BioWare has made till date just because of one bad game?

Let me begin by saying that I’m a huge BioWare fan. I’ve played and loved almost every single game BioWare ever made, and respected them greatly for the great products they have developed over the years. However, I will keep my bias out of this editorial, so you can keep the “this post is biased” comments to yourself.

I mean, hasn’t BioWare delivered some of the best, deepest Role Playing Games, some of the best video games period in the past? Baldur’s Gate II is still regarded my many as the greatest RPG ever created, and BioWare has, at several times, been the leading developer in the RPG genre and a milestone that all RPG developers try to mimic, follow and beat. And Baldur’s Gate I and II are not even it. Knights of the Old Republic has to be one of the most enjoyable, engrossing and deep experiences to be provided by any game last generation, across all platforms.

But then, many people overlook all these great games, and take up Mass Effect 2 and Dragon Age II as examples of BioWare’s “consolizing” and “casualizing” their games, appealing to the masses rather than the hardcore RPG fanbase. Yes, I agree that Mass Effect 2 and Dragon Age II were not as much RPGs as they should have been, and definitely not even half as much as their predecessors. Yes, I know that BioWare has let go of their fans who support hardcore, stat-grinding RPG mechanics and have been loyal to BioWare for so long. I agree with all that. But I have several counter arguments.

Maybe this game will change your mind...

First of all, Mass Effect 2 was, RPG or no, an excellent game, worthy of a 10/10 from us and even the Game of the Year 2010 award. It had a great story, some very memorable characters, excellent morality system and element of choice and enjoyable combat. True, the light RPG elements must have been a huge put off for fans of the genre, BioWare and the first game. But if one put his or her preconceptions and biases aside, they’d see what a wonderful and beautiful game Mass Effect 2 truly was.

Secondly, while it is true that BioWare has always been more or less like a blueprint for all western RPG developers to follow, BioWare themselves have always said that they’re more about the story, the element of choice and how their stories are presented than RPG elements and stat grinding. Agreed, the latter was once more important to the devs than it is now, but as I wrote above, BioWare has always primarily been about telling a great story that hooks and doesn’t let go of the player. And Mass Effect 2 delivers in that respect in all ways possible.

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  • I think there’s a few things in play.

    The biggest being EA. EA bought up Bioware and since then you’ve seen some odd, Non-bioware misteps which really only point towards EA and their pushing the studio to pump out more and quicker. I heard rumors that DA2 was pushed so quickly because EA wanted to capitalize on the popularity of DAO quickly before gamers got impatient. I also hear that a lot of the DLC decisions are also that of EA, pushing for more, smaller DLC content.

    The second thing in play is the fact that Bioware isn’t the bioware it was during the years of Baulder’s Gate. Yes, the two Doctors whom started are still at the helm, but the studio has changed over the years and thus ideals as to what’s important to their type of development have changed.

    The third and probably most important thing, is the fact that Bioware is evolving the ideas of an RPG and integrating them into other genres to create hybrid games that give us levels of RPG stats and such with more fluid combat and amped up action that A LOT of RPGs of lore seem to be low on.

    I think there’s a crowd out there that loves the idea of RPGs of yesteryear where you spent a ton of time thinking out skill trees, crafting potions, managing loot and and there’s the other 95% of gamers whom really don’t have time to bother learning new sets for every game that comes out. I’m not saying ALL RPG elements should be dumbed down or dropped, but fact of the matter is, a lot of gamers simply will not play a game if it’s as complex as RPGs of old.

    I personally like a mix. I loved DragonAge Origns for it’s characters and unique (and epic) journey through it’s world. I had no issues with the looting style, crafting, item management, XP and skill trees, but I did have an issue with the bland “click an enemy to fight” fighting mechanics. Come DragonAge2, I was thrilled to have real time control over my character and see graphical improvements. Sadly, the rest of the game’s scope and the character development just dropped off. I didn’t care about the characters, I didn’t have an attachment to the story and the places i visited seemed for nothing, regardless of other parts of the game.

    With Mass Effect, I preferred to collect weapons & armor and equip the better ones on the go, getting rid of or trading the ones I didn’t for cash that I could use for other things. The leveling up made sense too. I didn’t like that all of that was dropped for ME2 in favor of on-board (the ship) weapons/armor that was simply decided for you and a level system that was dumbed down.

    They really need to have a mix to please both parties… but it’s got to be done in such a way that doesn’t alienate the general game… because let’s face it… that 5% that LOVE hardcore RPG elements are only going to spend so much money.

  • bob

    the key here is WAS!!! a BIG WAS. bioware made great games in the past, but as time passes, the games bioware puts out are more and more watered down and simplistic. eventually the games wont even be RPG’s

    • Shubhankar Parijat

      That attitude is exactly why people don’t like BioWare games anymore. Stop looking at them as RPGs and start looking at them for what they are. Once you get past the assumption that they’re gonna be deep, complex Role Playing Games, you’ll see that they’re not half as bad as you make them out to be.


 

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