Let’s get it all out there. Bioware sucks. Why?
1. Bioware has been making the same game since 2003. Further back if you count the development time. Kotor, Jade Empire, Mass Effect and Dragon Age are all the same game with different characters and settings. Sure they’re all good games, but they’re all the same good game. The same RPG lite approach, cutscenes, group of wacky characters you get to know along the way with different powers and engine that can’t handle you trying to walk on the grass. The same game since 2003.
2. The gimmicks are all old. The enemy who turns out to be a front for the real enemy. The mentor who turns out to be your enemy. The companions who turn on you forcing a showdown. The companions who make you choose which of them is going to die. The dark secrets of your companions. It was innovative in its time, but it’s all been done over and over again. Imagine Black Isle’s rep if it had just made Fallout, a game that played like Fallout but was set in a medieval fantasy land, a game that played like Fallout but was set in space, etc.
3. DLC, DLC and more DLC.
4. Pathetic attempts at social relevance. Remember playing Neverwinter Nights and finding a tribe of natives being attacked with poisoned blankets? That was embarrassing but Dragon Age 2 has material just as embarrassing. There’s a smart way to do social commentary and there’s the bonk you over the head with it way. Bioware goes the bonk way.
5. They’re not games, they’re interactive movies. If the earlier Bioware games were choose your own adventures, games like Mass Effect 2 or Dragon Age 2 are just geared to showing you their cutscenes in between combat. Your choices are narrowly limited to sitting through what the designers want you to sit through. Bioware designers call that storytelling, but it strips away user agency for designer wankfests.
6. Consolization. Bioware is aiming heavily at the console market and stripping away the more interactive elements. Less customization and more handholding. A streamlined experience with no soul. Mass Effect 2 and Dragon Age 2 shows what happens when they try to adapt their formula to the console. The story goes by the wayside and the focus becomes on combat and cutscenes that mostly play out the same way whatever you do.