I like video games. It’s fun to get lost in an adventure for hours at a time, were the only care is the world ending in a ball of fire and brimstone and you have to beat the super bad or everyone will die. I’ve been playing video games since the Atari came out (well, we had the third version anyway). I struggled through the first Zelda game and raged quit Simon’s Quest. I’ve been a long supporter of Square-Enix and have played just about every Final Fantasy game there is. When they started producing Kingdom Hearts, my little nerd heart just about exploded because now I could play videos and explore Disney realms. It was the best of my geekdoms all in one.
Then, I discovered Bioware.
I admit that I came to the Bioware fold late. The first time I heard about the company was when they released the MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic (SWTOR). I was never much of a computer gamer. My gaming system of choice was Nintendo and later Playstation. I played a few dungeon crawler RPGs on other people’s computers, but I never owned a gaming PC (mostly because my computer loyalties lie with Apple). However, I heard people talking about this SWTOR game and they really liked. I was intrigued enough to go out and purchase not only a copy of the game, but the gaming PC that I needed in order to play the game.
That’s how it all started. I created my character (a smuggler) and began my galaxy wide adventure first hunting down my ship and then helping the Republic beat the Sith Empire. Along the way I was able to meet companions, chose various dialogue options, and build relationships with both PCs and NPCs in the game. There’s even romance options so you can flirt with your companions in hopes that they will love you. Once I finished the smuggler story line, I went back for more. I have since completed all 8 storylines in the game (cause what else am I going to do on a Saturday night).
Then I learned there was more. Turns out, Bioware has been making games like SWTOR for a while now.
I discovered that I was Revan, a once Jedi, once Sith, Jedi again force user who could either save or destroy the galaxy in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. I was the Grey Warden who defeated the Darkspawn and lived to tell about it in Dragon Age: Origins. I was Hawke, a girl fleeing from her war torn land into a city of political intrigue and helped spawn the mages’ rebellion against the Templars in Dragon Age 2. I was the Inquisitor in the final Dragon Age game and sealed the Breach, saving my world from unspeakable horrors. And most recently, I was Commander Shepard, who saved the entire galaxy from the Reapers, a race that wanted to wipe the slate clear of life and let it start all over again in the Mass Effect games.
I’ve played rich RPG games before. The Final Fantasy games are all great games with wonderfully engaging story lines (even if they are a little weird sometimes). The later Legend of Zelda games follow Link some a detailed world where you are responsible for saving Zelda. The games I have played in the past all have good plots, solid game play, and are really fun. But there are not Bioware fun.
Bioware doesn’t just guide you through the story. You are a part of the story. All of their games have a level of interaction that I had not seem in a console game before. You get to make decisions that (kind of) effect the outcome of the game. You get to interact with your companions by talking to them, giving them gifts, and influencing their actions. And your companions opinions of you matter (sort of). I found myself on more than one occasion making a decision because I knew that my companion would want me to make that decision. These games are so much more immersive than any other game I had experienced.
I recently started playing the new chapters in SWTOR and it’s super fun. More than being fun though, I want to go back and replay it with my other characters to see how the story changes based on the decisions I make. Do I get the same scene if my dark side character decides to shoot down the transport? How about if my Jedi saves that person instead? That’s the great thing about Bioware games: they are very replayable because you can make different decisions and see the different outcomes. Maybe the differences are small, but it makes the game more personable. I am (mostly) good with my characters so it’s enjoyable to go back through and see what changed if I make the dark side decision instead.
Mass Effect Andromeda comes out March 2017. I am super excited for this game. I haven’t been super excited for a game since Kingdom Hearts II came out (although I am super excited for KH III, too). I’m looking forward to another adventure with rich stories, unforgettable characters, and vast worlds.