Dragon Age Vs Mass Effect: Bioware’s Best

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as you stand there fantasizing over those two sexy ladies, you eventually have to decide which one you want to approach and ask for that Friday night date

If you ask me who my favorite developer of the moment is, I will answer Bioware before you even finish asking. Bioware has a history of creating epic gaming experiences with some of the best storytelling. They are responsible for classics such as Baldur’s Gate 1 and 2, Star Wars: Knights of the old republic, Jade Empire and Neverwinter Nights. This generation they have taken their legacy even further by bringing us two of the best RPG’s ever seen. First came Mass Effect and then came Dragon Age. Both games now have sequels leaving fans waiting for the third entry into these wonderful franchises. But which is the better of the two?
Now before I continue I have to remind you that I adore both of these games. It is hard for me to even pick one over the other because they are like two sexy ladies birthed by the same parents. But as you stand there fantasizing over those two sexy ladies, you eventually have to decide which one you want to approach and ask for that Friday night date which will last all night long. That is my dilemma with Dragon Age and Mass Effect. Today happens to be Friday, and I need to figure out which game I want to spend my night with. So to achieve this I will break down the elements that both games share and see which one does them best. I am sure many will not agree with my choice, so feel free to offer your opinions below.

Be warned, there may be some spoilers in here.

Dragon Age’s look often puts people off of playing it


Both games contain some of the best storytelling seen in gaming this generation. Both have complex story developments that can easy span through dozens of games if Bioware and EA ever felt the need to milk the franchises further beyond a trilogy. Bioware have a knack for creating lore that’s just too hard to completely ignore. Both games allow you to collect codex entries that further reveal just how thought out the story was.

The main differences between the two games, without giving anything away; is that where Mass Effect’s Shepard has one main focus (Reapers). In Dragon Age the main focus can shift as there are many issues to be dealt with in the continent of Thedas. The level of mystery is also higher in Dragon Age, mainly for the fact that everyone wants to know what the deal is with that damn “Old God Baby”. There is much discussion to be had on both games storyline’s between fellow fans, but speaking on Dragon Age theories leaves more room open for imagination. That’s saying something considering Mass Effect is set in space. Also I find Dragon Age’s story a lot more mature. It is harder to get into for the broader audiences, but there is so much subject matter there to explore. Not to say that there is little in Mass Effect, but I have to pick one right?
Winner: Dragon Age


Mass Effect is known for the great facial detail on the various characters; even the different alien species look believable. And although you would think that space is just way too easy to make look good, Bioware do it so well that it just looks a joy to look at. The different planets are well designed even if the environments sometimes look a little dense.

Dragon Age clearly doesn’t look as appealing as Mass Effect on first glance. But then it’s not meat it. It’s a different setting completely, and Dragon Age’s style suits the intended look. With that being said though, Dragon Age’s look often puts people off of playing it. So Mass Effect clearly takes this category.
Winner: Mass Effect


Now this is a really tough one to judge. Both games have easy to use combat systems that also allow you to apply some level of strategy; as well as having to position your team. Both feature lengthy engaging missions/quests that can potentially grip you for hours at a time. I guess the thing I will pick at here is the combat system seen on Dragon Age 2. Now if I was just going on Dragon Age: Origins vs Mass Effect 1, Dragon age would win hands down. It just so happens that I am taking all games in the franchises into consideration. Mass Effect’s combat is pretty consistent between the first and second game besides the change from overloading weapons to ammo. But Dragon Age unfortunately suffered a completely unwanted change.

In Dragon Age: Origins the combat was so perfect, allowing you to apply a number of strategies to sway the battles in your favor. You had the opportunity to see every enemy and plan your attack accordingly. In Dragon Age 2, not only is jumping around like a monkey with a butt itch annoying to see, but exploding bodies is over the top. Not only that but the fact that a new batch of enemies will just spawn out of nowhere right by your ally who you designated the job of ranged attacks to, just destroys the whole point of strategy.
Winner: Mass Effect


I have to admit that this one is a little too easy for me to choose. The romances in the Dragon Age series just feel a little more developed than those in Mass Effect. I mean damn I had to spoil Morrigan with gift’s, be nice to her even when she was a bitch and even kill her mum before she invited me into her tent. It just seems like that in Mass Effect they’re all falling over themselves trying to get with Shepard. Being too willing too soon to jump in bed with someone kind of says something about that person I think.
Winner: Dragon Age

in Mass Effect they’re all falling over themselves trying to get with Shepard


These are some of the best written games I have played in a long time. Writing is definitely something that Bioware has always had down, and they have never failed us when it comes to dialog. The fact that both games allow you to make critical choices means that your character has to have a crisp mouth piece. In both games I enjoy the back and forth banter between characters, even if your character isn’t involved. I just feel like the dialog seen in Dragon Age is on its own level of perfection. They manage to capture the emotion of every scene perfectly. There is also tons of humor in Dragon Age, the type that can only be manifested through excellent writing.
Winner: Dragon Age


Mass Effect did something that hadn’t been seen in gaming before. It allowed you to play through the first game making the choices you wanted to make. Shaping Shepard’s life the way you want it. And then it let you carry over all of that into the second game to further develop the exact same character. Dragon Age on the other hand, did not. Sure Dragon Age 2 lets you import your save from the previous game and expansions, but the fact remains that you play as an entirely new character. And unfortunately many of us much prefer our Grey Warden’s accomplishments to those of Hawke’s.
Winner: Mass Effect


Here goes another tough one to call. Both games feature an epic build up that will emotionally drain you by the time you see the final pay offs. But the pay offs are so outstanding that you can’t help but offer up whats left of your emotion. Now let’s be clear, I don’t exactly mean that I sit down crying. It’s just that when you play games as immersible as these two franchises, you can’t help but feel a little something inside as the story plays out. As far as this category goes I have to give it to Dragon Age because it touches on some issues real close to home, and I’m not just saying that because Mass Effect happens to be in space. Going through a blight and slaying a tainted dragon in origins; and then confronting the Arishok in Dragon Age 2. These are things that really made me feel like I was in the moment. Not to mention the treatment of Elves and mages. These feel like real issues to me even though they are based on fantasy. I don’t wish to take anything away from Mass Effect here though, as it is also an excellent roller-coaster of emotions by its own right. The mix of a broad story mixed with excellent dialog just gives Dragon Age a bit more depth.
Winner: Dragon Age

So based on these categories overall I have to go with Dragon Age. But I wouldn’t mind spending my Friday night with both games at the same time. I think I’ll set up both the laptop and the Xbox at the same time. Let us know which game you prefer and why.

About The Author
Gary A. Swaby Co-founder/UK Managing Editor
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