Gaming is currently in its most competitive era as industry players repeatedly flood the market with multiple AAA games each year. Graphics and gameplay can no longer gloss over plot quality, and this is especially true in the fantasy and role-playing categories. BioWare has been a big player in this field with its Mass Effect and Dragon Age titles, embodying the complete package of storytelling and graphics in both flagship games. The developer adopted different storytelling strategies with these franchises, and with a new installment coming to Mass Effect shortly, the developer could use its Dragon Age formula to craft a plot that breathes new life into its brainchild.

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With its releases from 2007 to 2012 as part of a trilogy, Mass Effect took gamers into a futuristic Milky Way Galaxy and received lots of praise for its plot, using a core group of characters to endear itself to gamers. Each Mass Effect game slowly unraveled the mysteries of the imagined future from one point of view and occasionally exploring the massive universe through DLC packages. The strategy worked, as all three main Mass Effect titles and the remastered Mass Effect: Legendary Edition had stellar reviews from fans and critics, although some gamers felt the series could have had more material reserved for side plots, instead of focusing on the main storyline. BioWare was more liberal with its storytelling methods in Dragon Age, changing pace effortlessly between editions and exploring different styles. This approach could be useful for future Mass Effect games.

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Different Storylines Could Add Depth to Mass Effect’s Gameplay

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Dragon Age is known for its fluidity in style, from the lore-heavy Dragon Age: Origins, to open-world campaigns in Inquisition. Each release changed its tune and kept gamers on their toes unlike the linear approach in Mass Effect. To some, Mass Effect still had better storytelling, as BioWare completely thrashed out the storyline of the impending doom of The Reapers without too many distractions, immersing players fully into the fantasy world. A few DLC packages brought more life to Mass Effect outside of the all-important save-the-world mission, but the franchise could have done with more content branching away from the ultimate goal within the main games.

Dragon Age: Origins was crafted similarly to the Mass Effect games, focused on a Chosen One’s quest to stop the Blight by defeating the Archdemon. As a result, the characters barely had any depth to them, and the storyline failed to immerse gamers fully into the Kingdom of Ferelden due to its straightforward nature. Where Mass Effect stretched its lore into a trilogy because it was so voluminous, Dragon Age went in another direction with its subsequent release of Dragon Age 2, exploring a different location and introducing gamers to new characters in the fantasy world. The endgame of Dragon Age 2 stepped away from to the world-saving goal of Dragon Age: Origins, focusing on the social ladder climb of the playable character.

Changing the dynamic players are used to is risky and demands lots of preparation to keep fans happy. Unfortunately, BioWare worked under a rushed development timeline, and as is usually the case with hurried projects, ended up producing a game full of glitches and a short plot compared to the first installment, leading to Dragon Age 2 enduring some bad reviews. Despite the glaring plot pacing issues and bugs, the game had a few positives. The character development arcs on display were immense, and Dragon Age 2 allowed players more influence over the game’s outcome through their choices.

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Mass Effect’s Lore Could Take Inspiration From Dragon Age: Inquisition

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For Dragon Age: Inquisition, BioWare produced arguably their most complete Dragon Age game, offering gamers multiple locations to explore and several sidequests. Without the constraints that hindered the Dragon Age 2 release, BioWare had enough resources to pour into Dragon Age: Inquisition. The game retained some features from Dragon Age 2 while adding a wide range of customization options and characters to the franchise. Dragon Age: Inquisition has a wealth of replay value thanks to its exhaustive lore.

The depth on display in the Dragon Age franchise is too good to ignore, with the writers building a comprehensive system of religion, a metaphysical realm called The Fade, and The Veil separating this realm from Thedas. Additionally, Dragon Age fleshed out superb antagonists with complete backstories in all installments, and although Mass Effect got off to a good start with Sovereign, there’s a discernable difference in the quality of the villains in both franchises. This could be another area for Mass Effect to look to Dragon Age for plot improvement.

Mass Effect could borrow a thing or two from Dragon Age‘s mode of storytelling. The DLCs released for each edition of Mass Effect brought a welcome distraction from the main meat of the plot, but they didn’t help enough to add a new dynamic. However, in the case of Dragon Age: Inquisition, some speculate that the depth of sidequests may have distracted gamers from the main storyline, so Mass Effect would do well to find a balance.

With upcoming releases like Mass Effect 4 set to continue the trilogy, BioWare could give players a nice change of pace by exploring a plot that isn’t so heavy throughout the game. Mass Effect already has a winning formula, but finding the right balance in adding Dragon Age‘s masterful sidequests and shifting points of view could elevate the franchise to even greater heights.

Mass Effect 4 is in development.

MORE: Mass Effect 4 Needs to Make One Major Change with the Protagonist

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