The legendary action-adventure RPG trilogy is currently available as an FHD/4K remaster. Did you play it again, or are you looking for other games like Mass Effect instead?
Bioware was at its best when they crafted the galactic quest of Commander Shepard. It’s one of the greatest role-playing experiences in the industry, even if the ending is not to the highest standards.
Selecting Games Like Mass Effect
Selecting games like Mass Effect requires us to understand these aspects. So, we believe ME fans would like games featuring a mix or a twist of the following ingredients:
- Genre: These are semi-open, sci-fi action RPGs with a third-person perspective, and some looting elements.
- Semi-open Design: You’re free to pursue main and side quests in any order and choose them from your hub (your ship).
- Open-world Design: Andromeda offers several open-world hubs instead. You can choose the order of your quests at any order from your ship.
- Combat Gameplay: You use a series of sci-fi weapons, plus a couple of powers, to defeat enemies.
- Squad Combat: You can order your AI companions to attack, take positions, defend positions, and use skills.
- Classes: Similarly, you select and customize your class. Classes have different powers that affect enemy and armor types differently.
- Exploration Gameplay: Whenever you’re not in combat, you’ll freely explore hub cities and bases, your ships, and maps.
- NPC Interactivity: As you explore, you’ll interact with hundreds of NPCs, including your companions.
- Dialogue Wheel: You’ll have options on a dialogue wheel during conversations. These determine NPC reactions and much more.
- Choices and Consequences: As a Commander, your orders and choices alter the course of missions and lead to various endings and events.
- Carry-over: Significant choices carry on throughout the whole trilogy. There’re no branching paths, rather consequences that play out in cinematic cuts.
- Setting: Either Mass Effect game features a deep story, rich lore, and many characters. The story comes through cinematics, conversation, and action.
- Deep Lore: The saga has a fully-fledged universe. There’re introduces various alien races, locations, and lore information you can see in the codex.
- Story-arc: The game has an overarching story arc about defeating the Reapers and ancient AI evil. You can’t greatly influence it with your choices.
- Character-arcs: However, you can greatly influence what happens to your companions and the races they represent with your choices.
- Companions: You’ll meet and recruit several aliens and humans as part of your crew. You can also interact with them to learn more about your team.
- Loyalty Missions: As you interact with your companions, they’ll ask you to help them on special loyalty quests. These Can determine their life or death.
- Relationships: Your companions will react to your choices, commands, and conversations. It leads to friendships, rivalries, and romances.
- Adult Scenes: The romances include adult scenes across all genders and alien races. You decide who’s your partner and why.
- Morality System: What you choose has a place on a moral spectrum. You grow on either side to become either more charismatic or more threatening.
- Avatar: Shepard has a voice and a default look (either male or female), and hundreds of dialogue lines. You may also customize your avatar.
- Music: Lastly, let’s not forget Mass Effect’s memorable music. The soundtrack is sci-fi, epic, sad, and original.
Overall, Mass Effect feels like a complete action RPG experience. You customize a character, make game-altering choices, fight and become more powerful, save a galaxy, make friends, and fall in love. It’s a comprehensive experience.
Games Like Mass Effect
- Developer: Ion Storm
- Publisher: Eidos Interactive
- Release Date: June 2000
- Platform: Android, iOS, Classic Mac OS, Microsoft Windows, macOS, Linux, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Wii U, Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox One
We recommend Deus Ex as the ever-lasting story-driven action RPG. It’s a masterpiece that looks dated but holds up in terms of gameplay and story. And if you like it, feel free to go for a bundle to enjoy its full story. Do consider: some of the choices carry over to subsequent games.
Deus Ex features a similar map design as Mass Effect. Each mission happens on an area, and these areas are linear but offer some leeway to explore. The level design is stellar, and the plot, which follows a corporate conspiracy, is thrilling.
The setting is futuristic, as you play in the year 2052. Still, the developers built every area by using blueprints of real places. Then, they recreated the areas as near-future locations. That’s why level design is a signature element of the title.
Combat gameplay feels akin to ME:1. You play in first-person with a mix of tools, abilities, and weapons. There’re also puzzle-like situations, as you’d need to interact with the environment and NPCs to solve various problems.
Lastly, the character progression is rich. There’re skills, tech augmentations, weapons, and tools. There’re also multiple ways to solve problems alongside a system that supports player choice. For example, you can fight, talk or use skills to get past obstacles, and the game will adapt to your gameplay style.
Dragon Age: Origins
- Developer: BioWare
- Publisher: Electronic Arts
- Release Date: November 2009
- Platform: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows, macOS, Classic Mac OS
Dragon Age: Origins is the first part of a high medieval fantasy RPG trilogy, and one of the greatest genre entries in history. If you play it on Steam, there’re thousands of mods available to improve graphics and add content. On the Xbox Series, you can use the FPS Boost feature, plus auto-HDR.
Your mission is to become a Gray Warden to defeat an Archdemon and their demonic horde. The introductory mission, a 2-hour unique dictates how and why you become a Warden. This “origin” depends on your class and race choice.
Like so, there’re complex decisions, branching paths, and dialogue wheels. There’re also companions, NPCs you meet along the way. Depending on your actions, they can become your friends, enemies, or lovers. Naturally, you can travel alongside three companions on each quest.
The world is semi-open. There’s a hub, which is your camp, from where you choose the areas you’re going to visit to complete a mission. The missions are linear but have various alternatives according to your actions. And as for progression, you can level up, unlock skills, choose a subclass, and loot gear.
Lastly, combat happens in real-time. You tab or click enemies to select for attacks or aim your skills by picking them on the taskbar. You can also pause during combat to issue commands to your squad. Alternatively, there’s a menu where you can deeply customize how your companions act during battle.
Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic II – The Sith Lord
- Developer: Obsidian Entertainment, Aspyr
- Publisher: LucasArts, Aspyr
- Release Date: December 2004
- Platform: Android, Xbox, Microsoft Windows, iOS, macOS, Linux
KOTOR II, the sequel to BioWare’s award-winning Star Wars title, has a similar formula to Mass Effect and Dragon Age. And because it’s also a sci-fi space opera action RPG, you’d feel a similarity to Shepard’s Journey.
The non-canon story happens five years after the original game, during the era of the Old Republic. The Sith Lords won the war against the Old Republic, the Jedi Order is in ruins, and the Republic’s hope depends on the few Jedi that remains.
You play as one of the Jedi survivors. As you try to reconnect with the Force, you can take the path of light or the Dark Side. Moreover, you can choose one of the three classes to access special Jedi abilities.
The choices you make not only affect your character and the plot but also affect those joining your quest. For example, you can Force-train companions, or push them to either side of the Force.
You fight in third-person perspective, in real-time, or via a pause menu. You level up your character, unlock Force powers, and use various ranged and melee weapons. Lastly, you can travel alongside two companions, and they react to your actions in the form of unconditional support, or betrayal.
Fallout: New Vegas
- Developer: Obsidian Entertainment
- Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
- Release Date: October 2010
- Platform: Windows, PS3, Xbox 360
Many consider New Vegas as the best Fallout entry. At the same time, many believe it’s a genre-defining entry. That’s because it mixes open-world, sandbox, RPG, and action-adventure elements in a seamless matter.
The plot starts when some goons leave you dead in a ditch and steal your cargo, the Platinum Ship. You’re alive, though, and as The Courier, you seek revenge. The journey takes you back to the Chip, an integral device for the control of the Mojave desert, and the New Vegas strip.
As a Fallout game, you play in a post-apocalyptic land. During the first 30 minutes, you can already engage against a raiding gang to defend a village, or join the gang to pillage the town. Your choices, through dialogue, forge alliances, make enemies, and shape the world, even during the “tutorial” mission.
In particular, Caesar’s Legion and the New Vegas Republic are in conflict for the Hoover Dam. You choose who keeps the electrical plant if anyone. The journey is long and has tons of side contents, multi-part adventures, and interesting companions.
The story is rich, deep, and often hilarious. The combat, though, may feel janky, and it relies on simple shooting mechanics. However, character customization makes up for it, as it includes aesthetics, stat points, perks, traits, and loot. Gear may improve your damage, defenses, stealth, or persuasion.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
- Developer: CD Projekt Red
- Publisher: CD Projekt Red
- Release Date: May 2015
- Platform: PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series, Windows
The Witcher 3 is a comprehensive action-RPG experience. It’s the third part of a trilogy, and prior choices can carry over. Yet, it also works as a stand-alone story. It’s also lengthy, capable of giving over 100 hours of playtime.
Unlike other genre games, the main character, Geralt of Rivia, has a strong personality, traits, and aesthetics. This is not something you control or customize. Rather, you react to situations (with a dialogue wheel) within the realm of what Geralt would do, think, and choose. So, it’s a character-driven story.
Geralt is a Witcher. Witchers undergo mutations that make them capable of defeating monsters in the land. In return, they lose their emotions and vow to stay neutral in political matters. However, your journey is deeply personal, as you’re searching for your surrogate daughter, Ciri.
The journey takes you to various open-world maps, each map with a main quest to complete. You’re free to follow any order. and make choices that slightly alter how missions unfold. That includes romantic options, but you should never forget who Geralt loves by default (Yennefer).
Lastly, you explore, combat, and interact from a third-person perspective. You can parry, dodge, and swing your sword, use magical “signs,” shoot your crossbow, throw grenades, or use enhancing potions. Your character levels up, so you can unlock skills on various threes, craft gear, and find better equipment.
- Developer: ZA/UM
- Publisher: ZA/UM
- Release Date: October 2019
- Platform: Windows, macOS
Disco Elysium is a full-on RPG game. That means there’s no action. The gameplay is about interacting with NPCs and the environment for clues. Then, you take the information to make decisions and talk to others.
You play as two detectives with unique character progression systems – your mind’s capacities. You must question characters, pursue suspects, bribe others, take bribes, and similar to solve crimes. You can be a hero, an average Joe, a chaotic force, or a complete disaster.
The title happens with a gorgeous graphic style, and full voice acting. Moreover, the title offers expanded freedom, as you can pursue your career in many ways. For example, you can challenge others to dance duels, become a philosopher, sing karaoke, write poetry, sweet-talk others, bully people, etc.
You play around 24 different skills, dozens of clothes, tools, guns, and psychoactive substances. There’s also a “Thought Cabinet,” meaning your character’s thoughts. These thoughts lead to action and buffs.
Lastly, the dialogue system relies on realistic interactions, questions, observations, ideas, and emotions. It allows you to craft a unique path on the game’s open world, either solo or co-op. The goal is solving a massive crime, but you can chill with disco, taxes, sex, and side-cases.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
- Developer: Bethesda Game Studios
- Publisher: Bethesda Game Studios
- Release Date: November 2011
- Platform: PS3, PS4, PS5, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Xbox Series, Windows, Nintendo Switch
Skyrim is the latest single-player game of the Elder Scrolls franchise. It doesn’t rely much on choices or a dialogue wheel. Instead, the world is so open and full of activities that the gameplay feels open-ended.
The open-world RPG takes place in Tamriel, a high-medieval fantasy continent. You play as the Dragonborn on a quest to defeat a dragon. The main quests take you to various parts of the world to learn special Dragonborn skills you’ll use, on top of the abilities you unlock.
You start by creating a character and choosing from dozens of race and class options. Then, you level up each skill tree by specific actions. You also gain regular XP to unlock skill points you can invest into any tree.
Because of how leveling works, you have tons of freedom to create a character. There’s magic, ranged weapons, stealth, stealing, melee, werewolf abilities, vampire abilities, and a combination of all of these. Moreover, there are hundreds of things to do, like crafting, joining guilds, or pursuing multi-part stories.
Lastly, the game has various cities and hundreds of NPCs. Each town and city offers jobs and quests for the player. Additionally, there’re various factions with their own quest lines and rewards.
- Developer: CD Projekt Red
- Publisher: CD Projekt Red
- Release Date: December 2020
- Platform: Xbox Series X and Series S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, Google Stadia, Microsoft Windows
On its release date, Cyberpunk 2077 had poor performance and widespread bugs. Currently, the sci-fi action RPG is working as intended, and fans are still playing. For example, it has over 490K reviews on Steam.
You’re V, a highly customizable mercenary. You’re eager to make a name for yourself, so you take on a questionable heist. The job goes wrong, and you end up with Johnny Silverhand’s consciousness in your head. Only one can live.
The struggle for survival leads you on a quest to take Jhonny out of your head. It happens in an open-world cyberpunk-themed city, plus its outskirts. You run, jump, shoot, punch, launch grenades, drive, sneak, and use hacking abilities akin to magic. Hacking is useful for combat, sneaking, diversion, access, and more.
Leveling up is unique, but easy to understand. You gain regular XP for stat and perk points. There are about a dozen skill trees where you can use your perks, but it depends on the skill tree level, and the stats requisite for each perk. Trees level up with specific actions, like shooting pistols and upgrading the pistol branch.
Lastly, your choices and the side quests you complete alter the story. It leads you to various distinct endings, which mostly depend on the kind of relationship V builds with Johnny Silverhand.
- Developer: Piranha Bytes
- Publisher: THQ Nordic
- Release Date: October 2017
- Platform: PS4, Xbox One, Windows
ELEX is a sci-fi action RPG happening in an original post-apocalyptic setting. The world is full of mutated creatures, interactive NPCs, and complex moral choices. Bear in mind that the game has a lot of conversation and not much combat.
You join a war over a key resource that grants magical powers, but it can turn humans into murderous creatures. However, your choices determine what rules the world of Magalan: human emotions, or cold and powerful logic.
There’re three factions in the game, each one fighting over resources against the other. All of them have a common enemy, Albs, like Reapers being the enemy of various alien races in conflict.
The protagonist, Jax, is an Alb Commander, and you may change your allegiance -emotions- or keep your position in the army -logical. However, the questline depends on joining a faction and learning about your former enemies.
The gameplay happens in a third-person perspective. You can use swords, firearms, and magical powers. Then, the game has an open-world, and interconnected quest supporting player choice.
- Developer: Arkane Studios
- Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
- Release Date: May 2017
- Platform: PS4, Xbox One, Windows
Prey it’s a fast-paced RPG, and a slow, patient, and dangerous FPS. It offers open-world exploration and extensive character progression options. Additionally, it has survival horror, crafting, and adventure elements.
Prey comes from Arkane Studios. The developers are constantly pushing what immersive sims mean. For example, they added open-world, RPG, and adventure elements to Prey, alongside its sci-fi setting.
You awake in Talos I, a space station around the Moon in 2032. You were the subject of a horrible experiment trying to alter human beings. However, hostile aliens invaded the station, so you must dig into the experiment’s secrets and your past to survive, and help other survivors.
The setting delivers a progression system with mind-bending abilities. The atmosphere is quite immersive and goes along with a fantastic and terrifying OST/ sound design.
The station is dangerous as it’s full of deadly predators. The aliens have various powers. Yet, you can learn powers from aliens, like the skill to mimic anything you see, even items. Additionally, you can craft items with blueprints, tools, and gadgets you find as you explore.
- Developer: 2K Marin
- Publisher: 2K Games
- Release Date: February 2010
- Platform: PS3, Xbox 360, Windows, macOS
Bioshock 1 is one of the greatest things to ever happen in the video game industry. I believe the sequel is better in almost every way. For example, it allows you to dual wield -a gun in one hand, a power, on the other.
Bioshock 2 is an immersive and insane RPG first-person shooter. You play across Rapture, an underwater city that was supposed to offer ultimate freedom. However, once they discovered a way to alter genes to gain powers (Plasmids), everything went crazy.
You play as a Subject Delta, a hulking, nearly brain-washed man hunting for lost genetic material in the city’s ruins. Here, you’ll find weapons, upgrade your firearms, learn active and passive powers, progress in skill categories, and approach combat in various ways.
The story is linear, like the first game, but perhaps weaker. The true marvel, though, is the atmospheric detail the city has. Every pipe has a sound, every drop echoes in chambers, and every enemy growls in corners. The world truly feels alive and you, the player, explore it via environmental storytelling and audio logs.
Lastly, the title has horror survivor elements. Ammo, mana (EVE), health (ADAM), and other items are in short supply. That forces you to micromanage your arsenal, even against the nasty and tactical Big Sister minibosses.
Star Control I and 2
- Developer: Toys for Bob
- Publisher: Stardock Entertainment
- Release Date: July 1990
- Platform: Windows
Star Control I and II are classic action-adventure space RPGs. We believe Bioware took ideas from the older title for their Mass Effect saga, and so we had to include it on our list. Also, we included the first two games as that’s how you’ll find them on Steam.
You play as the Vindicator, a highly upgradeable and customizable prototype ship. The gameplay is about exploring worlds and stars. It takes you to meet alien races, wars, and conflicts.
The pilot is about the Ur-Quan Hierarchy alien race about to invade humanity in the 27th Century. Your mission is to make sure they never reach your kin. The Alliance of Free Stars battlefleet is at your disposal.
The combat happens like a classic space shooter, in 2D. The difference is the number of customization options you have to gain weapons and attributes. It feels like a combination of space RTS combat and an action RPG.
Lastly, you play within a rotating star map, and you use the fleet ships per turn. These ships explore the galaxy to colonize, conquer, and fortify worlds. But when two ships meet in combat, you play through an arcade-style sequence.
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