Of Dragons And Jedi: BioWare's Showing At E3 2011

By Adam Ma on May 31, 2011, 2:32PM EDT

Although BioWare is technically part of EA, any developer large enough to call their own shots on the projects they develop deserves their own spotlight. Over the years, BioWare have become a staple for western RPG development and have come a long way from simply pumping out titles that belong to other franchises like Star Wars. This E3 looks to be just as promising for BioWare as they approach the climax of their two independent franchises while at the same time reach the home stretch for their highly anticipated MMO. No doubt they'll all be commercial successes, no one's questioning that, but it'll be nice to know a little more about what we'll all be getting into this winter and there's no better place than E3 to start tossing out trailers and generating hype.

The Old Republic is arguably BioWare's most ambitious project at this time and one that we've seen quite a bit of over the years. In fact, its one of the few MMOs that has not only sat through development for three E3s in a row, but has had a fairly constant stream of information pushed out about it. Once a week, BioWare has taken the time to release something regarding the title, be it lore, setting, characters, class development or just art/forum icons.

At this point, we know that The Old Republic will be the first fully voice-overed MMO to launch, and the title is more about intimate singular/small group experiences than it is large scale warfare/interaction. Players will be able to acquire a team of NPC's who can assist in quests, help them craft or complete missions, or simply just hang out and look cool. Relationship building in both a faction and amongst group NPCs is key as, with most BioWare titles, having a reputation comes with more than just bragging rights.

A few PvE scenarios have already been previewed, and classes are slowly being explained over time, but much of what has been released is all still in a very 'developer diary' format; montage clips of class advancement that are meant to make the class look cool, or just show a general highlight of what a higher level character can accomplish. If there's anything left for BioWare to cover, it would be a showing of these higher level classes working together, or at the very least, more in-game footage.

This isn't because it's a BioWare title as much as it is a case of the game being in development (and so open with the public) for so long. With the game set to release sometime this year (Q3/Q4), fans may need that extra little push in the right direction. Although a CGI trailer is good for pumping up the masses, we've already seen two of them. Both were absolutely awesome, but I'm not so sure how well received a third will really be.

Next on the list is Mass Effect 3, which will be the final chapter in the very well received science fiction series. As those who have finished playing the second game will have no doubt already known, ME3 will feature Commander Shepard as he valiantly defends Earth from the Reaper invasion and will most likely end with him/her saving the universe from destruction in some form or another. The biggest draw to the series would undoubtedly be its extremely strong, realistic cast, and considering all the fanfare that was drawn up last year introducing Mass Effect 2's cast, reviewing who will be sticking around and who would be taking a backseat in the species-wide struggle should be a lot of fun.

No doubt they've also made quite a few changes to the combat system as well, refining it past what ME2's already enjoyable combat was. The combat system from the first game was, after all, only refined and adjusted for the second. Now that they have a relatively stable and well received combat system in place, it should be quite exciting to see what new abilities will be added to the game and where it takes players from an RPG standpoint. Naturally, this goes hand in hand with the selection of squad members since each individual member provides a different range of combat abilities, but the fact remains that showing new characters means potentially showing new skills and abilities. It's something to look forward to either way.

There is no secret that Dragon Age III is something that's going to happen, but questions surrounding the franchise have been raised by many. The transition from Dragon Age: Origins to Dragon Age II was massive and it's safe to say that fans of the first were not necessarily fans of the second. What sort of engine they'll be using for the next instalment and what sort of storytelling practice the game will use is still to be decided, so there's quite a good chance that we'll see some sort of teaser at E3. BioWare have never been one to cannibalize their own franchises and with SWTOR and ME3 releasing sometime towards the end of this year and early next year, there's no reason to get too excited in imagining a 2011 release date. Late 2012 though? Absolutely possible.

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