What are the best games like Mass Effect?
Let’s be real, everybody loves Mass Effect, from the incredible characters to the satisfying combat, to the countless sex scenes that look like someone mashing two wrestler action figures together. It’s freaking great.
But let’s say you’ve played through the original trilogy, got to Andromeda, and then realized that you didn’t want to drown in your own disappointed tears or the countless amount of piss that EA takes.
Well my friend, looks like you might want to turn to one of these beauties that could potentially scratch the itch that The Normandy left behind.
These games may not be Mass Effect, but they’re still fun, interesting, and similar enough that you could love them just as much. Plus Commander Shepard claims that every single one of them is his favorite, so that’s pretty neat.
The 9 Best Games Like Mass Effect
Without further ado, here’s our list of the best games like Mass Effect to start playing:
9. Dragon Age: Inquisition
Initial Release Date: November 18, 2014
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Ok, let’s get the obvious ones out of the way first. Starting with the sister series to Mass Effect, Dragon Age also known as “The one they haven’t ruined yet.”
Each of the games has its strengths and weaknesses, and you could really justify putting any of them on this list, but for my money, Inquisition is where it’s at.
It’s got a huge explorable world and complex and interesting characters, and it was the one that FINALLY let you play as the Qunari!
If there’s one thing I love, it’s big horny grey people. Plus, it’s basically just a fantasy version of Mass Effect.
It’s got the same party system, the same hub you always come back to, and a ton of romanceable bachelors and bachelorettes. But no dwarves in this one though, because let’s be honest, Scout Harding is too good for all of us.
If you love the Mass Effect style of the game and don’t mind the genre switch, this really is the best alternative out there.
I think Dragon Age is a brilliant series and I’m incredibly excited for the fourth one, personally.
I mean, Bioware wouldn’t mess up the fourth installment in their incredibly beloved game series again, right? …right?
8. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
Initial Release Date: July 15, 2003
Platforms: Xbox, Windows, Mac OS X, iOS, Android
And another incredibly obvious one before we get into the weird stuff.
Really, some would even call this a predecessor to Mass Effect.
I mean, it’s basically the reason the series even exists. After making this game Bioware decided that they wanted to make another Sci-Fi RPG, but using their own IP this time instead of Star Wars, which gave us Mass Effect.
But I doubt they would have been able to do that if this game right here wasn’t such a slam dunk in every way. It had it all. Wonderful story, amazing outer space adventures, and all the Wookie you could ask for.
Hell, it was so good it even pleased the hardcore Star Wars fans, and those guys are pickier than a four-year-old stuck inside a giant piece of broccoli.
And how is it like Mass Effect?
Well, it’s a Sci-Fi action RPG made by Bioware that would go on to inspire the series in a million different ways. If that doesn’t meet the “Like Mass Effect” criteria for you, then I don’t know what will.
Also, you probably won’t like the rest of the list if that’s the case…
7. FTL: Faster Than Light
Initial Release Date: September 14, 2012
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS
Developer: Subset Games
Publisher: Subset Games
Now, at first glance, this game may look like it has very little in common with Mass Effect.
In fact, to a newcomer, it probably looks like it has more in common with Minesweeper.
But don’t be fooled, this game has nearly all of the qualities that people love about Mass Effect crammed into a tiny 2D package.
You manage your own spaceship, look after your crew, and travel all across the stars discovering adventure around every corner. And of course, blow up aliens who just want to surrender.
But what really sets FTL apart and connects it with Mass Effect the most, is the choices you have to make.
Granted, in this game, they’re a lot more frequent and usually on a smaller scale than the ones Commander Shepard has to make, but the fantastic writing and potentially dire consequences make them just as exciting.
FTL may not have the style or spectacle that Mass Effect has, but it’s every bit as addicting and engaging for many of the same reasons.
However, no real characters mean no alien sex scenes, but it also means no “My face is tired.” So you know, swings and roundabouts.
6. Borderlands 3
Initial Release Date: 13 September 2019
Platforms: Google Stadia, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Developer: Gearbox Software
Publisher: 2K Games
It seems like the internet has a pretty love-hate relationship with this one.
Personally, I think it’s the best Borderlands yet as far as gameplay is concerned, but the jokes can often be like a 13-year-old boy on Xbox Live: loud, obnoxious, and making you seriously worry about the next generation.
But still, I think Borderlands 3 is overall pretty good, and it’s the most like Mass Effect out of the trilogy.
Not only is it a Sci-Fi Action RPG where you shoot aliens, explore planets, and glitch through walls, but you also have a spaceship you keep returning to that’s filled with all your allies and friends. … and also Claptrap. That sounds pretty Mass Effect to me.
It’s definitely got its issues, but Borderlands 3 is absolutely worth a look if you’re a fan of Mass Effect.
Just be warned, if you don’t already hate the word “Badass” you definitely will by the end of this game. They use it more than Call of Duty uses “Hoo-Rah”.
5. Deus Ex: Human Revolution
Initial Release Date: August 23, 2011
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Mac OS X, Wii U
Developer: Eidos Montréal
Publisher: Square Enix
I’ve already written about this Deus Ex: Human Revolution in my 13 Awesome Games Set In Real Life list, so I’ll try not to repeat myself too much, but basically, this game is the SHIZ.
It’s a Sci-Fi Action RPG with a lot of shooting, character interaction, decision-making, and weird animations. And by now if you can’t figure out what game that should remind you of, you clearly haven’t been paying attention.
Try to keep up, dear. Deus Ex: Human Revolution was by no means a groundbreakingly innovative game when it was released, but rather it’s the game’s consistent quality in its writing, gameplay, and world-building that makes it so enjoyable.
You really feel like you’re playing something well thought out and carefully made.
I mean, that doesn’t make Adam Jensen any less of a pretentious twat at times, but it’s still nice. If you like Mass Effect for the combat, you’ll like this.
If you like Mass Effect for the story, you’ll like this. And if you like Mass Effect because it was made by EA… …then there’s something seriously wrong with you. Please leave.
4. Shadowrun Returns
Initial Release Date: July 25, 2013
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, OS X, Linux, iOS, Android
Developer: Harebrained Schemes
Publisher: Harebrained Schemes
Ok, remember Mass Effect 2? Remember Omega?
The planet with the nightclub, dirty streets, and alien prostitutes you secretly wish you could do something with?
Ok, now imagine if the whole game was set in a place like Omega. Boom. Shadowrun Returns.
The game mixes Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Noir together in such a way that all of them seem to bring out the best in each other. It’s weird, and it shouldn’t work, but it totally does. And whilst the visuals and gameplay may not be reminiscent of that game I’m tired of mentioning, it’s the snappy writing and badass tone that often remind me of Mass Effect’s grittier moments.
And even though the combat is turn-based, you still have even more gadgets and powers to play around with than Shep himself.
Anyway, Shadowrun Returns is awesome, and there’s definitely some fun to be had here if you’re a fan of good writing, strategic gameplay, or dwarves with green mohawks.
Plus if you like this one, you can always check out the Shadowrun games that came after, Dragonfall, Hong Kong, or the online one that got shut down. You know, if you’ve got a spare time machine.
3. The Technomancer
Initial Release Date: 28 June 2016
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Ok, I’ll be real with you, this isn’t exactly top-shelf stuff here.
Technomancer has been described as “The mediocre Mass Effect” and personally I think that’s way too harsh, but I can see where they’re coming from.
To put it simply, it’s kind of like playing a Wii U game that’s meant to be played on the Switch. Still fun, but you still feel poor.
In all seriousness though, The Technomancer is actually a fun game, that seems like it was actually heavily inspired by Mass Effect and other similar games.
The world-building especially seems to have been given extra care, and they did a pretty good job of making this disgruntled and dystopian version of Mars feel authentic.
And whilst the combat may have more in common with Arkham Asylum than Mass Effect, they still give you some fun toys to play with and try to let you customize your fighting style however you like.
Even though there are only like, three styles. But hey, they’re trying. Bless their hearts.
Going from Mass Effect to Technomancer may feel like a step-down, (because it is) but there’s still some fun to be had here if you’re willing to overlook some sloppy dialogue and weird animation.
But then again if you’re not, you probably don’t like Mass Effect much either.
Initial Release Date: 5 May 2017
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Developer: Arkane Studios
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Just to be clear, this is the 2017 game I’m talking about, not the 2006 version.
So this is actually more of an FPS thriller that’s probably closer to Bioshock than Mass Effect, but I still think Mass Effect fans would get a kick out of it for three reasons.
One, the story and writing are absolutely on point. Two, the combat is challenging, tense, and incredibly customizable.
And three, because I f*king say so. Seriously though, this game is awesome. Exploring the huge space station, collecting supplies and ammo, and slowly uncovering the secrets behind the disaster.
It’s all immensely thrilling and engaging stuff that only leaves you wanting more. Plus the mimics are simultaneously the most hilarious and frustrating little bastards I’ve ever encountered in a video game. Congrats.
If you liked the more challenging and heart-pounding battles in Mass Effect, or perhaps the more intriguing and mysterious storylines, this is the game for you.
But if you play through the spacesuit sections, get ready to experience firsthand what Shepard went through at the start of the second game. Over… and over… and over…
1. Rage 2
Initial Release Date: May 14, 2019
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Google Stadia
Developer: Avalanche Studios
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Honestly, this last entry on my list may not have as much in common with Mass Effect as some of the others, but I still wanted to include it, since I don’t think it gets enough love.
Ever wanted to goomba stomp 6 guys so hard their eyes and legs fly off?
And you get to actually SEE their legs flying off!? Rage 2 has got you, homie. The story may just be ok, and the open world might be a bit lifeless, but it’s the insane combat and boss fights that make this thing worth your time.
We all know how satisfying it is to get snazzy kills in mass effect. Like when you use that one move to antigrav an enemy out of cover, snipe them in the head, and watch them flop right back down.
Well, take that feeling and multiply it by infinity and a half, and you got Rage 2.
It’s honestly that satisfying. All of the guns feel incredibly punchy and rewarding, the enemy death animations are absolutely stellar, and you unlock new fun skills and abilities all the time like dashing, double jumping, and ground-pounding.
I know those all sound like stuff you’d get in Banjo Kazooie, but trust me it’s fun here too.
There you have it. Nine of the best games similar to Mass Effect.
Here’s a quick recap of the best games like Mass Effect:
- Rage 2
- The Technomancer
- Shadowrun Returns
- Deus Ex: Human Revolution
- Borderlands 3
- FTL: Faster Than Light
- Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
- Dragon Age: Inquisition
Are there any other games like Mass Effect you would add to this list? Leave a comment below.
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