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What Makes a Good RPG?

What Makes a Good RPG?

    Last Updated on March 17, 2023

What is an RPG, also known as role-playing video games? Since the dawn of time, humanity always wants to roleplay as a pastime. The idea of acting out a character is a great deal of excitement for many. In modern times, RPGs started out as tabletop RPGs with turn-based combat, giving rise to Dungeons and Dragons. 

But RPGs can be tedious in terms of keeping track of things. The stats alone in a game of D&D is plenty for a normal person to remember. Then RPG games got the digital treatment and it changed everything.

A port into the computer gave RPG players everything good about the game, no memorizing needed. The RPG genre in video games flourished up until the present time. Many developers came and went, while some stayed at the top of the competition. 

Mechanics from years of RPGs all contribute to the refinement of the next biggest title or expansion. With that being said, what constitutes an entertaining piece of the role-playing game?

An “Expansive” World

A great component of an RPG is the vastness of its playing field. Not to be confused with open-world games, RPGs sometimes require themselves to be open-world. In linear RPGs, they focus more on the depth of gameplay over the square miles of the map to walk on. If a player wishes to stop and smell the flowers, the game has a way to make it so. 

This doesn’t mean that every RPG is with a big map. Games like Minecraft, which are massively multiplayer online, trick you into thinking it is vast. However, the player only needs a small space to play. It is also a game design that forces players to move around a lot. 

Developers make players move by adding incentives and new content to the game. Expansive doesn’t mean size, but also the depth and ways players can have fun in the game. A good example also includes The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim or Monster Hunter.

Compelling RPG Storylines

Image of Sci-Fi RPG

An RPG is incomplete without the storylines that define the characters and the map. Without a story, players are sure to depart an RPG game without looking back. This important ingredient makes use of a person’s creativity to build a unique story. 

Whether it ends in tragedy or triumph, players come back if the narrative makes sense. Good game writers recognize that in their hands lies the game’s longevity. Undoubtedly, any writer can make a unique storyline with different genres, like Sci-Fi or Post-Apocalyptic.

This doesn’t mean that RPGs need one story only. Many RPGs have branching storylines that players can interact with called side quests. These quests may cause changes to the world as a whole or not at all. Good examples would be the Mass Effect or Final Fantasy franchises.

The attention to detail that developers have been tested when they create a side quest. Character interactions and location changes are what players want from stories. They also tend to expect character development or smooth combat systems that farm dice rolls.

RPG Player Customizability 

Image of RPG Armor Customizability

Even with a good story or rich map, RPGs are incomplete without the play bling and style. People want to customize their characters into fantasy looks. This is true for DnD, and so is the norm for digital RPGs. There is little promise for an RPG that doesn’t allow its players to dress up, which is essential for immersion. 

Games from the Soulsborne franchise have refined their style wardrobe over the installments. With more outfits and designs to choose from, it means players can die with style. Modern RPGs emulate this and continue to add to their wardrobes.

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Written By
Jean Salgados

Spent all the years of his college writing for the school newspaper and transitioned to casting Dota 2 games shortly after graduation.

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