10 Things That Make an RPG Awesome

awesome rpg game
Disintegrating skeletons is just one of many pros

Here Are 10 Things That Make RPG Games Awesome

RPG’s - you either love them, or hate them. Either way, you have to acknowledge them. Modern rpg’s can trace their roots back all the way to the dawn of computer gaming, Zork anyone?

There are many things that people love about rpg’s, and many things that make them awesome.  If you look close enough though, the best rpg’s have a lot in common.  While not every game will be about hostile alien machines trying to destroy the galaxy, and game worth the weight of the box in salt is going to be telling you a compelling story.

They may be greatly separated by time, space, or technology, but the core elements remain the same.  Here are 10 things that awesome rpg’s share, and can make an rpg awesome.

10. Awesome RPG’s Have Awesome Character Creation

I know I look good

Most people can spend over an hour in character creation, trying to make sure every detail is perfect,and awesome rpg’s tend to have really well designed character creation. This helps with the immersion by making it easier for the player to believe they are that character. Heroes come in all shapes and sizes, and character creation should be able to reflect upon that.

Creating every detail of your character also helps with making it... your character.  In worlds where you can be whoever you want to, why wouldn’t you?

9. Good RPG’s Have Good Side Quests

They should have brought more guys

People like to take breaks from doing whatever they are doing, and side quests need to be there for those breaks. Saving the world all of the time can get repetitive and dull, and going out to a fortress to take care of a bandit leader can be a breath of fresh air.

The thing about side quests is that they should add to the atmosphere and immersion of the game, they make you feel like a person in the game who is basically getting paid to do random jobs. Long side quests, or ones that require many steps to end tend to detract from the main story, and the best side quests are short, but somehow either contribute to the main story, the immersion of the game, or put players in a better position to deal with what lies ahead.

Side quests can be the difference between 40 hours of gameplay, and 400.

8. The Game Reminds the Player That They Are Not All-Powerful

Shouldn’t have left home without my anti-dragon shield...

This is important is helps to provide a sense of where the player belongs in the world.  While they do grow in power, and may even become a god by the end, there should be reminders that there are things out there that are more powerful.  

This helps with the immersion, and can keep players from being reckless and actually move the story along. As much as they hate to admit it, sometimes players just need to be smacked down off their pillar for their own good.

Taking the character down a few notches can take several forms, from a single person just saying the right couple of words to destroy the character’s ego, all the way to the player being mercilessly beaten by horribly strong bosses. I’m looking at you Dark Souls.

Having to overcome great challenges also gives players a sense of accomplishment, and can be the push over the hill from a good game to a great game.

7. Good RPG’s Have a Sense of Scale

Only way is up

Many rpgs present an entirely different world from our own, and the best rpg’s can put that into scale.  How big is the game world? And where are significant events going to take place? Can the player change them?

This doesn’t necessarily mean that the play map has to be huge, but the world should be believable. In a country there should be several cities and towns, all of which are different. Different areas to explore and monsters to fight.  

This does incorporate a lot of the world design, and good rpg’s will put effort into developing the world. This also includes the economy, justice system, who is in power, even down to the random npcs that live there.

Great rpg’s will also let the player shape the world how they see fit.

Want to go on a killing spree? Great, just make sure you can pay the fine.

Want to save the poor, lost orphan? Awesome, just make sure you bring enough potions to heal after the bandit ambush.

6. The Game Takes a New Spin on Something Old

Some things never change...

Tried and true concepts will always remain that - tried and true.  However, great rpg’s can take that concept and revitalize it.

Everybody has fought the evil warlord to save the world. That theme has been done countless times, however, a good rpg can take that theme and cast it in a new image.

Take Skyrim for example, the evil warlord is a dragon that brings other dragons to life, to basically take over the world. Or Diablo, where Diablo wants to use his demon minions to destroy the entire human race.

5. The Game Has a New, Unique, or Otherwise Novel Idea That Enhances The Experience

Good thing my pip-boy can aim for me...

The best rpg’s will have something exciting that enhances the overall experience, or they will do something new that makes the game just awesome.  

In Fallout 3 and New Vegas, as well as the upcoming Fallout 4, your pip-boy is not the inventory/stat menu/journal/life-link to the world, but it also aims for you. If you came up to me and told me that in the future we’d have wrist computers that could help us aim weapons better, I’d be skeptical.

Or in Morrowind, merchants didn’t have unlimited amounts of gold. Crazy to think that every merchant before then had infinite amounts of gold on hand to buy all your useless junk.

4. The Characters Need To Be Memorable

Someone else would have gotten it wrong

Every character that gets introduced plays some role in the story, and their roles need to mean something. Not everyone is going to save the world, but their contributions shouldn't be meaningless.

The best characters transcend even that, and their personalities and quirks become so convincing, it's as if the character actually exists and is your friend. Which, in a good rpg, should happen.

If you’re totally immersed in your character, your character’s friends become your friends. Likewise, you share common enemies. Now you no longer have to feel bad for hating The Illusive Man for almost no reason, because Shephard certainly has one.

3. The Gameplay Has To Be Smooth and Simple

Roll around and block... got it

Choppy gameplay takes away from immersion, and through that, detracts from the story. Nobody wants to sit through frozen scenes and missing animations. Or even worse, completely looped animations.

Additionally, complicated controls are off-putting and make the game feel clunky.  If I want to swing a sword, there should be an easy way to do that.  Pressing thirteen keys to execute an attack is really just tiresome.

2. Players Have To Be Able To Get Immersed In The World

I swear this isn’t what it looks like

Immersion creates the feel of the game, it should feel like you are actually interacting with the world and characters. If your character is having a hard time with something, you probably are as well.  Talking to annoying npc’s should feel as annoying as it does in real life.

When playing an rpg, you have to be able to feel as if you are that character, or the illusion is broken.  We play rpg’s to escape from real life and become someone else for a while.  It’s like playing make-believe, except we’re not in preschool anymore.

1. It Must Have An Interesting Story

Shepherd could probably take him... probably

The story is by far the most important aspect of any rpg, it forms the heart of the entire game, and it is what gamers play the game for. Everything in the game should reference the story, or add to it in some way. Anything that takes away from the story is something that does not need to be in the story.

This isn’t to see side quests are unnecessary, the good ones do serve a purpose. Sometimes even the more pointless ones, but only if you look at the bigger picture.

In essence, the story is the big picture, and everything else is simply a piece of the puzzle. If you’re missing a few pieces, it’s not as great.  However, if you don’t have a picture at all, why bother with the puzzle?

Every gamer has their own opinions of what rpg’s need to have, and which ones are the best. If you feel something is missing or should be honorably mentioned, feel free to leave a comment.

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