RPG games | Role-playing genre
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RPG or role-playing video games is probably the deepest experience that video games can offer. They have interesting, huge worlds, long campaigns, intricate battle mechanics, but most importantly – they give choices for players. In RPGs, you have to role-play your way towards victory. You create your character, choose his or her skills, choose allies, decide the fate of various events, level up, and play as you want.
What is an RPG game?
Most RPG games have origins in tabletop role-playing games, such as Dungeons & Dragons. They are using similar terminology, settings, and game mechanics. Developed story-telling and narrative elements, player character development, complexity, and replay value are also similar features that can be found in pen-and-paper games. But in RPG video games, there is no gamemaster, and the speed of combat is increased. In this kind of game, the player controls a fixed game character, or a party of characters, completes various main and side quests, explores the game world, engages in combat, solves puzzles, and becomes more skilled. From simple text-based games, such titles evolved into visually rich and expansive 3D experiences. Let’s sum up the main features, shall we?
What are the features of RPG games?
- Story-telling and narration. Not all, but most role-playing video games feature some elements of classic pen-and-paper games in the story and characters department;
- Fixed character or a party. In some games, the player has to control a fixed character, but there are also titles where you have to control a whole party of characters – make their appearance, assign skills, and abilities;
- Main and side quests. In most role-playing video games, there is the main storyline that is experienced while accepting main quests, and a huge selection of usually optional side activities;
- Huge world. Some RPG video games have linear levels the player has to navigate through, but most games of this kind have an open world that is usually fully explorable;
- Tactical combat. There are a lot of different types of combat in role-playing games. Some of them are turn-based, some are real-time. Others focus on players' reaction time (like action RPGs) or pay more attention to careful planning and strategy, which is a crucial part if you want to be a winner.
Why are RPG video games so popular?
Role-playing video games are very well-known because of their huge worlds, deep narration, and character customization, which many players like. Such titles are widely popular among those who like to immerse themselves in long stories because RPGs have probably the longest campaigns of all the genres of video games. Another important factor is the ability to choose, whether it is a dialogue option, your party (and their appearance and skills), or your way of playing. Freedom of choice is yet another important thing that fans of the best PS4, Xbox, and Switch RPG games like.
What are the types of RPGs?
There is a big variety of different RPG video game subgenres, but we present the most common ones:
- Action RPGs. These games focus more on action and fighting. They usually have good combat mechanics, a big variety of various enemies and bosses. The best action RPGs include The Witcher, The Legend of Zelda, Diablo, and Mass Effect;
- MMORPGs. Massively multiplayer online games are the most popular sub-genre of MMO. These games run on big internet servers, where hundreds of players are playing at the same time. The most popular titles include The World of Warcraft and Runescape;
- Sandbox RPGs. This subgenre features huge freedom, big open-worlds, and the ability to interact with other NPC characters and environments. These games are known for their huge length. The most popular examples are Dragon Quest, System Shock, Deus Ex, The Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Fable, Gothic, and Dark Souls;
- Tactical RPGs. This sub-genre is inspired by strategy video games. In tactical role-playing games, the player has to control a party of characters with usually turn-based tactical movement on an isometric grid. Every movement of characters usually drains action points. The most notable examples are XCOM, Jagged Alliance, Ultima, Final Fantasy Tactics, and Fire Emblem.
The most important RPG games
There are a lot of important titles that were released throughout history, but we present the most significant series:
- Final Fantasy. Since 1987, FF is probably the most-known Japanese RPG (JRPG for short) series from creators Square Enix. More than 20 games, films, anime shows – there’s just no end for FF! The series is known for colorful characters, interesting worlds, and amazing visuals. FF is one of the most popular anime RPG game series;
- Diablo. A cult-classic series from Blizzard, Diablo is probably the most popular isometric action RPG on the market. Since 1996, the series has been known for its dark fantasy settings, gothic atmosphere, and brutal action;
- The Witcher. Today, everyone knows Geralt from Rivia. The Witcher games, made by CD Project Red, are based on fantasy books by Andrzej Sapkowski. These games are known for interesting characters, deep mechanics, and unique approach towards various traditional races of fantasy worlds;
- The Elder Scrolls. This series by Bethesda Softworks has been known since 1994. 5 main-line games are made, together with a lot of expansions. TES games are set in various fantasy worlds and are played from the first-person perspective. The latest installment Skyrim is titled as one of the most significant RPGs of all time;
- Fallout. A cult-classic CRPG (computer RPG) series by many developers, including Interplay Entertainment and Bethesda. The series started in 1997 as an isometric game, but in 2006, the franchise was resurrected as a first-person RPG. Fallout is set in a post-apocalyptic world after nuclear annihilation, where the player has to interact with NPC characters and make moral decisions;
- Mass Effect. A franchise from creators Bioware, Mass Effect is known for its story-telling and characters and is one of the more important genre-specific series since 2007. Set in the distant future, Mass Effect tells the story of various races of the galaxy and their fight against a common enemy. The most important feature of Mass Effect is the interaction between characters;
- World of Warcraft. Probably the best MMORPG of all time, WoW was released in 2004 by Blizzard Entertainment. Back then, a lot of people were fans of the real-time strategy series Warcraft universe and wanted to further explore it. With WoW, a lot of people got a chance to get to know the world of Warcraft better. This game is alive even today and has two forms. One of them is classic or vanilla, which looks the same as in 2004, and the other is basic WoW, with better graphics and all released expansions;
- Dragon Age. Another one from Bioware, the Dragon Age series is set in a dark fantasy setting. These games are inspired by old franchises, such as Baldur’s Gate and Neverwinter Nights. Since 2009, DA has been one of the most popular dark fantasy western RPGs;
- X-COM. A tactical RPG series is known for its unique idea based on which the player controls a band of characters and has to defeat alien threats in turn-based RPG battles. XCOM has been the pioneer of this sub-genre since 1994, and it’s still kicking.
History of RPG games
Take a look at a short history of the genre:
- The 1980s. Inspired by pen-and-paper RPGs such as Dungeons & Dragons, fantasy writings by authors such as J. R. R. Tolkien, traditional strategy games such as chess, and ancient epic literature, the very first RPG games were born. Titles such as Ultima and Wizardry were pioneers of the genre and served as an inspiration for series like Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy. Thanks to these games, which now are known as cult-classics, the role-playing genre diverged into two styles, Eastern role-playing games, and Western role-playing games due to cultural differences. The difference was in a choice of platforms too, since western games were PC titles, and Japanese ones were available only on consoles.
- The 1990s and 2000s. The first RPGs only offered a single-player experience, but the popularity of multiplayer modes rose during the early to mid-1990s with titles such as Secret of Mana and Diablo. With faster internet, the new genre of MMORPG was born with titles such as Lineage, Final Fantasy XI, and World of Warcraft. Co-op RPG games also became a thing. Who knows what features will upcoming RPG games bring in the future?