Role Playing Games (RPGs) are by far my favorite genre.
What is a RPG by wiki:
Generally, the player controls a central game character, or multiple game characters, usually called a party, and achieves victory by completing a series of quests or reaching the conclusion of a central storyline. Players explore a game world, while solving puzzles and engaging in tactical combat. A key feature of the genre is that characters grow in power and abilities…
That’s a pretty decent summary and shows how open ended this genre really is. Sometimes, the genre feels more like the kitchen sink; everything ends up there, which is probably because RPGs are so darn popular.
More RPGs? Great! But the labeling has gotten a bit bloated (thus kitchen sink) and I can’t rely simply on the RPG moniker to evaluate if I will like a game. Nor should I; not all RPGs are alike and they shouldn’t be, diversity drives innovation.
So what is it that I look for? Glad you asked. Having done much research on the subject, I have found that what I enjoy most is the character development and loot collecting.
Building up a character, gaining levels and increasing their powers, equipping them with bigger and better weapons and armor, this investing in a character or party really hooks me into the game.
And then the display of power gained, by exploring new and harder areas and defeating increasingly difficult bad guys. If done well, this type of game can be incredibly fun and addictive. ~cough~ Diablo2 ~cough~
While the story can be interesting, it has never really been a big reason for my wanting to play RPGs and neither has the quest system. Often these are closely tied together and mostly end up being something I rush through, or suffer through.
Which is why I worry about the genre a bit. It seems that more developers are turning RPGs into animated movies. More and more RPGs are suffering the ‘running from cut scene to cut scene’ fate. I truly hope that this is just a phase and that the actual game side of RPGs doesn’t get buried inside movies forever.
Images in order L-R: Baldurs Gate 2, Diablo 2, The Legend of Zelda, Final Fantasy 12, Pokemon B&W, Skyrim, Vampire: Bloodlines, World of Warcraft.