RPGs have come a long way from the pixelated, turn-based cutefests of yesteryear. Nowadays, we see vast worlds hosting a plethora of individual characters, and players have ultimate freedom to kill people, burn shit or fuck everything off to settle down and have kids.
RPGs aren’t without their downsides though; emulating real life social interactions and scenery can be especially tricky. As technology advances, where do RPGs currently sit, and where might they be in the future? UTM Discuss.
What, to you, is the definition of an RPG?
Hugo: You play as a character and through your actions and decisions you see that character change from what he was before.
Ryan: Character customisation and freedom are at the heart of RPGs for me. I want to go from a piss weak babby man child to Big McLarge Huge by the end game.
Hugo: Being able to destroy villages and steal their butter is always a pro.
Nathan: For me, an RPG has to be immersive. It doesn’t matter what kind of world it’s set in, as long as I believe that world is real. Depth of story is really important here, too.
Rich: I like depth of storytelling. Also moral ambiguity is a must in RPG games – it’s weirdly exhilarating to go along with a faction that you feel suits you, only for it to show its true colours down the line, e.g. Stormcloaks.
Ryan: Morality systems if used well can be great. The aesthetic changes in Fable were one of the highlights, but if it’s too black and white it just seems hammy.
Hugo: I agree with storytelling but at the same time sometimes it doesn’t need to be strung along by a big narrative. S.T.A.L.K.E.R. and Mount and Blade provide a great setting to develop your character without having to rely on polarising moral choices, ie. Imperial/Stormcloak or Brotherhood of Steel/The Institute.
What’s your favourite RPG of all time? How well will do you think it will hold up in ten years?
Nathan: Final Fantasy VIII. Which I get A LOT of shit for, mostly from FFVII fuckboys. I wish people would step away from their outdated concept of what a Final Fantasy game should be and just play it. Nevertheless, it’ll still stand up in ten years’ time for the hardcore fans.
Ryan: My first Final Fantasy was FFIX so that’s my personal favourite.
Nathan: FFIX just came out on Steam and I didn’t really play it back when it came out, so I have no idea what I’m doing.
Ryan: Having to figure shit out for yourself is really refreshing in the modern day.
Rich: Mine’s Knights of The Old Republic 2. It’s weird, the game is kind of a piece of shit but it’s foreboding atmosphere and deconstruction of the Star Wars formula, as well as the slightly more fun progression. You get force powers from the get go – that wins it for me.
Ryan: Probably Dark Souls, just down to the amount of new approaches you can take. But Fallout 3/New Vegas come in at a close second. I love the fact that with DS the lore isn’t just given; you have to find that shit to really get what’s going on. Even then it’s like “Oh shit I have no idea.”
Hugo: Mine’s Mount and Blade: Warband for giving you a true feeling of a rise to power. Once you get past getting killed by every bandit group you run into, you quickly start waging wars and bringing down civilisations.
Nathan: I really need to cop this Mount and Blade game. I can remember watching you play it when I was high as dicks and it looked sensational.
Rich: Make sure you get Warband.
Hugo: Yeah, the original mount and blade is ass. Bannerlord soon though.
Richard: I’m hype for Banterlord.
Hugo: I’m gonna run a criminal racquet in all my cities.
Ryan: The mods available for it are jokes too. Good strong community.
Hugo: The Japan mod was the best M&B experience I’ve had. Seriously, I FUCKED JAPAN.
Rich: The Japan one looks dope.
Nathan: Shameful display.
What’s one thing you miss from the RPGs of yesteryear?
Hugo: Good writing in Bethesda games huehuehue.
Nathan: I miss the humour. Most popular, modern RPGs seem to be insistent on being the most gritty, most grey game that they forget the most important part of games – fun.
Rich: I actually really miss non real-time combat.
Nathan: I knew some fucker would say turn-based!
Rich: Turn-based combat is far too absent in most games… At least for melee-based games.
Nathan: Let it die peacefully, man.
Rich: The Banner saga did it recently and it was one of the best, most fluid combat systems I’ve used in a modern game.
Hugo: I’ve heard good things about Banner.
Ryan: I’ve heard it was good too.
Rich: Really, really railroad-y but it totally worked.
Nathan: Banner Saga is £3.74 on Steam rn… Cop or nah?
Rich: Definitely cop, hours of enjoyment right there.
Ryan: As graphics have increased in quality, we seem to have moved away from size. Look at how big OG Fallout and Elder Scrolls were. It’s a shame people have lost patience with it due to the ease of fast travelling.
Nathan: Older RPGs were shit, truss me daddi. I played TES: II recently and it was absolute toss.
Hugo: Yeah TES hasn’t aged too well because they were such early FPS RPGs – now we’re used to so much more. Oblivion is still banging though. Except the Oblivion gates. That game had so much charm with its six overall voice actors and vibrant colour palette…
Ryan: Yeah, I believe that. The Fallout games were aight though.
Rich: I kept dying to rats in Fallout 1 because I couldn’t figure out how to equip the pistol. Not one of my finer moments in video gaming.
Ryan: One thing I don’t miss is the lack of aesthetic changes in characters. Back in dungeon crawlers where you just looked like a class and your gear looked the same no matter what – I hate that shit, man.
Hugo: Ohh yeah the D&D sorta trope. Mages = robes and shit.
Rich: I always roll as an orc with a topknot these days.
What kind of mechanics would you love to see more in RPGs?
Rich: I’d love to see more flexibility in the choices you can make as a player. Often, siding with either faction in a game sucks because both factions are assholes. I’d like to be able to lone wolf it a bit more.
Ryan: I love being able to work with and against factions. And have like a meter showing how you are. New Vegas was good for that, but it needed to be more in depth.
Rich: Yeah I think in general faction allegiances need to have more depth.
Hugo: I love a good customisation screen. Elder Scrolls needs some Saints Row level shit.
Ryan: I wish games were clearer with your choices. I don’t know about you guys, I loved Fallout 4, but the dialogue options kinda lied to you now and then and fucked you up a bit.
Nathan: Fallout 4 made me sad.
Hugo: Actually I’d like to see more crime RPGs, like I guess sort of GTA but in different setting. Like a whole game about the Thieves Guild or something… or a Breaking Bad-esque skooma lab in Skyrim.
Nathan: That would be v sick, I love skooma crime.
Rich: GTA London would be kinda cool. Like the endgame OP shit is being able to fire off a couple rounds on a gun.
Nathan: Nah London would suck… English crime is not aesthetically pleasing enough for a video game.
Ryan: A mafia one that was true RPG would be neat. Like you can be an undercover cop, a hired goon, or even get to be a made man or a capo eventually.
Hugo: They were doing scouting for a GTA London a time back, they were gonna get everything inside the M25.
Rich: Oooooh yes! GTA Chesham!
Hugo: It would be nice to see but yeah, lack of guns is a bigger thing here.
Rich: Sell 5 bags of ket – mission complete.
Nathan: So unglamorous.
Hugo: Grime the game. Made by Rockstar North.
Rich: Flowdan as big boss villain.
Nathan: Rinse FM on the radio.
Rich: Tempz as an NPC in a home invasion mission.
Ryan: Skepta to voice a character, and Wiley to be billed but never show up.
Nathan: Looooooooooool fkn savage Ryan!
What do you think of games like Arkham Asylum or Mad Max that are a kind of watered-down fusion of RPGs in an open world setting?
Hugo: Mad Max was a solid RPG but had a lot of issues. There wasn’t enough you could do with the car and Mel Gibson wasn’t an unlockable character.
Ryan: Hate me if you want: not a fan of the Arkham series.
Nathan: I really don’t like those kinds of games. Maybe it’s my immense hatred for Batman clouding the rest of those games.
Hugo: Arkham City was great, Arkham Knight was ruined by the shitty bat tank.
Rich: Far Cry 3 is probably the apex of the watered-down open world RPG. Remember when we burned down the jungle, Hugo?
>shoot at some dudes
>their car flips
>suddenly a tiger
Hugo: Burn Africa, burn Africa!
Ryan: Far Cry 3 got real full for me. I liked taking down the camps, that was it.
Nathan: 0/10 for Far Cry, I hate killing animals.
Hugo: Ubisoft need to hold their horses. I know they’ve delayed the next Assassin’s Creed but Far Cry 4 and Primal were both flat.
Hugo: I’m gonna cop Just Cause 3 soon. That game is just off its tits on silliness.
Nathan: Is that Break Everything: The Game?
Hugo: Yeah, and steal everything. That’s what we need more in RPGs – destructible environment.
Do you think the introduction of RPG elements into pretty much any game is a good or bad thing?
Hugo: Sometimes it’s not needed at all. Light RPG elements are usually nice though.
Nathan: Yeah I’m always up for some sort of progression, but only when it makes sense. You can really tell when it’s shoehorned into a game.
Hugo: Yeah, like the stats in GTA San Andreas. They were donkey dix.
Rich: I think in multiplayer games it can be broken though. Like Shogun 2 multiplayer… Christ on a bike, that was inaccessible as fuck.
Nathan: Fite me on Shogun 2 MP Rich.
Rich: I will!
Ryan: Forcing morality systems into games that don’t need it is bad. Spec Ops: The Line had a damn good choice system that wasn’t true morality, and it was fucking incredible story telling in a fucking FPS! More of that RPGs, please.
Hugo: Morality is lame usually. HOWEVER if any of you have played Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines, they use morality in that SUPER well. Basically if you unjustly kill random dudes, you slowly go insane to the point where you blood frenzy and lose control of your character usually at an in opportune moment in a nightclub or something.
Do you think the RPG will still exist in its current form in ten years’ time?
Nathan: RPGs are always changing, because they can get stale pretty quickly. I guess it’s the same with most games – one will do something different, the rest will copy. Then all games are like that, until one does something different and the rest follow suit again.
Hugo: Yeah for sure, I think trends will come and go but the idea of working your way up and earning experience points ain’t going anywhere.
Ryan: I think other games will evolve to incorporate more RPG elements, leading to a lack of straight up RPG games. But there will be a semblance of RPG still in most games.
Rich: I feel like a lot more games will have deeper RPG elements to them (like the XCOM series) whilst the current model of the RPG will have to find new ways to innovate. I mean, I think there’s a reason there hasn’t been an Elder Scrolls game for 5 years. I’m hoping they’ve gone back to the drawing board.
Ryan: They’ve been working on Fallout?
Nathan: Fallout was a disappointment though, they better be back at that goddamn drawing board.
Hugo: Fallout 4’s mechanics were great, but the story was HORRIBLE.
Ryan: I felt the character design was a bit toonish, loved the weapon crafting and settlement building though.
Nathan: SARCASTIC. That choice will forever haunt me.
Hugo: They were the only good bits of writing in the game.
“Hey why are you here?”
“Oh yeah I’m just a pizza delivery boy.”
Ryan: Yeahhh, not sure I’m on the character having a voice hype.
Rich: How do you reckon they could fix the Fallout and TES games though?
Nathan: By not being lazy and getting people working on it that aren’t 14 years old.
Hugo: They need to get nicer on their writing, put less emphasis on polarising choices that end up not making any real difference.
How do you feel Virtual Reality will affect RPGs in the future?
Rich: I’m undecided as to whether it’s just another gimmick to be honest… Although a game with a great world in VR would be truly amazing; sunsets and stuff.
Ryan: Unless I’m in a room like the holodeck, keep that gimmicky bollocks away.
Hugo: The Witcher’s sex scenes are gonna sell a lot more Oculus Rifts.
Ryan: It would have to be a full body experience. I’d actually feel less immersed if I had to wear a big headset and look around while holding a controller.
Nathan: I reckon RPGs are going to be super fucking popular in the VR era. It’s escapism to the maximum degree, and if the Tories are still in power by then, we’ll NEED a fucking escape. It’s either VR or suicide, and I’d rather be a cat girl than dead.