The Good, The Bad and The Boring of RPGs

All modders and aspiring developers out there should pay close attention to a new article up on Blend Games. The author takes aim at RPGs calling them on their weaknesses and shortcomings while acknowledging the true greats in “Reasons Your Role-Playing Game Is Disappointing.” This of course translates to “Why your RPG sucks”.

Most of the games that come under fire are Western RPGs with only one JRPG in the mix. As you might expect, there are Bioware titles mentioned in abundance such as Neverwinter Nights 2, NwN2: Mask of the Betrayer, Mass Effect, Knights of the Old Republic and Baldur’s Gate. Arcanum, Final Fantasy VII and Fable get mentioned as well. the only Western RPG that wasn’t touched on was Planescape: Torment.

ERPG Cardinal sins including getting the story started to slowly. FF7 and Mass Effect are held out as sterling examples of what sucks players into a game right off the bat while the intro to Fable is used as an example of what not to do. NwN2 is slammed as well, but NwN2: Mask of the Betrayer is given Kudos for getting the player’s attention immediately. I’ve got to admit that waking up in a crypt hundreds of miles from home is much more interesting than going out for the prize at your local fair.

Also on the hit list is the over use of Fed Ex quests, slow travel between points of interest and unwieldy inventory systems like the one that plagues players in Mass Effect. Fable is once again sent to the corner for repetitive combat. Hopefully we won’t see these shortcomings in Fable 2. Catch the best and the worst of RPGs on Blend Games.

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11 Comments on The Good, The Bad and The Boring of RPGs


On September 8, 2008 at 5:38 pm

This is all part of a concerted effort (and I do not know why) for the media to demand action and more action and more action and less and less and less thinking. It’s why STALKER, Bioshock, Mass Effect and more than likely Fallout 3 are all “FPS+” games rather than “RPG-” and yet they have all been called RPG games! Even RTS’s now get knocked if god forbid they have resource gathering and base building – and of course step time is out of the order!

I think the reason adventure games have almost disappeared is because the media kept say so to make it happen and they said so because this genre, once again, had no ‘action’.

Mark my words, when it comes to PC gaming, I give it 3 years before all we get is first and third person shooters, albeit set in more open worlds and with options to upgrade weapons and armour. They might even have NPC conversations and ‘quests’, but they still will be shooters.

To me, the simple definition of an RPG is where 20 gamers can do the same quest and yet all have done it in slightly different ways, depending on the character you had built.

In STALKER and Bioshock and Mass Effect if you and I talked about a certain main quest mission, we may have used different weapons and armours, but we would both have completed the quest in the same way, killing the same enemies in the same rooms in the same order, more or less. 20 Mass Effect gamers, talking of any of the planetary quests will describe the same 20 stories. And that’s why Mass Effect is not an RPG. The fact that it is shows how the media just wants to help the developers and publishers just have one genre so they can just use one engine and make that one genre cookie-cutter style at the lowest cost.

Of course, doing this will kill PC gaming, but then maybe they want to do that too, assuming PC gamers will all go out and get consoles.

Where will it ever end?!

I look at RPG’s in another way. I see them as the pinnacle of PC gaming. Where a linear shooter has 20 hours of gameplay, an RPG has 100′s. Where a corridor shooter can have fairly simple AI to seem to have clever enemies (FEAR), RPG’s have to have AI that is much more sophisticated. Where a linear game has 20 main characters and 100 dummies, RPG’s have to put life into every NPC! The fact you get all these RPG extras for the same price as a linear shooter should put RPG’s in a class of their own, with much more respect and much better treatment. The more intelligent true RPG’s we get, in a multitude of genres (western, romance, sci-fi, etc), the more successful PC gaming will be. Articles like the one mentioned here do a disservice to a great genre, only ever equalled by the flight simulator (another dead genre as you need to think to play them!) and all RPG’s should be in a Hall of Fame that rises higher than all other types of video game.

After all, when you look at the greatest PC games of all time, you inevitably get an RPG at the top – whether it’s X-Com (an RPG when all is said and done) or Deus Ex, it is usually an RPG at the top of the heap, and it’s usually RPG’s that make up the majority of the Top 20! This is especially so when the charts have been voted on by the public.

So give RPG’s a break. They are the pinnacle of gaming and should be treated with the highest of respect. Certainly much more than those cookie-cutter FPS/TPS games we seem to get more and more, to the exclusion of all else, that tend to be much more shallow and have much less gameplay!


On September 8, 2008 at 6:31 pm

Holy crap. :shock: I think you hit the nail on the head with that speech. I couldn’t agree more.


On September 8, 2008 at 6:38 pm

I couldn’t agree more with the last response, too many times have I played “RPGs” recently only to discover that the only element of role playing was what weapon or armour you had.
Some of the best games around today are the RPGs from long ago. Unfortunately it seems that games such as Baldurs Gate and Icewind Dale will never been seen again, as they take too much resources for games companies to develop. Even the widely acclaimed NWN2 was far more linear than it’s predecessors. The only recent game that has come close to matching these titles is ‘The Witcher’, a fantastic game that was never given the credit it deserved as the english version was extremely buggy on release.
But, aside from this and a few other one offs, it would appear that the time of the fantastically diverse, long lasting and truly epic RPG is over. RIP


On September 8, 2008 at 7:09 pm

:mad: Perfect world is the way 2 go

Buddy Love

On September 8, 2008 at 11:10 pm

Nah, if you don’t like Mass Effect you’re a got. It was truly a pinnacle in gaming. An epic storyline, several alien hotties, lots of action, and space . Non Mass Effect likers are the minority, aka PS3 owners (bad) or wannabe PS3 owners (WORSE!)

Note: I won a Resistance 2 customized and signed PS3 just today. Yes, THAT contest. I’m going to destroy it on a Youtube video. Stay tuned, my youtube username is BuddyLove.

Mark Mac

On September 9, 2008 at 12:22 am

John: Yeah, but you misspelled “Armors”. Silly Brit. Don’t make me confiscate your ‘u’ key.


On September 9, 2008 at 1:44 am

john is right, though most gamers older than 20 probably noticed the trend, remember when back in the day in ACTUAL rpgs like baulders gate and arcanum you ACTUALLY HAD A PARTY oblivion and the witcher were both great, but again, YOU HAVE NO FUXING PARTY. the elements of play introduced when you have a party are one of the things that makes an RPG. GAMES, ESPECIALLY RPGS AND RTSs ARE BEING DUMBED DOWN TO APPEAL TO YOUNGER/FEMALE/CONSOLE/DUMBER PEOPLE. I gave a friend and a copy of fallout:brotherhood of steel and HE COULDN’T FIGURE OUT HOW TO LEVEL HIS CHARACTER. MASS EFFECT HAS A AUTO LEVEL FEATURE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, AND “QUICK START” ARE YOU F**************************CKING KIDDING ME????????????????????????????????

remember when rtss had you gathering MORE THAN 2 F___ING RESOURCES!!!!!!!!!!!
THE PARTY SYSTEM HAS BEEN DESTROYED BECAUSE PEOPLE ARE TO STUPID TO FIGURE IT OUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


On September 9, 2008 at 4:48 am

JRPGS are worst than most RPGS anyway.


On September 9, 2008 at 8:07 am

RPGS are great I just finished Mass Effect yesturday and damn what a story plot and more left over to continue for a sequal :D


On December 9, 2009 at 12:44 pm

I have to disagree with you John (though you’re the only one who spelled armour correctly).

RPGs have their merits but I usually only find them interesting for a few hours. After that it turns into a grind. Most fights become similar, a lot of inventory and stats/leveling micromanagement, and travel/exploration is slow and thoroughly uninteresting. There’s always a lack of immediacy that puts me off.

By contrast I really enjoy real-time and turn-based strategy. The difference is in the feeling that every interaction with the game has a weighty consequence (as opposed to e.g. exploring in RPGs or side-quests that have no purpose). RTS definitely has a lot of micromanagement, but it’s a lot of fun.

I guess it has something to do with the type of person you are, but intelligence isn’t it. To like RPGs you have to have a lot of patience for repetition and enjoy a certain type of micromanagement.

Damn Mass Effect

On February 28, 2011 at 1:03 pm

I purchased Mass Effect 2 and I am extremely disappointed. I just finished GTA 4 and though a Sci-Fi follow-up “of the same kind of style of game” would have be great. Mass Effect 2 has highest scores on Metacritic. It is classed as RPG. I read the reviews and they were fantastic.

Then I downloaded a nightmare over Stream. It is not an RPG! It’s a linear FPS with repetitive and boring tasks!