Not that it matters.
So, I checked out a bunch of new games (and some old ones) and I must say that I noticed RPG Elements in most of them. And I sure as hell don’t like that tendency in the slightest.
Now I think I should elaborate.
RPG elements are basically tiny bits of RPS gameplay added to games that are not RPG by nature, like experience points, skills, inventory, et cetera. Whoa, diversity, customization, awesome! What to not like about that?
First: intention. RPG elements are usually added to the game to make it seem (emphasis on “seem”) more diverse and interesting to include it ito ad campaign and to get critical acclaiming. I don’t like that approach to creative process.
Second: quality. This one has its roots in the previous problem. The issue is similar to that one with 3D in movies.
3D movies are better than 2D movies only in two possible ways: the “whoa, immersion” effect (from what I’ve watched, only Avatar and Toy Story were succesful with that one) and the “whoa, object from the screen moves towards us” effect (which is less and less appealing as the lime goes on, remember, most of popularity of L’Arrivée d’un train en gare de la Ciotat was because of the public believing that train was moving towards them).
As for the rest… Well, I’d say that 2D movies are superior if not made directly in 3D (like Avatar and cartoons from Pixar and Dreamworks). Why so?
If you ever watched 3D movies (of course you did), you should’ve noticed the fact that 3D darkens the picture: it is actually darkened twice – once while converting, once when going through spectacles.
Making movie 3D is awesome for advertising and gives free cash while not costing much. As a side effect, we get this:
No, I don’t mean The Last Airbender movie, for that we must blame Shyamalan’s existence. I mean, dim and unappealing picture.
Similar thing with RPG elements.
You can make them like in Hexen 2, where they were designed really awesomely, but that actually involves a lot of creative process. So people slap on some imbalanced sloppy randomness like in Prince of Persia: The Forbidden Sands and rejoice.
Not to mention that making RPG elements sometimes make them forget about anything else, making actual gameplay rather bland. You don’t believe me? How many people would have played Korean grindfests if they wouldn’t involve levels or experience? That’s it.
Third: effect. Even if the RPG elements are designed pretty well and integral for gameplay, they are rather often imbalanced, and they mostly take away diversity.
Case in point: there’s a shooter with heavily upgradeable guns. What will you choose: have a load of weak guns, needing to choose a different one in different situations (like it actually must be in shooters) or rather pimp out one gun that looks appealing and mow down your enemies with it, no matter the weak points or type advantage?
Fourth: reality warping. That one is somewhat subtle, but action RPGs and non-RPGs with RPG elements are shifting the definition of roleplaying games in general.
ROLEPLAYING GAMES ARE NOT ABOUT GAINING LEVELS AND EXPERIENCE, for fuck’s sake. Roleplaying games are all about making choices!
You can roleplay through interaction (like in Mass Effect and Dragon Age, where you make decisions, making your character behave in different situations like you want him to) or through gameplay (like in Morrowind and Fallout, where there are no character classes, but you can make play like they had thanks to their free-form system). Your Grilzzled Space Marine #141 has one choice: proceed through the rail-roading corridor. No matter whether he’s level 3 or level 5.
Pictured above: freedom of choice.
Not that it matters, because in several years we’ll have only three games: Generic Korean Grindfest, Generic FPS With EXP, Generic Indie Bullshit With A Gimmick.
Thank you for reading this.