There are a bunch of fantastic RPGs coming this year. We’ve got Dragon Age: Inquisition, The Witcher 3, the Elder Scrolls Online. I’m not going to include Final Fantasy XIII: Lighting Returns on that list, but it might even be a pretty good one, or at least half-way decent. But RPGs have changed so much over the years – have we become spoiled by the modern ones?
This question arose for me as I’ve been playing through Mass Effect, a game I missed out on originally and I’m fully enjoying now. It doesn’t matter that the game is seven years old – it is still engrossing, fun to play and well designed. Unfortunately, Lost Odyssey did not draw me in as much (also part of playing through games I missed out on over the December break). However, while playing Mass Effect, I have had to retrain my brain to use OCD saving, especially after losing tons of progress when I’ve failed to do so – every two to five minutes I try to remind myself to save, especially if I’ve just cleared a room of baddies.
I remember playing RPGs where you couldn’t just save whenever and wherever, when there were distinct save points, and sometimes it would take a while to find them, and sometimes it wasn’t wise to save there anyway. Remember when the only way to wake someone from a KO was to sleep at an inn, or when Phoenix Downs or their equivalents were insanely expensive? Sometimes you might die during a major boss battle, which would mean not just retrying the battle, but going through the entire dungeon again, including all (unskippable) cut scenes.
Lately, autosave has become standard, cut scenes all have a skip or fast forward option, and we rag on a game if the combat is too slow or the game requires too much grinding. I’m not a fan of pointless grinding, but I love a ton of side missions or an open world to use as a way of leveling up and exploring a range of environments. I want to fully customize where I allocate skill points or attributes, I want to make skill tree choices and put together my favorite party combinations. Yet, I remember fantastic RPGs where such control was limited yet enjoyment was still high, like Secret of Mana or even early Final Fantasies.
Have we become spoiled? Do we expect more from games, while still complaining when they aren’t hard enough, or reminiscent enough of games that really aren’t as great as we remember? Sure, we say graphics aren’t everything, but still shamelessly drool over Dragon Age: Inquisition and The Witcher 3; we complain about lack of meaningful characters or stories, yet ignore fantastic games like Nier. Do you think RPG gamers have become impossible to please? Or have RPG elements spilled over into so many games that it’s hard to narrow down the genre as more and more games fall into the “action/adventure with RPG and open-world elements” category?
All I know is that some fantastic RPGs from back in the day still have excellent replay value – I’m loving Mass Effect and Darryn is on his fourth or fifth play through of Final Fantasy 8. Yet others seem to lose appeal as time goes by, like Lost Odyssey, Blue Dragon or even Borderlands 1. Some of our crew even argue that Final Fantasy 7 isn’t as awesome as some of you might remember it. So, do you think we’ve become spoiled by recent RPGs? Have RPGs gotten better or worse in recent years? I wonder if we can realistically even have this discussion considering the incredible power of nostalgia.
Last Updated: January 10, 2014