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Is classic singleplayer RPG dead?

Monday, 11 July 2011

I wonder if this is a case with classic type of singleplayer Role-Playing Games. In the early 90's there was PC, NES and Sega Master System. Consoles always had more story based japanese adventure/RPG's (Chrono Trigger anyone? All you know Final Fantasy series) while PC evolved into more deep European and American role playing games platform. By more deep I mean that euro and american RPG's used to have more dynamic gameworld. Who you character was - was usually not pre-determined but you could choose it by yourself. This added open-endness in many things. However in japanese RPG's more story and characters were pre-written. This gave less freedom but more direction within games' story in general.

(Chrono Trigger was highly praised and respected japanese SNES rpg)

I myself prefer euro-style RPG's over anime style - but it's matter of taste. More in depth PC role playing games actually had roots way back in 80's with text based interfaces, or earliest graphics using RPG's with just few colors. I would claim that when graphics were still offering limited visuals in 90's, game developers were more forced to focus in content of the role playing games instead of stunning visuals. The peak for rpg and adventure games in my opinion was definetely in decade of 1990s when 2D graphics looked actually very good already but 3D was lacking.

(Baldur's Gate was released near the end of roleplaying games peak times)

Remember Baldur's Gate ( | ), Icewind Dale, Planescape Torment and many Dungeons & Dragons based great games. Ultima Underworlds and such. How about Fallout 1 and 2? They just don't make games like this anymore. It's like they were forced to use 3D these days. In my opinion top down view with 2D would still be very usable and could look good when done right. Feels like almost all 3D based RPGs are dumbed down way or another in terms of content. I prefer dynamic world, large game content, replay value and in-depth character customization and development over great visuals any day. It's a shame that most time of development is used only to please the gamers eye. Most of games just arent innovative anymore.

There's a trend about releasing racing games, online First person shooters, MMORPG and some very uninnovative action shooters that are played thru in a week or two. And there's nothing wrong with those in general, but are they only type of games that have some profitability? Feels often that only visuals are finished but game content is released on halfway ready. Expansions & downloadable content then costs laughable amount to rip off customer instead of releasing finalized games with replay value. What was this map expansion pack for last Modern Warfare where it cost 15 euros per map? That's just insane!

I'm waiting some game house to take brave step and say "we're not gonna make this game easily accessible and dumbed down just to make it appeal masses" and make a role-playing game that requires some time to master and to get into. Someone who actually markets the content of the game over the visuals. Has multi-platforming most of the titles made game houses to feel they must make gameplay overall easy and simple 'cause they think most console gamers are not so experienced hardcore gamers anyway? I'm sure some of the owners of XBOX and PS3 would love to get large classic in-depth roleplaying games for consoles also. Remember the rpg/adventure games like already mentioned Fallouts, Baldurs Gates and Planescape Torment, they're still played and appreaciated even today because of their replay-value and great storylines with large world and character customization.

Classic RPG's often had you to create whole adventuring party consisting of four or five heroes who were all available for customization with their own skill sets, attributes and even personalities. Most games these days allow you to create dumbed down one character and character development blows compared to some older games. MMORPGs are propably only in-depth character customization having role playing games these days. But they have to dump down quests because game content is so large. Take World of Warcraft as an example, quests are just very repetitive grinding, but character building is quite good and amount of loot is awesome. I cannot think of many good single player roleplaying games released in 2000's that very actually had good character system and story alongside large gameworld. Theres few expectations though.

(Dragon Age Origins - although modernized - was not to old school RPG with it's character build system and story system)

Elder Scrolls Morrowind actually had really good themes, mystical feeling, pretty good character development and large gameworld with loads of loot and quests. Although marketed with visuals, the actual content was good. Dragon Age Origins managed surprise me for being so dedicated to old school role-playing games with whole party to available to raise skills and to develop (although you could still create only your own character from the scratch). Elder Scrolls IV Skyrim is coming out soon, and will most likely be a good action-RPG. I'm sure I will like it alot, but classic RPG it is not. Is classic single player RPG dead?


  1. Lets wait for latest Diablo

  2. We'll see, although Diablo is bit more hack'n'slash I've enjoyed the previous ones quite a bit. Blizzard usually puts quality out anyway.. :-)

  3. Unfortunately, the type and consistency of games that are released by mainstream publishers is very much governed by the market to which they are catering and the potential profitability.

    I am also in the same boat as the OP, in that the style of game that I, along with a considerable community of others, would like to see simply will not be made. As frustrating as it is, there is not a lot that can be done about it.

    From the perspective of a game developer, catering to what would be considered a niche market may give them brownie points with that niche, and a few others besides, but their primary concern is that if they invest hundreds of thousands of dollars into the development of a product (think wages, design, marketing, production, just to name a few), they need to be able to recoup that expense and then some - a company that is just breaking even is definitely not getting ahead.

    The greater portion of people who will buy games today are, sadly, not looking for something that will give them an intellectual challenge for years to come, and generally don't want a game that makes them think (they have the real world for thinking), but would rather get something that simply gives them instant gratification. Therefore, developers produce games that, while very visually appealing, don't particularly engage the player mentally.

    It's simply a matter of economics and supply-and-demand.

    In my opinion, anyway.

  4. Wise words mate. I for one do like some of the newer games; Battlefield 3, Skyrim. Even Deus Ex Human Revolution was decently good.. Well there's not that many and Skyrim & Deus are some of the most in-depth games released recently at least on consoles which tells something about the situation, since they aren't THAT in-depth anyway (compared some of the older games).

    The problem is over-production of the games that don't offer any deeper gameplay and aim to please mainly visually -- in expense of not making many if any games with more depth these days.

    So yea it's kinda frustrating that they don't make games like in the 90's any more. There was just much more innovation back then, even at late 80's, though visual side was almost overly "retro", I at least don't like text-interface-only games much.. I need something. But it doesn't have to be fancy 3D with best effects.

  5. I am very annoyed by how gaming in general has gone to hell lately. I just watched the Mass Effect 3 trailer and it just pisses me off how they seem to have altered the gameplay from ME and ME2 to a more action focused one, and also read that there's gonna be a "action" campaign mode with fixed responses to NPC dialog and stuff, it's just WRONG.
    I personally loved Skyrim but something doesn't feel right about character development and combat gameplay, as if they did the same thing to appeal to a more commercial market, Witcher 2 also isn't half as good as the first one (wich is one of the best rpg's i've played).
    Sadly, rpg games aren't the only ones affected, Starcraft 2 was supposed to be yno of the most epic sequels ever! I mean c'mon SC was probably the best real-time strategy game ever made, so blizzard just f***s it up and release the game in 3 parts, with a shitty first campaign and focused just to multiplayer gaming, hope they don't screw things up with Diablo 3, anyways thanks for reading...

  6. I've completely skipped whole Mass Effect series this far. I think that I may pick 1st or 2nd eventually with very cheap price though. Skyrim is a good game imo on it's own right -- but hell, would I love to get another game in the markets with party creation and a fresh setting, world and plot, where your class selection actually matters how the world reacts to your characters.