Why the RPG genre is so attractive – role-playing system, open worlds and more

Computer role-playing games evolved from board games. Now there is little in common between them, RPGs mutate and mix with other genres, such as shooters. In this article, we’ll talk about the main features of “roleplaying”, gameplay elements, subgenres and outstanding representatives in recent years.

In an RPG (from the English role-playing game – role-playing game), your hero roams the vast world, meets non-player characters (NPCs, from the English none-player character), completes quests, chops monsters, gains experience points as a result of adventures and valuable items. One of the pillars of the genre is leveling. You can influence character stats, abilities, skills and weapons / armor. Develop your character in your own way and play the game in a comfortable manner. Such flexibility is captivating, even if it is far from “role-playing”, as in “board games”.

Authors usually offer to create their own hero or take a ready-made one. Often you lead a whole detachment (party) of “adventurers” to the goal, each with a name, biography, and motives. The number of fighters is small – as a rule, no more than six.

Final fantasy 7

The plot is no less important than the leveling and leadership of the squad. It is influenced by your actions and choices in dialogues, leading to one of the endings.

Since the early 2000s, RPG events have taken place in open worlds. They are worked out in detail and create the illusion of a living universe. As for the setting (scene / surroundings), the developers often choose fantasy. There are also exceptions: cyberpunk (Cyberpunk 2077, Deus Ex, Shadowrun), steampunk (Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura), mystic with vampires and werewolves (Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines), post-apocalypse (Wasteland, Shin Megami Tensei, Fallout) …

Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines

Combat systems are best viewed within subgenres.

Like any old gaming genre, RPGs have spawned many ramifications. Let’s dwell on the main ones.

JRPG . Role-playing games are native to Japan. They differ from the western ones in a linear script and a pre-created main character (you only change the name, and even then not always). During the battle, the party is transferred to a separate screen. Previously, for pumping, the Japanese polls turned to random encounters, that is, random battles: you do not see the enemy in advance and cannot pass it. They are very annoying when you need to move around the location a lot. The fights themselves in most JRPGs, as in the classic Western “role-playing games”, are step-by-step and require perseverance, knowledge of the strengths of the hero and his associates, and the disadvantages of the enemy.

From the famous series, we will give Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, Pokemon, Tales of, Kingdom Hearts, Star Ocean, Persona.

Action / RPG . In “role-playing action movies” the skill of the gamer, his reaction is important, and not just the parameters of the character. The plot can be presented in a fragmentary and even primitive form, for example, through descriptions of objects. Popular representatives: Diablo, Monster Hunter, Dark Souls.

Remember that in action / RPG, characteristics and classes are still important. They should not be confused with aggressive slashers and straightforward hack and slash action games.

Dark souls 3

Tactical RPG . A mixture of role-playing and tactical strategy. The hook that hooks the gamer here are step-by-step battles. They take place on a grid map, with characters walking on squares. Natural barriers and shelters must be considered. From games in recent years, Ash of Gods: Redemption and the Expeditions series are examples.

Ash of Gods: Redemption

A hybrid of an RPG and a shooter . Such projects combine the gameplay features of an RPG and a shooter. These are Mass Effect, Outriders, The Outer Worlds, Destiny, Deus Ex. They combine thoughtful storytelling with real-time shooting and hero pumping.

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Outriders game. Day One Edition (PS4) 3 099 *
Dungeon crawler . In the games of this subgenre, the scenario is superficial – you are simply sent into the dungeons to bypass traps, destroy undead, monsters and collect loot. The difficulty grows with each new dungeon. Often they are generated randomly, plus the creators introduce the permadeath mechanic, when with the death of a character you lose all progress. The authors of Darkest Dungeon diversified the subgenre by introducing a mental health indicator – watch it, otherwise the squad will stop following orders under stress.

Text RPG . A sort of interactive book. You flip through the pages, make decisions, gain experience points and spend them on the selected characteristics. The text is primary here, and what is happening is demonstrated with the help of static pictures. Text RPGs are akin to Japanese visual novels. This year The Life and Suffering of Sir Brante from the Tomsk studio Sever thundered in the subgenre.

The Life and Suffering of Sir Brante

MMORPG . Hundreds of thousands and millions of gamers get stuck in massively multiplayer online RPGs. Developers create dozens of replica worlds on different servers, where thousands of players gather. To go through difficult dungeons, gamers unite in guilds. The payment model can vary: sale of add-ons, microtransactions, monthly subscription. Such projects are able to bring the creators much more than single “role-playing”. At the same time, developers are spending huge amounts of money to maintain the networked universe. Two MMO heavyweights are currently fighting for the audience – World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy 14.

Final fantasy 14

Titans of recent years
Now let’s talk in more detail about the representatives of the genre. Namely – about recent hits.

Cyberpunk 2077 . Long-term construction CD Projekt RED impressed with cinematography, the size of the metropolis of Night City, Keanu Reeves in one of the main roles. Disappointed with an abundance of technical errors. The Poles are slowly patching up the gaps and are in no hurry to release the game on the Nextgen.

Cyberpunk 2077 game (PS4)

[18+, adventure, action, role-playing game, release date: 12/10/2020, full Russian translation, Blu-ray BOX]
3 399 *
645 eleven
In stores: in 172 stores
Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla . The Assassin’s Creed series has gradually evolved from action adventure to action / RPG. At its peak came AC: Valhalla, a saga of Norse Vikings who landed in Foggy Albion in the 9th century. It has order with charismatic characters, combat system and historical materiel.

Dragon Quest 11: Echoes of an Elusive Age . Japanese RPG with the character design of Akira Toriyama, similar to your favorite fairy tale or heroic TV series from your childhood. It attracts opponents with a motley zoo, such dissimilar regions, the absence of any pressure on the user like “grind” .

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt . Another high-profile project CD Projekt RED. He is loved for inventive quests (both main and secondary), memorable soundtrack, beautiful open world.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Elex . Unexpectedly cheerful return of the veterans – authors of the Gothic series. They were especially successful in the post-apocalyptic world – the planet Magalan, where the Middle Ages clashed with walking robots. Next year, the sequel, Elex 2, will hit the shelves.


Kingdom Come: Deliverance . Serious historical RPG about Bohemia (Czech Republic) of the 15th century. It was brought before the release by Daniel Vavra, the “father” of Mafia. He also wrote tenacious dialogues for the game.

Kingdom Come: Deliverance

The Outer Worlds . A cross between RPG and shooter from Obsidian. The American studio approached the depiction of events on a distant, distant planet, as usual, with humor.

The outer worlds

Pillars of Eternity . The developer is also Obsidian. This time, you have an exercise in the spirit of “How to make a nostalgic RPG these days.” Obsidian handled it exemplary. And gave birth to the fashion for isometric RPGs.

South Park: The Stick of Truth . Obsidian again! Licensed games rarely come out decently, but The Stick of Truth is the exception to the rule. The script was written by Matt Stone and Trey Parker, creators of the animated series, and Obsidian came up with addictive combat and role-playing systems.

South Park: The Stick of Truth

Final Fantasy 7 Remake . Square Enix has revamped the iconic FF 7 for the modern generation. It turned out great. Top graphics, intense battles, respect for classics. One problem: the publisher has divided the “role-playing” into several episodes and has not yet announced when fans will see the sequel.

Final Fantasy VII Remake Deluxe Edition game (PS4)Kingdom Hearts 3 . Return to childhood: heroes travel the worlds of Disney – there is a location from “Pirates of the Caribbean”, “Monsters Inc.”, “Toy Story” and more.

Kingdom hearts 3

What’s on the horizon
Finally, about what awaits the genre. Let us illustrate, again, with specific examples.

Starfield. Space RPG from Todd Howard and Bethesda. The release is expected on November 11, 2022 on PC and Xbox Series.
The Elder Scrolls 6. Nothing is known about the game – even the subtitle Bethesda keeps secret.
Darkest Dungeon 2. The sequel to the crazy roguelike is aimed at the PC. It will debut in Early Access on October 26th.
Final Fantasy 16. “Final” has moved to a new universe, but in the center of the scenario again miracle crystals. It is announced for PS5.
Final fantasy 16

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic Remake. Reimagining one of the best RPGs. Aspyr Media is working on it. The studio has PC and PS5 in mind.
Avowed. Obsidian is torn between The Outer Worlds 2 and Avowed, a first-person RPG set in Pillars of Eternity. Platforms: PC and Xbox Series.
Hogwarts Legacy. An open world RPG without Harry Potter. Events take place in the 19th century. Hogwarts Legacy will be released in 2022 on a scattering of platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, PS5 and Xbox Series.

RPGs are prized for their freedom to develop a hero and explore the world, for their direct influence on how the story unfolds. What features of the genre do you like? Which do you prefer – Avowed, Starfield or Final Fantasy 16? Share in the comments!