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What I Like (and dislike) in Role Playing Games

Discussion in 'BoM Blogs' started by Vorona, Oct 16, 2013.

  1. Vorona

    Vorona Shadow-Whisperer

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    What I Like (and dislike) in Role Playing Games

    This entry is going to rely a lot on a comparison of five games I've played to various extents: Baldur's Gate (just the first one), World of Warcraft, Dragon Age: Origins, Dragon Age II, and Skyrim, listed in the order I played them. I started playing Baldur's Gate to get a feel for D&D, since I was starting a paper game then and had no experience. I tried to keep it on my computer, but ended up getting World of Warcraft as a replacement (I didn't know about GoG, and for all I know, it might not have been there then). Somehow, I thought WoW was the ONLY roleplaying game out there, and so I played it quite a bit, thinking that despite all the things I disliked, I didn't have a choice. I rediscovered Baldur's Gate, and immediately stopped playing WoW. I picked up Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age II to play in French and to develop my French skills. There were some technical problems, so for a long time, I had Dragon Age: Origins in English, and Dragon Age II in French. A lot of my students were playing Skyrim last year, and my curiosity finally got the best of me (unfortunately only a month before the legendary edition came out) enticing me to get Windows on my MacBook and a copy of that game. Out of all these games, the only one I've finished is Dragon Age: Origins. The one I like the most? I think it's Skyrim.

    What I NEED:

    -I'm not great at combat, so I need, at least at this point in my gaming life, the ability to scale the difficulty down to the easiest possible. This is why I have never finished Baldur's Gate: I get to a certain point and keep dying, and finally give up in frustration. Everything else about the game is amazing, but I just can't seem to finish it, and it's not JUST because I like creating new characters (although that's also a reason: it seems amazingly easy to give into that temptation when the current character can't do anything without dying and killing the whole party over and over again).

    What I LOVE:

    -Choices that matter. This is the big reason I disliked WoW. You did all these quests, but unless you were the first one to do a particular one on a server (which I never was), the world stayed exactly the same as if nothing had happened. To a certain extent, this is true of all games, but I find that both Dragon Age: Origins and Skyrim allow for your actions to have real consequences. Little choices matter a lot in Skyrim, and bigger ones matter in Dragon Age.

    -Choices, period. This is the reason I think Skyrim is the game I like most. The classless leveling system has allowed me to combine my two favorite playstyles into one character: sneaking and healing. This is impossible in every other game, and possibly not efficient in Skyrim, but it doesn't matter if it's not efficient, because who cares how I level my character as long as I'm having fun? That would be a big issue in WoW or other MMOs, if the opportunity even existed. I also love the minor things you can do throughout the game: my evil character murdered the shop owner of my fiance's shop, so she could inherit it. Completely impossible in all the other games, as far as I can tell. Being able to just walk through the countryside.

    -Mystical/unusual places: This is where I think Dragon Age: Origins has Skyrim beat. Despite all the hate, I love the Fade. I love how every time I end up in the Fade it's different. The closest I got to that in Skyrim was going into the mind of Emperor Pelagius the Third in the Mind of Madness quest. Otherwise, even places you'd expect to be in a mysterious environment, they were all the same crypts filled with the same type of monster.

    What I LIKE:

    -A Variety of Quests: But here, Skyrim wins out again. I actually really like a lot of the non-combat type of quests, where you go talk to someone, or retrieve something important (especially if you don't have to go through a huge boring dungeon to get it). While I've seen some complaints that the side quests seem to be more important than the main quest, this is actually one of the things I love about Skyrim. I don't have to follow the main quest if I don't want to . . . that said:

    -A Sense of Urgency: One of the most immersive quests I've been in is in Dragon Age: Origins when you have to save the village of Redcliffe from the undead. Keeping the NPCs alive is important, and if you go away from it, well, it actually gets destroyed. If that same situation happened in Skyrim, nothing would happen. While I like the convenience of being able to do whatever I want, it feels weird hearing NPCs saying I need to do something "right away" while I know, in my player-head, that actually, I can do it whenever I want and it will still be available.

    -PC/NPC and NPC/NPC relations: Here, Dragon Age: Origins and Baldur's Gate win hands down. I haven't played Dragon Age II enough to know if it's better there (more in the DISLIKE section for why I haven't gotten that far). I have heard that Baldur's Gate II is better than Baldur's Gate in this respect, but I haven't played it because I want to finish Baldur's Gate itself first. The gifts might be a little hokey (really, I actually CAN win your love through saying the right things and buying you gifts?), but the fact that there's the party camp and that you can actually just sit and talk to your party, even the members you aren't currently traveling with is very cool. I also love listening to barter among members. In Skyrim, it makes sense that the second doesn't happen, but I really wish you could interact more with your "followers" -- making them into friends, at the very least, rather than just mindless followers.

    -Sudden, unexpected, and sometimes unwinnable encounters: Despite liking things to be easy, I sometimes like a challenge -- particularly if it's unexpected and fairly quick to resolve (as opposed to being at the end of a huge dungeon). The dragon fights in Skyrim meet this, although I think I need to up my difficulty a little, since they're getting to be too easy. There are also two events in WoW that used to meet this: the quest in Silverpine to get the book, and Stitch in . . . (can't remember the province/kingdom). There was a thrilling sense of accomplishment when I finished those! Apparently, though, they nerfed both of them, which means that the only worthwhile content is group-based. Grrr...

    Finally, what I DISLIKE (and in some cases, even HATE):

    Most of this is why I don't like WoW or Dragon Age: II -- some of the WoW stuff is stuff I've learned are essential to MMOs in general, so those are also why I don't like MMOs. Some of it is also things I don't like about the games I do like, in general.

    -Mindless killing. This was worst in Dragon Age II, but I get frustrated with it in other games, too. The black ninjas that just suddenly up and attacked me everywhere I went got extremely tedious and frustrating. Add to that the speed of the combat and the fact that I'm already not good at combat and well, I just didn't enjoy that. I also don't like in MOST games how every objective seems to be at the end of a really, really long dungeon. I like how in Skyrim, some of the "dungeons" are actually really small. But I'll admit I've seen enough draugr and dwarven spiders to last me the rest of my life.

    -Overly cinematic dialogue: This, in combination with the random ninjas, is the reason I just don't play Dragon Age II. You go from mindless combat to cinematic dialogue. The PC doesn't even SAY the words you pick! Why even have words? Why not just have the stupid icons for nice, funny, mean, and challenging? I really hate this. It makes the character not mine at all. I saw in the latest interview for Dragon Age: Inquisition that the interviewer thought games were inferior to movies and that they should move more into being like movies (speaking about romances). NO!!!!! If I want to watch a movie, I'll get a movie to watch. When I want to play a game, ESPECIALLY an RPG (granted, the only type I often play), I want my choices, including the words I pick for dialogue, to actually matter. Plus, I can't PAUSE during dialogue, and it's awkward to pause for a long time during combat, so I'm stuck in front of the computer screen. I MUCH prefer text-based dialogue, although I do like how your dialogue affects characters.

    -Forced cooperation: This is something I think is true of all, or at least most MMOs, at least based on comments in forums when I used to play WoW. The only way to actually advance or see content is to get into groups with other real people. And those other real people are generally not forgiving of players who are still learning how to play video games, unless they're your friends. But even playing with my friends, I found that they always leveled faster than me, so then I couldn't play with them unless I just power-leveled when I did play, which I didn't particularly enjoy.

    -Paying for Boosts: I haven't had a lot of experience with this (mostly because if a game has it, I immediately stop playing), but if the game is an MMO and it is "free-to-play," typically, it's not "free" to actually enjoy playing because you have to pay real money to get advantages, which gives rich people a greater advantage over poor people, which I think shouldn't exist in online, virtual environments: it should be your CHARACTER'S wealth that matters, not the player's. Putting it in the player's control doesn't just perpetuate gaps between rich/poor (which is irritating on the one hand), but is also, to me, similar to the cinematic dialogue in that it breaks the immersion -- you KNOW that the reason you have such-and-such advantage is because you paid for it. Yes, this happens with DLC, too, but DLC usually also offers other things, including the fact that your character WORKS for whatever it is they get in the end. For this reason, I'm also wary of mods that just do stuff for you, although the fact that it was working with the game and is available to anyone for free makes it less objectionable than in-game advantages that can only be unlocked by giving the game's owners your credit card info. For this reason, even though I probably won't buy or play Elder Scrolls Online (due to the other things I dislike about MMOs), I heartily support Bethesda's choice to use a subscription-based model rather than a pay-for-advantages model that breaks immersion and perpetuates real-life gaps in wealth.

    Overall, then, I'm slightly more enticed by Dragon Age: Inquisition (though frustrated that it seems like they will not get rid of the overly cinematic dialogue) than Elder Scrolls Online. I was fairly excited about Shroud of the Avatar until I found out that only rich people (in real life) can get houses, even if they're playing offline, where the "amount" of lots doesn't matter. I subsequently chose not to fund the project.
     
  2. Gaear

    Gaear ★ SPS Account Holder Resourceful

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    Finally another V-blog!!

    Well written, as usual. :thumb:
     
  3. Vorona

    Vorona Shadow-Whisperer

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    Thanks! I've been spending time at a cat forum after getting my cat -- that, and of course teaching . . . and Skyrim.
     
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