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30 Sep 2014

The CRPG is Back in a Big Way

My new addiction is Wasteland 2: an awesome CRPG (computer role-playing game) that feels as if the Fallout series never went first-person. It was developed by the mind behind the original Wasteland and first few Fallout games, so you know it’s going to be full of humor, oddities, and captivating characters that feel like they belong in a Mad Max film. Here’s a few statistics about the game:

But wait! There was another little CRPG that was released a few months ago you may have heard of called Divinity: Original Sin. Here’s some statistics about this gem:

Beamdog – the developers responsible for the enhanced versions of Baldur’s Gate and Baldur’s Gate II a few years ago, have also announced they will be releasing the enhanced version of Icewind Dale as well.

So what’s the big deal? As if you have to ask: CRPGs are on the rise.

They’re coming back in a big way – and you need to be aware of the trend.

Gamers are hungry for RPGs that are challenging, brutal, and force them to think twice about every little move they make. As gamers, we have been bombarded with RPGs that, while good, fail to challenge our minds and skills like the CRPGs of yore (looking at you, Mass Effect).

Gamers are ready to be challenged in their RPGs once again, and now is the time for you to deliver it to them.

How? Let me tell you:

Be unforgiving

Full disclosure: I’m a fan of all types of RPGs. From Skyrim to Mass Effect to Neverwinter Nights and beyond, I love sinking my teeth into a good RPG – so don’t mistake my criticalness as burying a game as a whole.

With that being said, one of the trends I found irritating in modern RPGs is that they are a little too forgiving. Classic RPGs (and a trend I’m seeing return in this year’s CRPG releases) force you to think on your feet and survive enemies that are stronger than you right out of the gate. Case in point: when playing Wasteland 2 a few days ago, I randomly came across a group of raiders that were a much higher level than my team. We were slaughtered in moments. After I loaded a past save, we snuck past them without incident, came across a band of weaker enemies, defeated them, and increased in level.

Some would say meeting a band of enemies much higher than you early in the game is a balancing issue. On the contrary: it’s a challenge, and it’s what RPG players crave.

Make us plan ahead

As big of a fan I am of Skyrim, I hate how I can run into any dungeon without any sort of plan. Early in the game, I can run inside, kill most of the enemies, then run back out nearly unscathed. Try this in a game like Divinity: Original Sin, and you’re going to get nowhere fast.

Wasteland 2 does a great job of making you think twice about firing a single bullet. I have found myself seeking out ammunition in the game and ensuring every person has a melee weapon in my group so firing bullets is a last resort. Every time I enter a dungeon or leave an area, I have to stop for five minutes, dive rations evenly among my group, heal others, and do everything I can to ensure that the surgeon in my group is kept alive at all times.

Planning ahead is key to survival in Wasteland 2 and other CRPG games like it. When your plan comes together? There’s nothing more satisfying.

If you’re considering developing an RPG, know this: players are tired of the same. They want something original and challenging, and it’s a reason why so many are flocking to CRPGs. For your next RPG (or your first, whichever the case may be), consider following the traditions of CRPGs and give players an experience that will prove to be rewarding yet difficult.

And when you do? Let me know – I’d like to play it!

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