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Do games really need a talk button on every NPC? Are there better alternatives to world reactivity?

Gamingtodaynews1e - Do games really need a talk button on every NPC? Are there better alternatives to world reactivity?

So a lot of RPGs have this talk button on every NPC which gives this illusion that it's an immersive world where you can talk to anyone and the world will react. But more often than not we see this feature underutilized (one liners) or poorly implemented (remember oblivion npcs, great for the time. And super cool effort only to be dismissed in future games).

I've seen this across so many titles and it has always bugged me a lot over the years. Some examples from the games that I've personally played a lot, I've seen this in Fallout (3, NV, 4), Oblivion (radiant ai helps here a bit but still), Skyrim, Witcher 3 etc. And it hasn't changed much even now. I've been playing Cyberpunk a lot over the last few days and this is what sparked me writing this post.

I think the problem the developers are trying to solve is about "World Reactivity and Interactivity". Basically trying to make the world less static and allowing players to interact with it, but failing at.

Making the player press a talk button only to get a generic copy pasted one liner, is actually punishing the player's behavior for trying to interact and explore the world. Maybe a charisma check before seeing the talk button and then having branching out conversations. Or maybe not having a talk button and NPCs just react without it.

So now comes the question are there better alternatives to World Reactivity and Interactivity?


Unfortunately or fortunately there is no real answer and different developers have different solutions.

But hopefully there should be a middle ground between Morrowind's walking encyclopedias and Cyberpunk's one liners, that I've probably missed in my gaming journey. Would love to explore some games I maybe missed that do this good.

Also maybe a talk button is not necessary.

One surprisingly good example of this is GTA V. Though not exactly an RPG I had forgot how good it implemented world reactivity. If you jump on a chair on sidewalk people say stuff to you run away. Stand to close to someone and they react. This makes it more immersive without even a talk button ever.Day and Night NPC schedules maybe help in this regard too.

A funny comparison of how GTA V NPCs react vs Cyberpunk's I found on youtube:

(I love CDPR games but I was amazed at how good GTA V was at just this one single thing we generally don't pay attention to)

I would love to hear your opinions on this, especially how you've seen other games handle this over the years. Since I know my gaming experiences is still pretty limited.

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