First of all, I LOVE RPGs, both pen and paper and video games. The concept of starting as a nobody, rising through the ranks and skills, and eventually getting an army at your side to take on your enemies while using diplomacy with factions is simply amazing.
But it is incredibly difficult for me to finish a CRPG such as Pathfinder: Kingmaker, or even Pillars of Eternity 1 and 2. I honestly think that they are good games, with nice mechanics and customisation, but I have a huge issue with lore dumps.
Characters will start sharing lore about faction X and event Z. You have no clue about any of that, so you click on the highlighted text and are presented with several paragraphs of dates and random names. You finish talking to the NPC, move on to the next, and it’s the same… Now, this is one game’s universe; if you move on to the next it’s the same problem all over again. This can eat up a lot of time, and as I learned being a Dungeon Master in DnD: Players typically don’t care about humongous lore dumps up front. They want adventures, hooks, and then naturally let the world unravel as they explore and progress. If session 1 begins with the Dungeon Master describing factions, wars, holidays, and towns for hours, the players are going to be bored!
Of course you can argue that you don’t have to read any of that, but the way the world progresses in those games makes you miss out on the whole context if you don’t force yourself to read walls of text. “Oh, faction X showed up… I should have read that wall of text because I have no clue if I can trust them or not.”
Another issue I have is arriving at a new town and being simply overwhelmed by the amount of side-quests. FOMO kicks in, and then it becomes a chore to make sure you go through every corner, talk to everyone (bringing in the problem of lore dumps mentioned before), and then having to fulfill every mission so you do it “the right way”.
Granted, this is probably on me; perhaps these video games are simply not for me no matter how much I love DnD and other RPGs. However, recently I purchased Diablo 2 after playing it a couple of decades ago (which is not a CRPG like the others, but an RPG still) and the simplicity of it all made me realise that I have a much better time with less exposition of lore.
In Diablo 2 it is as quickly as: A stranger showed up, there are monsters everywhere, can you give us a hand? That’s it! I’m hooked! I don’t need silly gnomes telling me about their country and complex politics when I just started the game. Let me get invested first.
In Diablo 2 the story picks up from there, with you uncovering things slowly, learning about factions by making connections instead of reading walls of text: it’s honestly a breath of fresh air.
What are your guys’ thoughts on these lore dumps? You can spend half an hour talking to certain NPCs, and sometimes I end up doing that not because I am enjoying it, but because of Fear of Missing Out, and then realise I actually didn’t really have that much fun.
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