A Decline in Serious RPGs… Thoughts on the future of RPGS.

fallout 2 - A Decline in Serious RPGs... Thoughts on the future of RPGS.

Maybe it's just because I'm 25 and when I grew up video games made you a loser, because previously if you enjoyed RPGS you had to fallback on pen and paper style play. Hidden dice determine perception checks, critical strikes, hits… One need not look to far back. Star Wars The Old Republic and The Elder Scrolls Morrowind would be some of the games that kinda show off what I'm talking about the best.

But when I grew up enjoying videogames was as much of a statement in school as like being a Goth or any other sort of social outcast in the good old USA. Even among video gamers… Most people were drawn to series like doom and other FPS or sports games where the outcome was pretty simple at it's core. Get a higher score and win the game. If you told people you were into fantasy games they'd assume you had nothing better to do that dress up as a wizard in your free time. I'm sure have had to have that sit down with someone at one point where you had to justify why you enjoyed those video games that would just "rot your brain." For me I was always a voracious reader, so the idea of telling an interactive story, even through text on a screen that I could interact with was like living in these books I was always drawn to.

I think the very first game that made me realize how much I loved video games was probably morrowind. I loved just how much control I had over the game as a player. The ability to make my own class just like DnD. To use every weapon under the sun like spears, throwing knives, throwing stars, katanas, battle axes…. And there were skills for each individual weapon style. Things were highly specific, more slots available for enchantments, super customization with spells which could make teleport great distances, fortify your acrobatics and leap across the map. All in a world that was unforgiving and didn't hold your hand. No floating quest markers, no automatic quest tracking. You swim or sank or you became part of the community so people could help you out.

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As the years came and went I recognized that games were becoming easier and easier. The idea of difficulty in these RPGs started to shift pretty quickly. Let me try and explain case I've started babbling… Fighting the Arch Magister Gothren in morrowind (for all 4 of you who get the reference) was one of the hardest fights in an RPG I've faced to this day. And it was a FAIR fight. The guy had spells that were so powerful and debilitating that my necromancer with all his end game equipment, personal enchantments and his army of the undead I could summon at my whim (you could have an unlimited amount of active summons in morrowind) It still took all my resources as I watched him cut down scores of my undead minions like wheat to a scythe. He similarly was kitted with his own potions and enchanted gear that made the fight difficult. But when I finally killed him and his lifeless body lay dead on the floor. I felt true satisfaction at killing a boss worthy of all the time it took to get that strong. It felt like a true master wizards duel.


Over the years… I'm afraid as a player I have become stronger and stronger with no real obstacle in my way. Skyrim, a more recent example. When I was thrown in jail in markarth I felt a strange sensation bubble up in my chest. The game had stripped all my gear for me and as a player I found myself PLAYING the game again instead of going through the motions. Suddenly I needed that flimsy shiv again to keep myself safe. Suddenly I was more worried about how many people I'd be fighting at once. Until I remembered I was also a vampire lord with a host of shouts… And I also had like 400+ spells I didn't even realize I had from random spell tombs I acquired through the years. Eventually I recognized I didn't even need weapons or armor to beat the game. The game had handed me enough powers and OP abilities that I didn't encounter anything that was too difficult.

Fallout 76, more than any other bethesda title has added a rather annoying approach to their bosses. To make the opponent more fearsome, they simply up the health pool so each fight boils down to me standing in a spot, not moving and eating as many stim packs as I can until my DPS kills the big spooky monster. Quests to go get ancient relics to kill or make a more pronounced weakness don't really exist like they did in previous iterations of TES games and I'm not sure if this is just a change in the times or gamer culture.

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Maybe since gaming has become more mainstream they have been doing more and more to appeal to a new audience than to players like me. As someone who values a good story or narrative over combat in video games I find myself being drawn away from BGS recently and it's worrying me. Because for the longest time… this is where all the super nerds went for their video games. Maybe I'm just rambling and annoyed. Maybe I'm just an entitled gamer clutching at lost nostalgia I just can't find in these new titles.

Do you guys have any thoughts on this?

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