RPGs Need to Evolve

RPG mechanics are often bolted on to other genres of games, such as shooters and third-person action games, but when it comes to RPG titles themselves, innovation is a rarity.

For the most part, you can look at an RPG from twenty years ago alongside one from today, and aside from graphical improvements, there's very little that's changed. On the one hand, this can be seen as a good thing; there's something warm and inviting about a genre that stays constant. You know what you're getting yourself into, and when done right, the experience can bring you back to your younger days. On the other hand, the market for dedicated 80+ hour RPGs is seemingly shrinking, with titles like South Park SOT and Bravely Default standing out as rare exceptions.


From Final Fantasy, to Dragon Age, to Elder Scrolls and everything in-between, RPGs all kind of feel the same as their predecessors. While this can be argued about all types of games to a degree, nowhere does it stand out worse than RPGs. As a result, the genre's potential audience grows smaller and smaller as time continues on. Sure, there are exceptions like Skyrim, but even that is an example of a title that's more action-hybrid than RPG.


Innovation walks a delicate line, and there are no easy answers when it comes to evolving an entire medium forward, but RPGs are in desperate need of an overhaul. The genre needs a single title that can show both respect for what has come before, and adds entirely new elements into the mix. Just as you can see developmental growth in FPSs from Wolfenstein to Halo to Call of Duty, RPGs need that same through-line if they hope to survive into the next decade.

There will always be the old-school fans, and JRPG completionists, but what is desperately needed now is fresh blood.

Mike Murphy
Mike Murphy

Contributing Writer
Date: 04/14/2014

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