5) Branching Paths/Multiple Endings
In that same vein, we love the fork in the road. We love that you can choose one path in a conversation tree and wind up somewhere else entirely from a friend who chose the opposite. Or, even better, you can play your way into an entirely different place without ever even realizing it. Is there a better example than Bethesda’s Fallout series? And at the end, when you approach the climax of your adventure, knowing that the conclusion is your very own because of those choices is just entrancing.
6) Plentiful Skill Choices
When we at MMORPG make our characters, we dream of making them our very own. That’s the reason we love Path of Exile so much. When it comes time to level up, we want choices. As RPG players, we want the ability to sprint into battle the character we imagined, the freedom to mix and match abilities that fit our very own hero. Sure, you may not be able to take everything, but we’re thankful for all of the RPGs that let us choose our own skills.
7) Well-written Companions
An adventure taken alone is shallow in comparison to one taken with friends. We’re thankful that games like Divinity: Original Sin and Dragon Age: Inquisition provide companion characters that you can care about. They are not flat or one-line; they feel like real people. We care about these characters like friends, making the final confrontation all the more dire.
8) Sweet, Sweet Romances
This one speaks for itself. It only makes sense that you would put the moves on the monstrous two-horned demon-man, right? Or maybe you just want this scene where the Inquisitor and Iron Bull are walked in on:
In any event, in a world with such rich dialogue options, being able to flirt and fall in love is a welcome addition to the genre.
9) Gut-wrenching Choices
The best RPGs force you to make tough choices. Maybe it’s to sacrifice a little boy to prevent a demon from crossing over, as in Dragon Age: Origins. Or maybe it’s to choosing which beloved party member to send on a suicide mission. Either way, these choices linger on with us long after we’ve made them, and that’s a mark of a great gameplay moment.
10) Deep, Engrossing Stories
If you’re anything like us, you’re earliest RPG memories are steeped in story. Sure, we might remember the mechanics and how much fun these games were to play, but at the end of the day, it’s the stories that grabbed us most. It’s the narrative that draws us in and the narrative that keeps us. If that falls apart, the other systems tend to crumble under the weight. More than anything else, we’re thankful for RPGs that put story at the forefront and allow us to journey to new worlds, meet new people, and forge new memories that will last us a lifetime.
Finally, we’re thankful that RPG elements are making other genres better. At the end of the day, we’re gamers. We love all games, not just RPGs and MMORPGs. Seeing leveling systems and progression unlocks come to other games has made it abundantly clear just how natural of a fit these are. Being able to level up Talion in Shadows of Mordor or Ajay Ghale in Far Cry 4, and finding ability points, skill trees, and equipment unlocks feels right at home. Gathering experience and upgrading a character in any number shooters, feel so natural that it’s almost just as it should be. It’s made these games, in our humble opinion, better and richer for learning from the roleplaying games that came before.
With that, we turn it over to you. What are you most thankful for in gaming this year?