Roleplaying and Strategy - a Video Game Primer
This article is going to cater a bit more to the non-gamers in the crowd, by explaining what gamers mean when they're talking about roleplaying video games and strategy video games. By the end of this article, you should be able to understand what is meant by roleplaying and strategy video games.
So, if you're ready to plunge into the world of video games (or are a gamer who wants to read what I have to say), let's begin!
A Definition of Roleplaying Video Games
In roleplaying games (RPG for short), you take on the role of a protagonist (player character) or group of player characters (they may or may not share the protagonist role). Most RPGs are driven by their storylines, to the point that the best representatives of this niche are like playing a book. There are several sub-genres in roleplaying such as action RPGs (roleplaying games with heavy emphasis on battles and light emphasis on story) and MMORPGs (massively multiplayer online roleplaying games that allow hundreds or even thousands of players to play in the same persistent game world). Here's a list of things that define the genre:
- A system where your character (or party of characters if applicable) becomes stronger as he/she advances in the game. This is usually achieved by means of an experience system. Common methods of gaining experience include killing monsters and completing quests for quest-givers.
- The character's progression is measured by improvement in statistics/attributes. Level is usually the attribute that marks how strong your character is (the higher the level, the higher the other statistics as well).
- As mentioned above, story is a big part of the genre. As you beat the game, you uncover additional details related to the plot. In better examples of the genre, each of the player characters (and even some of the antagonists) get their own story development as well.
- There is a world (also called overland) map that connects the game's various locations (area maps).
There are more things I could add to the list above, but those four paint a good picture as-is. For your benefit, I put some photos right next to this section. ;)
A Definition of Strategy Video Games
In strategy games, you control a group of units to complete your objective. This particular genre is usually subdivided into RTS (Real-Time Strategy) and TBS (Turn-Based Strategy). Here's a bullet-ed list of what defines the strategy genre:
- You have one or several resources that have to be managed, such as resources to construct buildings/train units or special ones that have a gamma of effects, such as dropping a nuclear missile on foes for great damage or summoning reinforcements in the blink of an eye.
- Strategy games tend to be gameplay-driven, in contrast to the emphasis on storyline that RPGs have.
- You control one of various sides in a given conflict. Each side has things that set it apart from each other side.
- The emphasis tends to be on shorter games, although there are strategy games that have campaigns much like RPG storylines.
Like the previous section, here are some pictures to complement the text.
Examples of Roleplaying Video Games
Here's a list of roleplaying games I wholeheartedly recommend to beginners:
- Chrono Trigger- You embody the role of Crono, a young man who stumbles upon an adventure that encompasses the entirety of time. While the battle system has a real-time component (so it's not truly turn-based), the average battle difficulty is pretty low.
- Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest - While it's highly unlikely you'll be able to acquire a copy of this game, if you know anyone with a Super Nintendo and this game, I recommend you play it. It is one of the easiest RPGs I've ever played, and lots of fun as well!
- Pokémon - Games from this series run the gamut from the original Gameboy all the way to the Nintendo DS. I'd like to take a moment to note that a lot of people bash this game, but it is an RPG, it is fun, and it's pretty easy as well.
To the right, you can see a screenshot from each game so you can get a taste of what I'm talking about exactly. Below, you will find links to purchase the games at Amazon, if you so desire.
Examples of Strategy Video Games
Here's a list of strategy games that I consider would be good for new players:
- Heroes of Might and Magic 3 - Mentioned already once before in this article, this has to be one of the best turn-based strategy games of all time. Incidentally, it's also really easy to pick up (since you can change the difficulty of each map before you start it). You can get a copy of the game with all expansions pre-installed over at GOG.com for $10 (less if you catch a promotional offer).
- Warlords Battlecry - This is an interesting mix of roleplaying (in the form of a Hero unit that gains power as you complete missions) and real-time strategy (has all of the trappings of a standard RTS game such as resource management, army creation and building construction). The difficulty curve is pretty low, and it can bring you many hours of entertainment once you get the hang of it.
- Starcraft - While I don't recommend you start out playing against other players (the difficulty curve for player versus player is pretty high), this is a pretty easy game to just learn how to play, and the amount of enjoyment you can derive from this game by just beating on the computer will be more than worth your purchase. This game can be purchased for around $20 nowadays, or you can get a copy of Starcraft 2 for $60 if you're so inclined as well.
As before, here are some photos for your viewing pleasure. Below you will find links to the relevant games as well.
Do you prefer Roleplaying or Strategy games?
Well, this just about concludes this article. I hope you have enjoyed reading what makes each genre tick. I also hope that, if you're a non-gamer, you now understand what gamers are talking about when they mention roleplaying and strategy video games. If you have any suggestions, feedback or comments, feel free to post them in the relevant section.
I'd like to take a moment to thank everyone who has read, reads, or will read my articles. You are the people that make writing all of this worth it!
Until the next time, take care and have fun! ;)