Have you ever been playing a game and started wishing it was something else; thinking that a world would be much more suited for another genre, a weapon that would have made leagues of generic shooters much better, or a small segment of a game that could stand entirely on its own in a separate release?
No? Oh…well…anyways, I have gotten this feeling before while playing games. Specifically, I think there are plenty of games out there whose worlds and fiction could lay the groundwork for some great RPGs, and the world would be a better place with more RPGs in it. Here are a few of those games, in no particular order.
This realization became clear while playing the most recent iteration of this franchise, Killzone: Shadow Fall. While the franchise as a whole has never really been my thing, there has also never been a game in the series that has taken full advantage of the enticing world and fiction that developer Guerilla Games has set up for itself.
For one, the contrasting art styles – the colorful, naturalistic, and ultra-sleek Vektan side and the oppressing, stark, and imposingly industrial Helghan side – could make for some great worlds that would be a blast to explore. If this world were opened up and expanded upon, there is no doubt that getting lost in it would be a treat.
Another great aspect is the themes of international/race relations permeating the narrative of the Killzone games, especially of the first and most recent entry. Creating a positive story thread that sees someone trying to unite the two sides could be interesting, and delving into the history of what separated these races would be interesting to see. There is plenty to go off of to make a Killzone RPG great.
With a multitude of books, eight games spanning several genres, and plenty of characters that could use some fleshing out, the Halo franchise is one of the best possible candidates to be made into an RPG. There are the Forerunners, civilian life on colony planets, and all sorts of sci-fi tech that would leave plenty of room for a lengthy RPG campaign.
If players were put once again into the boots of Master Chief, perhaps armor upgrades could be the carrot to dangle in front of characters for loot. There could be planetary exploration ala Mass Effect, and players could get an upgradable ship to pilot around the galaxy. If they made exploring planets more interesting than the first Mass Effect did, this could be a serious winner.
With all of the different enemies that humans have at this point in the Halo fiction, from roving Covenant radicals to the resurgence of evil Forerunners, there is no doubt that there wouldn’t be a story worth telling somewhere in all of that.
When Metroid: Other M came out, people were not happy. Samus was given a voice for the first time for the sake of character development and to allow for an exploration of her back story. Unfortunately, developer Team Ninja couldn’t pen a decent script, and the once powerful Samus Aran was made out to be a weak, simpering, stereotypical female.
However, poor execution doesn’t mean that the idea was all that bad. While a big draw of the Metroid series comes from the feeling of isolation and even some horror influences, the universe and fiction has never exactly been fleshed out beyond the villains that Samus has been sent after by Galactic Federation.
With a stronger script and improved voice acting, a Metroid RPG could be great for the series after the fumble that was Other M. A leveling system wouldn’t be hard to incorporate, as there are already plenty of ways that the Power Suit can provide plenty of progression. Seeing some new powers wouldn’t hurt, either.
The Bioshock series of games is about three fourths of the way there when it comes to being an RPG. You have deep, involved stories, upgradeable weapons and powers, and very well thought out worlds. However, there are a couple key things it’s missing that may make it not only better, but a perfect addition to the RPG genre.
For one, there is no branching skill tree, and most of the work is already done for the developers. There could be a Plasmid tree, a Firearms tree, and a Computers tree. All of these mechanics are present in Bioshock, and the worlds are all designed around them. Seeing these expanded on just a little more would be incredible.
The only other thing that Bioshock would really need to be a full-fledged RPG is a less linear world. While all of the games have worlds that are slightly open-ended, with plenty of secrets to be found, a truly open world in, say, Rapture, would be incredible. The opening sequence of the original Bioshock depicted a city that we only saw a fraction of, and in a dilapidated state. There is so much more that can be done there.
Like Bioshock, Assassin’s Creed is so close to being an RPG that it could probably be called “RPG-Lite.” It has open worlds, deep story lines, and great characters. The only real thing that the series lacks is a set of skills to level up and advance.
Parkour, weapons, tools, and most recently, ships, could all be specialties that players advance towards. Your assassin could truly be yours. Perhaps yours likes to pull off a quick stabbing and then dart off across the roof tops. Focusing on a parkour skill tree would be the route to take.
This would be a different story then we are used to, which sees us playing fairly well-developed killers. Building one from the ground up would feel extremely satisfying and individualized. While Assassin’s Creed is a flexible series to begin with, breaking it down into skillsets and specialties could increase replayability 10-fold.
What do you think? Could these games series make good RPGs, or should that never be explored? Are there any other game series out there that you think could work as an RPG? Let us know in the comments below!