Why RPGs Are the Gateway Genre to Hardcore Gaming
RPGs are like a drug. You get into one, and next thing you know it's 1 AM -- and you have no idea where the last 5 hours went. It seems that even for casual players, who have the best of intentions and only want to try a few hours of good storytelling, the RPG just sucks them in, and they're never the same again.
But why is it that RPGs are so addicting? Because you can spend hours on end leveling up, and spending skill points on your character, molding them into exactly who you want them to be. And whether you're already a hardcore gamer or just a passer-through in the world of games, they're accessible enough that you can lose yourself before you know it.
Creating the character you want
Most RPGs have a full-fledged character creation feature, allowing you to make your character look exactly how you want them to. You can even model your character after a celebrity, a cartoon character, or yourself if you want! For a lot of people, this is a big part of the draw of this genre -- they can truly see themselves in the protagonist's role.
Even if you don't have the character creation, there's usually different play styles to choose from. They generally fall under three classes; warrior, thief, and mage. The awesome thing about this is that most of the time, you can combine attributes from each of these classes into one character, making a battle mage, a sword master -- anything really. The skill trees can also be quite complex. This creates a lot of replay value that keeps all kinds of fans coming back for more.
A good story line always ups the ante
Beyond that, there is often a powerful storyline to go along with any RPG. For instance, in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, the emperor Uriel Septim is trying to escape assassination, and comes across your imprisoned character because the escape route is through your cell. They free you upon emperor's request, and he says that "you are destined to serve Tamriel in your own way." Then you go through a series of escape tunnels with them, only to eventually see the Emperor get assassinated.
Before his death, Uriel tells you to speak to a man named Jauffre about his son -- his last heir -- and bring the family heirloom to him. Then you're off on your journey. From there, the game takes you through a crazy ride of demon slaying, and eventually saving the world.
And that's just the main story! A lot of RPGs are packed full of side quests, too. Using the same game as a reference, there are approximately 18 main quests, and 159 side quests. So even after the grand narrative is finished, there's still more to come back to whenever you get the itch.
Another cool feature is that some events, which happen during certain quests, will actually scar the game world permanently. It's not only good for immersion, giving you the sense of influencing the world, but also builds the lore in a much more dynamic way.
RPGs also frequently give you rewards for completing quests, whether it be an item, a weapon, a piece of armor, or even a new ability. This helps fuel the inner completionist in us all to keep working for the loot!
So whether you want to play an RPG that takes place in medieval times, or way in the future, you'll know that the games that fit this description are made right! Just be warned -- you might never be able to go back to casual gaming again.