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  1. #1

    On replayability in RPGs

    Branching story, non-linear progression and world changing decisions are often considered to be among the most defining virtues of RPGs.

    This lets everyone to experience their own unique stories.
    And also increases game's replayability potential.

    No questions about the first point.
    But should replayability in a single-player game be a goal in itself?
    Do the devs need to artifically encourage replayability by adding post-realease content inserted in mid-game?

    I wonder, how often do you replay RPGs, honestly?
    Personally, I never do it.

    When I play a game I really like (and thus could be interested in playing it more than once) I already have to explore every corner, do every side-quest, talk to every NPC and discover as much lore as possible.
    And when it's done, it's done; the story is over, and even if I missed something, after spending 100+ hours in a game, I won't have drive do it all over again just to check on the mutually exclusive bits or whitness a conversation with a companion whom I had benched on the first run.
    Well, maybe a couple of years later, if there wont be any new interesting games around (yeah, fat chance).

    And becasue of this I would welcome sequels or DLCs that extend the game past it's finale, but would just skip the ones that force to me to start anew after I have already finished my playthrough.

    TL/DR version
    In my opinion, replayability as a purchase affecting feature is only important to action-driven low-story shorter-duration games.
    Shooters, fightings, sports/racing games and, obviously, all kinds of rogue-likes.

    But for games with rich and elaborate story, games taking more than 20 hours to complete, the replayability is a pleasant side-effect, not a reason to buy.
    Last edited by Nortar; 10-11-2017 at 08:22 AM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member HenriHakl's Avatar
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    I think you're missing out on important arguments:

    A story driven RPG (like the new Divinity: Original Sin 2) gets multiple playthroughs from me because the skill system is so deep and allows for such vastly different character builds.

    Staying with D:OS2 - that there are higher difficulty options that do not just upscale enemy stats but actually re-configure encounters and use tougher AI is another reason to play again.

    And finally, D:OS2 has an excellent and novel multi-player experience.

    So long story short: I've reach Arx (near end) of my 2nd playthrough in D:OS2; I've already got a third playthrough build planned. Apart from those plays I'm also separately in a playthrough with two friends of mine.

  3. #3
    Community Manager Berserkerkitten's Avatar
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    Hm, this is a tough one.

    Personally, when I look for some new RPG to play, I prefer being able to create my own character or, ideally, my own party. I like good storytelling and I'm also a sucker for great graphics. I don't think replayability is actually a deciding factor when I look for a game of this genre, though it's still a plus. For example, I'm in the middle of the umpteenth Baldur's Gate playthrough right now and I'm in the middle of so many Divinity 2 campaigns solo and with friends and I'm still not bored of it - it's good value for money and I like that!

    I also spend ridiculous amounts of time in open world RPGs like the Elder Scrolls games or Fallout 3, because I don't want them to end. I don't necessarily start a new game on there over and over again, but I just keep dicking around in the game world after the story ends. That said, I've only completed the Mass Effect Trilogy once, even though the whole thing is easily one of the best games I've ever played. I was satisfied after one playthrough (divisive ending aside) and that was my playthrough, my Shepard's story, I was happy with that and didn't want to start it all over again. I still remember the music, the characters, the most moving moments and now that I think about it, I must have sunk thousands of hours into the game's crappy and shallow multiplayer mode.

    The more I think about it, while I never actually look for replay value or some additional modes or an open world to keep me playing long after I finish the story for the first time, I do tend to stick around for a long while if a game gives me the opportunity.
    As a professional reviewer, I always rate RPGs higher when they give plenty of replay value. And I feel it's a nice thing to say to your community - not only do you get XX hours of play time on your first playthrough, but you can absolutely play it again and still enjoy it.

    With all that said, I'm generally not a fan of post-release content or DLC. I like spending money on a game once, then having the complete game. I hate nothing more than paying 60 Bucks for some AAA-release only to realize that was simply the price of admission and if I want the full experience I'm gonna have to buy a season pass (or worse: several season passes), DLC or worse, day one DLC like in Mass Effect 3. Don't charge me 20 bucks for some mediocre content, that adds another 3-4 hours of play time, just so I'll start another playthrough.
    http://nutiminn.is/kattarshians/

  4. #4
    Senior Member HenriHakl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Berserkerkitten View Post
    With all that said, I'm generally not a fan of post-release content or DLC. I like spending money on a game once, then having the complete game. I hate nothing more than paying 60 Bucks for some AAA-release only to realize that was simply the price of admission and if I want the full experience I'm gonna have to buy a season pass (or worse: several season passes), DLC or worse, day one DLC like in Mass Effect 3. Don't charge me 20 bucks for some mediocre content, that adds another 3-4 hours of play time, just so I'll start another playthrough.
    I couldn't agree more with this. Shitty and overprized DLC. Yes yes please let me pay $5 for a wizard hat and two dialogue options (/sarcasm)

    That said; new content that fundamentally alters mechanics does get my attention. I don't mind repeating a story, if I repeat it in a completely new way. So if Grim Dawn were to offer DLC that adds 20 new items and some cosmetics, that wouldn't really grab my attention. But if Grim Dawn adds a new class/master via DLC, then it would get my money.

    It's well established now that EA will do anything (except put in work) to squeeze out money from its clients. Their decisions are fundamentally informed by economic considerations. Whether it makes for a better game, code, story, whatever is irrelevant unless it happens to bolster the bottom line.

    Money is an important factor; of course, but Mammon shouldn't be the only thing.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Pathfinder's Avatar
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    It should not be "the" reason to buy a game or main point for game makers to adverse the game.

    But if we think RPG, specially RPG, games then yes. There should be plenty of difference based on your (player character) decicions or class or race even.

    This is just my own 2 cents here, not sure if this will never happen but think of Pathfinder as P&P game. Then Kingmaker module.
    While you are just fooling around and checking things (first levels) you find most likely multiple spots where you MIGHT start building something, outpost, keep, fortification, town, tavern, port, marketplace or so.

    So now let's think few race / player options based on (kind of limited, unless you have been played this before) options:
    - You might tumble in old dwarf mountainside fortress. Now most people would just kill all and loot stuff but if you happen to be dwarf then why not try to make your kingdom and capitol there? Easy to defend, deep mines where rich in minerals and plenty of storage, lovely and feel like "home".
    - As an elf ranger / druid you tumble into old shrine middle of wilderness. Most people would again just kill these nasty pixies and what not including some animals but why not start your own kingdom there, bless the shrine and build with harmony and symbiose with nature?
    - While tumbling around as an half-orc barbarian you encounter orc/goblin/hobgoblin village. Same story again, but you choose to fight they leader and become new one, order to cut down trees around and make wooden palisade around your new base of operations.
    - When your party enter rogue hideout near riverside after you loot and kill everyone you as an bard decide to make port there, build marketplace and make this a place where most trade goods go using rivers.

    And so on.
    What I mean is: true, "most" in the game would be same experience. But thinking of stuff like "origin stories" (Dragon Age: Origins) or even simple "I as a player have HUGE amount of space to choose where I want to build in Kingmaker" <= that will make huge difference, different place mean different difficulties, different trade goods and so on. It might even be (I can easily imagine) that only let's say half-orc can challenge full orc barbarian village chieftain to fight over village leadership. Or only dwarf can start thinking of making something what seem like really old destroyed fortress as they home.

    Also telling the truth, it would just feel wrong, as a player, for me to have option to choose as an elf druid or ranger to build my operations base and later my capitol in some orc/goblin/hobgoblin village or inside mountain which my player character would allso hate.

    Edit: allso one option should maybe cut down few other options: Now if I choose to cut down all the trees around town and make that palisade => there are NO trees around, not now and not during this game. BUT if I happen to choose making traps, train plenty of elf ranger/archers and make animal friends who live in forest.. ..or what if I choose to rise all dead from graveyard (and for good measure keep hauling them with me in my every adventure untill I have hundred of them) and let them roam free in the forest, only save way to use being road I keep tolling and fortified?

    OR what if I cut down the trees but choose to make few small trade ships, dockyard and make a moat around my trade city?

    Edit2: and just re-read your post. Answer is no: just making addon or even "continuos flow of DLC's" making base game like 40$ but total cost way over 1000$ without stopping new little things (music, maps, weapons, armors, race, counties, armies and so on like thinking of game like: Europa Universalis IV: 39,99€ + 279,74€ DLC's today!! price in steam). I just kind of try to igmore games like that. Too much is too much.
    Last edited by Pathfinder; 10-11-2017 at 02:23 PM.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by HenriHakl View Post
    It's well established now that EA will do anything (except put in work) to squeeze out money from its clients. Their decisions are fundamentally informed by economic considerations. Whether it makes for a better game, code, story, whatever is irrelevant unless it happens to bolster the bottom line.
    Oh yes, remember when EA published a chess game? ;)


  7. #7
    Senior Member HenriHakl's Avatar
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    @Nortar

    hahahaha that is great ^_^

  8. #8
    Senior Member Mat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nortar View Post
    But should replayability in a single-player game be a goal in itself?
    I don't believe replayability needs to be a goal, but I do prefer my single-player games to be reactive. I want my choices to alter the landscape of the world and the characters. I want a say in the way the narrative develops. That has a tendency to make games a bit more replayable.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nortar View Post
    Do the devs need to artifically encourage replayability by adding post-release content inserted in mid-game?
    Nah. I waited for both major DLCs to drop for Witcher 3 before playing through a second time, but even without those expansion packs I got more than my money's worth. The game of the year edition could have been $200 and I wouldn't have complained. There's so much rich content that it'd be worth that much to me.

    If the base game is good and priced appropriately, then there's no need to increase replayability with future DLC. At least from my perspective.


    Quote Originally Posted by Nortar View Post
    I wonder, how often do you replay RPGs, honestly?
    Depends on the game, but quite a bit, actually. I've played ME1 and ME2 three times through each, but ME3 only once through. (****ing ending)

    Witcher 3 I've gone through twice. BG1 five times. BG2 four times. Fallout New Vegas twice.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Grifta's Avatar
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    I always look at replay-ability in 2 ways:
    1. You fill it with more stuff than you can possibly do in one playthrough. You limit the type of character(s) per playthrough, limit the choices, or just have so much stuff that you're bored with the game before finishing it all.
    2. You make the game incredibly compelling in storyline, gameplay, or both which makes me want to play it again later. Like one of the several book series that I've read 2-3 times.

    Both have their place, I personally prefer 2 because I would prefer a great complete story rather than BS padding that has infected what the industry calls AAA gaming now. All of these companies seem to think that famous voice acting and higher potential play hours are the most important factors to a game. That being said, you also get games like Witcher 3 where there is some repetitiveness in the area clean tasks, but literally everything sidequest was interesting, and all the DLC was of the same quality of the core game.

    To answer the OPs first question;
    Quote Originally Posted by Nortar View Post
    But should replayability in a single-player game be a goal in itself?
    IMO, no. The goal, like in pen&paper RPGs, should be to make a great story and adventure with the player. This will obviously include some railroading, and some choices, but should focus on being a good experience the first time. And then if you make DLC, that should be another good experience the first time you go through that content. I don't know what insanity prompted AAA gaming companies to think that games should be pretty decent the 1st play through, and then not terrible on the 3rd play through.
    Last edited by Grifta; 10-12-2017 at 05:10 PM.

  10. #10
    Thanks for the answers guys.

    It's good to see that while approach to actually re-playing games is different, the common agreement is that replayability should not be the deciding factor.

    No one will replay a game just because they can.
    And the best incentive to repeat a playthrough is quality of the game itself.
    If a player did not get enough of it in one go, they will play it again it even without additional lures.

    So I wish developers could focus more on creating games with interesting mechanics and compelling stories from the beginning, not on trying to find ways to revitalize games with stuff like gear-packs, DLCs and NG+ modes.

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