Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Imagining My Perfect ARPG

Recently, I've been playing a lot of Action Role-Playing Games (ARPG), and it got me thinking about the strengths and weaknesses for each of the games I currently have on my computer. With that in mind, I thought if I could fuse all the best parts of those games into one game, it'd be the perfect ARPG...at least for me. Here's what I would want from each:

Diablo 3 - From this Blizzard Entertainment title, I would definitely nab the combat system. It's sleek and smooth. What I really enjoy is the hit-box on monsters. Rather than relying on "Shift" (or whatever your hold is set to) constantly, which keeps a ranged character stationary (I favor ranged classes), Diablo 3's hit-box is large enough to allow me to be fluent in my movements, stay out of bad, and still deliver a lot of damage. A hit-box sounds trivial, but in playing other titles in this genre I find they have very tiny hit-boxes, which means if I click slightly off my target and I'm not holding down "Shift," my character will walk where it's not supposed to instead of attacking and, consequently, take serious damage or die--it can get frustrating.

I'd snatch a feature Blizzard added in October called Monster Power, too. Aside from there being levels of difficulty preset in the game, Monster Power creates a player-controlled difficulty setting. You can ramp up the monster's health and damage for a challenge, which also compensates for the difficulty with boosts to experience and gold and a greater chance of bonus drops. If it was my game, I'd have a system where a player could increase the number of monsters on the screen along with increasing their power. More kills and chaos = more fun for me.

Diablo 3's cinemas are like no other ARPG. They're stunning. I wish there was more of them...and more fighting in them.

Gold as currency and the gold auction house can join, but the real money auction house would have to be left behind. I don't know why, but the sound effect from picking up coins in Diablo 3 makes me happy. I like seeing my funds increase and grow vast over the hours played, though it's definitely ruined when I realize I can purchase millions of gold for a dollar...

Torchlight II - Gear. Runic's gear is absurd; there are stats upon stats, so much so, they offer the ability to swap out sets for situational fights. One of the greatest joys of this game is the endless hunt for stat improvements via gear, and it starts early. By the first map I found myself comparing pieces of gear and thinking about where my character was weakest and how one piece would benefit me over another. Plus, I like the artwork on the gear.

Torchlight II's maps would have to come along. They're massive and randomly generated, two things I appreciate in a genre where grinding the same map dozens, maybe hundreds of times, is not only unheard of it's par for the course.

Mods. Another strength to Torchlight II is that players can modify the game and get as creative as they want. So far, players have added classes and pets and ways to start a character with all their skill points; there's even a mod called Synergies that I'm fond of that added all sorts of loot, higher difficulty, more bad guys, more areas and dungeons, another town, world bosses--it's unbelievable and gives longevity to a game that could have grown stale if players had solely relied on Runic for updates or changes.

Stat allocation interests me for whatever reason. I realize that most players are going to be the same stats in the same places for each class, yet it still gives me the sense of control over my character.

Offline mode. This morning I'm writing this blog instead of gaining the last two levels of my wizard in Diablo 3 because the servers are down for maintenance. I like the online aspect of ARPGs, but I like to play a game whenever I'm in the mood to play it even more, especially since I'm more of a solo player in this genre.

Path of Exile - Without question, Grinding Gear Games' passive skill tree is one of the best out right now. In a past review, I went into some detail about how its massive setup allows for amazing character uniqueness, and I would take its tree over other games.

Along with the passive tree, I'd take the gem system. Finding spells out in the world is a far more gratifying system than learning them with each level.

Another strength to Path of Exile I appreciate are the array of maps. There's no linear path to take while questing. A player can stray from the main story for adventures, explore additional areas, and doing so benefits them.

Marvel Heroes - One of the features I found immensely fun in this title was an overworld where players ran around fighting and searching, passing each other even if they weren't grouped. In those areas, there were even dynamic events with boss fights and bonus quests. It was quite thrilling to see 20+ characters trying to take out the same boss as if it was a raid in World of Warcraft.

Another perk I discovered was the ability to unlock more characters while questing as random drops. If there was the potential to find a new class while hunting gear in Diablo 3, Path of Exile, or Torchlight II or even an item drop that started a lengthy quest to unlock an additional class, I'd be elated. Of course, these characters in Marvel Heroes can be bought, yet what's the fun in that?

What I'm Still Looking For
 
Crafting - Despite the fun I have in all the ARPGs I listed, I have not found a crafting system that's enthralling. Most of them feel tedious and boring. One day, I hope to see a system similar to Dark Cloud, where players could combine weapons, gear, or items to create new ones. Actually, I'd like to see a system that takes the Dark Cloud system a step further, where a player can build weapons from scratch, piece by piece, like a Steampunk inventor.
 
Story - The stories really aren't the main draw of ARPGs. In fact, they're just blurbs to explain why you're suddenly going from a desert to a snowfield. While Diablo 3 attempted to change this it ultimately failed. When not full of clich├ęs, a lot of that story didn't make sense, and venturing through that story in every area became a nuisance. I want an engaging, interesting story, but I also want to free-roam after seeing that story without interruptions.
 
Followers/Pets - While I'm fond of pets and followers their gearing and leveling is always minimal. It'd be nice to see a game where building a companion was as intricate as building the main character.
 
Endgame - Wouldn't it be great to be in an ARPG where the endgame was as rich as in a MMO, where new areas and bosses, as well as fancy gear and such, opened at max level? New game+ and free-roam are fun, but nothing ever compares to patches or expansions that offer entirely new content and features.

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