RPG games drag us into the story, they allow us to be immersed in the happening of their narrative, to interact with NPCs (non-playable characters). The beauty of the latter is that some game developers have succeeded in giving them such rich and complex personalities that make us all the more involved in the story. In this blogpost I will mostly talk about the way in which NPCs are functional to the player’s immersion in the story of an RPG, in particular about Obsidian Entertainment’s The Outer Worlds.
You might have heard about or even played yourself RPG games. In case you have not, an RPG is a role-playing game. The particularity of this type of game is that they have a very well developed story, which is often their strong point. So if you do not enjoy strategy or combat games and are mostly playing video games to enjoy the story experience, RPGs might just be the right type of games for you. This is not to say that RPGs do not have either of those elements, because they most often do, but in most cases you have the option of choosing the difficulty level “story mode”, which allows you to go through the story-line and do the combat and strategy parts without too serious repercussions. In other words, you can fight and strategize without putting too much effort into it, and focus on the story. At this point the video game closely resembles a visual novel.
Like in all good (and bad) stories, characters are important. And when an RPG has well developed characters, it makes it all the better. To better illustrate this I will take the video game The Outer Worlds as a case study.
The game was released on October 25, 2019 by the company Obsidian Entertainment. It takes place in the future, in a timeline “ that diverged in 1901, when U.S. President William McKinley is not assassinated.”* Sci-fi elements include travelling to other planets with faster-than-light speed travel, people frozen in pods, alien lifeforms and more. A particularity of this game is that it enables the player to assign points to different abilities, and one in particular is “Dialogue.” In doing so, the player is able to unlock more dialogue options the more points he/she assigns to the Dialogue ability. As a result, the player is able to interact more with the NPCs and even unlock different missions that would otherwise not be available. As a result of this increased level of interaction, NPCs are also more likely to share more information, whether it concerns mission details, their personal stories or even just jokes. It gives the player the opportunity to get to know the NPCs better and to create good bonds with them.
It happens often that people get very invested in RPGs specifically because the developers of the games are able to create such complex characters with different personalities. I also helps a lot when the games have good graphics: usually the better the graphics are, the more they they facilitate the player’s immersion.
I would advise everyone who enjoys video games to try out some RPGs. There have been cases in the past in which people have developed such a bond with NPCs that even got as far as becoming an obsession. Nevertheless, these are rare cases and it does not usually happen to mentally healthy individuals.
A few other examples of RPGs very worth playing are: The Witcher 3: wild hunt and Red Dead Redemption 2. These also features really detailed interactions and many NPCs with interesting personalities. RDR2 also includes outstanding graphics which include ridiculously meticulous details, such as the fact that the pupils of characters are larger in low light environments.
* and Featured Image: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Outer_Worlds