Whenever I sit down and devote a large amount of time to an RPG, I go into it expecting that to be all I need. A lengthy, meaty 50+ hour experience is something that most people rarely get the time to go through, so I appreciate the hell out of a developer if they can keep me interested for that amount of time. What I don’t appreciate, however, is when a developer will foreshadow sequels to an RPG or just make RPG sequels in general. I’ll take a sequel for something that takes its seat in a different genre, sure, but an RPG sequel is something I generally just can’t stand.
This practice of constantly perpetuating sequels is fine as far as other genres go, but it’s just so hard to justify it for an RPG when they last so long. Your average FPS may last you around 6 or so hours, with most of it being purely gameplay. There may be something resembling a story in there, but nothing too important to the overall product. As far as gameplay goes, there’s always room for a sequel, which is what usually gets changes more than anything. This is absolutely fine, because it’s short and sweet. It’s something that can easily be expanded on without being impractical. Then you have the RPG, which is a genre that has an absolutely huge emphasis on story. After 50+ hours, a story should be completely tied up. There is absolutely no creative reason to make a sequel after a playtime quota as large as that has been filled. Gameplay tweaks at this point would be so minor that you might as well just replay the first game of the two. Probably the most notable examples of this are in the likes of Final Fantasy XIII-2 and Persona 4, but the former more-so. Persona 4, funnily enough, is a good example of how to do an RPG sequel both right and wrong.
What Persona 4 does wrong is that it pretty much just copies and pastes the gameplay from Persona 3 and then adds bells and whistles onto it. It takes the Persona system and the battle system so that they can be improved. It’s not uncommon practice as far as RPGs go, but it’s not exactly a very good practice either. But this is also what it does right. It doesn’t try to continue the story that Persona 3 told, it just borrows the themes from it and tries to create something new with them. Instead of opting to make a story sequel, the lovely people at Atlus instead made a thematic sequel. As far as that goes, I see it as fine. As long as gameplay can be different enough to warrant sequel status, nothing is wrong there. But when you get developers like Square Enix trying to desperately throw together some new ideas for Final Fantasy XIII-2 so that it’s not just a bog standard story sequel, it becomes a problem and spawns obscure ideas that start to resemble what looks like a Frankenstein-esque monster made from Pokemon and Final Fantasy XIII.
As far as RPGs go, probably the best sequels are the sort that Bethesda seem to favour. They share the same series heritage and the same core mechanics, but they mix them up every single time and throw you somewhere different with each game. The Elder Scrolls series probably does this better than any other series, because each game is technically a story continuation, but there’s never any real emphasis on it. The lore is so loose and unimportant that almost anyone can pick up a game in the series and play it without problems. It manages to be compelling enough as a sort exploration simulator to warrant having next to no story, but it still retains the core gameplay of previous games. The Elder Scrolls series stands out as a weird example as far as RPG sequels go, though. Instead of new mechanics and stories, it favours giving players new worlds and places to explore. I don’t see that as a problem, but it depends on how long it takes until the players starts to realise they’re going through the same kind of scenarios over and over.
When it comes to RPGs, people walk into them for different things. Personally, I enjoy absolutely indulging myself in a fantastical scenario that never tries to paint itself as real. They’re essentially the purest form of escapism for me. That, more likely than anything else, is why I can’t stand RPG sequels. In that huge space of time that I’m investing into one, I don’t expect to come back to the world it gave me. I like to make a point of never replaying any story heavy RPGs. They’re one off experiences for me unless they’re casual affairs like Pokemon. Elder Scrolls does it right by giving a player new worlds to look around in, but Final Fantasy XIII-2 and those like it just seem like blind attempts at dragging me back into a universe I said goodbye to a long time ago.
124 total views, 1 views today