RPG’s are a genre of game I am drawn to like no other because of the sheer variety of experiences they can offer and how one game can radically differ form another. It is therefore hard to compare and contrast some RPG’s because of how different they are; Skyrim is a lot different to Pillars of Eternity, and Pillars of Eternity is a lot different from The Witcher 3. But today, I am determined to come up with at least three different games that could reasonably compete to be the best RPG of all time.
Undoubtedly, one of the best Rat Pwning Games ever made is the original Fallout (1997). I realise I have talked about this game a lot on my blog, but I’ve never really had a chance to delve into why this game holds up so well in terms of the variety of ways it allows you to murder rats. The first area in the game is filled with rats and thus they are the first enemy you fight. At first you kill some and realise they only give you 25xp per kill, which is pretty low. But as a level 1 character you only need 1000xp to progress to level 2, and killing all the rats in the cave will result in you leaving with 500xp exactly. So before setting foot into the wasteland you can already be halfway to level 2 just by murdering some rats. Unlike lesser RPG’s, Fallout isn’t concerned with just having you kill rats however – you must also pwn pig rats and mole rats, which are much more dangerous variants of the rat enemies. This variety is guaranteed to keep your rat pwning antics feeling fresh, fun and worthwhile as tougher rat variants yield more experience.
But how can we reasonably talk about Fallout 1 being a great Rat Pwning Game without talking about Fallout 2? One of the first towns in the game, Klamath, features one of Fallout 2’s signature extremely long, linear dungeons with little to no variety that all Fallout fans love about this 1998 classic. What makes it better is that the dungeon is filled from head to toe with rats, pig rats and mole rats. I tried to calculate how much experience I was earning by killing them all, but I simply couldn’t do it because there was so many. Suddenly we’re not just partaking in rat murder, but instead rat genocide which is what elevates Fallout 2 above its predecessor. Of particular note is the King Rat at the end of the dungeon who is a telepathic rat that controls all the others and who yields a lot of experience for killing him, at least for low level characters. With the experience and opportunity to kill King Rat in mind, Fallout 2 isn’t just a great RPG because it allows you to kill rats, but because it gives you a lot of incentive to do so.
But let’s move away from the Fallout franchise for now and talk about our third RPG: The Elder Scrolls 3 Morrowind. In Morrowind rats are extremely scary because trying to kill one at level 1 with little to no experience in the game could very well result in your untimely demise. This is why the game tutorialises the fact you should definetly go out of your way to kill them all as soon as possible by having the first quest of the Fighters Guild revolve around killing some rats infesting a woman’s house. It is a simple and optional quest that exists to contextualise the rat menace ravaging Morrowind for all those interested in this game’s deep and extensive lore, which is a great reward for players who are willing to put in the extra effort.
Up until now I think I have done a great job highlighting what makes a great RPG. But now I feel the urge to tell you what makes a bad one. And if you want an example of how NOT to make a good RPG then look no further than The Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion. Like Morrowind there is a simple and optional quest involving the Fighters Guild, who send you to clear up a rat problem for a local resident. Unlike Morrowind, however, it is revealed that the local resident loves rats and actually wants you to protect them from mountain lions. In this way the game is very bias since it depicts these lions as cruel and dangerous creatures, when they are in fact heroes for clearing up diseased vermin. By protecting rats, Oblivion goes against the fundamentals of what it means to be a Rat Pwning Game since a Google Search will reveal that the definition of ‘Pwn’ is to: ‘utterly defeat (an opponent or rival); completely get the better of.‘ It is obvious that between the time of Morrowind and Oblivion, Bethesda had completely compromised their values and decided that delivering pro-rat propaganda was more important than delivering an enjoyable RPG experience. For this reason, Oblivion is an objectively bad RPG and no one should ever play it.
Killing rats good.
Protecting rats bad.
Happy April 1st.