The debate: Does PS4 need more traditional RPGs?

This time Team OPM debate whether there’s a place for next-gen role-players. Should classic RPGs fade away or could PS4′s new tricks be somewhere they should flourish and enjoy a renaissance.

Yes, argues Chocobo nurturer, Kim Richards

A once bountiful genre, the JRPG hasn’t fared well on PS3. Rising project costs, lengthy development times, decreasing review scores… the few that made it were either disappointing (hello, White Knight Chronicles), purposefully retro (step up, Ar Tonelico) or balls-out dreadful (go away, Hyperdimension Neptunia). Then there’s the question mark left by Final Fantasy XIII and its increasingly platform-based sequels.

JRPGs are the ultimate gaming experience – especially in times of austerity, where dropping £50 means you want your money’s worth. When the more traditional adventures are at their finest, that’s what you get. Forget David Cage and his polygons: emotional storytelling is something JRPGs have nailed since the ’80s. Need I remind you of Aeris’ death? Crono’s sacrifice? The entirety of Persona 4? If blocky character models can yank those heartstrings, what will it be like with the graphical punch of Agni’s Philosophy – the tech demo Square Enix revealed at 2012’s E3 and this year’s PlayStation Meeting? Square has confirmed there will be a next-gen FF, possibly the MIA Final Fantasy Versus XIII rebranded as number XV. If so, this will be a sight to behold – especially on PS4’s hardware.

People want traditional RPGs. You’ve only got to look at the reception to this year’s jewel in the crown: Ni No Kuni. If there were no more Eastern role-players on PS4, it’d be a travesty. You’d be killing one of the most imaginative, innovative, emotional genres around. And nobody wants a Moogle genocide.

 

No, cries cross-breeding luddite-stomper, Phil Iwaniuk

One of the best role-playing games I played last year was NBA 2K13, a sweeping ten-year tale of my basketball career that just happened to be a fantastic sports simulation as well. I put as many hours into it as I did Skyrim, and I coveted that Chicago Bulls contract just as much as any Dragonplate Boots. Over hundreds of hours I levelled up my character’s stats, earned perks, made the cover of Sports Illustrated and designed unsightly signature sneakers. Tell me that’s not an RPG.

I kept coming back to the game for the thrill of such a non-traditional role-playing experience. I was seeing my levelling and grinding rewarded in higher dunks and more emphatic blocks, and not in the sharper swords and faster horses you become used to as a grizzled Elder Scrolls, Dragon Age and Final Fantasy obsessive. Seeing the maxims of one of my favourite genres transferred into the relatively unfamiliar world of B-ball was just too intoxicating to leave alone.

And I want more. I want to level my character in a sports game as if there were Kobolds around. I want the grand story arcs and well-written characters of Mass Effect, because they were what made the game great, not Bioware’s adaptation of the D&D rule set. PS4 will push tech boundaries, but it should also challenge genre divides. I love traditional RPGs for their depth, not their menus. I say don’t just ask for more of those games. Take that depth, and fertilise all of gaming with it.