Some Little Things I’ve Loved In RPGs, Vol 1

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One of the main reasons I got into RPGs back in the day was that if you bought one, you were getting a lot of game for your money. That was important when there was only one birthday and one Christmas a year, and not much chance that some relative might pop their clogs in sync with Ultima VI coming out. Years later I no longer need the Grim Reaper’s help to fill my collection, and other genres have done their best to replace scouring maps for objectives with, y’know, game, but there’s still few that can match it in terms of raw Stuff. It takes a lot of content to fill an RPG.

This week then, I’m turning the spotlight on a few small bits and pieces from various games that I think back on fondly. Not entire games. Just a few ideas and moments from them that stuck with me, whether I liked the actual game they were in at all. Add yours in the comments, yadda yadda, you know the drill. Also, I thought I’d try and pick a few things that aren’t brought up that often, hence the lack of, say, Heather Poe from Vampire: Bloodlines or any of The Witcher III’s awesome stuff. Got that? Cool.

Note: you can browse through the list using the arrows alongside the image at the top of the page, or using the left and right arrows on your very own keyboard.

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36 Comments

  1. Gothnak says:

    Ah, Jagged Alliance 2. I found the dialogue from your troops and the way they interact with each other brilliant. I had 2 German mercs who would compliment each other’s kills, and an ex married couple that if you kept in the same squad for too long, would actually open fire on each other.

    Oh, and the Cuban guy called Fidel who would never retreat even when massively outnumbered…’No… I kill dis guy’.

    • JFS says:

      JA2 is a game that’s never been matched. Being able to send Deidranna black flowers as a greeting from the resistance was the icing on the cake. I believe Eliott had to deliver them, and you got to see that, too.

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      Syt says:

      Not to mention in JA1, Ivan Dolvich gave you great bang for the buck early in the game – with the disadvantage that his speech was in Russian, and all his text dialogue was in Cyrillic. :D

  2. Raoul Duke says:

    Do you guys ever look at the site on mobile? At the moment about 2/3rds of it looks like this for me:

    link to i.imgur.com

    Ie, borderline unreadable and filled with ads aimed at tabloid celebrity obsessed morons.

  3. malkav11 says:

    One of the things that cemented Baldur’s Gate II as one of my favorites of all time was the attention to little details like this. The moment that stands out to me is when I happened to sit idle in one of the churches in the game (I don’t remember which) and a man ran in, did 1 point of damage to me, and ran back out. The priest explained to me that this was someone who was donating a gold (by flinging it into the church) but was too shy to stick around and do it properly. Not a quest, not related to a quest, just a cool moment. (That I am retelling badly because it’s been years.)

  4. johann tor says:

    24 years… Last year I tried to replay Heimdall, but I couldn’t repeat those Dragon’s Lair-level feats of finicky control. Dejected by the sorry lot of ruffians that accepted my leadership, I did not embark on my hemlock-gathering quest.

  5. Eddy9000 says:

    My favourite moment with Caesar in New Vegas was that when it came to operating on his brain tumour you could do it through a quest, through a medicine skill check, or hilariously through a luck skill check of 9.

    • Barberetti says:

      My favourite moment with Caesar was when he strode out of his tent and stood there, silhouetted in the morning sun. Yep, that’s him all right, I thought to myself, from my position near the other side of his camp.

      I switched to my Gobi Desert rifle and put a bullet through his head, then continued to lay waste to his pathetic troops, not giving him another thought.

  6. Anthile says:

    All the arcane, hidden stuff in Dark Souls. Like Fume Knight going berserk if you don the armor of his rival or Sir Alonne’s alternative death animation when you kill him without taking damage.

    The reactivity in Icewind Dale 2. Sure, it’s not a game that’s heavy on dialogue but what little there is is heavily influenced by your race, deity, class and alignment. It’s really quite something to just walk up to the final boss and tell him you’re about to blow this scene because he’s just not evil enough – if you play a cleric of Bane.
    I guess most Black Isle and later Obsidian games are like this and Alpha Protocol is arguably king. That game gives you perks for delaying a boss fight long enough to hear a background speech and watching all of the news broadcasts.

    • thekelvingreen says:

      I am reminded of what happens if you create an elven character in the Baldur’s Gate games and name him “Drizzt”; the real thing turns up and tries to kill you for stealing his name.

      • Pravin Lal's Nuclear Arsenal says:

        …Which, in turn, reminds me of the Adhan thing from Planescape: Torment.

        When people ask The Nameless One his name, he has the option to answer: “Adhan”. If he does so repeatedly, an actual chap named Adhan, who looks exactly like the protagonist, will spawn into existence: the Planescape universe runs on faith and enough people now believe that he exists.

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      Thulsa Hex says:

      Lots of lovely, easy-to-miss bits in Dark Souls. I love that Sif’s intro scene changes if you happen to do the (much harder) Artorias DLC before her main encounter. <3 Sif.

  7. a very affectionate parrot says:

    I really love how the dialogue option to attack Caesar is ‘Death to Tyrants!’ aka Sic semper tyrannis.
    New Vegas was a wonderful game. I think one of the main reasons Fallout 4 falls so flat is it has nothing as interesting as just those small changes in interaction with Caesar, no one seems to care what you’ve done to them.

    • A Wanderer says:

      Without forgetting the fact that Fallout New Vegas offers you the ability to do the most satisfying thing I’ve ever done in an RPG, aka betraying everyone and essentially finishing the main quest for your benefit only.

    • TheAngriestHobo says:

      I think that’s the reference, but the literal translation of the phrase is, “Thus always to tyrants”.

      New Vegas is certainly a wonderfully-written game. I had forgotten how feeble some of the voice acting was, though. At least Caesar was well-done.

  8. lglethal says:

    For me there were a ton of moments in Deus Ex: Human Revolution which got to me, but the one that comes to my mind right now, was that after the first visit to Sarif Industries where I basically ransacked everyone’s offices for experience and cash (and any other goodies I could find), coming back later in the game and reading people’s emails (again) and seeing everyone complaining about how awful it was that people had been stealing stuff in the company and how it had never been like that before the attack, left me feeling like such a cad. On my next playthrough I didnt take a cent from any of my fellow Sarif employees. I felt so much better for it! :)

    • unsanity says:

      “Oh, and by the way, Jensen? I know you have gone through a lot of physical changes as of late, but you didn’t become a woman. Stay out of the ladies restroom.”

      This was golden.

  9. Archonsod says:

    I liked Arcanum’s take on the idiot dialogue thing. Particularly people’s reactions once they realised the halfwit they were struggling to communicate with was actually their prophesised saviour.

  10. Dirk says:

    Heimdall! *sighs*
    That’s it, Richard. Make me feel old. Rub it right in. ;)
    I can confirm a gruesome end to the young maiden, at least for the Amiga version. Nasty. “But it’s alright. Nobody liked her anyway.” We kept restarting the game so everyone can have a throw. Can’t remember ever aiming for the braids. ^_^

  11. thekelvingreen says:

    I still like the bit in Ultima VII where you run into an am-dram group putting on a play about you, and the chap playing you talks about his lines, which consist only of “Name”, “Job”, and “Bye”.

  12. Oozo says:

    If memory serves, you did not transform into a rat in Lands of Lore II. It was bipedal lizard, sort of a wee dinosaur, who was good at sprinting and using magic.
    But I do agree: Much like the game as a whole, that mechanism was somewhat opaque, but interesting — both intentionally so and as a result of some clunky or strange mechanisms. But I really liked it a lot.

    As for what other little thing I liked in an RPG… I’d probably have to choose something out of The Dark Eye-trilogy, which really was ahead of its time in combining a real complex RPG with what these days would be called a survival game. Which translates to lots of micro management, of course, but I really liked the fact that you could die both from packing the wrong shoework and becoming ill when you were not properly prepared, thus really making you think like an explorer and not just a min-maxer: so you want to visit that dwarf fortress which is supposed to be in the mountains? You better go buy a proper sleeping bag, ropes and a good pair of boots, son. (Btw, the fact that people gave hints like people in real life would do — that is, resembling less a GPS than a fading penciled cross somewhere on a crumpled map –, was also something I liked.)

  13. ephesus64 says:

    Kip the detective chicken–neat! Would anyone be able to tell me around when and where I could meet that chicken in D:OS? He seems nice. A cursory google search wasn’t much help.

  14. Darth Gangrel says:

    In games with lots of backtracking, specifically when there’s a narrow lane you have to pass through, there are often monsters blocking the path that you have to fight each time.

    I really like that in The Witcher 1, you can simply somersault over those monsters and just run away if you like. In Victor Vran, you can also choose to jump down from a higher point instead of having to go all the way back. Same thing in Risen 1, you can take a shortcut by jumping down from very high places (at little HP cost with the “Acrobatic” skill) instead of following the normal zigzagging roads.

    Freedom of movement and choosing your own path is something I value very much and which used to be very rare, but is now more common, if not standard.

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      My favourite thing about Risen (it’s a Gothic thing, I know, but I remember it most from Risen) is that people you’re not in a serious battle with will just knock you on your arse and walk away instead of every fight being TO THE DEATH!

      • Darth Gangrel says:

        There are a lot of different things that Risen does well and I’ve got Risen 2 on my backlog, so I’ll eventually indulge in more of it. Risen 3 doesn’t seem that bad and then there’s the Gothic series or at least Gothic 1 and 2. Gothic 3 ran like crap when I tried the demo some years ago and has some weird design decisions. The less we say about the games after that, the better.

  15. Banyan says:

    Stumbling across a pirate leader in Guild Wars 2 singing “I am the very model of a modern pirate general”, based on the Gilbert and Sullivan song, was easily my favorite moment in that game.

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    DelrueOfDetroit says:

    In Dragon’s Dogma being able to pick people up. I remember having to escort somebody to a beach only to come upon a cliff looking down on said beach. I huffed at the idea of having to go around but then I realized I could just hoist my client over my shoulder and jumped down the cliffs.

    Plus there’s the whole throwing people into a sea full of ravenous leeches.

  17. CaptWaffle1 says:

    SO GLAD to see someone that had the same impression of Caesar…. I went to his fort with EVERY INTENTION of killing him extremely dead. I wanted the NCR to win…. a world closest to what was before the bombs…. and after talking to Caesar…. I didn’t know what to think anymore. I actually came out of that discussion thinking that MAYBE this guy is right!! Maybe HIS way would be the only way for humanity as a whole to survive this moment in history. I’ve never had a conversation in a game… and few in real life, that affected me like my first time talking to Caesar.

  18. President Weasel says:

    I liked the Nemesis system in Champions Online. Had a lot of fun creating Zoot Suit Orca, arch enemy of Shark in a Trenchcoat. Shame there wasn’t enough to the game.

  19. Mandrake42 says:

    Do you know it’s actually possible to kill the normally invincible Lord British? In Ultima 7 you need The Black Sword from the Forge of Virtue expansion and if you use the kill command on Lord British, Arcadion, the demon that possesses the sword, says “Yes my treacherous master” and proceeds to do exactly that. If you search Lord British’s body afterwards there is a note saying that he leaves everything to his maid who apparently had been keeping his bed warm all these years :)

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      Yeah, he apparently didn’t know about that little Easter Egg. Though there’s another way too, in Ultima VII – click on the plaque outside his throneroom and it falls down and kills him. You can also shoot him in a dream during Serpent Isle, and poison him with bread in Ultima X. Prior to that, it was possible, but not via specially coded in ways – players had to find their own method, like using glass swords or the lava field spell.

  20. CartonofMilk says:

    am i the only person who actually liked two worlds? (and was disappointed by the sequel even though it was kinda ok still)

    I mean i see vids of it now and think “god that looks awful” but i dunno, i genuinely thought it was an ok rpg at the time. The story was shit but i don’t play rpgs for the story, if i did i wouldn’t like the elder scrolls games so much.

    I mean, i played it far longer than i played Witcher 3 anyway. I only didn’t finish it because of a bug that got me to lose a lot of equipment i’d spent a lot of time improving. That pissed me off so i put the game aside and then started playing other games and never went back to it in the end.

    BUT while we’re at it, actually one thing i loved about Two Worlds, it’s gearing up/looting system. Yeah it was pretty nonsensical, “oh you found another piece of the same armor? merge it to the one you have for a stat boost” hmm….that makes sense how? BUT it made gearing up fun and more engaging because unlike in all other rpgs in which if you find the same piece of armor your already wearing, you’ve got no use for it, here it had a use, it made your gear better! So the more of the same piece of armor you looted, the better.

    And there was a lot of variety in the gear’s look and designs and most of it seemed to have been designed to sorta match with a lot of different types of armor. Your gear rarely looked completely mismatched (the worst dilemma for me in rpgs, should i wear those plate gauntlets knowing they look completely dumb with my leather armor!? it’s not about efficiency see, it’s about fashion)

    There was another dilemma you were faced with though. So that shitty early armor i’m wearing that i boosted a 100 times is better than this new cool armor i just found, but if i stack a bunch of that new armor it’ll probably in no time be better than the one i’m wearing…but is it worth the gamble? What if i don’t find this same armor again?

    To me it made gearing and looting more interesting. And that system did not return for Two Worlds II which was one of the reasons why that game was disappointing.

    All this just brought back to mind another thing i loved in a rpg, the gearing system in DCUO. Possibly the best ever invented because in DCUO, what it look like you’re wearing doesn’t have to reflect what you’re ACTUALLY wearing. You can look like you’re going around shirtless with only some tights on. But if you look at your gear screen, you’re actually wearing rare high level armor. Does it make sense? No. Does it mean you never have to refrain from getting some gear because it would look stupid for the look you’re going for? yes.

  21. CartonofMilk says:

    I never played Heimdall but i will never forget the axe throwing mini game pic they had in their review of the game in (seminal french video games magazine) Joystick. This was right now actually the first time i got to see the the mini game in action.

    Speaking of, I was thinking about a month back that the reason I like RPS so much is that in a lot of ways it reminds me of Joystick in its heyday (very early 90’s)

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