April 18, 2024
5 min read

What is a CRPG vs RPG?

What is a CRPG vs RPG?

cRPG vs RPG: What is the Difference?

Generally, when talking about RPGs, we might be thinking about some video game titles. Final Fantasy, Skyrim etc. But the term RPG is more relevant to its origins, the PnP (Pen and Paper) or the TTRPG (Table Top Role-Playing Game). 

What about cRPGs? How do they compare to them? Are there differences? Let’s find out!

What is a cRPG?

cRPG stands for computer Role-Playing Game. The term was adapted to separate it from the classical TTRPGs. cRPGs are an attempt to emulate the experience of a classic RPG on a computer. The main difference was that there would be no DM or other players involved (initially). It’s usually a self-contained story in either a familiar setting (Baldur’s Gate) or an original world setting (Fallout).

It’s not the setting that makes the cRPG but the gameplay, game mechanics and ability to craft your own story into the existing storyline within the game itself.

Let’s break it down a little bit!

How is a cRPG different from a standard RPG?

Imagination definitely had to step up its game with the early cRPG titles, huh?
Source: dnd

The oldest cRPGs were basically attempts to bring Dungeons and Dragons TTRPG experience onto the digital world. With the earliest titles even literally being called “dnd”. But of course, there were some extreme limitations as to what could actually be added into the game.

Luckily the technological advancements were made at an astonishing pace, improving both the look and the features of each new game.

Technological advancements

With initial titles being released onto computer mainframes that were used in the universities, the initial cRPG titles had a very limited market but still an impressive following and interest from the players. 

As PCs became more accessible and affordable, the more initial titles began releasing and slowly became more and more defined as a cRPG genre. 

Gameplay mechanics and interfaces

The first titles were very basic, both mechanically and with their interfaces. They were basically text-based RPGs at that stage. 

Between the 70s and 80s, there were many different titles, some following new ideas, while others improving on already existing titles. 

Following into the late 90s and early 2000s the market had a few genre defying titles like, Fallout and Baldur’s Gate. They are some of the most known cRPG series to this day.

Character customization

As with their TTRPG counterpart, cRPGs were created to allow creation and customisation of a player character. Majority had either used the classic D&D system, while others had their own that fit their own world. They still focused on picking relevant attributes, skills and abilities to help navigate the world and allow interacting with it and its inhabitants.

Evolution of graphics and immersion

Peak cRPG experience, this is how 80s kids must've felt when they've played older titles for the first time.
Source: Baldur's Gate 3 store page

While the TTRPGs offer a lot in terms of immersion, storytelling and of course the personal touch that only a DM can give to the players, everything is based on imagination. Sure, models and maps can help out but visuals can give immense amounts of information in just one look. After all, describing everything that players see is one of the reasons why each session takes literal hours of time and preparation.

Even the earliest titles allowed to quickly scope what was going on but also help out with immersion into each new world. And with each new title, they became more and more impressive and more lifelike.

Who knows what they will look like in a few years from now? 

Character progression 

In true RPG fashion, each cRPG title offers their own take on levelling up. While D&D system was quite popular in many games, there were games that had their own systems with relevant abilities and skills that allowed your character to level up and tackle more challenges and get into more dangerous areas.

Player choice and consequences

Unlike TTRPGs, there are some limitations when it comes to character choice and consequences. After all, without the DM to improvise on the spot, everything has to be programmed before players get to play the game. Which of course limits the choices to a few options decided by the game developers.

Doesn’t mean that there aren’t any meaningful options to choose from of course! It’s simply less than what a good DM could offer.

Community and multiplayer aspects

There aren’t that many cRPG titles that allow for multiplayer, but there were attempts in creating some titles that focused on that important part of TTRPG experience, the other players to share the experience with.

“Neverwinter Nights” was an interesting attempt to give players a toolset that allows creation of modules (campaigns), allowed multiplayer and also a DM to mechanically affect the story. 

Adding the part that was missing in cRPGs to make it more like the original table top experience.

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Notable cRPG game titles

Might and magic series

A mix of sci-fi and fantasy. Might and Magic had some really crazy lore.
Source: Might and Magic VI: The Mandate of Heaven

The series was presented from the first person perspective and offered a full party playthrough.

The setting was set in an alternative universe which contained both magic and science fiction elements to it.

Baldur’s Gate Series

Interesting companion choices. Best sleep with one eye open. And a bodyguard...
Source: Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition Steam page.

The series that recently received a highly acclaimed third instalment.

It offers a full party D&D experience in the Forgotten Realms setting, full of magic, gods and monsters.

Fallout 1 and 2

Nice car. Hope it doesn't require literal weeks of travel just to get a chance to buy it!
Source: Fallout 2

An isometric cRPG set in a post-apocalyptic america. They are best known for their cultural references, humour and replayability.

Planescape Torment

A narrative and story heavily focused D&D game. It’s set in the titular Planescape setting from D&D. 

It offers a full party mechanic after finding and convincing potential companions to join you on your mission.

Experience an RPG Like Never Before with Dreams Quest

Our company Dreams Quest is currently producing a mobile ARPG called Origins: The Fall of Azoria. It’ll include a colourful, intricate world full of mysteries and secret knowledge, deep lore, fun puzzles and of course action packed combat. 

Check out our social media links to Twitter(X), Youtube , Discord and more on top and the bottom of the article for more relevant info!

FAQs about cRPGs vs RPGs

Is Diablo an ARPG or cRPG?

Diablo is an ARPG and was responsible for the explosion in popularity of an action RPG genre in the western sphere.

Is Fallout New Vegas a cRPG?

Despite being developed by the team responsible for the original Fallout 1 and 2, the Fallout New Vegas isn’t a cRPG.

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