April 12, 2024
5 min read

What is an Action RPG?

What is an Action RPG?

What is an Action RPG?

Not a fan of taking turns between actions? Want to become stronger through fighting enemies? Maybe get some cool gear too? Seems like you’ve just found a genre for yourself then. 

Welcome to Action RPGs, allow us to guide you through!

Gameplay mechanics in action RPGs

Bits and pieces that make an ARPG the ARPG! 

Combat mechanics

You'd think that assassination doesn't really fit Viking raiders, wouldn't you...?
Source - Assassin's Creed: Valhalla by Ubisoft Montreal

These vary greatly from game to game. Some rely a lot on the character stats and systems that support it. 

Others can focus on the use of physics and allow players to experiment with it. 

Some require a careful memorization of attack patterns and learning through your consecutive failures. Each can offer different challenges to tackle and ultimately comes down to personal choice.

But learning one will probably give you a bias against other systems, so tread carefully!

Sometimes getting gud can lead to an irreparable mindset, especially in multiplayer.

Progression systems

Successfully defeating your enemies is rewarded with loot and experience. And unsurprisingly, this is a common gameplay loop of many action RPGs. 

But that doesn’t mean that it’ll become repetitive fast! 

There are new abilities to gain, which scale with the gear you find, that drops from more and more challenging enemies. And to test your new skill, a boss fight can occur to humble you for your hubris. 

Unlocking new options to deal with challenges is super fun, just like testing your new rig on a game that you couldn’t run above 12 fps. A whole new world of opportunities to explore!

Exploration and world interaction

It’s not just destroying hordes of enemies, you can also do a bit of exploration on the side (depending on the game)! 

Some games focus on this part more than others, adding that extra immersion that hacking your enemies to bits doesn’t. 

Being part of the world you’re trying to save definitely gives extra motivation to do so. Who doesn’t like acknowledgement of their hard work after all?

Design elements of action RPGs

Important parts of any (successful) ARPG. if you’re designing one, better include these crucial elements!

Immersive storytelling

Nier: Automata, story telling done right. Make sure to get Ending E!
Source - Nier: Automata by PlatinumGames

While story isn’t really the biggest selling point of an action RPG, it can definitely enhance the experience by a lot. You, as a player, don’t have much connection to the world you’re playing at the start.
So unless developers make you care for the characters you meet and the realm you’re trying to save, it might be quite tough to care whether you save the village from raiders or a random stranger from a pack of wolves.

You can of course be THE villain in some games too, so it is always cool when the game gives you an opportunity to play that out as well.

World design

The world you’ll be inhabiting should grab your attention quickly. You are after all visiting it for the first time! 

Nothing “too” overwhelming though, since first steps are there to ease you into it. 

But once you’re ready to roam it, it should offer things to interact with as soon as you’re out of the hand holding section of the game.
Be it enemies, friendly NPCs with fun quests, cool lore, exciting places to explore, great loot etc. 

And of course, it should be challenging enough! Not punishing though. Unless it’s by design…PvE is pretty important in Action RPGs!

Balancing action and role-playing elements

Commander Shepard's face when he finds out about the ending in Mass Effect 3:
Source - Mass Effect 3 by BioWare

Best action RPGs are a blend of fun and rewarding gameplay but also an immersive story with great characters.

Doesn’t mean that all of them necessarily require top writing and mind blowing combat. Some titles are there for you to unwind without much personal involvement and just have fun chopping your enemies with the most balanced build. 

While some put more focus on the world itself and its exploration, letting your roam freely. Until you get your ass kicked and have to grind some combat skills, that is.

Combat IS pretty crucial, after all.

Looking for a new action RPG?

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 Action RPG Games

What is the difference between an RPG and an action RPG?

It’s pretty much in the name. The action part that is. Role-playing games are focused on the story, characters, narrative and the choices of your avatar. Action RPGs mostly focus on keeping you “active” and becoming better at controlling your character, through memorisation and upgrades. 

It can still have a great story and interesting characters, no doubt about it! Quite often it is sacrificed for the sake of gameplay and fun action, though.

Is GTA 5 an action RPG?

If we loosen up the concept of what we accept as an “RPG”, then potentially. It lacks the mechanics you’d expect from an RPG. 

There aren’t any systems that affect your character stats, he can’t level up his skills/abilities/class, gear is limited to weapons, powerups, body armour etc. 

You are playing “roles” but you don’t make any real choices, you are following the storyline and you either succeed or fail.
There won’t be any decisions that affect the story during the game till the last moment.

So, eh, not really.

Is God of War an action RPG?

God slaying never ends, does it Kratos?
Source - God of War: Ragnarok by Santa Monica Studio

God of War is considered an action-adventure game, rather than an action RPG.
You’re not gaining levels as much as you’re gearing up to become more powerful.
This was changed in later versions, where you could level your character up as well as improve your gear.
So the newer releases could be loosely classified as an action RPG.

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