Back in the day I played quite a bit of GTA IV, in spite of the fact that I don’t generally like playing bad guys. I tried to keep Niko on the straight and narrow but there were some scripted actions that were very unsavory to me. But I played because of the format.
This past week I’ve been playing Red Dead Redemption. I’m loving it. Being a gunslinger in the Old West isn’t nearly as unpalatable to me as being a hit man in a realistic modern setting. And I’ve got a certain amount of nostalgia for Westerns anyway. Rockstar was brilliant in picking the setting… the tail end of the untamed west period, where we see influences of the much more modern eastern states. Some early cars and so forth.
Anyway, what keeps me playing RDR is, again, the format. I play it like an MMO (but then I play everything like an MMO if I can manage to). Sometimes I quest, sometimes I chase challenges (gather 5 coyote hides, shoot 5 birds), sometimes I just ride the range to see what me and my trusty steed come upon.
In a lot of ways, Red Dead Redemption is the best RPG I’ve played in a long time, in the most literal sense of the acronym. No, there aren’t levels or character stats (though there is gear, to some extent) but I just sink into the role of John Marsten and lose myself.
But as much as I like Westerns, I’m a fantasy guy at heart. I know everyone else is sick to death of fantasy, but I’m not.
And that’s why I want Rockstar’s next game to use this open world format for an Arthurian Grail Quest game. Imagine you play a knight. You might be a white knight or a black knight. You’re ultimately searching for the Grail, but along the way you could have all kinds of adventures. You could help out peasants who’re being mistreated by a cruel lord… or side with the lord to help him keep those pesky peasants in line. Hunting and fishing, of course.. a knight has to live off the land at times. Magical beasts, just to keep things fun. Random encounters with wizards, damsels, other knights, creatures… and this is Rockstar, so there’ll be some very dark things happening, too.
I could just get lost in a world like that… but I’m sure that’s much to geeky for Rockstar to take on. I hope someone ‘borrows’ this open world format and runs with it, though.