The GWW gaming team has put together a list of their favorite RPGs to fall back into just in time for fall. Are any of these on your list?
Tom Clancy’s The Division 2
Published by: Ubisoft
Released on: February 7, 2019
My first introduction to this game was the Beta announcement during Superbowl LII. Who could have imagined our society would stand on the brink of becoming very similar to what occurred in the game. Leave it to Clancy’s conspiratorial creativeness. But it isn’t just the scenario or story of the game that brings me back time and again. Nor is it the grind, the modifications, and unlockables. Rather, it is the topography that calls me to venture into the world of this RPG. Something about strolling the accurately captured streets of Washington D.C. mesmerizes me. I know, given the nature of the game, a stroll isn’t the best definition of how one should talk about traveling around the city. But that is how it feels to me.
Here is a place that any other time I visit, in real life, is alive. I’ve been there before dawn, past dusk, and its neighborhoods never nap. Yet in this game, I can venture into the various districts, past brownstones, and even into museums, and I find moments of complete quiet. Given that the game takes place around the holidays, it even ominously plays on certain elements of the season. Not a creature was stirring and Silent Night, to name a few. For those moments between battles, the District is mine, and I am merely a tactically trained tourist.
The World Ends With You
Developed by: Square Enix, Ubisoft
Released on: July 26, 2007
When I need to fall back into a gaming world and to go with The World Ends with You. I keep falling back on this game because they keep adapting it to new systems and adding more content. Originally coming out on the DS in 2007, the game was a massive hit and introduced a unique battle system utilizing both screens. The World Ends with You falls into the Action RPG category, similar to Demon’s Soul and BioShock. The gameplay is super unique compared to others in this category, as well as the visuals. The character designs are great and surprisingly still fashionable to today’s standards.
Everything about this game is excellent and super easy to pick up. If you don’t like how one character fights switch to another one. Music is spot on, matching the mood of the story and pace. The story is great the first time you play it as you become invested in the characters and everything about them. It also takes place in an alternative dimension of Shibuya, a famous tourist destination in Japan.
Lord of the Rings Online
Published by: Turbine, Standing Stone Games, Daybreak Game Company, Midway Games, Codemasters
Released in: April 24, 2007
Good video game worlds can resonate and become memories. Those worlds can hold vivid memories of the experiences in the game and moments in one’s life. Lord of the Rings Online is that game for me. A world I return to every few years to revisit the spaces and recall my memories.
When Lord of the Rings Online (LOTRO) launched in 2007, it provided Tolkien fans and players the opportunity to explore the lands introduced in the books and other writings. However, it was not until the second expansion in 2009 that I joined the adventure. At that time, LOTRO was still in the paid monthly subscription model. The shift to Free-to-Play would not occur until 2010, and I was there through the transition.
MMO games can be a place that pulls players into their worlds. Sometimes this provides a sense of community. Sometimes this provides a sense of escape. Consequently, for me, it was both. At the turn of the decade, I was living with a number of personal and professional struggles. Grief and depression faced me in the daylight hours, but at night I could roam Middle Earth. My elf hunter frequently partnered up with other adventures and came to the aid of fellow travelers. My character would then drift off into the woods to peacefully explore the world. In my mind, memories of vacation destinations live alongside the memories of the mountains, valleys, and woods of Middle Earth.
From 2009 to 2011, Middle Earth was a steady companion through changes and challenges in life. The game world provided a place of stability in a time of upheaval. LOTRO was a place to explore and discover when the pressures of life felt oppressive. Fortunately, as my mental health improved, LOTRO became a game more than an alternate existence.
Every few years, I load the game back up and revisit some locales. The game world is a place I used to live, and now I stop by to visit, thankful for the time I was there. An old neighborhood driving through, remembering adventures, but knowing that home is someplace else now.
For players interested in exploring the world of Middle Earth through Lord of the Rings Online, the publisher Standing Stone Games is giving away quests packs and discounting the expansions as part of the anniversary celebration: https://www.lotro.com/en/getready.
Faerun: Dungeons and Dragons 5E
Published by: Wizards of the Coast
Released by: 2014
It’s autumn again, and to me, that means finally being able to wear my dorky sweater and cuddle around the coffee table for RPGs (like I need an excuse). Our favorite RPG as a family would be Dungeons and Dragons because all four of us can play and have played repeatedly. I’m not saying there isn’t a challenge in playing a TTRPG with two highly ADHD boys, but hey, we created the socks of wandering for that. I love that I can play this game just about anywhere as long as I have a phone and my imagination. I do prefer to use real dice but don’t find it a deal-breaker. While not the fastest game to learn, it is certainly easier than some of its predecessors without the need for a battle map.
Hubs and I have happily played this game as a one on one thing for years. We sometimes play on road trips to pass the time. Once you know the system and have set up something like DnD Beyond, complete with character sheets and dice, you can play it anywhere. Entire compendiums can be stored on your device and be made searchable for those sticky situations where you need to look up a rule or stat. D&D can definitely be a $ suck; it can also be a pretty low entry point for large gaming systems like this. Look for the Essentials Kit if you are just getting started. It has everything you need to discover if this is right for you.