The term "Western RPG" can be used in two different ways:
A Role-Playing Game
developed in the Western world, specifically North America and Europe.
Or a Role Playing Game following a style popularized by Western computer developers, which is sometimes differentiated from Eastern RPGs
by having several or more of the following features:
- Usually made in North America or Europe.
- Often released on the PC instead of consoles (though recently they have been on both).
- The game rules resemble (and are often licensed from) Tabletop RPGs such as Dungeons & Dragons.
- Often has a Wide Open Sandbox game experience, but can be a Dungeon Crawler, or in recent years, a plot-based game focused on the Character Development of both the customized PC and the NPCs.
- The main hero is generally customizable, and is more of a "blank slate" than a predetermined character.
- In some games, non-boss encounters can be resolved (at least, in theory) without combat, through diplomacy or stealth.
- Turn-Based Combat was the dominant combat form in the past, but has been steadily losing ground to action-based real time. Real Time with Pause is the genre's popular middle ground.
- The art style tends to be more "realistic" and "grittier" than in Eastern RPGs.
- Usually enemies are fought on screen rather than cutting to a separate "battle screen", though the latter was not uncommon in early Western RPGs. Terrain and party formations often play an important role in combat.
- Dice rolls are often visible, and stats are directly shown as they interact with the rules. In recent years, however, many of the more action-oriented Western RPGs have been moving away from this.
Computer RPGs can have a flexible format. Some games are more like "dungeon crawlers" (a more forgiving version of Roguelikes
), while some others are more akin to Hack and Slash
with experience and levels. During the past decade, a number of Computer RPGs have also begun resembling Wide Open Sandbox
games. In the past, the majority of Western RPGs were turn-based, but today more of them are Action RPGs
; ironically, turn-based RPGs had American origins, while Action RPGs
had Japanese origins.
Some games created in the West transcend this genre and overlap with Console RPGs in terms of feel (such as Summoner
, Sonic Chronicles
) and this is reciprocated in Asia with games that utilize elements of dungeon crawlers and Roguelikes, which have today become more popular in the East than they are in the West.
See also our guide on how to Write A Western RPG
Examples of this genre:
- Planet Stronghold (An independent 2D game with many Western RPG elements, created by Winter Wolves with Ren'py, released for computers in February 2011.)