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I think RPGs would benefit from scaling down their main story

Content of the article: "I think RPGs would benefit from scaling down their main story"

The thought hit me while playing Hades – it's not even part of a genre that's supposed to care about its story, and yet I enjoyed that game's story more than almost every RPG I've played. There are many reasons for it – the writing is clearly better than what we're used to seeing for instance – but I think one key aspect is that despite being about literal Gods and Goddesses, the story feels very close to us and is definitely driven by the characters themselves. Because it's a smaller scale story about a more "real" story, it also gives room to its characters to grow – including the villains, which is much harder to do when said villains' goal is to literally enslave or kill everyone.

For instance I was checking out Baldur's Gate 3's description on Steam and the first sentence mentions the lure of absolute power. So I can already imagine a story similar to DOS2 with some world-threatening power that you have to beat at the end. I'm not saying the story will be bad necessarily (I don't intend to play until the final release in any case) but it's so tiring to basically always see the same damn thing, just reskinned and sometimes a bit more or less grimdark, but always with the same tone and themes. For similar reasons, I'm one of the (few, I think) people who prefered The Witcher 2's story over the third one – because it was much more "grounded" as you mostly fought for yourself and Temeria/the Northern Kingdom, not the entire damn world. And your ennemies were so much more interesting than the angsty Space Elves that the Wild Hunt ended up being. The best story in that game was the Bloody Baron's arc for me, and that part was definitely a lot more relatable than the end.

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I get it, most RPGs are set in a classic Heroic Fantasy universe and it's supposed to be an epic story. But I honestly think that it's perfectly possible to create a story that feels epic and satisfies the player's power fantasy without having to be about a world-spanning threat.



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