Boss Rush Banter: Why Action RPGs Are Good Gateways Into The Genre

There’s been a divisive debate in recent years that’s engulfed the RPG community.

Turn-based combat has taken center stage as fans debate the shift of many popular franchises to more action-oriented combat with many voicing their displeasure of this change with Final Fantasy XVI being the most-recent target. Many long for the era where turn-based combat ruled the landscape while action-based combat was looked down on as a lesser-form of RPGs.

I’m not saying it’s wrong to enjoy turn-based combat more than action-based combat in RPGs. What I am saying is we shouldn’t be gatekeeping by saying a game isn’t a true RPG unless is has turn-based combat. And even there, some gatekeep even further by saying tactical RPGs don’t count either.

I am a newcomer to the genre and if it weren’t for action RPGs, I’m not sure I’d be fully invested in RPGs. I’ve seen how well ARPGs are at opening you up to the genre.

For one, action RPGs are just as crucial to the genre as any other form of combat. This style is vital because it’s accessible.

Games like Ys, Trials of Mana, Kingdom Hearts, and the Tales of series all are fixtures in the RPG genre and they enjoy action-based combat. These games might be less intimidating than jumping in head first to a Dragon Quest or older Final Fantasy title.

Tales of Arise‘s combat. (Image Credit: Bandai Namco via IGN)

I took the Ys route with Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana being the RPG that hooked me into the genre. This game helped me hack-and-slash my way into a genre filled with leveling, different equipment, and stats. For me, I learned all elements thanks to not having to worry about turn-based combat.

Mastering the other elements made jumping into some of the mainstay franchises a lot easier. Final Fantasy VII was next and I had a good grasp on leveling, stat effects such as poison or sleep, and equipment management. It was a natural transition to build on that knowledge with the active turn-based system.

Turn-based combat is intimidating, especially if you grew up playing platformers or action-adventures. Sure, there are simplified turn-based games such as Paper Mario or the Pokémon series, but I think there are more action RPGs out there that can better fill that void of teaching you all the necessary elements.

Action RPGs aren’t going anywhere. Rather than vilifying them, we should embrace them as a great gateway to the genre. There are plenty of modern games that still embrace turn-based combat such as Baldur’s Gate 3, Sea of Stars, Octopath Traveler, and Persona. Turn-based is still having it’s time in the sun.

Action RPGs, however, deserve love too, even if it means shifting a popular franchise to a more action-oriented combat. Rather than viewing this as some kind of step down, we should embrace it as a way to welcome new fans to this crazy RPG world we enjoy. It’s not like we’re losing turn-based options.

Who knows? You may even find a game you enjoy as well.

What do you think about action RPGs? Are they a good gateway into the RPG genre? If not, how would you welcome new fans to the genre? Let us know in the comments below or head over to our Discord channel to join the conversation.

Featured Image: Nihon Falcom (via Polygon)

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The Boss Rush PodcastThe Boss Rush Podcast is the flagship podcast of Boss Rush Media and the Boss Rush Network. Each week, Corey, Stephanie, LeRon, and their friends from around the internet come together with other creators, developers, and industry veterans to talk about games they’ve been playing, discuss video game and entertainment based topics, and answer questions solicited on social media and the community Discord. 

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