What is ARPG? [Gaming Definition, Meaning]

ARPG or Action Role Playing Game, is a genre that takes everything you love from the traditional RPG spectrum and throws in some extra action to the mix. Compared to JRPG, which is a Japanese Role Playing Game and focuses typically on a linear approach, action style RPGs tend to provide more freedom to the player and allows you to venture around solving objectives in your own way. Action RPGs still come with all the kinks in your conventional RPG, such as being able to level up your main character and perhaps other supporting ones as well, but you now have other perks such as being able to ride around in a vehicle and discover new parts of the map never before seen, or simply being immersed in real time action events. You’re essentially more in control this time around, where battles aren’t turn based and takes inspiration from hack and slack titles along with action adventure titles. Action RPGs are starting to become the norm these days since more and more players have shifted their attention to the open world perks, along with menu based combat. Games that truly take advantage of this are titles like Borderlands, The Witcher 3, and Fallout 4, among many others. Let’s dive into more detail as to what ARPG represents and provide you with some compelling examples of some of the best ARPGs out on the market today.

Free Roaming Adventure

As stated earlier, ARPGs take inspiration from various categories one of which is the action adventure genre that encourages free roaming in a vast open world. Missions can be completed on your own terms and you can go about them in whatever way you desire. This feeling of freedom in ARPGs are what make them stand out from the conventional RPGs which often place you in a turn based scenario, and much of your actions are dictated by the game itself. In ARPGs you can kick, punch and use magic spells to take out fierce enemies without the hassle of waiting your turn. Everything that happens takes place in real time, so everything feels fluid and immersive as you race across various terrain to solve missions or uncover rare items to assist you in battle. One fantastic example of a free roaming adventure is Mass Effect 3, which takes everything you love about role playing and turns it up well beyond the maximum to provide an experience unlike any other. Let’s take a closer look at just why this game has created such a mass effect on our lives.

Mass Effect 3

  • System/Platform: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii U, Windows
  • Publisher: Electronic Arts
  • Developer: BioWare
  • Release Date: March 6, 2012

With Mass Effect Andromeda just around the corner, many fans of the series are itching to get their hands on the latest installment of this action packed series. The premise of the game is simple, you control your character and travel across many planets establishing relationships with the locals, taking part in crazy boss battles, while discovering new things along the way. What makes Mass Effect 3 so complex however is that while the aforementioned all play a major role in the creation of the entire game, doing them all at once can sometimes be challenging. Building relationships is never easy and any tension can result in you not being able to build or send units to that area. Boss battles require strategic thinking and you’ll need to invest a lot of time into your characters to ensure they’re well suited for any encounter. Discovering new territory can often be taxing because you’ll almost always run into new enemies that you’ll need to defeat in order to progress. All of this is what makes Mass Effect 3 such a blast to play however, because you’re constantly on the move trying to understand each planet and its inhabitants while also gathering materials to sustain your ship as well as leveling up weaponry, etc.

Mass Effect 3 is huge, there’s an abundance of things to do and even when you think you’re finished the game encourages you to go back to complete other sub-missions. These sub-missions are just as fun as the main ones because a lot of them encourage the player to branch out and seek new opportunities, and not just rely on one area all the time. If you find yourself falling into a pattern Mass Effect 3 breaks it for you and really pushes you to think above and beyond with regards to organizing your crew, among many other responsibilities. Every cutscene is full of emotion and often times you’ll be the one calling the shots as to what response the main character will make, which adds yet another element of fun. While Mass Effect 3 certainly isn’t for everyone, it does have mass appeal in that it encompasses just about everything you’d want from an ARPG but dives deeper to provide players with a genuinely unique experience that takes you far beyond the norm.

Mass Effect 3 Launch Trailer

Very Little Load Times

One of the many perks with the more recent action rpgs is that we no longer have to suffer waiting for new parts of the map to open up. Of course there are some exceptions but most titles allow you to traverse across the world without having to worry about running into a loading screen. You’re almost always immersed in the world that you’re situated in, with new opportunities awaiting you over the horizon. We’ve certainly come a long way from those very arduous times of having to wait just to go inside a house in Grand Theft Auto Vice City for example, and boy does it feel good to just do anything now. The Yakuza series has always been a fan favorite here in Japan thanks to Sega’s efforts, but only recently a lot of the hype is now reaching stateside where players are now finding themselves immersed in street fights and eating ramen for health regen. Yakuza 0 just released overseas after a long wait and many people were quite impressed with the very Shenmue inspired title. Yakuza 6 released late last year with critical success, and we’ll talk a little bit about Sega’s latest title and why it’s one of the best ARPGs thus far.

Yakuza 6 [Ryu ga Gotoku 6]

  • System/Platform: PlayStation 4
  • Publisher: Sega
  • Developer: Sega
  • Release Date: December 8, 2016

For those who follow the story you’re more than likely familiar with the main protagonist Kiryu Kazuma and the hardships he’s experienced to become the man he is today. In Yakuza 6, there’s a new problem that Kiryu must tackle and it has to do with Haruna, who Kiryu treats like his own daughter. Kiryu is alerted of events that took place surrounding that of Haruna and her disappearance, and now he must travel to the small town of Onomichi in Hokkaido to uncover more details. Little does he know that there’s more in store for him as the town of Onomichi has a much bigger secret, and he’s become a target for the gang in that area. Yakuza 6 was a total blast to play from start to finish and without spoiling the story, we’ll just stick to what makes it a solid action role playing game. While Yakuza 6 is marketed as an action adventure title, there are unique role playing elements that have been implemented such as leveling Kiryu up through attending personal training sessions at the gym, eating food to recover stamina, while also tending to your various attributes such as defense.

Each time you encounter battles you earn experience which can then be used to tailor Kiryu’s traits to your playstyle. So for example if you’re a more defensive player you have the option of leveling up Kiryu’s body strength, defense along with technique in order to quickly evade in coming attacks and deal more damage to the enemy. The game even throws in some very fun aspects such as taking part in Karaoke, Mahjong, online chatting and more, all of which can be leveled up to achieve more points as well. So while the story itself is emotionally riveting and satisfying, most of your time will be invested in the various side quests such as creating your own baseball team, chugging down a few beers to keep your stamina up, or simply just beating people up to earn some extra ramen money.

Yakuza 6 PlayStation Experience 2016 Trailer

Interactive Story

If there’s any evidence in what makes an rpg so thrilling, it most certainly lives within the impactful storytelling that brings everything to life. Nothing speaks more volumes in a videogame than having a very strong storyline to go along with everything else, because that’s perhaps the very reason why you invested in it anyway. While the gameplay can at times have its hits and misses, the minute the story is affected the entire game feels diminished of its shine. Storylines are what bring everything together and allow the gameplay to feel a lot more inviting, because the more you play the more of the narrative you unlock. Interaction with the characters you encounter feel very humanistic in that, building these relationships can also impact the direction of where the story goes and can often lead to some surprising turn of events. For these reasons and more, implementing a strong narrative into an action based rpg only makes the experience feel more enriching. For that we must take a look at Sony Interactive’s latest blockbuster Horizon: Zero Dawn that not only looks breathtaking, but blows your mind in the gameplay realm.

Horizon Zero Dawn

  • System/Platform: PlayStation 4
  • Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
  • Developer: Guerilla Games
  • Release Date: February 28, 2017

Horizon Zero Dawn is developed by Guerilla Games, the same team behind the incredibly popular Killzone series, who now takes all of that same action and pours it all into this beautifully crafted title. Horizon Zero Dawn throws you into this post-apocalyptic world filled with mystery and discovery, and you’re just one young determined woman who must uncover the truth behind what’s happening while trying to restore order to the world before it’s too late. The enemies you encounter are massive as these towering robotic creatures roam in this stunning environment full of life, and you’ll need to either work alongside them or destroy them in order to progress through the game. There’ll be a lot of going back and forth to collect certain materials for people in the sub missions, with plenty of dry witty remarks that come from Aloy and the people she encounters.

The story itself is very interactive because as you race through this wild terrain mounting creatures or taking them down with your arrows and booby traps, you almost always discover something intriguing that makes you truly appreciate the detail put into the game. Every decision you make is important when pertaining to the dialogue, and while it’s not as impactful as let’s say Until Dawn or Heavy Rain, the events which take place after are still pivotal in putting all the pieces together. Everything ties in very seamlessly in Horizon Zero Dawn, as you’re constantly being challenged every step of the way and must rely on your instincts to sometimes overcome gripping battles. Horizon Zero Dawn is certainly one of the better ARPGs this year and we certainly pray to see more like it down the road in 2017.

Horizon Zero Dawn Launch Trailer

Final Thoughts

With so many honorable mentions to lock down, we’ll have to dumb it down so as it not fill the entire page with a christmas list of titles. Some classics to start off with are certainly Fable III, Rogue Galaxy, Diablo III, Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind and Deus Ex. The more recent titles would certainly be Final Fantasy XV, Dark Souls III, Kingdom Hearts and Tales of Berseria to name a few. What other ARPGs have you played? Let us know in the comments down below and be sure to share your favorite articles on social media to keep the community growing!

As always for all things sweet, be sure to keep it locked here on Honey’s Anime.

Horizon-Zero-Dawn-game-Wallpaper What is ARPG? [Gaming Definition, Meaning]


Author: Rob "NualphaJPN" B.

A passionate fan of gaming, writing, journalism, anime, and philosophy. I've lived in Japan for many years and consider this place to be my permanent home. I love to travel around Japan and learn about the history and culture! Leave a comment if you enjoy my articles and watch me play on twitch.tv/honeysgaming ! Take care!

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