Player progression is a big deal in many video game genres. It motivates the player to keep up playing by making him proud about all the cool stuff he has already achieved.
The gameplay of RPG´s rotates around character progression. You start as a nobody and you develop your character step by step to get stronger.
One of the greatest RPG´s in video games history Gothic II by the german developer Piranha Bytes features one of the best character progression systems I´ve seen so far.
In this post i´m going to show you what makes the Gothic II progression system so excellent.
The beginning – You are just animal feed
I’m not kidding. Every little wolf is a real threat for your weak character in the beginning. Starting out with Level 1 only equipped with nothing more than a wooden stick you have no chance to kill literally anything in the world of Gothic. This feeling is really unique. In most other RPG’s you are already a strong hero even in the beginning of the game. Not in Gothic and that is creating a really great and unique athmosphere of danger.
After killing your first wolf you can compare the reward the game offers you with beating the endboss in other games.
In the first third of the game it’s your goal to convince one of the three faction that you are a suitable candidate to join them. Sounds easy? It isn’t! The factions don’t give anything for free. You feel like a powerless worm. For example: You want to enter the Mercenaries Base (To get there is already really hard, overpowered monsters lurk everywhere) a guy called Sentenza is waiting for you. He’s a jerk. Basically he wants your hard-earned gold. If you disagree with him, he will just kick you into the dust and take it anyway. You could try to beat him but prepare yourself loading dozens of times.
The Mid-Game – Your powers rise
After hundreds of deaths and avoiding as many monsters you finally managed to join the faction of your choice. Got your armor and invested some points in your skills.
Now you feel a lot stronger. Even your sword swings feel and look a lot more skilled (The game has different animations based on your characters skill levels). And you can go back and beat the shit out of every wolf or bug which previously humiliated you. That is REAL character progression and it feels great! By the way you can even go back to Sentenza for a little revenge ;). The game offers cool and funny dialogue options in cases like that.
The End-Game – Save the world
The end-game is all about saving the world from the orc an dragon invasion. In this part of the game you grow to become the hero which in most RPG’s you already are when starting. You are powerfull wolves and bugs are no threat. You can fight multiple orcs and even stand up to the fiery breath of the dangerous dragons.
After beating the game you really feel like you have achieved something big and that’s something i really miss in most modern RPG’s.
By the way if this post has awakened your interest you can check out Piranha Bytes new game Elex which is out for just a couple of days and still has a very similar game design to the good old Gothic II.