Joystiq - How RPGs colonised some of 2012s best games
In Joystiq's weekly RPG column, Rowan Kaiser writes how RPG elements have enhanced some of the year's best games, such as XCOM, The Walking Dead and FTL:
XCOM tweaks the initial game's form in ways that align with traditional role-playing games. The squad size is limited to 4-6 characters, traditional RPG numbers, and only having one base means you rarely need large numbers of squaddies – I never had more than 15 at once, and even that was high due to playing on "Classic" difficulty. It also slightly decreases the importance of the strategic decision-making level, putting the focus on the characters in the field.
It's the level of RPG-like character customization that makes XCOM different, and in many ways stronger, than its predecessor. Spending time customizing character face, voice, and hair is a hallmark of an RPG (although those options are too limited for my tastes). On the other hand, the ability to customize armor color and design gave instant differentiation and personality to the soldiers. But the RPG-style customization isn't simply cosmetic. XCOM assigns the soldiers into classes. As they complete missions, they gain promotions, which act as levels, and with those, they're given new skills, most of which are choices. A third-level Sniper gets to choose between the "Squadshot" skill and the "Snapshot" skill, letting you customize a character for accuracy or mobility. I'd still hesitate to call XCOM an RPG but I wouldn't hesitate at all to say that it's a better game for its similarities to RPGs.