Last of Us 2 had story across 3 games and a relatable story that got stale.. yet people play JRPGs

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deactivated-611d8183a00c9

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Before you say something about elbows being like opinions save it for when giantbomb gets an upvote system. How do people play 100 hours long JRPGS? Im no writer but there's only so many stories to be told. Last of Us 2 told one of them. It's truly a story that most people can relate to. As i listen to hot takes on podcasts some podcasters missed the boat on some pretty obvious story threads and themes like transgender characters or timelines of events, yet their area of "expertise" is JRPGs that traditionally are 2 or 3 times as long as the entire Last of Us series. If they can't understand the truly basic themes in the Last of Us 2 what is it about JRPGs that get story telling so "right" that a story thats 2 and 3 times as long in a series like Dragon Quest, Final Fantasy, etc (literary scholars will say there's only so many stories to tell and i endorse that) can keep them so engaged from title to title? Are the stories more simplistic? If they can't follow the story arc of a pretty basic revenge quest how in the hell are they following anything in Persona 5? (Finding excuses for distracted gaming is a novel idea but i dont post these for captain obvious answers). Was Last of Us 2 just told poorly? If the majority of the gaming public found the Last of Us 2 drawn out what is it in an JRPG that keeps people engaged. I can understand the Fallouts of the world because of crafting and a relatable real life story but JRPGs are typical fantasy stuff. I can understand someone buying Madden every year. But someone that has played all of the Dragon Quests up to 11 and then replays them or buys the special edition now with more acronyms. Please explain!

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quasiconundrum

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As soon as I saw this, somehow I knew it was you, @fourthline.

Short answer? Story isn't everything. People play games for all sorts of reasons, and story is just one of them. Speaking personally, I love a good story, but I have to really enjoy a game's mechanics to stick with it long-term.

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navster15

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@fourthline: Not for nothing, I find it incredibly hard to relate to Naughty Dog stories as a person of color when they tend to kill off non-white characters for the white protagonists’ emotional growth. I certainly don’t think The Last of Us has a universally relatable story, although I’m not knocking people who do like it.

As for JRPGs, there’s plenty to get into I’m addition to the story. Stuff like battle systems, world building, and memorable characters. It’s not like story is all that genre brings to the table.

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Efesell

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I'm just gonna get out ahead of the rest of that mess and reject your basic premise that a lot of people 'couldn't follow' the story in Last of Us.

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MezZa

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#6  Edited By MezZa

Kind of hard to buy into the premise that Persona 5 is an example of jrpgs being typical fantasy stuff. It's no tolkein wizards orcs and dragons. It's more unique than a "the humans were the worst all along" zombie setting. It's a long game, but it has a lot of varied content and it paces that content fairly well by breaking the action and the social stuff apart and alternating between the two frequently so that you're never doing one thing for too long.

And who's to say that those people that think last of us could have been shorter don't get bored playing 100 hour long jrpgs? Look at the people on the crew who stuck with persona 5. They're certainly not die hard 100 hour persona 5 fans sitting back saying oh yeah 30 is too long. Some people think last of us is too long. Some people don't. Some people find persona to be too long. Some people don't. Making an argument that assumes there is a contradiction there for doesn't really hold up because it has to assume that those people that love persona are the same people complaining now and that the games don't offer incredibly different experiences. I'm cool with spending a long time reading dialogue, interacting with different NPCs, and delving into dungeons with jrpg combat. I'm less cool with spending a long time doing survival horror shooter stuff to see a story about revenge. Everybody's different though.

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GrayFox666

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“I can understand the Fallouts of the world because of crafting and a relatable real life story but JRPGs are typical fantasy stuff.”

What???

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nateandrews

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The only contribution I can think to make to this is to point out that Giant Bomb did in fact have an upvote/downvote system for the first couple years.

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BisonHero

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#9  Edited By BisonHero

Sure, TLoU 2 has high quality production values and performance capture and voice acting for a story-driven video game, but that attention to detail doesn’t necessarily translate to the script? Like you can give it all the technical merits in the world, but for the personal taste of some it has pacing issues or really meanders around its obvious point about revenge.

Also, it’s not 1997 anymore, and how many reviewers even care to mention JRPGs? Also, different genres have different expectations of length, and people who sign up for a JRPG know it’s usually a long grind fest, and a JRPG’s story certainly isn’t 100 hours long. Conversely, big budget narrative-driven action games usually have a shorter run time since they aren’t padding it out with dozens of hours of grinding for XP, so there’s an expectation of a more concise experience.

So like, I don’t really understand where your take is coming from on this one. Who are these mysterious podcasters you’re calling out that dislike or “didn’t get” TLoU2’s story but praise JRPG stories in the same breath? It’s just a weird comparison to make because thus far, I haven’t heard anything close to that happening.

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Ryuku_Ryosake

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Hey I'm that guy that played all the Dragon Quests until DQXI.

I've written like ludicrous amounts of words about the virtues of most Dragon Quest games in these two lists here and here.

If you want the short response. How well a story is received usually comes down to execution more than how novel it is. From what I have hear of Last of Us 2 it sounds like they greatly messed up on execution which made people feel like it was too long.

In Dragon Quest's case the way they execute story's is quite different from even most games in jrpgs. I'll actually let the creator of Dragon Quest Yuji Horii speak for himself. Here is a quote from this Gamasurta interview with him.

I've played several of the games in the series. One thing that keeps coming up is that the games really show their personality through the characters and the details in the world. When you speak to a character in the town, the character is very empathetic, and it seems to be really important to the series; it forms the core of the appeal.

YH: Yes, I agree with you. What I'm always keeping in my mind while developing the game is that it's not just about the main character's dialogue. Everybody in the village has their own storyline, and they're involved in the story, and by talking to them you can actually develop the story and other parts of the story in the world -- and the series.

As it is stated there Dragon Quest tries to make sure every piece of dialogue from every npc is there to build and deepen the story telling of Dragon Quest. In a 120 hours game like DQXI you spend a large chunk of that finding npcs and talking to them. Engaging the player in the story telling. You found this piece of dialogue by finding this guy hanging out at the bottom of a well. That adds another piece of information to the webs of thousands of other pieces of dialogue that build out this world. In DQXI I found I often had a great picture of town, villages, dungeons, and characters hours and continents away from seeing them.

This is a very different type and way to engage in story telling than the character banter and high quality capture performance methods of Naughty Dog. That is not to say that all jrpgs are exactly like DQ but they all do share some of it's DNA. That's where the notion of JRPG being about storytelling lies. Especially considering it was like the only genre to even attempt storytelling at all on consoles until about the PS2 era. It as a genre and the creators in it just have more experience at executing storytelling. It's also why WRPGs are considered in the same or higer depending on the person tier of games with better storytelling because they have done the same.

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tds418

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I mean TV shows like Lost and Breaking Bad have a continuing story that spans dozens and dozens of hours...so long stories are not exactly unprecedented. And those stories don't have gameplay segments to pad out the time.

So yeah, I can't agree with your premise. Writers can tell long stories that span dozens if not hundreds of hours.

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deactivated-611d8183a00c9

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@mezza: I'll just say his name. Jason Schrier

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Efesell

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Zeik

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Not every game is made the same, and not every story is told the same. Depending on how it's structured and told a 20 hour game can feel too long while a 100 hour game can leave you wanting more. It's also very very subjective. If you dislike the story being told then the whole thing is going to feel like a drag, no matter how long or short it is. If you enjoy it then it's much easier to stick with it, even through some lulls.

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chaser324

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#15 chaser324  Moderator

If they can't follow the story arc of a pretty basic revenge quest how in the hell are they following anything in Persona 5? (Finding excuses for distracted gaming is a novel idea but i dont post these for captain obvious answers). Was Last of Us 2 just told poorly?

I don't think I've heard anyone say that they were confused by the plot of Last of Us 2, but there is plenty of room to critique the way that story was delivered.

The comparison to JRPGs also is a bit of an apples and oranges comparison. Most JRPGs aren't trying to be the gaming equivalent of a summer blockbuster the way that most AAA games seem to. If anything, I would say most JRPGs are structured more like a TV show with many shorter story arcs in the context of a bigger overarching narrative, often taking time to develop the world and its characters through small interconnected personal stories.

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hatking

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People isolate the components of games far too much. It's fine to appreciate the specific work of disciplines within a media, having a favorite guitarist or director of photography is great. But final pieces operate as a whole sum to convey something. People look at games like an art gallery instead of a singular piece of art, picking favorite pieces from them and critiquing them as though they stand alone. In good games the component pieces work together to convey the director's intent. The best mechanics work in service of the narrative as much as the writing, music, or art do. So it's frustrating to me how this stuff gets all separated and every conversation about games turns into "the writing is good/bad but the gameplay is boring/fun." A more interesting conversation is in what ways these things serve each other. I'd argue the success of these things working together often is what makes a game feel long or short, regardless of the literal hours it takes to finish.

Anyway, long games work because they're long form media. The same way a TV show can have five seasons of ten one-hour-long episodes and be great and a movie can be two hours long and be exhausting. It's how something is told. Personally, I appreciate that Last of Us 2 was more long form than the first game. The thing I kept telling people after I finished it was that the first game felt like a movie and the second game felt like a long book. Nothing wrong with either of those things, but folks have their expectations and value different things. People can dislike how long Last of Us 2 is and their favorite game can be Persona 5, and they're still not a hypocrite. These values aren't necessarily equivalent.

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imhungry

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Man I don't even fully understand the thread title this time.

There's like, multiple bad premises that this 'argument' is apparently based on, from the idea that people who didn't like TLOU2 didn't understand it to the idea that you can't tell relatable stories in fantasy worlds. What a wild idea that you think a zombie post apocalypse is somehow more relatable than anything 'fantasy'.

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nophilip

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#18  Edited By nophilip

I think a lot of this boils down to the fact that different people enjoy different types of storytelling and setting. My dad has a friend who 100% refuses to engage with any fantasy or sci-fi themed media because he can't find anything relatable in them. For me, I tend to enjoy the type of storytelling in fantasy more than any other genre. For example, I find the story and characters in something like Brandon Sanderson's Stormlight Archive series to be 100x more compelling and relatable than most stories that are more "realistic" or are set in our modern world.

Some people enjoy long form storytelling, and some people prefer shorter form stuff. I adore long form storytelling, and am way more likely to get wrapped up in a long serialized TV show or 10 book fantasy series than I am your typical 2 hour movie. I have a hard time engaging with many movies and shorter form fiction (short stories/novellas), because I often feel like there's just not enough to sink my teeth into. This year I'm working on a complete reread of the entire Malazan Book of the Fallen universe, which is something like 26 works of fiction. My wife and I are wrapping up watching Babylon 5 this week, which is a heavily serialized sci-fi TV show. It's just the type of storytelling I prefer and find way more enjoyment in.

So relating this back to games- I'm the person who felt that TLOU2's story was told and paced extremely well for most of its length. (I have significant problems with the final act of the game, but the first 85% of the game is great). I enjoy the sprawling web of fiction in the first 3 Mass Effect games. I enjoy the lengthy worldbuilding and slow narrative build of many JRPGs (Xenoblade Chronicles, Persona 4, many Final Fantasies, etc). I adored the strange, recontextualization-focused storytelling Yoko Taro presented in Nier and Nier: Automata.

This isn't to say that I don't enjoy the story in any shorter form games (I quite liked stuff like To The Moon or Firewatch, for example). I'm just a lot more likely to find longer-form, worldbuilding focused stories in games compelling. But not everyone's like that. And that's OK!

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BisonHero

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@imhungry said:

Man I don't even fully understand the thread title this time.

There's like, multiple bad premises that this 'argument' is apparently based on, from the idea that people who didn't like TLOU2 didn't understand it to the idea that you can't tell relatable stories in fantasy worlds. What a wild idea that you think a zombie post apocalypse is somehow more relatable than anything 'fantasy'.

I think many people in this thread (myself included) are trying to be charitable in explaining criticism of TLoU2, and what that does or doesn't have do with JRPGs.

But to your point, the idea that OP thought any of their premises are self-evident is troubling. Also it's just bad form to make a whole thread that is a giant subtweet against Jason Schreier where you don't actually give his name until prompted several posts in. Like if you really want to go after Schreier, write a fucking blog where the title indicates you are doing so. And then actually find some quotes from the guy, and go over why you specifically disagree with his position or why you think he fundamentally misunderstands something about TLoU2.

Instead, OP's entire first post amounts to: "Hey forum users, you've all read exactly the same Schreier articles written about TLoU2 and JRPGs as I have, right? So given that: what a jerk that guy is, doesn't know what he's talking about. Despite me not offering any persuasive arguments whatsoever, you all agree, right?"

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ghost_cat

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Are you trying to vent your opinions on someone's take of a video game's writing and story structure, or are you trying to share your opinion on stories in JRPGs in a form of a confusing question?

Also, do you know the term "apples to oranges?"

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mellotronrules

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i'm here to simply say JRPGs vs. TLoU2 is truly the 'bat vs. knife' of 2020.

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Onemanarmyy

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#22  Edited By Onemanarmyy

You'd think in a world where endless games, seasonpasses, DLC, MMO's and open world games with a ton of side missions are more and more prevalent, people would be less baffled by JRPG's. But nope, i guess not.

The idea that Fallout is real life stuff while something like Persona is silly fantasy is also weird to me. Going outside without a gasmask or being alright because of the magic anti radiation medicine sounds like some fantasy bullshit to me honestly.

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nnickers

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I'm not trying to bully anyone and I've always valued the frank discussions here but this dude's consistently aggressive/confrontational posts are getting uncomfortable.

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Quantris

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"relatable" doesn't strike me as anything I'm looking for from a JRPG story.

I've never punted a tank in real life.

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Giant_Gamer

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@nnickers: Yeah and i don't get the comparison either and why is he only focusing his criticism on JRPG's. RPG games as a whole can last for many many hours.

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Teddie

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How can people think Return of the King is too long, but then turn around and enjoy binging a TV show with twice the runtime? Disgusting.

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sombre

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The story can be the best thing ever written, but it doesn't excuse the fact that the act of PLAYING the TLOU games is just boring.

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plan6

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I do love these threads where Frontline picks the arguments on either side and requests everyone jump into the pit and pick a side. But rather than doing that, most folks just comment on how silly the arguments are.

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bwheeeler

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fourthline you are the man

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Arcitee

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#30  Edited By Arcitee

JRPGs (when done well) get a good balance of character stat/equipment building, world exploration, plot development and they have an interesting cast of characters moving that plot a long. There is a steady enough dopamine feed, you are constantly finding something new, learning something new about the characters and plot or making some character stat gain. They also tend to have wild and interesting character designs as opposed to everyone wearing dirty silver armor and brown boots.

The end result is that somehow 120 hours of Dragon Quest XI or Persona does not feel as long or exhausting as 20 hours of an action-horror game.

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Rejizzle

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Ok, well modern RPGs typically have a more episodic plot structure than linear games like The Last of Us 2. You mention Fallout, and typically the main through line of those games is not the story elements that are fondly remembered. For instance, one of my favourite plot bits in the first Fallout is Junktown. You just walk into town and get embroiled into a mob war between the mayor and local casino operator. It's entirely superfluous to the main plot, but is a very fun scenario.

Something like Dragon Quest or Persona works the same way. There is an overarching plot and main antagonist, but many peoples favourite sections don't advance the main plot but instead introduce new characters and more personal drama. Basically, if I had to put into words my feelings on Last of Us vs JRPGS, its that The Last of Us 2 feels like a 20 hour movie, while Persona 5 feels like an 80 hour tv season.

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Efesell

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Also Persona and Dragon Quest creates a skewed expectation for time. Most JRPGs are significantly shorter.

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ShaggE

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Wait, I thought you couldn't relate to Last of Us 2 because the zombies don't have COVID or somesuch?

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Arcitee

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@rejizzle: Interesting comparison with TV, the nature of episodic TV is people will watch 5 episodes in a row because it feels more digestible and they can easily take a 2-10 min break between each one, whereas a 3 hour movie often feels like you need to set aside half the day uninterrupted to consume it.

RPGs you can spend all day doing sidequests and it doesn't feel mentally exhausting the way several hours of a survival horror type game would feel.

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Onemanarmyy

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#35  Edited By Onemanarmyy
No Caption Provided

@shagge: Everything changed after this. An acknowledgment that the devs are aware of what's going on right now. That we're suddenly all thinking about virus spreads and washing hands and wearing mouth masks. Naughty Dog was aware of all that all along! When humanity looks back at this piece of work to learn about this moment in time, they can see that this work was affected by the time and place it was conceived in.

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noboners

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I think it boils down to what I want from my gaming experience. I beat LoU2 for the story but I think Naughty dog games control poorly. I hate aiming guns in those games. Also, the violence is in your face the entire game.

I think of JRPGs as comfort food where you pretty much know what you're gonna get. But as someone with anxiety, I need that monotonous activity to help calm me. I can also play it with little energy, so if I'm having an exceptionally tough day I can just turn on the auto battle function is DQ11 and just stroll around listening to tunes. As for following the story, most modern JRPGs repeat story beats CONSTANTLY. They will forever remind you what's going on between major story beats.