While PC RPGs come in a variety of sub genres and styles, there are a few core elements that most titles share. While a particular RPG may not offer all of the following elements, I’m sure you’ll see that each shares at least one or more. Keep in mind that there are a few exceptions to these precedents and that the act of classifying a game’s genre ultimately lies in the decisions of the developers and players of the game.
Possibly the most recognized of these core elements is the process of gaining experience and leveling up. Nearly all RPG PC Games released in the past incorporate this idea to one degree or another. As players progress through a title and battle enemies along the way, it is common practice to reward a player’s character (or team of characters) with experience points for the victory, commonly abbreviated “XP”. As a character reaches set XP milestones, he or she will gain a level. Oftentimes a character will learn additional abilities as various levels are met.
Another pretty common element is turn-based combat. Although this element was much more popular in PC and Console RPGs of the past, it’s still widely used, especially among series where the original titles offered this type of gameplay. As the name implies, enemy battles are usually carried out much like a chess match where an opponent can make an attack or use an item only after his or her enemy has done so. Battles continue this way until an opponent has lost all HP (health points) and a victor is decided.
The final PC RPG element I’d like to discuss is switchable weapons and armor. While this is probably the least utilized of the three elements, it’s still a very recognizable ingredient within the genre. When playing a game that offers this style of gameplay, players are given the option to collect multiple sets of weapons and defensive armor throughout the game. Most often a character can wield only a single weapon or wear a single set of armor at a given time, but the ability to switch out these items at any time adds a more personalized experience to titles within the genre.