RPG or role-play gaming is one of the most popular and evolved genre of gaming. It includes abstraction of the various abilities into statistics and complex display of different numeric data (like skills, bonuses, character level, HP etc.). RP has multiple other sub-genres like WRPG, JRPG, CRPG, SRPG and so on. The nature of games that fall in these sub-genres vary quite a lot in terms of structure, combat style, cast, animations and more. There has been a lot of discussions I’ve seen on the web about JRPG vs WRPG and how do they actually differ and today I finally decided to write this guide to clear out the confusions.
Before we head on to understanding the actual differences between JRPGs and WRPGs, one thing which I would like to clear is that the names of EVERY sub-genre only and only define the characteristics of a particular game and not the country it was created in.
It’s also evident that some WRPG fans hate the JRPG which is weird because FPS fans don’t usually hate the other 3rd person shooting games. I will walk you down with the differences, why they both stand out and are great and their pros and cons as well.
What is JRPG?
Back in the 1980s, the moniker JPRG was coined to define the characteristics of the RPGs that were developed in Japan, to differentiate them from the RPGs that were (mainly) developed in the US. The full form of JRPG is Japanese Role Playing Game. The games that belong to this category are highly influenced by the Japanese RPGs and focuses heavily on a story-driven plot with various distinctive characters.
It involves using hunting the treasure, battling random enemies, discovering new quests, overcome powerful enemies by levelling up, and a somewhat linear progression to the story and the game play.
- More Colorful
- More Epic Feel to the main story
- Character Development
- Many different types (turn based, strategy, action)
- Stereotypical Characters
- Some games can be very niche
- Sometimes makes player go through long grind fest to get to next part of the story
What is WRPG?
WRPGs or the Western Role Playing Games, are more popularised in the West and are focused mainly on the player and skills and not the story or numbers. They allow us to move more freely and explore the dynamic environment and lets us do anything, rather than a linear based story progression. In here, the developers of the game want you to decide how the character advances and builds the story.
- Open world environment
- Increase Levels based on different aspects
- Epic Side Quests
- Less to no Grinding (if you dont like that kind of thing)
- Less to no Character Development
- Less of an overall Epic feel to the main story
- Tend to have many more glitches in them than JRPGs
JRPG vs WRPG: The Differences
There a lot of differences between the two which sets them apart. Both are different genres with very distinctive gameplay styles. They differ from each other as much as a FPS and a third person shooter game. Though both belong to the shooting type but the different elements sets the experience apart.
They both have their own unique features which makes them great. I will be discussing each and every difference which I have came across while playing JRPG & WRPG games for over 2 years, so let’s get started.
- Focus: is on good story–telling involving a main character with a pre-set history and a default name
- Single Combat Zone: It has turn based battles, for instance when you encounter monsters, the enemies will be put on one side and heroes on the other
- The JRPG style was most popularized in Japan, with series like Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, and Megami Tensei
- Game play and the characters have an Anime kind of look
- A JRPG can be developed in the West and be a JRPG (eg. Child of Light and South Park: The Stick of Truth)
CoL and SP, both have turn-based gameplay, they both have plot-lines at their forefront of gameplay, and they both have protagonists who are their own individual character and not an avatar for the player.
- Focus: is primarily on the player, exploration, elements of choice, being open ended, building his avatar by choosing the name, being able to design or customise the character and decide the personality
- Dynamic Combat Zone: It involves action-based battles where the enemies can be found anywhere and you can move in multiple directions to fight with them, There is no hard and fast rule to follow a story progression
- The WRPG is popularized in the west with things like Elder Scrolls, Fallout, the Witcher, and Bioware’s games
- Game play and characters tend to have a more realistic look and feel
- A WRPG can be developed by a Japanese studio and be a WRPG (eg. Dark Souls and Dragon’s Dogma)
Both Dark Souls and Dragon’s Dogma have open world gameplay, with a heavy bias towards action over numbers, they both have playable characters functioning as an avatar, and they both focus on the player exploring the world as their core gameplay element, with the plotline itself taking a backseat.
Nevertheless, the primary distinction is the focus of the game.
Why is it Important?
It’s important to know the above differences, why? Let’s try something. I dare you to ask somebody who loves JRPGs to try playing Dragon’s Dogma (he/she will be disappointed). You will actually confuse the other person by telling him that a game is a genre, when it’s not. When you tell someone that a specific game is JRPG, you mean that the gameplay is like Final Fantasy and if the experience is like Skyrim, they won’t be happy being your friend, to be honest.