One of the things I love the most about RPGs is the sense of being transported to a different world when you start a new game. You could end up in a post-apocalyptic land fighting huge machines; or you might find yourself taken back to the past, battling fearsome dragons.
Despite each entry in the genre feeling unique, they each contain several elements we’re immediately familiar with and that make us feel at home. There’ll be a central character who has a want, a need and a weakness, along with an inciting incident that sends them on an epic mission. Then we’ll have a villain of some kind who sees the protagonist as a threat to their progress and is hell-bent on their destruction. And throughout the journey there’ll be a series of smaller quests, usually designed to help the non-player characters (NPCs) we meet along the way – as well as earn us some sweet, shiny loot.
Although the protagonist may decide to make use of a huge sword, powerful spells or some other kind of weaponry, they’ll have access to a few standard moves we’re also familiar with. The first is the jump, one that’s easy to take for granted because of how simple is it but without which we couldn’t reach higher platforms or traverse gaps. Next there’s the dodge, a move which causes the character to throw their body weight in a direction to roll away from danger during the heat of battle. And finally we have the block, a defensive stance which reduces the damage taken when there’s no time to get out of the way.
Well, that’s the intention behind each move’s design but I’ve noticed they’re often used in other impractical ways. Let’s start with the jump – or as it’s more affectionately known in the Later Levels household, the ‘Bunny Hop’. At first I thought it was just my other-half and stepson who’d make their character bounce everywhere rather than walk or run. But I realised it’s far more common after getting back into The Elder Scrolls Online (ESO) recently: stand back for a while and watch the landscape or water. You’ll soon see a number of warriors happily bouncing on their way to their next quest.
Now let’s progress to the dodge – affectionately known as the ‘Forward Roll’. This may sound strange because the move doesn’t necessarily have to propel you in forward direction but that’s normally the case when it’s put to a different use. Those who get bored of the Bunny Hop can always use this alternative move to get around and you may notice fellow warriors joyfully rolling towards the next point in their mission. The funniest thing about this is that it doesn’t usually seem to get them to their destination any quicker than running, although many of my friends insist it does; and as soon as they enter into battle the dodge is completely forgotten.
Another move that’s dropped as soon as a fight starts is the block – affectionately known as the ‘Adam Ant’. I’d recommend watching the video for Prince Charming to understand what I’m talking about if you’re too young to know who that is. Although gamers who love the strategy side of combat in video games effectively use the block, the rest of us tend to forget about it and resort to button-mashing. Until you want to pretend you’re at an 80s disco, that is: stand in the middle of a large town in ESO and you’ll occasionally see someone who’s trying to encourage everyone to join in with a dance-off.
No matter what developers decide to include within their projects or how they implement the mechanics, gamers will find alternative uses for them. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing though because it opens up the potential for those situations we end up recalling for years afterwards. Remember when you stole all the merchant’s belongings after placing a bucket on his head in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim? Or when you realised you could get Dogmeat to fetch all manner of items in Fallout 4? Good times.
Do you make use of the Bunny Hop, Forward Roll or Adam Ant yourself? Or is there another mechanic you like to put your own spin on? Let us know in the comments below so we can all start trying out those sweet moves.
Video game lover, Later Levels blogger and SpecialEffect volunteer. Big fan of wannabe pirates and fine leather jackets.