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RPGs that punish players for min-maxing

Min-maxing should be a fairly familiar concept to anyone who’s played their fair share of RPGs. Players tweak one trait and sacrifice others to excel in a single area. Often this is enough to throw the game and its mechanics off balance and allow players to progress through the game without any problems.

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It’s a contentious issue because it arguably breaks the game and in particular can ruin the fun of any multiplayer mode. Others will argue that games should be played how players want them to be played, so min-maxing is fine. Regardless of which side of the fence you fall on, the games listed below punished the idea in one way or another. However, this is often not intentional, but rather a result of the game systems interacting with each other.


5 Pokemon

Almost everyone on planet Earth is familiar with this iconic franchise and how it works. Instead of working with a human group, players control a Pokémon trainer who captures a variety of the titular monsters and uses them in battle. There are ways to tweak a specific Pokemon’s stats. Knowing the meta, they can have extremely powerful allies during a fight.

However, they can also shoot themselves in the foot if they only train one Pokémon at a time. They will be severely deficient if an enemy Pokemon attacks their weakness. Maybe that’s how you get through the game, but certain battles will end up being a lot tougher than they need to be. Most Pokemon Finding and leveling up these different monsters is fun, so you lose a lot just focusing on min-maxing one of your captured beasts.

4 Disco Elysium

Disco Elysium is at the same time a subversion of the RPG genre and fiercely true to its core principles. The dystopian RPG follows a detective who wakes up with no memory of who he is or how he got to the hotel where he woke up. Players are free to assign condition points to any number of abilities.

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Even though the game has almost no combat, stats like strength are still important. In fact, every statistic is important and could come in handy at the most unexpected time. Min-Maxing may certainly be a valid way to play the game, but completely ignoring certain traits is the recipe for unexpected deaths. At the same time, this leads to a uniquely exciting gameplay.

3 Dungeons and Dragons

No list of min-maxing would be complete without mentioning the game the concept came from. In fact, it’s the originator of the genre and every other RPG owes it a small debt. All the fun of D&D is to immerse yourself in a new world and make decisions as if the players were really living in the fantasy world that they created together with the purchased kit.

Min-maxing might be a good strategy for dealing big damage, but it’s also a surefire way to spoil everyone else’s fun in the party. There are also video games that customize the ruleset of different ones D&D expenses like Baldur’s gate and Knights of the Old Republic. When it comes to a single player campaign, min-maxing is not an issue of ethics. Instead, you could end up with a ruined playthrough if they mismatch their stats.

The second game in this storied Bethesda franchise introduced numerous mechanics that became hallmarks of the series, including improving abilities through repeated use. While min-maxing is not specifically penalized in this game, it is part of the game’s core mechanics. Players are allowed to assign advantages and disadvantages to their character. While perks make their character stronger, they also cause them to level up more slowly.

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On the other hand, disadvantages add a kind of weakness and bring more experience during the game. Since it’s part of the game system, it’s not exactly like other RPGs that penalize min-maxing. There are even ways to combine pros and cons in such a way that they cancel each other out, giving the character a boost when leveling without having the cons.

Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion was a game changer in more ways than one. It streamlined much of the classic Elder Scrolls Mechanics to make the game more accessible and understandable without sacrificing the depth and freedom of the series. As a launch title for the Xbox 360, it also introduced a whole new legion of players to the series and Western RPGs at large, and set the tone for future titles like Fallout 3, Mass Effect, and dragon time.

Although it was much easier to understand than previous entries, players could back themselves into a corner if they min-max in the wrong direction. Enemies constantly scale to the player’s level and grow in strength regardless of where you place their stats. Because of this, enemies can easily become too powerful if players focus on the wrong stats. It’s pretty easy to accidentally do this and potentially shorten the later hours oblivion extremely difficult.

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