I can't remember very many currency systems that made me want to play a video game. Fallout 3 gave me a welcome alternative, permitting me to purchase anything I ever wanted.
If you want an example of luxury, just take a tour of my fancy apartment with the Love Machine theme.
This humble abode comes with Christmas lights dangling on the ceiling. Sexy statuettes and mannequins. A comfy queen-sized futon on the ground floor. It still looks rather dingy, but at least it looks better than the average home in a post-apocalyptic world.
My rise to prosperity in Fallout 3 is an epic story in itself. At first, I couldn't understand the money system in the game. I was supposed to collect caps as a form of cash, but I had no idea how to collect them. I discovered that I had to sell item drops from enemies, but I had very little ammunition to work with. Every part of the game depended on bottlecaps. I had no idea how I would ever earn the caps.
Thankfully, I found a shopping mart filled with plenty of items. However, the lighting was extremely dark. I had to turn on the Pip-boy monitor on my arm, so that I could see anything clearly. Unfortunately, this lured a pack a raiders to attack me.
I had to leave the place early, but I managed to snag some decent body armor and ammunition. Unfortunately, these were .32 bullets. They didn't even fit in my semi-automatic pistol.
I had to collect guns for each ammunition type. After selling some scrap items, I earned a sufficient amount of caps to heal myself. From that point on, my character had to scrape together anything to make a decent living.
People cannot deny the importance of the cap system in Fallout 3. Even when warriors reach the maximum level of 20 (before the DLC add-on), they will still keep collecting caps. No one can repair their weapons or purchase a nice apartment without bottle caps.
Thankfully, no one will have a tough time finding the caps. People can grab the caps off of bottles of tasty Nuka-Cola. They can sell scrap weapons for caps. Even if a merchant were to run out of caps, the player can move to a merchant in another city to sell items.
Most adventures just slap together a collection of mundane fetch quests without much of a reward to drive them forward. Fallout 3 adds an entire slew of tradable weapons, armor, clothes and fancy apartments. A skilled mercenary can purchase anything as long as he or she stockpiles a big collection of caps.
The money systems in many Japanese RPGs just cannot match the advanced economic system of Fallout 3. Dragon Quest 9 came close, but it still suffered from an overloaded mish mash of items that are only obtainable through fetch quests. When warriors collect the items, they can only use them to craft mundane items that are hardly noteworthy. They are nowhere near as diverse as the gear found in Fallout 3.
Even the indie game Recettear couldn't put enough enjoyment into the cash system. There's no reason to earn money unless there are plenty of great accessories to purchase. Gamers need an incentive to earn money in an RPG. They cannot simply purchase items unless they serve some clever purpose in the game universe.
They need bromides. They need unlockable costumes. These are the items that characterize the on-screen avatars. These things help the protagonist become more than simply another spiky-haired emo warrior. These things turn avatars into sexy, classy killing machines, in the fashion of modern titles such as Fallout 3. That's all that an RPG fan really needs.
How would newer JRPGs benefit from a revamped currency system? What are some other notable bonus items in a adventure game such as Fallout 3? Write about them in the comments below.
GamesBeat 2014 — VentureBeat’s sixth annual event on disruption in the video game market — is coming up on Sept 15-16 in San Francisco. Purchase one of the first 50 tickets and save $400!