Major game genres explained

Published: 21:18, 20 February 2017
Updated: 09:40, 13 June 2017
The Elder Scrolls Online - a wonderful online experience

With more and more new genres appearing at a very fast rate - we break down some of the most common ones

Acronyms like RPG, FPS, MOBA, MMO are used more and more often by gamers all around the globe. Seldom will you hear someone utter the entire name of a certain game genre, but does every gamer really know what all these words mean? It is exactly for this reason that we decided to make a guide on some of the major gaming genres, in hopes of clearing any doubts as to what they mean. We will also provide some classic examples to get you started with a certain genre, because we're nice like that.


FPS - First Person Shooter

FPS are characterised by real-time fast-paced action which you see through the eyes of the character, hence ‘first person’. And, you tend to do a lot of shooting in them, so yeah: FPS. There’s debate over which was the first, but the one that really set the ball rolling was without doubt Doom, which also introduced multiplayer matches and overnight reset the bar. In fact, this format has become so popular that some developers don't really bother too much with single-player modes, putting the bulk of their energy into multiplayer modes.

Examples of first-person-shooters include Battlefield, Call of Duty, Destiny, Far Cry, Halo, Doom and so on. Any one of those will give you a great idea of what FPS is about.

EA Dice Battlefield 1 - a hardcore FPS Battlefield 1 - a hardcore FPS


RPG - Role-Playing Game

These are typically adventure games that usually incorporate three key elements: 

1) a specific main story and quest, and a bunch of smaller side stories and quests which       expand the game's lore; 

2) character evolution or levelling, which sees you as the main character gain experience       and unlocks a ton of new skills by completing quests and slaying foes and so on;

3) inventory management and crafting, essential to making progress in the game's world.     These items include weapons, armor, healing items, magic etc. 

A perfect example of a recent RPG to get your feet wet is the Witcher franchise - especially the Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, which was named the best RPG game of 2016. It’s bang up to date and available on all platforms, and there’s lots of deals out there for it.

CD Projekt RED The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt - best RPG of 2016 The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt - best RPG of 2016


MMO - Massively Multiplayer Online 

Even though most modern games can go online - MMO offers a significantly broader experience as the MMO game world can be populated by thousands and even millions of players in a real-time space. Like RPGs, you can view the world firstperson, or third person, or from directly above - it’s not the key identifier. MMOs are often mixed RPG elements, creating the hybrid known as MMORPG, or Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game. 

ZeniMax The Elder Scrolls Online - a wonderful online experience The Elder Scrolls Online - a wonderful online experience

Here's where things can get a bit tricky though, as there are some key differences between MMORPGs and MMOs. The first thing we should note is that all MMORPGs are MMOs, but not all MMOs are MMORPGs. Here's what we mean: an example of an MMO is Audition, a fun game where your goal is to be the best dancer. In it, you compete against other players in dance-offs, earning you points to level up and gain ranks. So far, so MMO. The reason why Audition can’t be considered an MMORPG is because it does not take place in a fictional setting. You are represented by an avatar, but it's all meant to look like a real life place. 

An example of an MMORPG would be the daddy of them all, World of Warcraft. In WoW, you create an otherworldly character and fight mythical monsters as you level up alongside or against friends or strangers, all in the imaginary world of Azeroth. It’s this combination of fictional character and fictional world that makes it the perfect example of an MMORPG.

So basically if you're not sure whether a game is an MMO or an MMORPG - just ask yourself: does the game in question take place in a real life setting or is it set in a fantasy land? If it's the latter, then it's most likely an MMORPG.

ZeniMax MMORPG is very similar to MMO, with a few differences MMORPG is very similar to MMO, with a few differences


MOBA - Multiplayer Online Battle Arena 

In a MOBA you control a single character in one of two teams. Usually the goal is to destroy the opposing team's main structure, with the assistance of computer-controlled minions that march forward along set paths. Player characters have a wide range of abilities and advantages at their disposal, all of which can be crucial for winning the game — MOBA games are all about perfect timing and strategy, so choosing a character with the right abilities is of utmost importance. You control only a single character — the hero or champion — who plays the pivotal role. As the game rages on, you level your hero up with skills and abilities and new different items in order to destroy the enemy team's fortress, all the while aided by the faithful minions.

The prime examples of MOBA are Dota 2 and League of Legends, but if they prove a little intimidating, Smite is arguably more accessible — they’re all great.

Riot Games League of Legends - one of the most popular MOBA titles League of Legends - one of the most popular MOBA titles


RTS - Real-Time Strategy 

These are similar to MOBA, as they follow a similar path but they have some key differences too. The object in an RTS is usually also to conquer an enemy by strategic manoeuvring and warfare, but on a much much larger scale - the maps can be huge. RTS are all about building armies, maintaining an economy and creating perfect defences to protect your dominion and against enemy troops. In RTS games, single characters don’t play an important role and you have to think much more in terms of whole armies, nations, and empires. 

The most notable examples of an RTS are Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos and Age of Empires, but a nice one to dip your toe in the water is Rise of Nations.

Blizzard Get a taste of RTS with Starcraft 2 Get a taste of RTS with Starcraft 2



More and more, you’ll get different elements of each rolled into one, as studios try and combine audiences and game styles. Destiny is a good example of this, as a sort of FPS-RPG, and also Borderlands with its FPS action and RPG loot system. 

Another unusual example is Rocket League - which follows the basic rules of football but replaces human players with racing cars. It’s a simple yet amazing concept which as a prime example that hybrid games can be pretty awesome if executed correctly.

Psyonix Rocket League - a prime example of a "hybrid" game Rocket League - a prime example of a

To see all these different genres and their respective games in action - make sure to check out embedded in the article.

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