But do we want to? Replayability in SP games seems to be disappearing, for one reason or another.

Of course, some genres, particularly war/strat, are designed to be played more than once. However, when we get to RPGs, I wonder if developers even have replayability in mind when it comes to solo gaming.

The upcoming Hellgate: London is an example. It certainly has a single-player campaign. But the real emphasis is online play, which has been brought out in the many interviews/previews/whatnot around the ‘net.

We see this also in Halo 3. The SP part, going by reviews, etc., is humdrum; the real experience is online.

Then there’s Neverwinter 2 (the movie). It’s stuffed so full of FMVs/cutscenes that I found it impossible to play through a second time, and that’s not even considering the notorious “trial” sequence.

Naturally, all this brings up the question: what makes a game worth playing a second, third, etc. time?

One factor that we talked about earlier, in It’s My Party, was having your own group with characters created from scratch. There the ability to mix and match, try odd combinations, smaller party size, and so on, tended to keep the game fresh longer.

Of course, something similar can be done in solo (no party) games, which these days tend to be “action/RPGs”. Yet while you can try out different classes and tactics, most of the time it isn’t quite as good somehow.

Perhaps the games with the most replay value are the epics like Oblivion, which have so many sidequests that only the most thorough players will do them all first time through.

Still, there’s something irritating about a game being more fun “offroad” than in the main line, especially when those “side jobs” start becoming repetitious.

So we come down to a factor that’s been mentioned before: player interaction that has an effect, preferably material, on the game. Fallout had that to an extent, although it related mainly to the epilogue at the end. Even so, the skill system allowed for playing through in various ways, each providing a different experience.

I think this is the key aspect to replayability: that the game isn’t quite the same each time. That a second (or third) playing has distinctive adventures enough to keep you interested.

What do you think? What makes a game worth doing more than once?