Rob Zacny

Episode 436: To Infinity Engine and Beyond

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Three Moves Ahead 436:

Three Moves Ahead 436


To Infinity Engine and Beyond
Games like Baldur's Gate cast a long shadow but, like a racist grandparent, come along with too many caveats of being a product of their time. There have been many attempts to capture the magic of early CRPGS while adding modern accoutrements, and the financial success of games like Pillars of Eternity and Dragon Age: Origins are clear indicators that the public is looking for such a product. But have any of these attempts actually nailed the CRPG formula? Is a modern CRPG truly worth pursuing, and were the originals as good as we remember? Join our host T.J. Hafer, Rowan Kaiser, and Cameron Kunzelman as they travel from the Gold Box to the most recent iteration of Pillars of Eternity in search of the perfect CRPG.

Gold Box games, Baldur's Gate, Pillars of Eternity, Final Fantasy Tactics, Tactics Ogre, Suikoden, Dragon Age, Planescape Torment, Icewind Dale... you know, all those games.

 

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I'm hoping for more episodes like this. Sure, these games might not be certified strategy games but all the discussion was totally strategy related.

 

The problem of solving RPG combat is still ongoing and I think just making the game turn-based in some fashion would help many of these games including PoE, which I have bounced off of more times than Europa Universalis. I don't agree with Rowan in that the way the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy tried to mesh real-time action with menu-based control is a failure, but rather an idea that should have been tempered out but never got the chance to.

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Interesting discussion!

 

You're quite spot on with Pillars of Eternity 1 handling complexity in a strange way. Devs had a clear vision for a game and it looks like the case where publisher control would benefit the game. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for hardcore combat and all that, but PoE1 would benefit from someone coming along and saying "can you make it more like that game my daughter plays, Dragon Age Inquisition?" Devs wanted to make Baldur's Gate but bigger and more complex instead, and why would you enable party AI if you're hardcore microcontrolling player? I myself never used AI in Dragon Age telling everyone what to do all the time. Because it's not just warriors getting number of abilities on par with D&D wizards. PoE priests and druids and other classes have a lot of possible casts starting with level 1. When you're level 3 (still early in the game) you can cast 19 spells, plus you'll have per-combat healing ability, plus you may have abilities from perks, plus story progression gives you new active abilities, plus there are a lot of items that give you active abilties, plus there are a lot more consumables. It's not as complex if you start as a fighter or a rogue but you'll have to use something every battle.

 

The other thing was that initial release was all about optimization with no hard counters. You know how in Final Fantasy games you see a fire monster and strike it fire but it does nothing. So you use ice against it and it's super effective, you feel like a genius really deserving love and respect your father never showed you. In PoE1 release version there was nothing like that, it was all very granular. When you use wrong approach like trying to hit someone fast and agile with slow inaccurate weapons (or use stiletto against rock elemental, or use poison against the undead) - you will still probably graze instead of missing all the time as you'd do in Baldur's Gate or Dragon Age. So you have to read combat log and read enemy description to see what's wrong. There was a lot of trash combat against weaklings and you could just tell your party to attack and they'll win, no need to optimize. Meanwhile games like Final Fantasy always give you a nice reason to fight weaklings in a conscious way: you can use supereffective spell against them, or steal something from them etc. Later they added more of hard counters to PoE and with expansions it's much better. Good encounters became more like puzzles and less like optimizing tasks - you either do right and prevail or do wrong and fail instead of previous approach of prevailing just enough so that you can continue. PoE on hardest difficulty became very enjoyable to play after two expansions - you still get a lot of straightforward boring combat but there were a lot of memorable encounters requiring you to rework your party equipment and tactics.

 

Tyranny, sadly, didn't get updates like that. I adore Tyranny for what it tries to do: make shorter but more varied RPG fashionable, it's like a Fallout New Vegas, but isometric. Even micromanage is handled better: every character can cast spells but at the start you won't have more than couple and by the end you won't be able cast as many spells as 1st level PoE character can. It also has a lot of small genius details like a lot of skills enhancing your initial hero ability which is basically a stronger punch. So you can have very few powerful abilities and a lot of passive skills. The sad thing is that even though hard difficulty starts strong and requires you to use everything available to you it becomes a joke by the end, you don't even have to use those fancy things you get through a story. Enemies feel homogeneous as you can always deal with them whatever you use, even if you do something bad it still does *some* damage and usually it's enough. Sad that Tyranny didn't catch on, it was more interesting and innovative game in many regards. Paradox DLC policy didn't help either, there was an expansion that adds some quests and no one is really sure what exactly is added, and another one that adds some big sidequest of minor importance and impact.

 

Also I don't understand how Cameron can say that BG1 system is good on lower levels. Because early level D&D is horrible. First few levels anything can oneshot you, it feels not like you're managing probability but everything is about random rolls. When you start as a wizard in BG2 it's somewhat balanced, enemy needs several hits to kill you, so it's not like whoever strikes first wins.

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Say a prayer for me, I played Pillars of Eternity 1 at release without Party AI, and had to micromanage my way through the game. Probably why it took me 100 hours. Learned my lesson and am not going to pick up PoE2 until it's cheap.

 

Some good ideas in this podcast towards the end. Particularly like TJ's idea of having some of your party members be "off-map" for battle. You could have a Thief and Cleric that don't directly participate in the battle, but could debuff your enemies or heal your party on certain conditions. Then you could just focus on your 3-4 dudes.. Mr. STR, DEX, and INT.

 

I feel like Strategy and RPG games are natural allies and am glad to see this topic on the show. 90% of my game time is devoted to these genres.

 

What I love about these Infinity style games are the characters. I'm playing through Wasteland 2 now, and a bit disappointed that you have 4 voiceless PC's.. would rather them have condensed that into 1 voiceless PC and rounded out the skill system and available NPC's to compensate. Probably why I'll likely never play Icewind Dale, despite the shoutout from Rowan.

 

One thing I'd like to see changed in these modern cRPG's is the crappy loot system. They should learn from Dark Souls 1, where you can find a simple Estoc or Zweihander in the first 10 minutes that you can use throughout the game. Just need to upgrade it. As is in these cRPG's you get hundreds of drops, but eventually your Sabres become "Fine/Exceptional Sabres". Dumb.

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Bioware has played with an idea of non-combat party members for a while. In Jade Empire you can tell your companion to help in battle (they'll be useless) or stand in the corner and cast some buff on you. Many companions can't fight but do something special: allow you to trade, unlock a special fighting style (there's a guy who throws bottles at you enabling drunken master style). In Dragon Age Inquisition many characters do not fight but are considered your friends or romantic interests, like 3 commanders you can assign to out of map tasks, also your scout.

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Posted (edited)

We already fixed Bioware to have the most generic plot (seriously, they're terrible) and action game possible, we already fixed RTS to be Lords Managements with the same generic repetitive grind over and over again, we already fixed Fallout so that stats don't matter and you don't have to think too much about what's happening...

Can't we just keep some nice, niche things in the age of 57 games a day for those who don't like the same meaningless twitch-based grind? 

Now, get off my lawn!

 

EDIT: Took me a couple more days to listen to the last 5 minutes. Either I was misunderstanding at first, or you were more thoughtful at the end, as some of those ideas to cut down on the number of options are not bad at all and wouldn't fundamentally change the idea of the game.

Edited by Perky_Goth

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Was thinking about what Cameron said about, how BG1 feels better that the second game, I think one reason has to do with balance, enemies, party combinations and chance play up different between higher and lower levels. But even before that, on thing, that BG end sharing with the early SSI games and other early CRPGs, is that the curve of difficult, kind play inverse to what we believe, it should work - instead of begin easier and them getting hard, what happens is phenomenon where, in truth, the game start harder and them get easier, the reason, specially for those early games, was simple because they where often 1 to 1 translation of tabletop rules, and in this game, the level where you are mostly going do die early one was the first one. But once you reach a certain threshold (which might chance for game to game), you start to getting more and more powerful and so going faster and faster in the game (this is more true for other early Rpgs that BG however, the reason is that BG tend to have a higher control when you level up, while in old gold box game you might reach max level very early on)

 

That said, specially for AD&D, lower level adventures, often play in a slight better rhythm due often enemies begin melee only (very few early monster might be magic user of have special abilities), average Thaco and CA aren´t very high, so any small modifier for player might play a huge role (an early +2 weapon, might pace a lot easier, when you are just fighting enemies with at best have CA from 7 to 5), lower HP means the combat don´t last that much and by last, specially in BG case, this all allow you to mix and match party members more easily.

 

Now, skip forward to BG2, higher level encounter are by default more slow and require a lot more plan ahead, now party composition plays a much higher role and in fact, some character can became a lot less useful despite begin cool or having anything interesting, monsters are more likely to have specially abilities and magic user might have one hit kill spells*, which might require you to have spell or abilities to cancel them. This all, sometimes make me wonder, how much BG 2 kind requires you to almost plan so much stuff ahead, that you might need read a whole faq even before you play, to just avoid ending in a dead end impossible combat or have a key character in your party leave you with no replacement.

 

* I often found that battle with magic user in the second game to be annoying, due all those different protection spells that often require lots of different kind of dispel magic spells you need have....

 

Party composition is a lot harder, since between the limitations of alignment and and scripts where X character might not like Y character (which again might thing you might need to know before even playing) added with the party composition need to fill certain roles, leave you with little room to maneuver (and also might need you to plan your main character based on your party, which requires you to know all possible characters and when and where you can find them).

 

Now why some rpgs avoided of this kind, try to avoid turns (or similar systems) is a very good question, I guess a lot have to do with some people arbitrarily decided suddenly that turns are bad for a vague to no reason or sense (mostly to bash jrpgs, despite wrpgs using them) and this might lead to a false necessity, which lead to the paradox of having a game with lot of options but no time to deal with any of them.

 

Fun thing is, I have been playing some of the goldbox games and despite them begin in turns, I did find them kind more faster that would be if in real time and a lot I suspect have do to with the fact, that in turn base, area spells can be used to maximum effect, where in real time, where you often stumble in to combat, you often can´t use them, to everything begin to close or moving too fast.

 

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Posted (edited)

I'm astonished you got through that entire podcast moaning about the Infinity Engine combat system and not once - not once - mentioned Larian's Divinity: Original Sin series. It's got turn based combat. It's got lots of massive areas chock full of stories and interactions and choices and decisions - that matter to the overarching story all the while. Sure, they have their short comings, but they address just about everything commented on the limitations of the Infinity/Unity clone engine and then some. I'd thoroughly recommend everyone in the discussion goes and plays them and comes back to this conversation afterwards, because clearly none of you ever have. I'd hope that Obsidian take a great long look at those games before PoE3 rolls around and thinks a lot harder about how they might want to shake their approach up even more. 

 

I also feel the podcast failed to really address why Pillars of Eternity was the way it was - it was kickstarted by a legion of misty eyed, middle aged men (admittedly I presume ) longing with rose tinted glasses to the games of their youth. certainly did it for me! PoE was consciously designed to be exactly what it was, down to all those hand painted backing screens. Sure it did and does have it problems, only partially addressed by PoE2 - which to me so far is an better mechanical game, but one that feels like it's lost it soul - but it was exactly what it was kickstarted to be, and did it very well indeed. 

 

Great discussion though - there is a lot to be said for the tactical RPG area that sometimes I feel 3MA shies away from. A discussion on the tactical combat system of the Divinity: Original Sin series could probably fill a show by itself. 

Edited by Sorbicol

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I played and enjoyed Divinity: Original Sin. But I couldn't finish it. I got partway into Act 2 and lost the plot. The music, art, and combat was good.. but there was no real story and the characters (both yours and the shallow NPCs) had no personality at all. Contrast that with Infinity Engine games, where I'm driven forward because of the story and the cool characters. That's really what an RPG is about. Minsc is a legend. And despite Pillars of Eternity and Tyranny's shortcomings I could finish them easily.

 

Maybe someday I'll get back to Divinity: Original Sin, or its sequel when it receives a deep discount or is bundled. From what I've seen, perhaps there's some more personality in the Original Sin 2 characters.. the Red Prince and the Undead dude look pretty cool.

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On 11/06/2018 at 6:49 PM, Argonaut said:

I played and enjoyed Divinity: Original Sin. But I couldn't finish it. I got partway into Act 2 and lost the plot. The music, art, and combat was good.. but there was no real story and the characters (both yours and the shallow NPCs) had no personality at all. Contrast that with Infinity Engine games, where I'm driven forward because of the story and the cool characters. That's really what an RPG is about. Minsc is a legend. And despite Pillars of Eternity and Tyranny's shortcomings I could finish them easily.

 

Maybe someday I'll get back to Divinity: Original Sin, or its sequel when it receives a deep discount or is bundled. From what I've seen, perhaps there's some more personality in the Original Sin 2 characters.. the Red Prince and the Undead dude look pretty cool.

 

The Enhanced Edition did a lot for me to make Divinity: Original Sin (the first game) more enjoyable. It clarified it's mission structure (in terms of - go to this area first and then this area etc) made significant improvements to the combat system and inventory system (which is not the game's moment of crowing glory to be sure) and also generally improved the story as well. to be sure that first game was a little limited in charisma/characterisation for the two source hunters, but a lot of the NPCs were fun and really weren't anything too far off the types of characters that Black Isle / Obsidian came up with for PoE or earlier games.

 

Original Sin 2 made massive in roads of that though by having 6 very distinct characters to play all with conflicting aims, opinions and goals that play out as the game goes on. They will fight you if you stray too far from what they want, and during one of the lynchpin moments of the game you have to actively persuade them to stick with you - previous events and treatment of your party will count for or against you. Fane (the undead guy), The Red Prince (exiled Lizard royalty who assumes everyone is his slave) and Loshe (possessed songstress) are all brilliant characters who can stand side by side with the likes of Minsc, Durance and anyone else you might care to mention from Baldur's Gate/PoE.  The combat is a little more messy I think (they take the concept of blessed and cursed environmental effects way too far) while at the same time delivering some fantastic set piece battles that need some serious tactical decision making to get through.  They also have a co-operative system that nothing Black Isle/Obsidian have ever done have come close to matching. 

 

In the framework of this podcast I just found it disappointing that they weren't discussed. It's combat system is superior to the Baldur's gate and PoE games, and is something that deserved to discussed. 

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I am a bit late to the show, but I just listened to the podcast and wanted to add something, though it's likely not to be read anymore. ^^
Enjoyed the podcast and thought it was interesting that you described the heritage of the multi-ability character system and the parallels to RTS.

However I think you missed out two major parts.

 

"hidden Turn based system": It was mentioned that they basically have a turn based system running under the hood. And I'd argue that it's only partially true, and this is one of the issues why it causes so many issues.

While each action has a allocated time, lets say an sword attack takes 3 seconds, there are actions which fall out of the system. That's 1. idling around, and 2. movement.
And that essentially means that you do not have a turn based system under the hood. You have several turn based systems under the hood which are out of sync.
If you just had 2 characters and both are archers, and both were just shooting arrows, you are fine. Both of your characters shoot an arrow every 2 seconds, the game pauses every 2 seconds and you can re-issue commands.
But if you have one archer and one melee character the system already breaks. The Archer attacks for 2 seconds, the warrior runs to the enemy and takes 1.5 for it. So now you need to pause and do the attack, just to pause again 0.5 seconds later to do the attack of the archer. And if you add this up to 4 or more characters you are in a world of pain if you want to play optimally. And of course you also have opponents in your battle (hopefully) who have their own timers. So the Archer attacks (2s), the warrior charges (1.5s) and then attacks (2s), you pause after 5 seconds for the hunter to issue a new order (2s) and while the warrior is still in his action (1.5s remaining), after 0.5s the enemy finishes a cast and hurts the warrior really bad, too bad that on your archer you will now need to abort the current shot and cast a heal instead, because waiting for the attack being finished and then do the heal might take too long. So again, huge pain in the ass as you are facing multiple strains of turnbased played in real time at once. Ofc all no problem if you are just playing around on easy.
But that's actually the other point:

Difficulty: I was surprised that it wasn't mentioned by you at all, besides of the system working well on easy, which I agree to. But there is a whole other issue:

For turn based games it's basically:

Difficulty <-> PlayerSkill+PartyStrength.
If the difficulty is higher than your PlayerSkill+PartyStrength you will lose. If you are a very good player or have good equipment / party setup, surpassing the difficulty, you will win.

If you want a challenge you will set the difficulty to maximum. You need to try to play as good as possible, and also try to maximize party strngth.

For RTwP this looks different:
Difficulty <-> (PlayerSkill+PartyStrength) * FrequencyOfHittingPause
In addition of just playing well, the frequency of you hitting pause is essential. You can be an amazing player, but if you play these games without any pause at all, you will lose. The more often you press pause, the easier it will get. Depending on the game there is a cap of about a maximum frequency of about 0.3 seconds or so. Beyond that you hardly gain any advantage out of it.
The game however is not designed with pressing pause every 0.3 seconds in mind, even on higher difficulties. So what are you supposed to do if you want to have a challenge? Artificially limit yourself by just pressing pause once per second? That would feel like playing a naked warrior to increase the difficulty (or in other words: Very supid). In addition the flow of the game is so bad, that any turn based game would run better. Because in turn based games you usually plan for a turn which represents 2 or 3 seconds, which could be 5-10 times hitting pause in RTwP. As an examply you could take a recording of a bossfight in Pillars of Eternity 1:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-IZW1__-8g
This fight probbaly would have taken 2-3 minutes of real time without pauses. With the help of RTwP it is stretched to 20 minutes. The amounts of pauses used (and I just counted roughly) was 86.

There are ways to mitigate that:
-Having an AI was mentioned. But no AI will be as efficient as the player himself (for existing games). I mean, of those who like challenging gameplay, who is using the auto city governor in Civilization games?
-Queueing abilities of course is a huge help. Without this, most RTwP games are hardly playable at all for me.
-Very long ability timers and very few participants: If you are dealing with just 3 characters and each ability takes 5 seconds to execute you wont have an issue. And if you are only playing one character, RTwP will also work. You can also think of FTL which indeed is RTwP as well. But due to only having limited options in comparison and rather long timers it's working fine. But even there you will be suffering massively when you don't time your pauses optimally.
-Also there is an option of artificial forced gaps. There is a RTwP Dungeon Crawler called "Fall of the Dungeon Guardians", which has a system which is a bit hard to understand at first and I am not sure if I remember it 100% correctly, but it uses forced gaps between actions.

Simplified: Each ability comes with a 6 second global cd. In addition you have auto attacks. These auto-attacks can be "overwritten" in the first second (e.g. when it takes 5 seconds) after that they will be executed. You can queue abilties up, so they will be executed once there is the next available spot while no Auto-Attack or GC is active. But you already see that just explaining/understanding this is a pain in the ass. But cudos to their developers to put some thought into it.
But being a first person dungeon crawler the game also has the advantage of not needing to bother with movement, which is one of the main issues in RTwP games. In that regard, you also did not mention Drakensang (the first) and Drakensang River of Time, which also were RTwP games, with some movement issues due to a sticky aggro system, where one character movement could result in everyone moving over the battlefield like a bunch of ants.

In the end, I think just making all games turn based is the best option, at least for players who like challenging fights. In my eyes RTwPs only reason for existance is for players to get over boring combats, which either means that these players aren't that interested into challenges, not interested into combat at all, or that the combat is badly designed.

If you happen to have read this posting so far in this old thread I thank you for your attention. :)

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Well @Kordanor I, for one, had seen your thoughts.

The part about the pause affecting the difficulty does work well with an important quality of a good RPG - stretchable difficulty. In almost all RPGs you can already directly affect your difficulty by the time spent. Many modern RPGs even tell you this almost directly placing many quests into "non-story stuff that you only do for resources" tab. So if you get a good understanding of mechanics you can ignore a lot of side activities and go murder special enemies that you can to skip; if you're bad at the game you grind. If you play action game with an insufficient difficulty you get bored, if the difficulty is too high you become frustrated from constant retries.

 

Pause adds to that. By the end of many RPGs they feel trivial because devs don't want you to get stuck if you didn't optimize your characters right. In an RPG like PoE you just use pause less in those later fights and they still have some challenge. I think PoE Path of the Damned difficulty is designed for a player who wants to use everything in the game - pause all the time, use consumables and abilities all the time. In this regard it works well unlike many other similar games.

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Thanks for the read & reply. ^^

While difficulty is often stretchable to some degree by "grind" (repeatable quests or respawning monsters) it's also often more of a catch-up mechanic than actually something you could grind to get far ahead of the intended difficulty curve.
Maybe it's more prominent in JRPGs which I don't play, but grinding random encounters on a map for example can become quite insane in western games.

However this is something which is clearly optional. You can either do it nor not. Black or White. If you chose to, you can just ignore that. But that's not possible with the pause frequency, unless you decide to not use pause at all. Or decide on limiting yourself to auto-pauses only. If at the start of the game you could chose an game option of "no-pause-allowed" and the difficulty is changed accordingly, I'd probably pick that. But if I have this tool available I'd usually also use it.

Not using it, to me, would be like occasionally stopping by to look at the landscape in a racing game. It feels completely unnatural, so you usually go full speed and try to even beat the track record.

 

A great example of a turn based game, which has some elements which were as bad as RTwP combat in this matter, is Lords of Xulima. In that game you could collect food (absolutely boring) or just buy it. Gold is a limited resource in this world.

So what do you do? Of course you collect the food. Yes it is boring as hell, but you never know what you need the gold for. The game actively incentivizes you to have bad gameplay.

 

I wouldn't say that POE is a bad game, despite the combat I still enjoyed it (played on the beforementioned Path of the Damned). However, now that other games are available as well, I chose not to play PoE due to the RTwP system, which makes it a second or third choice for me.

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14 hours ago, Kordanor said:

Maybe it's more prominent in JRPGs which I don't play, but grinding random encounters on a map for example can become quite insane in western games.

 

A little explanation of how it works. In JRPGs as well as some Western blobbers (think Wizardry) the grind is more than just a way to get resources. You usually travel the dungeon solving some sort of puzzle or finding the way to your destination. Maybe there's a save point where you can rest, maybe there's still some space between it and boss. And those monsters do not exhaust. So you need to find a way to fight through them *effecitvely*. You may get some special skills that won't help much in real hard battles but will help with grindning - like healing that is applied after combat, it won't help you to fight the boss but it will make walking around easier. So finding a good place where your kind of party can grind with little danger and big effect is sort of a puzzle and it affects the way your develop your party. Infinity Engine games do not have respawning monsters (unless you count weaklings that interrupt your rest) and you can usually rest after each combat so it has a different philosophy, each combat is self-contained affair. You sometimes have negative effects that force you to use some sort of consumable but that's about it. In later games like Dragon Age Origins/2 they reinforced this by autohealing your party after each fight. Interestingly, Dragon Age Inquisition goes back to Wizardry/Might & Magic model - there's no easy healing in the game and you're supposed to run around for a while and then return to a resting point, and enemies also respawn all the time. So it's more strategic in focus, less tactical.

 

Lords of Xulima looks like Wizardry but in fact you can (and should) kill all the monsters in the area. So it sort of has grind as in there's a lot of combat, but you're also supposed to murder everyone and then you can just walk around solving puzzles. It's just the same as with food, you can theoretically skip clearing out locations but you know it's wrong. Those JRPGs or other games with focus on managing your party between fights are more strategic in that regard, it's your own decision when and how should you do all the optional fighting. In that regard it's not unlike a curb-stomp strategy game where AI is benevolent enough to allow you to just come with whatever army you have. If you're skilled player you'll come at him on minute 10, if you're not so good you'll train a big army and crash him on minute 25 - both players will probably have some fun playing the game on exact same difficulty. Side-quests help with that in Pillars of Eternity 2 but you may be compelled to do them anyway if you're completionist; pause helps more.

 

I like Divinity Original Sin much more as a game. This tactical turn-based combat is great. But I remember that it least in the first game it became much easier by the end. So did PoE1&2. But in PoE1&2 this resulted in me pausing and using consumables less often so that I could get through the fight quickly. I still wasn't really bored. In Divinity OS1 I just struggled through the last act because there were hour-long fights when I felt no danger but was forced to cut through armored regenerating enemies. And I couldn't just rush through it, the pacing of the fight was the same as in first act interesting fights, but there was no pressure or thinking at all. So turn-based system might be more interesting when it works, but eventually it doesn't work and then RTwP works. And as I argue that most people playing RPGs are not really that interested in deep combat - RTwP is a nice compromise.

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Yeah, but what you describe as option to grind, is not really present in todays RPGs anymore, and imho that's a good thing for the most part. In most games these grind options are limited to random encounters like in the Fallout Games, or a minimum of Respawn like in Avernum. You could grind it, if you really, really wanted, but to do more than just get the last 5% to the next level would be really tedious.

 

Lords of Xulima didn't work out as the developers had it in mind. I brought this as feedback in beta regarding mechanics like food and also the early herbalism or learning skill, but they kept it anyway for the most part and agreed post mortem that they underestimated how forced players felt to grind / do tedious tasks which were intended to be optional fallback mechanics.

 

Regariding DOS 1 and DOS 2 I can only say, that I liked DOS 2 quite a lot and the combat worked almost perfectly. DOS1 however was so incredibly easy that I decided to play without potions, magical arrows and deaths to make it somewhat challenging. Hard in the beginning, easy later on. And yeah, in that case RTwP can be an advantage, though I am glad it was turnbased anyways.

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It's funny how LoX developers didn't anticipate that what they thought of as grind turned out to be almost necessary sidequest. IIRC clearing out the location from monsters gives you some sort of bonus and you'll do part of it anyway while you do your business in the location. Plus there's always something in the game you could spend money on. You don't have to be a psychology major to know that a lot of people would want to clear out those locations. And I still think that addition of real grind - an infinite ability to fight enemies for stable rewards - would solve this problem just by demonstrating that money and XP is an infinite resource. Even if devs would put ten times as much resources in the game as you need as long as it's obvious that those resources are finite as they are in LoX people would regard them as precious.

 

I am currently playing Avernum and there I'm OK with the lack of grind. I don't know if those roaming monsters respawn but in any case it feels like less of a problem in a semi-open world game. I didn't miss any XP around SIlvar, I'll probably return there later couple of times to check out those locked doors or deliver something, it's not like a leave an "unvolmpleted" location behind.

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