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Binho
10-11-2011, 09:14 AM
DISCLAIMER: Yes Wizardry, I know you don't consider the games I will be mentioning as RPG's. Other people still do, and it's a convient acronym to keep everyone on the same page for the purposes of discussion.

This is related to the new Mass Effect 'difficulty' selections.

I generally play RPG's for the story and the world-building. Generally, I'm not a big fan of the combat though. Not because it's hard - more because there is so much of it, that it becomes annoying and repetitive. Dragon Age is a prime example. A single fight can be interesting and challenging, and even fun - 20 of those in a row, and they just get annoying.

Of course, that is how many modern RPG's can claim so many hours. 100hrs? 90 of those are probably unnecessary grind.

I'd like a mode where the amount of combat is pared down, not the difficulty. So for example removing the kill-on-sight wildlife and 2/3rds of the Oblivion Gates in Oblivion, or shorter levels with fewer enemy encounters in Dragon Age Origins.

Of course, i realise that in practice this would mean making two games and so would probably never happen. As a story/world explorer who still enjoys challenging combat once in awhile, it's how these games could be made better for me. The idea that I'd just prefer the combat to be 'easy' like the Mass Effect 3 mode suggests, is a bit condescending and missing the issues I have. Although to be fair, Mass effect has always struck a good balance between action & story in my opinion anyways.

Anyone else feel the same?

DigitalSignalX
10-11-2011, 09:28 AM
It's difficult to separate the issues because while I like a good RPG in the classic story/character/world exploring sense, I also enjoy some shooting/fighting. Obviously the two aren't mutually exclusive but like you, everyone's opinion will differ on how much they should cross over. IMO ME has a good balance, but the world exploring does suffer some in favor of the plot and the action. Oblivion had superb characters, exploring and action, but the plot got weak. The list could go on. Baulders Gate and NWN2's Mask expansion come to mind as right in that "comfort zone" of all elements.

Nalano
10-11-2011, 09:40 AM
I can sink 100 hours into F:NV, though much of that is FedEx quests. Even with methodically doing every sidequest, however, ME2 tallied to 25.

That said, yeah, I'd like infrequent but interesting and unique battles. W2 was spiritually attempting something of that nature, considering Geralt being the local fixer of large, nasty problems, and of games of late came closest to that feeling of "Aww, jeez, this is gonna be tough." Even then, though, you had a lotta mooks to disembowel in the meantime.

'Course, since disemboweling mooks is the bread and butter of experience points farming, progression would have to be gotten elsewhere, which probably means more setpiece quests.

Mohorovicic
10-11-2011, 10:19 AM
I generally play RPG's for the story and the world-building.

I guess RPGs are just not for you.

thejimster
10-11-2011, 10:31 AM
I think I agree with the OP. I enjoy combat, and enjoy having to think about how I will approach combat and plan each encounter individually. But when there are are multiple encounters in a row I just can't be bothered so I generally drop the difficulty down a notch for "normal" gameplay and then kick it up for boss fights.

Nalano
10-11-2011, 10:37 AM
I guess RPGs are just not for you.

What.

/10characters

Mohorovicic
10-11-2011, 10:49 AM
Well I wanted to write "I guess videogames are just not for you" but he specifically said "RPGs" so I didn't want to jump to conclusions.

ado
10-11-2011, 10:53 AM
I agree with the OP wholeheartedly.

I love playing the dashing rogue who prefers to talk his ass out of a sticky situation. But 10 out of 10 times that's kinda impossible because the game forces you in to combat. I mean shit, most RPGs make you in to a mass murdering psychopath.

Nalano
10-11-2011, 10:56 AM
I mean shit, most RPGs make you in to a mass murdering psychopath.

A mass-murdering kleptomanic psychopath.

mike2R
10-11-2011, 11:16 AM
Agree with the OP, at least for the Dragon Age games. I think I'm one of the few people who really got into Dragon Age 2, but I still abandoned it because there was just so much combat. I enjoyed the combat - it was one of the few games that really got the rogue right in terms of fighting IMO, but there was just sooo much of it.

I've not really felt this way with other games - ME2 was about bang on for me - but both Dragon Age games definitely.

thesisko
10-11-2011, 11:44 AM
It sounds like the OP is asking for improved encounter design that is actually relevant to the setting/story instead of just throwing hordes of trash at the player. Not really something that should be a toggle, it's just good design. The games you gave as examples have shitty encounter design.

Fumarole
10-11-2011, 04:57 PM
I would have finished Mass Effect were it not for the craptastic combat. Of course I stayed the hell away from the second and will do the same for the third. And I generally love Bioware RPGs.

Dugular
10-11-2011, 05:36 PM
Argh. This topic brought back memories of Baldur's Gate resurrecting entire squads of enemies just because the corner of the room went out the screen for a second.

Heliocentric
10-11-2011, 05:40 PM
Argh. This topic brought back memories of Baldur's Gate resurrecting entire squads of enemies just because the corner of the room went out the screen for a second.

What? Nope, bg only did map travel random encounters.

fiddlesticks
10-11-2011, 05:43 PM
What? Nope, bg only did map travel random encounters.
Firewine Bridge

Bloody, bloody Firewine Bridge!

acidtestportfolio
10-11-2011, 05:43 PM
well, if you are interested in paying $60 for a half-baked space opera story without any of the meat surrounding the game

there are plenty of used book shops and libraries full of these things, waiting to be explored

db1331
10-11-2011, 07:18 PM
My first time through Mass Effect, I got so bored with the combat around halfway through that I bumped the game down to easy so I could mow through all the baddies and get on with the story. On my 2nd trip through the game, I took the time to learn and use the squad commands, like moving them to cover and manually selecting when they use their abilities, and had much more fun with it. I tried a third playthrough on hardcore, and it seemed like all it did was give the enemies a ridiculous amount of health. I mean I could walk up to someone, plant my assault rifle in their face and empty round after round and it would barely scratch them.

I found the combat in ME 2 to be far too easy. Having pixel-perfect aim and a proper crosshair on PC pretty much broke the game. I'm sure it made more sense on the consoles, but with a mouse I was getting headshots nearly every kill. It seemed like I was constantly dropping 6 baddies in 6 shots, then having to stand around and wait until the next wave decided I should be ready for them by now.

Wizardry
10-11-2011, 07:21 PM
Only a handful of RPGs have good combat encounters, and they are mostly D&D ones.

Drinking with Skeletons
10-11-2011, 07:28 PM
My big problem with ME2 was that the various skills were mostly palette-swaps (making them kind of boring) and, more critically, largely overpowered. The idea of levitating an enemy in order to shoot them or combining powers to maximize effectiveness simply didn't matter much because every skill inflicted huge amounts of damage in addition to status effects. This also meant that the area-of-effect upgrades were more useful than the high-damage ones, simply because you'd still be doing a boat-load of damage, except to multiple opponents instead of individuals.

creative42
10-11-2011, 07:36 PM
I must admit that I too find the combat a bit of a grind in RPGs sometimes, and even go as far as to look for cheat codes first before I buy a game, just in case I can't get past a particular opponent. The Witcher 2 was great and I really enjoyed it but if weren't for a very kind forum user making his his game saves available for download, I wouldn't have got past one point very early on in the game (the Kayran monster).

db1331
10-11-2011, 07:48 PM
I thought the Kayran was fine. The only thing they could have done better is show you were to go to deliver the final blow. I died a few times just trying to figure that out. Knocking his arms off was easy though, even without the trap you could craft.

creative42
10-11-2011, 10:41 PM
I thought the Kayran was fine. The only thing they could have done better is show you were to go to deliver the final blow. I died a few times just trying to figure that out. Knocking his arms off was easy though, even without the trap you could craft.

I got as far as the QTE after just a few tries, but failed on that, then just couldn't get that far again, and frustration set in. I thought it was just a bit much for an early fight. I had no problems with any of the combat after that.

Fumarole
10-11-2011, 10:43 PM
Only a handful of RPGs have good combat encounters, and they are mostly D&D ones.Out of curiosity, what's your take on The Temple of Elemental Evil's combat? With or without the Circle of 8 mod.

Wizardry
10-11-2011, 10:50 PM
Out of curiosity, what's your take on The Temple of Elemental Evil's combat? With or without the Circle of 8 mod.
Combat system? Close to flawless. A great and accurate implementation of 3.5E. The combat encounters? Rather terrible. Got boring quite fast fighting similar enemies repeatedly. The Circle of Eight mod improves on this aspect, though still a long way off from the combat encounters of Baldur's Gate II (probably the best I've come across in any RPG).

Mohorovicic
11-11-2011, 07:40 AM
Holy tapdancing Jesus Christ, a hardcore grumpy classic RPG guy praising a game with real time combat?

agentorange
11-11-2011, 07:49 AM
Holy tapdancing Jesus Christ, a hardcore grumpy classic RPG guy praising a game with real time combat?

The fuck are you talking about? ToEE had turn based tactical combat.

Mohorovicic
11-11-2011, 08:07 AM
The fuck are you talking about? Baldur's Gate II had real time combat.

sabrage
11-11-2011, 08:08 AM
I've restarted Mass Effect a few times, but on my current iteration, I'm doing Insanity or whatever the hardest difficulty is. I die in one shot to snipers and it makes combat pretty infuriating sometimes, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

agentorange
11-11-2011, 08:24 AM
The fuck are you talking about? Baldur's Gate II had real time combat.

You posted your response below Wizardry's comment about ToEE, without a quote from his comment about BG2.

Also technically you are wrong on that count too, because the combat of BG2 is internally turn based.

Mohorovicic
11-11-2011, 03:54 PM
You posted your response below Wizardry's comment about ToEE and Baldur's Gate II, and the comment about Baldur's Gate II came last.

oh hi, I fixed your post. Well half of it.


Also technically you are wrong on that count too, because the combat of BG2 is internally turn based.

Which changes next to nothing, really.

thegooseking
11-11-2011, 04:21 PM
I think ME3's options loses sight of the crucial fact that unless you're a foamy-mouthed fanatical playstyle purist (naming no names), what you want from the game isn't dependent on what type of player you are, but on what your preferences are. The difference is that what your preferences are might change from play session to play session -- or even within the same play session.

I hardly think I'm abnormal in that when I'm gaming, sometimes I'll think, "ok, I'd like some action now" and sometimes I'll think, "oh, bugger off, action; I'm trying to get on with the story". The best game will be able to profile me based on my in-game behaviour and give me the type of gameplay I want, but I think that tech's pretty much still research. The next best thing is to give me a flexible choice in the matter at runtime, not to make me pigeonhole the gaming experience I want straight off the bat.

Subatomic
11-11-2011, 04:56 PM
But can't you do that (sort of) in a lot of RPGs? If you are in the mood for some action, go out into the world and do a quest / mission that you know will probably involve combat, and if you don't want to be stabbing / shooting right know, chat up your party members, talk to some people, read the ingame texts (like the codex in ME, or the books in Baldur's Gate).

Wizardry
11-11-2011, 05:52 PM
Holy tapdancing Jesus Christ, a hardcore grumpy classic RPG guy praising a game with real time combat?
Have you played Baldur's Gate II? It has some fantastic encounters. They are incredibly varied, requiring you to change tactics for nearly every battle in the game.


I hardly think I'm abnormal in that when I'm gaming, sometimes I'll think, "ok, I'd like some action now" and sometimes I'll think, "oh, bugger off, action; I'm trying to get on with the story". The best game will be able to profile me based on my in-game behaviour and give me the type of gameplay I want, but I think that tech's pretty much still research. The next best thing is to give me a flexible choice in the matter at runtime, not to make me pigeonhole the gaming experience I want straight off the bat.
This if fundamentally anti-RPG. Your character can't automatically adjust depending on how you want to play. Your character can't suddenly switch from being the best archer in the land to the best backstabbing assassin in the land just because you, the player, want to do the next mission in a stealthy way. This is the same thing as having maximum statistics in everything, being a master of all, being able to do everything equally well so that you, the player, can decide what to do at any time without being impaired by the character you are controlling.

Car to Pol
11-11-2011, 07:16 PM
This if fundamentally anti-RPG. Your character can't automatically adjust depending on how you want to play. Your character can't suddenly switch from being the best archer in the land to the best backstabbing assassin in the land just because you, the player, want to do the next mission in a stealthy way. This is the same thing as having maximum statistics in everything, being a master of all, being able to do everything equally well so that you, the player, can decide what to do at any time without being impaired by the character you are controlling.

I think you're missing the point of the original argument, which to me does not imply anything about the capabilities of the character(s), but rather the type of situation you're presented with. The example given by the gooseking was that of being in either 'action' mode or 'story' mode, which is a very different kind of distinction than being in either 'master-assassin' mode or 'master-archer' mode. Being competent in or even have mastery of the skill most suited for the situation presented is not what's discussed. It's about being stuck in one action-to-story balance while a person with moods might want a more dynamic or mood-matched experience.

Taking your argument as is, it seems like you advocate that a warrior should punch and shout and a mage cast and enchant. But isn't that a very narrow view on what a human (or elf etc.) being is capable of or interested in? I personally like my characters to have depth and breadth, so that I'm not impaired by them, but rather enriched.

Wizardry
11-11-2011, 07:27 PM
I think you're missing the point of the original argument, which to me does not imply anything about the capabilities of the character(s), but rather the type of situation you're presented with. The example given by the gooseking was that of being in either 'action' mode or 'story' mode, which is a very different kind of distinction than being in either 'master-assassin' mode or 'master-archer' mode. Being competent in or even have mastery of the skill most suited for the situation presented is not what's discussed. It's about being stuck in one action-to-story balance while a person with moods might want a more dynamic or mood-matched experience.

Taking your argument as is, it seems like you advocate that a warrior should punch and shout and a mage cast and enchant. But isn't that a very narrow view on what a human (or elf etc.) being is capable of or interested in? I personally like my characters to have depth and breadth, so that I'm not impaired by them, but rather enriched.
How can you jump from your first paragraph to your second? The reason I wasn't missing the point is exactly why I don't narrowly view what makes a human. Therefore both of your paragraphs are irrelevant.

If the player's character is a really dumb (low intelligence) grunt then you expect more action than dialogue. If the player's character is highly intelligent and charismatic and is good at talking their way out of confrontation then you expect more dialogue than action. There is no strict divide between story and action. That's just a simple BioWare deconstruction, as seen in the Mass Effect 3 leak where they've separated story cutscenes and cover-shooting situations into two distinct sets of mechanics.

Breaking up RPGs into different components and treating them completely separately is what's made the genre feel artificial. Combat, dialogue, exploration, interaction, crafting, travelling, resting, spellcasting; these are all things that should tie together tightly and not sit as separate components that have no influence on each other.

frank
12-11-2011, 06:34 AM
I think every RPG should try to be Fallout. If it succeeds (and it's combat system is fun), then its publisher might loose a Fallout: Tactics.

DigitalSignalX
12-11-2011, 08:45 AM
Pedantic arguing aside, can't we all agree that being able to either embrace or avoid combat at our (the player and the player character) whim makes for better games?

Wizardry
12-11-2011, 04:25 PM
Pedantic arguing aside, can't we all agree that being able to either embrace or avoid combat at our (the player and the player character) whim makes for better games?
Yes, but only if the character is speced in such a way as to allow them to avoid combat. You can't have a combat centric character being able to avoid combat situations as easily as a talky talky character.

thejimster
12-11-2011, 06:26 PM
Yes, but only if the character is speced in such a way as to allow them to avoid combat. You can't have a combat centric character being able to avoid combat situations as easily as a talky talky character.

I'm with Wizardry on this one.

Mohorovicic
12-11-2011, 08:03 PM
Have you played Baldur's Gate II? It has some fantastic encounters. They are incredibly varied, requiring you to change tactics for nearly every battle in the game.

Really? Because I'm pretty sure hit-it-with-melee-weapon-until-it-stops-moving worked well on 99% of the enemies.

Subatomic
12-11-2011, 08:14 PM
It works well until you run into your first mage, lich, beholder, illythid or other nasty thing. Those often put up protection from magic weapons, stoneskin or other protection spells so your melee fighters are fairly useless. Couple that with spells like dire charm, petrification or imprisonment, and simply 'hit it until it's dead' is no longer an option, so you have to counter with your own magic users (dispel magic, spell piercing etc.). Especially later in the game fights can become extremely tactical, though in my opinion BG2 and especially Throne of Bhaal suffers from 'linear warriors, quadratic wizards' (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/LinearWarriorsQuadraticWizards). The sheer game breaking potential of a wizard (or even worse, a cleric/wizard multiclass) can make a lot of encounters a joke if you now what you are doing and exploit things like spell triggers and contingency spells to their fullest potential.


You really haven't played it.

I guess that's the short version of what I just wrote. :D

Wizardry
12-11-2011, 08:14 PM
Really? Because I'm pretty sure hit-it-with-melee-weapon-until-it-stops-moving worked well on 99% of the enemies.
You really haven't played it.

Mohorovicic
12-11-2011, 08:41 PM
It works well until you run into your first mage, lich, beholder, illythid or other nasty thing. Those often put up protection from magic weapons, stoneskin or other protection spells so your melee fighters are fairly useless.

If it's Protection from Magic Weapons, you just use a non-magic weapon. If it's Mantle and derivatives, only the 9th level version offers full protection but all of them can be simply waited out as they last measly 4 rounds. Stoneskin grants you one skin every 2 caster levels, so a 20th level mage will have 10 of them; enough to hold a 5 attacks per round Fighter at bay for two rounds. This is about as far as anti-Fighter defenses go in Baldur's Gate 2 - believe it or not, but almost all other defensive spells are used to protect yourself from magic, not melee.

Of course due to unique way the BG series interprets DnD mechanics, +x elemental damage on weapons passes through Stoneskin. With several attacks per round and the fact that each hit interrupts a cast no matter what, you can say Stoneskins are alltogether useless; they just make the fight longer because you need to hack your way through them. But they don't affect the outcome.

As for "nasty things" and mind control/status spells, this applies to everyone, Fighter or Mage alike, and is solved with magical items and saving throws, occassionally a potion or scroll(hi Kangaxx). Furthermore, said "nasty things" usually have good saving throws or magic resistance, and at the same time no "melee resistance" to speak of.

I soloed the game with a F/M/T once(actually more than once but whatever) and killed significant majority of enemies in BG2 and ToB with my sword simply because it was easiest and fastest way of doing things. The occassional spell I casted was usually a summon for a better crowd control.

So I still can't for the life of me think of why would anyone consider the game tactical.

Wizardry
12-11-2011, 08:46 PM
No one said it was tactical...

even though it is more tactical than 99% of RPGs.

Subatomic
12-11-2011, 08:58 PM
No one said it was tactical...

even though it is more tactical than 99% of RPGs.

Actually, I did. Shame on me I guess.

The thing with BG is, it's combat system is easily exploitable if you know what you're doing and can recite the effects of DnD's spells in your sleep. If you don't know, your first higher level magic using enemy will be a real challenge until you figure out how to best counter their protections and offensive abilities. If you know what every enemy is going to do and abuse ability combos, engine glitches and limitations though, most fights become a joke. Like casting Magic Resistance on a dragon to actually lower it's magic resistance without it becoming hostile, then casting Feeblmind to turn it into a (gargantuan and scaly) drooling vegetable - though I think that little trick was changed in one of the unofficial fix packs.

Snargelfargen
12-11-2011, 09:32 PM
Actually, I did. Shame on me I guess.

The thing with BG is, it's combat system is easily exploitable if you know what you're doing and can recite the effects of DnD's spells in your sleep. If you don't know, your first higher level magic using enemy will be a real challenge until you figure out how to best counter their protections and offensive abilities. If you know what every enemy is going to do and abuse ability combos, engine glitches and limitations though, most fights become a joke. Like casting Magic Resistance on a dragon to actually lower it's magic resistance without it becoming hostile, then casting Feeblmind to turn it into a (gargantuan and scaly) drooling vegetable - though I think that little trick was changed in one of the unofficial fix packs.

Baldur's Gate can be broken very easily. That is why I have gotten the most fun out of the game by installing mods that increase the encounter difficulty (Ascension, Sword coast stratagems, etc...) and also making a point of sleeping as little as possible so I don't always use the same abilities. This really forces you to meta-game, and try and get the utmost out of every single ability and item you have. D&D (until 4th edition) has always been an incredibly versatile and broken system that rewards creativity.

Back to the topic though: In most action-oriented rpgs such as Oblivion, or the Mass Effect series, I find difficulty gets in the way of enjoyment. These games are at their best when encounters are somewhat challenging but don't kill the mood and story. Generally, these games want you to feel like a bad-ass action hero all the time, and extreme difficulty dispels that illusion.
It's a different story with games like Baldur's Gate, Fallout and to a lesser extent, the first Dragon-Age. Because the focus is on small scale tactics, and not immersion, overcoming a difficult fight is so much more rewarding.

Subatomic
12-11-2011, 09:50 PM
Back to the topic though: In most action-oriented rpgs such as Oblivion, or the Mass Effect series, I find difficulty gets in the way of enjoyment. These games are at their best when encounters are somewhat challenging but don't kill the mood and story. Generally, these games want you to feel like a bad-ass action hero all the time, and extreme difficulty dispels that illusion.
It's a different story with games like Baldur's Gate, Fallout and to a lesser extent, the first Dragon-Age. Because the focus is on small scale tactics, and not immersion, overcoming a difficult fight is so much more rewarding.

Excellent point. Baldur's Gate and other games like it often force you to experiment with the combat choices you are given, giving the more difficult fights a puzzle-like feel to it. The more action-y games like ME on the other hand a more focussed on quick reactions and things like aiming skills in their combat. In my experience, I get much less frustrated by failure in the former kind of games than in the latter - I just haven't figured out the right combination of puzzle pieces instead of "I suck at aiming".

Personoic
13-11-2011, 10:25 AM
Going through Icewind Dale 1 again recently. I just found out how incredibly broken ranged combat can be. My team of shooty men and women gun their ways through most challenges without a sweat. My guys have gone through more ammo than I have in most fpses. For harder encounters a simple web is sufficient. For even harder encounters my cleric can chain buff my guys to hilariously strong levels. It's rather repetitive.

BillButNotBen
13-11-2011, 12:14 PM
I gotta say that I agree with the OP - and i suggested a similar thing a while back.

I don't dislike the combat, but I do find that it's just too repetitive. It's like they took the Lord of the Rings movies, and added 10 minute fight scenes every 5 minutes to pad them out to 80 hours each. They could be the coolest fight scenes in the world, but after a while you're fed up of seeing orcs killed.

Clearly, some RPGs do it much better than others. And some are much worse. (JRPGs like Final Fantasy - 10 random encounters while walking down a corridor in a small town house!).

Gaming is often about learning systems and learning to apply things... so a good game introduces new systems and gives you a time to learn them, and then master them, but then it introduces something new. Too many RPGs get you to repeat the same system over and over again.

I would also like a "skip filler battles" option in the menus. You'd play the same game at the same difficulty, but 90% of the random encounters and fillers would be skipped, though still granting you the XP. So you'd get boss battles, and important storyline battles, and a small spattering of filler battles to introduce new enemies and provide some variation. But not enough to get boring.

Wizardry
13-11-2011, 04:50 PM
I would also like a "skip filler battles" option in the menus. You'd play the same game at the same difficulty, but 90% of the random encounters and fillers would be skipped, though still granting you the XP. So you'd get boss battles, and important storyline battles, and a small spattering of filler battles to introduce new enemies and provide some variation. But not enough to get boring.
That's been done in a number of RPGs. It's called auto-resolve.

QuantaCat
13-11-2011, 09:32 PM
I think the system is what kept me from enjoying BG thoroughly. It was apparently enough to survive the game to the end story of the main game, but by god, I do not like combat systems like DnD's. Maybe I just dont like RPG combat systems at all, that involve dice in any way.