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Ack
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The Western RPG thread

by Ack Mon Apr 27, 2015 9:59 am

Hey guys, we've never really done a big thread on WRPGs. But I'd like to discuss them more, particularly as I am planning to play through Ultima over the summer and just picked up Wizardry 8 on GOG. Though I have played quite a few, I've never really felt like I've gotten big on WRPGs, and I have a lot of questions about them. So I figured why not create a thread in which folks who are curious can ask questions and those of us in the know can help answer them or point folks in the right direction.

To kick this off, I'll toss out a few questions:

WRPGs have a reputation for being both long and difficult. For those who have experience with them, is this generally true?

What are the big series in WRPGs, and what are the most accessible titles for players more experienced on the Action or JRPG side of things? In the various big series, what are the more accessible titles to try?

Are there JRPG/WRPG hybrids for folks to check out if they are fans of one style and want to branch out to the other?
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Re: The Western RPG thread

by Omerta Mon Apr 27, 2015 10:09 am

Yay for WRPGs. I'm glad they have their own official RB thread.

I've had a hard time getting into bona fide JRPGs for the past 15 years, but phrases like "a new Fallout game" or "Diablo expansion" have a tendency to make me giddy like a school girl.
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Re: The Western RPG thread

by Exhuminator Mon Apr 27, 2015 10:40 am

Ack wrote:WRPGs have a reputation for being both long and difficult. For those who have experience with them, is this generally true?

Most WRPGs from the 80s & 90s are definitely long and difficult in my experience. This stems from being unlinear (sometimes extremely so) and very grind centric (the original Bard's Tale games for example). In the late 90s and throughout the 00s a sea-change occurred in which WRPGs generally became more linear, easier, prettier, and noticeably concerned with being accessible overall (starting with Infinity Engine games and continuing into the likes of Dragon Age and Skyrim.) In that regard I don't consider modern WRPGs to be all that difficult, although they are often still quite long indeed.
What are the big series in WRPGs, and what are the most accessible titles for players more experienced on the Action or JRPG side of things?

In modern times anything by Bethesda or Bioware fits this criteria.
In the various big series, what are the more accessible titles to try?

As far as a direct analog to JRPG style gameplay goes, my mind is drawing a blank but it's monday morning so forgive me. I think anyone coming from action-JRPGs would do well to give Jade Empire a shot. If you're from an FPS background, Fallout 3 or S.T.A.L.K.E.R. are good starting points. If you're a big fan of cover shooting, the Mass Effect trilogy is a must.
Are there JRPG/WRPG hybrids for folks to check out if they are fans of one style and want to branch out to the other?

I think The Last Story on Wii is a good JRPG/WRPG hybrid with its cover shooting, FPS, and third person melee combat system. (Very underrated game.)
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Re: The Western RPG thread

by MrPopo Mon Apr 27, 2015 10:50 am

I'd say WRPGs until recently did have a reputation for being difficult, usually because they were either adapting the D&D ruleset or created their own rules based on that. The D&D rules are rather unforgiving if you don't know the rules inside and out, though it did get better in 3E. Since there's an inability to do deep roleplaying on the PC these games focused on the combat, and a lot of those games had fairly tactical combat that forced you to have a well balanced party and require you to do things like proper positioning and using your spells wisely.

In terms of the big series, there's:

Ultima
Wizardry
Might & Magic
Gold Box
Infinity Engine

The latter two refer to engines, where not all the games that used those engines might have been linked through story, but they have similar mechanics and feel.

For Ultima I'm not sure what would be a good starter game. I've only extensively played the first three, and those are all rather obtuse and/or primitive.

Wizardry, you'd be best off starting with either Wizardry 6 or Wizardy 8. 8 will feel the most modern, and since it came out a while after 7 they didn't just expect everyone to have played the previous game. The other option is 6, since 6-8 forms a trilogy and you can import your party into each sequel.

Might & Magic you could start with either 3 or the 4+5 combined game. Pretty much any pack you get will have 4 and 5 combined into one giant game (for reasons that are spoilers) and it's considered to be the height of the series. The games do have an overall mythos which carries across the games, but individually they stand alone (aside from the aforementioned 4 and 5).

The Gold Box games were THE D&D games of their time. They feature a highly tactical combat engine that requires real D&D knowledge and proper positioning through the fights. I haven't played any of these, so I can't give a recommendation on what one to start with.

The Infinity Engine games are the modern D&D games that showed the WRPG isn't dead. It consists of the Baldur's Gate games, Icewind Dale I & II (II is 3E rules), and Planescape Torment. I'd say you should first start with Baldur's Gate Enhanced Edition (or go with the classic game using one of the mods that lets it run on the BG2 engine, which was enhanced) so that you get a good intro into what makes a good party. Icewind Dale you build a party yourself and it's a more combat focused game, so you want to be comfortable with how things work. Planescape Torment has a very different feel from the first two, so it's another one that would work to start off with, as long as you don't expect it to be like the others in core gameplay.
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Re: The Western RPG thread

by Exhuminator Mon Apr 27, 2015 11:02 am

MrPopo wrote:The Infinity Engine games are the modern D&D games that showed the WRPG isn't dead. It consists of the Baldur's Gate games, Icewind Dale I & II (II is 3E rules), and Planescape Torment.

There's also quite a few RPGs that are obviously influenced by the IE in mechanics and presentation. A few I can think of:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lionheart ... e_Crusader
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arcanum:_ ... ck_Obscura
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Templ ... ental_Evil
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Divinity:_Original_Sin
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pillars_of_Eternity

There surely are more.
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Re: The Western RPG thread

by BoneSnapDeez Mon Apr 27, 2015 11:18 am

JRPGs have always been my love, but I've also been a WRPG gamer since I first discovered the Ultima Collection as a young teen.

The "classic" old series for me are Dunjonquest, Ultima, Wizardry, Might & Magic, Bard's Tale, and Dungeons & Dragons (which can be further divided into sub-series). Rogue deserves a mention too - it's technically a standalone game but the Hack titles are de facto sequels, not to mention the million other imitators. Dungeons of Daggorath is also essential, though the sequel can be skipped.

And yeah, classic WRPGs can be obtuse and difficult. Modern ones tend to be more forgiving, not to mention action-oriented.

I've always thought of Ultima VI as a great intro to the genre. Less difficult than the older games, and it was ported to the C64 and SNES which makes me all giddy. Still best played on a PC though.

Looking forward to seeing where this thread goes. I'll post more when my daughter isn't on my lap. :lol:
Last edited by BoneSnapDeez on Mon Apr 27, 2015 11:36 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Western RPG thread

by casterofdreams Mon Apr 27, 2015 11:28 am

I've noticed that WRPGs tend to focus on a few different concepts in building a game world and it's characters.

I tend to associate concepts such as player choice, non-linear story, a large open world (or close to it), and lastly, how well the game can build a world within the game itself (an example is Mass Effect and it's Codex).

Those are my "box checkers" so to speak when it comes to WRPGs. It not static in the sense that those are not must have ingredients though. Just a perception.
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Re: The Western RPG thread

by Jmustang1968 Mon Apr 27, 2015 11:52 am

Also forgot Elder Scrolls games Popo as a big series.
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Re: The Western RPG thread

by ZeroAX Mon Apr 27, 2015 11:58 am

Ultima 7 Ack, it's an amazing epic tale....if you can put up with the user interface :/
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Re: The Western RPG thread

by BogusMeatFactory Mon Apr 27, 2015 12:17 pm

There is a lot to be said about the Western RPG. It is one of the most diverse genres out there in gaming, honestly. You have first person RPGs like The Elder Scrolls Series, and many of the Forgotten Realms games like Menzoberranzan, Ravenloft and the Might & Magic series that have a more party based first person exploration RPG. I would actually recommend trying Ravenloft, as it is an interesting world and has two titles in the series that carry over your character's progress. The game itself has some archaic trappings, but it is actually a really fun and entertaining experience.

Another series that I rant and rave about endlessly is the Dark Sun series. Dark Sun: Shattered Lands is a VERY accessible western RPG using the D&D ruleset, but is not unforgiving like many of the old-school Gold Box games. There are tons of side missions and strategy involved that really challenges you without being head-bangingly frustrating.

There is also the Fallout series and the Arcanum series that are both thoroughly enjoyable, but the pacing of combat can at times feel slow and tedious with its turn based combat. Large battles can seem to take forever while waiting for the other enemies to move about. They games themselves are spectacular and leave a lot open to explore and experience, but waiting on combat can be a hassle.

Want something on a console? I would recommend King's Bounty on the Genesis which is a sandbox style RPG where you explore the world, collect treasure and hunt down criminals and evil warlords for profit. The combat itself is akin to the Heroes of Might & Magic game series and is a lot of fun.

Another great Genesis RPG is Shadowrun. It is a bit more of an action RPG, but is fast paced, has a lot of variety in its sandbox style and really has a diverse array of skills that allow you to approach situations in a variety of ways. I absolutely adore this game.

Another WRPG on consoles is Buck Rogers: Countdown to Doomsday for the Genesis. Now, you can also get this game on PC, which has more classes, but has dungeons in a first person perspective. The Genesis uses an isometric view for dungeons and is still a worthwhile experience. The game is a lot of fun and can really appeal to someone looking for a nice Couch RPG.

Want more Sandbox, career oriented RPGs? Try out Darklands. Set in medieval Germany you play as an adventurer who roams the country side as a hero or a villain, trying to make a name for yourself. It has a lot of variety and can at times feel overwhelming, but it is really worth a play through. There is so much content that you may never experience the same thing twice.

Want a Western RPG that seems more akin to a JRP? Try Anachronox. This game has a fun sci-fi theme and a great story and features a combat system that a lot of JRPG fans will find familiar. It is a great great game!

These are just a few. If you want more input on them, I can totally go more in depth. Just a taste for now!
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