I don't think I've played and completed more than you have! Since you enjoyed the latter Wizardry titles so much, I'd definit […]
clueless1 wrote on 2020-09-17, 09:58:
I definitely don't mind! Thanks! It sounds like you've played a lot more RPGs than I have. Any others (either old or modern) stand out to you?
I don't think I've played and completed more than you have! Since you enjoyed the latter Wizardry titles so much, I'd definitely recommend The Bard's Tale Trilogy, which is a really awesome remake of three games that really couldn't be more like the original Wizardry games if it tried. You can customize how "hardcore" you want it to be, which goes a long way towards making it more playable for a modern audience. When I ran through the games I used the automap but saved only in the Guild for the first two games (even the original BT3 allows you to save anywhere). Like I said earlier, it took about 70 hours to run through all three games, but BT1 was pretty short and you might want to run through it to see how you like the formula.
It's also worth continuing on to The Bard's Tale IV, which is an interesting attempt at a "modern" take on these kinds of games.
It works in some ways (exploration, overall atmosphere, combat/character development [til the mid point of the game]) and fails in others (loot, combat/character development [mid point onward], way too much reliance on logic puzzles [i.e. sliding blocks and similar things; however, they can be skipped if you hate them]). It's got a lot of callbacks to the previous games in the series so it's worth saving it for last imo.
Other than that, you might want to consider playing some of the older games in the Wizardry and Might & Magic series. You can hook them into a tool called "Where Are We" that provides a lot of modern quality of life features, such as an automap that fills in as you explore, status panels showing party and monster stats, and even a quest log! There's a similar tool, "Gold Box Companion," for the SSI AD&D "Gold Box" games, and I definitely recommend playing Pool of Radiance as it feels just right, with plenty of sub-quests and an somewhat nonlinear structure.
Wizardry I-III&V are all individually short enough that it's worth going through them imo. Wizardry I and V, in particular, have aged very well.
I also highly recommend Might & Magic Book One. It's aged EXTREMELY well and the sense of exploration the game provides is simply unmatched imo. It's also not as brutal as you might expect, as you can rest at (almost) any time to fully restore HP and SP... which means you have nothing to lose by taking full advantage of all your spellcasters every combat. It's a massive game, and it really feels like you are exploring an entire world.
Wasteland takes some getting used to but is pretty amazing (and shouldn't take too long to complete). There's a modern remake that came out last year I think, but I haven't tried it. It's apparently a very faithful remake, just with "improved" (tastes vary) graphics rendered in 3D.
For more modern takes on party-based & turn-based combat, there's Might & Magic X, Operencia, and Grimoire.
Might & Magic X is definitely better than the horrible M&MIX, but I'd rank it below everything else in the series. It has fixed encounters which is a pet peeve of mine. It is also heavily character build-based, but provides no option to respec your characters; since there are no random encounters, that means you could get stuck in the game with a nonviable party. It follows modern MMO character building pretty closely (you'll want a "tank" and a rogue "damage dealer" as well as a "buffer" and so on), which I guess was its attempt to modernize the formula, but it feels out of place imo in a M&M game. The combat is fun early on as a result, but once you've locked into your roles it's almost like playing on autopilot. The game is also very linear, and the fixed encounters basically serve to lock you out from exploring outside of whatever area is appropriate for your level. It just didn't feel like a M&M game to me, but was enjoyable on its own and worth playing.
Operencia is honestly kind of dull. You create only a single character, while the rest of your party changes along with the story... almost like a Japanese RPG I suppose. I found the combat to be tedious and full of damage sponge enemies, and the game is very linear. The dungeons themselves are quite decent, more complicated than those in both M&MX and BT4 and a lot of fun to explore. My biggest issue with the game is that it is very story-focused and teases a world based on Hungarian folk stories, but ends up being your typical fighters and wizards killing goblins in castles and forests. Worst of all, the dialog is cringeworthy and goes on and on. It really reminds me of modern Japanese RPGs, with character portraits on either side of the screen as text shows up on the screen, where you have to press a button after every single sentence to just get on with it.
Grimoire is DEFINITELY worth playing, especially in your case, as it was specifically designed to be a sort of spiritual sequel to Wizardry VII... it's almost like a "lost" Wizardry game that got released in between VII and VIII. It's got a massive world to explore that's full of interesting stuff, an eight-character party, and some really nice quality of life features (automap complete with an auto-navigation feature!). The writing is also very evocative, and is similar to D.W. Bradley's more serious writing in Wizardry V, VI, and VII.