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TL-DR - here you can discuss great RPGs of the past, make recommendations, and share your opinion about which is the best.

We've been beating around the bush for too long. It's time to talk about the greatest RPGs of all times, what made them great, and what can Baldur's Gate 3 learn from them. I want this thread to be a place where you can discuss, argue (nicely), and share your thoughts about the RPG video games we had up until this point. Everything that came before Baldur's Gate 3 is fair game. If you think a game belongs here, it belongs here.

To kickstart this discussion, I made a list of categories, each one about a game and/or company that did something great for the genre. You are welcome to fill out these categories with your favorites, create some of your own, or write anything else you'd like. I do recommend keeping Baldur's Gate 3 in mind, A because after all, it is a Baldur's Gate 3 forum, and B because I think another look at these games and their design might prove useful in improving Baldur's Gate 3.

My list:

Best RPG studio of all times: Bioware

Some would say it's predictable, some would say "wake up the king is dead", and some would consider both statements to be true. But personally, I can't deny that so much of the joy I felt when playing video games comes from playing one Bioware or another. This company has been around for a while, and for a while they were unbeatable. In their prime, they always tried to innovate and change the way they do things, but the core storytelling and character designs remained the same. Some would say Bioware fall stems from teaming up with the devil, I mean EA (sorry devil, even you are not that bad), but I think Bioware tried too much to casualize their games, which led to their downfall. I really hope they'll come back though, but on the other hand, I think there are others that keep their old flame burning (namely CD project, but time will tell).

Best RPG game series: Baldur's Gate

Another obvious choice, but a well-deserved one. The original Baldur's Gate was quite Unique (or so I've been told, I didn't play it until much later). A lot of exploration in a beautiful world map, nice quest, and cool story. The DND systems in place provided a lot of tactical fun, and it had a great sense of humor. The Second Baldur's Gate was an undisputed (as much as these things can be) masterpiece. This series shows how to take something great, and improve upon it without throwing out anything. The second game had a great story, amazing characters, and even better combat mechanics. This is the perfect example of how to create a good RPG series, take what was good and improve all the rough parts. Bioware made similar things with Mass Effect 2 (which is still considered to be the best in that series) but the Baldur's Gate will always be a shining beacon of a good game design advancement.

Best RPG for modders The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim

Skyrim is a great and fun game. It has a vast and inviting world, some crazy fun side quest, and cool mechanics. But to be honest, even in the Elder Scroll series alone, there are other games who did all of these things much better. No, Skyrim's greatest asset is its modding community. with (as of now) 65 thousand mods, this game shelf life seems almost infinite. You can find almost any kind of mod you want in Skyrim, from some cosmetic enhancements to amazing fully voice acted quests. Even after almost a decade, this game produces something like 80 mods in a week, and there are many YouTube channels whose sole purpose is to find the best of the best. If mods are your thing, don't miss this one

Best RPG for normies:The Witcher 3

I'll say it upfront - I don't care about combat mechanics. Almost don't care at all. If the combat mechanics are really terrible I might not replay a game (hence why I never could finish a second playthrough of the first Witcher game), but if the story is good enough, I really don't mind. The Witcher 3's combat mechanics are fine IMO. They are fun enough. But since they are action game combat mechanics, I saw many people who say this game (along with Skyrim I suppose) shouldn't be part of best RPGs lists. And I think it's wrong. I think the most important aspects of every RPG (even a tabletop one, but I don't have much experience there so feel free to correct me) are the story, the characters, the world, and the freedom to choose your path. Many video games struggle to achieve all of these together. Skyrim put more emphasis on the world, Mass Effect 2 more on the story and characters, but in very rare cases you get a game that can pull off all of them. and I think the Witcher 3 is such a game. It has its flaws, sure, but it is still a great RPG, and (warning controversial opinion) this game is as much a BG successor as any other CRpg wannabe. You need more than an isometric point of view and RTwP to create something as unique as BG2.

Most Overrated Studio: Obsidian

Now hold on a second, I want to make it clear - if you love Obsidian that's perfectly fine, and most likely that at least in this forum you are the majority (hence the word overrated). I'm not trying to just put Obsidian down, only to talk about my completely subjective opinion of this studio. Feel free to disagree.

If we would say the RPG industry is a classroom, Obsidian always struck me as the edgy wisecracking kid who sits in the back and talk down his teachers. Although they have their formula (which is very different from Bioware's, nut formula all the same), they tend to try to do new things with their stories. I think I like the ideas of most of their games' stories are great and thought provoking, they usually come in a very mediocre package. Very messy but slow start, uninteresting characters, and a sense of humour I don't particularly like made some of their games a real slog for me, and although I played many Obsidian game, I only finished a select few.

Most Promising Studio: Owelcat

I was really struggling with this one. My default answer here is still CD Project Red, a small Polish studio that it's last title made them a huge success in the gaming world and not only in the RPG fandom. And if you're cool with first person shooters, I honestly think it still is. But unfortunately for me, I simply loath this game perspective, and avoided many (supposedly) great games because of it.

For me, another great promise is Owlcat. They have only one game under their belt, but what a game it is. Pathfinder: Kingmaker not only drawed from the mythology of RPG games design, but also found a new and cool ways to innovate and mix up the old formula. Making your main character a lord of small province and having the leadership being a major part of your experience, was a great addition. Other games tried to do similar things, but no one did as successfully. Other than that, Kingmaker has a solid story, very interesting companions, and deep dnd game mechanics. It is rough around the edges, but it shows great promise. I can't wait to see what owlbear will do next.

The one Game that has Everything Baldur's Gate 3 needs to become a legend: Dragon Age: origins

Dragon Age Origins doesn't have the best story or characters. It's combat is fine, nothing to write home about. But I think that if there was one game that showed how important execution is, it was this one. This game has a lot of flags. You could start as a human noble or a dwarven outcast, but either way not only the world respond to you, who you are has a direct influence on the direction the story will go to. The best example is the Landsmeet scene. Without spoilers, I'll only say that scene has many different outcomes many variables and a lot of dialogue lines that shift and change according to the choices you made previously and during it, and everything works and makes sense. This scene also shows that in order to write a western RPG with multiple choice, good story and characters are not always enough. You need attention to details, and to foresee what choices the player might make, and accommodate them. If you wish to see an example of how it is done wrong, give Divinity Original Sin 2 another try.

My favourite game of all times: Star Wars: Knights of the old Republic

I guess you always remember your first. The first western RPG I played is objectively a very good game. It has an interesting star Wars story, great characters, and a fine combat system that's based on a streamlined version of dnd. It is kinda binary in its choices (light side dark side) and is probably unplayable bon most modern machines, but what can I say, love it. And that twist. Damn.

Speaking of twists, the greatest accomplishment of KoTor is not actually about RPGs but about Star Wars. People like to bash the prequels, and for good reason. George Lucas might have a talent for world building and lore writing, but he is a terrible director and a competent screenwriter at best.

But playing Kotor, you can finally see where he was coming from. Many people talked about how Kotor 2 deconstructs the star wars mythos, but few mention how Kotor 1's story and characters help the prequels to become more cohesive and complete story.

It is much smaller part of the story than in Kotor 2 and completely optional, but there are some side story threads that if you'll presue, you'll learn much about the nature of the Jedi order and its flaws.


Last edited by Abits; 06/11/20 06:36 AM.

Larian's Biggest Oversight, what to do about it, and My personal review of BG3 EA
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I agree with some of your choices and not others. But special mention of so very strongly disagree on Obsidian. For me, Obsidian is the best cRPG studio currently out there.

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I agree with some, disagree with others.

Best RPG Studio: Black Isle
Best RPG Series: Original Fallout (not 3+)
Best for Modders: I agree with your choice
Best for Normies: I agree with your choice
Most Overrated: Bethesda
Most Promising: I agree with your choice
The one Game: I agree with your choice
My Favorite: Planescape: Torment

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Originally Posted by kanisatha
I agree with some of your choices and not others. But special mention of so very strongly disagree on Obsidian. For me, Obsidian is the best cRPG studio currently out there.



Obsidian did a lot of masterpieces like kotor 2 and FNV but also did a lot of AWFUL things like dungeon siege 3 which is awful like diablo 3.

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The best CRPG ever created is Pathfinder:Kingmaker.

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" I can't wait to see what owlbear will do next."
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How it is even possible to choose one D: I have sentiment for adventure in Planescape: Torment but judging by playtime then DOS2 + Neverwinter mmo for few years.

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Originally Posted by Verte
How it is even possible to choose one D: I have sentiment for adventure in Planescape: Torment but judging by playtime then DOS2 + Neverwinter mmo for few years.

That's the beauty of this topic, you don't have to you can choose as many as you want.

Does anyone here remember Alpha Protocol?


Larian's Biggest Oversight, what to do about it, and My personal review of BG3 EA
"74.85% of you stood with the Tieflings, and 25.15% of you sided with Minthara. Good outweighs evil, it seems."
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Fun times.

Best RPG studio of all times: Obsidian
The most RPG studio I can think of. And not one trick ponies either. Their library is messy, but inspired and varied. I only hope they are about to enter their golden age, not a decline...


Best RPG game series: Fallout
BGs is a strong candidate, but there are three excellent Fallout games. While the IP might be dirty now, I think one can’t overlook how brilliant the good ones are.


Best RPG for normies: Dragon Age:Origins
Not a game I like, but like Firaxis XCOMs I think it’s a great introduction to the genre.


Most Overrated Studio: I would say Owlcat, as I believe the campaign for Kingmaker to be the worst one since NWN1, but I want to see more of them. First title, I will give them some slack. scratch that. Bethesda exists. And I am not on recent hate train. I just never understood, why people enjoyed playing their games. I am still to try Morrowind - I hear that one is decent. But Oblivion/Skyrim/Fallout3 were dull chores.


Most Promising Studio: ZA/UM
I can’t quite see them following up on Disco Elysium - especially as it is a game relying on hand-made content rather then systems. Doing a good sequel or follow up, might not be easier as such. Still, I want to see more.


My favourite RPG of all time: Baldur’s Gate 2
You don’t forget your first time. Still, an excellent ride to this day.

Here are some new categories:

Best open world in an RPG:
Gothic2

Best action RPG system:
Dark Souls

Best roll-based combat system:
Pillars of Eternity

RPG sequel I want to play the most:
Alpha Protocol2

Last edited by Wormerine; 04/11/20 07:22 PM.
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Best studio of all time: Black Isle (almost flawless track record for the admittedly short period they had existed)

Best series: Ultima

Best RPG for modders: - (I've never been much into modding so can't discuss)

Best RPG for "Normies": New Vegas, a nice blend of actual role-playing with character customization, choices galore, non-linear questing and mass market FPS

Most overrated studio: CD Projekt Red (not arguing they're a bad studio, mind, but all that hype)

Most promising studio: Really curious what Archetype may bring to the table.

That one game: Doesn't exist yet as developers have mostly focused on cinematic presentation (games aren't movies!), streamlining and accessibility since rather than truly advancing the core values of BG. In other words, trying to reach an ever larger audience has trumped being unique and awesome

Favourite game of alle time: Tough choice, it's probably a tie between Ambermoon as one of my first, Shock 2 and Planescape:Torment/BG1

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Hmm. No mention of Wizardry, Might and Magic, Zork?

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Agree with many of your statements. BG series and BG2 is my favorite of all time.

Would add 2 more:

Best side quests : Witcher 3

Best writing : Planescape Torment/ DE.

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Originally Posted by Agrippa
Hmm. No mention of Wizardry, Might and Magic, Zork?


Not enough cinematic storytelling for newer audiences. :hihi: To be more serious, the influence of Wizardry is arguably greater in Japan than in the West nowadays, which is curious. Speaking of which, D.W. Bradley's Wizards&Warriors is also a really nice dungeon crawler... smile

Last edited by Sven_; 04/11/20 07:35 PM.
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since we talking about old times i just wanna do some kind of honorable mention:

Game:

Eye of the Beholder, Eye of the Beholder II - The Legend of Darkmoon


Developer:

Westwood Studios


That being said, for me personally, the best RPG of all times isnt really crystal clear. Eye of the Beholder 2, Baldur's Gate 2 and Pathfinder Kingmaker are all three candidates. Maybe Baldur's Gate 3 will soon be up there aswell, it has potential for sure. I'm replaying Pillars of Eternity right now (Never really finished) and plan to play Pillars of Eternity 2 after finishing the first one, so, we'll see if they are as good.

Also, please don't forget, Owlcat is doing another cPRG which might be released at the end of next year (Wrath of the Righteous).

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Best RPG studio of all times: Bioware
Best RPG game series: Baldur's Gate
Best RPG for modders : /
Best RPG for normies:The Elder Scrolls : Skyrim
Most Overrated Studio: Bethesda
Most Promising Studio: Owlcat

The one Game that has Everything Baldur's Gate 3 needs to become a legend: Baldur's Gate should be a source of inspiration to create a new gen BG experience.
My favourite game of all times: Baldur's Gate 1/2

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There is no such thing as "best" game or studio, it's all very subjective. It's like making a list of most beautiful movie actor or actress of all time: usually all just commercial lies. When it's about what made the deepest marks on you, the commercial success or the oppinion of the majority means nothing.
Of course our subjective opinion isn't better either, so no point arguing ever: all we can say, what we liked and maybe why, if we still remember it.

Bioware isn't the same or ever was in the past: they evolved, changed, improved and also faded away; may return with quality or not. Not the same people, it's mostly a name, though a name which inspires and creates high expectations for a good reason.

Baldur's Gate 1 & 2 are very much overrated by some (and that's okay), because there wasn't anything better back then. First love is greatest. They aren't bad, but just finished BG 1 and playing BG2 now, and nothing to make me cry in there. Aged games, so won't bash them either.

Skyrim was horrible without mods (I quit after 1hr or so), but mods made it an amazing place where one could do nothing just listen to the sounds of nature & weather, and relax for hours. Forest and rivers, if one had a PC to run it on highest of course. Great background music as well. Not much gameplay, but the main story was decent and was fun exploring every corner a few times.

Witcher series are a special kind, very different atmosphere. Avoiding the fighting with mods (don't afraid to mod out annoying parts), the story and the world were captivating, with emotional moments along.

Obsidian creations is among the best, though one have to pick the good parts and ignore the rest, same as with any other game. The emotions in the voice of Grieving Mother (voice actress Tara Platt) alone made Pillars of Eternity a game that can write it's marks deep. Many great voice acting in that game, and though it's a sad story, the game is thought provoking and can teach more about life and choices, than usually 4 years of school does.

tl;dr -- never follow my recommendations or reviews, or those of anyone: see for yourself, you need to taste it, feel it, because you may miss out really amazing moments if you just follow others; what marks you is unique to you

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I agree that Best RPG for modders is Skyrim. It was the same with Oblivion, thousands of mods. But these games also have the problem that they force the players to make mods: it is impossible to marry Serana in the game (I hate the developers of Skyrim for this), it is impossible to join the necromancer guild, and so on.
I want the mods in BG3 to add things like "play as Mind Flayer" and not things Larian should add!

I agree that Dragon Age: origins is the kind of game Larian needs to follow (not Original Sin 2). It was a really great game, every fan of this game is likely to try BG3. I can't remember any of the flaws of Dragon Age Origin, other than the fact that the game didn't react to the fact that I was a blood mage.
Because Bioware can't do it! Dragon Age 2 = complete sh*t, made just to make money, I won't even comment, everything is clear there. The Inquisition was very promising, they made great progress with game design (I liked it, game design is the strongest side of the Inquisition, but this is where the strengths of the Inquisition end), but spoiled the role-playing (not completely, there were interesting quests such as the reception from Empress Celina) and made just disgusting companions. I played as an elf magician, and I had a choice for romance - Cassandra, which is not about magic at all, and too masculine. And Josephine, who is not even a companion. Why couldn't they do something like Leliana and Morrigan again?
But the game has a full range of LGBT relationships, I have nothing against it, but in this game LGBT relationships are written better than heterosexual ones, and there is a lot of such content. Damn.

Larian is doing great, except that they didn't add Minthara as a companion, I'm happy with everything. Evil root problems are obvious = early access problems and will be fixed.

Fallout 3 was terrible in terms of role-playing a bad role (the worst game to play for evil or neutrality), but they were fixed in Fallout 4 and I have no complaints about them.

Regarding Mass Effect, the second and third parts are not bad. I liked Andromeda despite the bad reviews, but to be honest, until I played for 5-10 hours I thought this game sucked and I was bored. After that, it became interesting, and I changed my mind. Yes, it's definitely not 10, but quite a decent game that was a pleasure to play. With Baldurs Gate, it becomes clear that everything is fine with the game from the first minutes, when we enjoy the music in the character editor, when we extract Us from the skull, Larian is great in this regard.

I also want to mention the Gothic and Fable series. Those were good games ... 20 years ago. Their biggest problem was that they failed to understand that the requirements for games were changing, and players needed something more. Sadly, I think these series are dead.
Fable could make a role-playing game without a rigid linear plot, with companions, with different romantic interests (well written), with the ability to gain strength and power gradually depending on their actions, to make many decisions and choices. But, Fable 3 didn't, and I highly doubt that Fable 4 will fix the mistakes.

I hope Larian will listen to our feedback and move in the right direction. If BG3 turns out to be successful and they start developing DLC, BG4 (immediately, not after 2-5-10 years) and the parallel new Neverwinter Nights, while the quality will be the same - I will boldly call Larian the best RPG studio in the world



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Eh definitely disagree on Obsidian, Witcher, and Owlcat.
I always loved Obsidian stories and world way more than I did Bioware's, especially after Bioware went downhill with the Dragon Age series and the travesty that is Anthem. At least Obsidian is still trying to make games they are passionate about. Owlcat I really don't see what people like about it, but thats again purely personal opinion. Witcher 3 is not even an RPG... Its a beautiful game with a cool main character and story, but you are playing Geralt of Rivia, the white witcher dude who has a LI he was destined to be with (especially if you read the books), and a daughter figure that he loves and protects (also from the books). Not much to RP here.

Skyrim might be great mod-wise, but I always preferred Morrowind for the story, the lore, and the world-building.

Last edited by Arideya; 04/11/20 08:01 PM.

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Obisidian games really stand out. I mean their dialogue writing has never ceased to disapoint - their persuasion for non-combat approach has always been a dynmaic combination of your skill checks AND the options you choose, it just fits roleplay so perfectly imho.

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Originally Posted by LoneSky
Obsidian creations is among the best, though one have to pick the good parts and ignore the rest, same as with any other game. The emotions in the voice of Grieving Mother (voice actress Tara Platt) alone made Pillars of Eternity a game that can write it's marks deep. Many great voice acting in that game, and though it's a sad story, the game is thought provoking and can teach more about life and choices, than usually 4 years of school does.

tl;dr -- never follow my recommendations or reviews, or those of anyone: see for yourself, you need to taste it, feel it, because you may miss out really amazing moments if you just follow others; what marks you is unique to you



The Rsising Tide quest from White March DLC had some depth too, made me thinking.

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