About combats I only remember a single ambush in woods that was as interresting as the other combats in the game. I just rewatched a playtrough I have recorded for 3 hours (speed +++ ofc) and I also avoided some with the "skill" you select at the beginning.
Anyway there are good ideas related to random encounters/events imo even if the overall "random events experience" becomes boring very fast.
I remember combat when there was some wood bloking the road/camp attacked with the same outcome: you have to fight with a random selection of characters.
Or one with some warriors in desert that I had several times and sometimes I was able to avoid battle, sometimes not.
My top 1 of stupid random encounters was the one with enemy soldiers lying under the sun in the desert to pretend they are dead, with a crying child to attract my attentiond and the child was carrying a gem to give it to me... and then the battle started and we where at the cave map
My top 1 of horrible encounters was with druids. When I tryed to avoid battle they just attacked and killed one of my praetorians (and that was a text encounter, not a real battle)... Injury I get used to, but killing thats just too much, imho
If I see enemy blocking my way and I am not in mood for fighting I may choose to turn around and go other direction. Or try different route. Or try to sneak. I also see what enemy I will be dealing with and how much enemies are there.
In random encounter game just suddenly throw in my face bunch of mobs and "have fun"... I usually dont
I'm not sure what games you have in mind but I can't think about many cRPG in which you can really sneak or take a different route to avoid "trash" combats. Ofc I haven't tried them all^^
But whatever, random encounters (or random events) doesn't have to be exclusively trash combats imo.
As I said in a previous page, it could also be a merchant, a meeting with a peacefull outcome possible through dialog, someone asking for something,...
Well, I haven`t played much, but the ones I played:
Expedition: Rome, already said: too often, at the end I had feeling that there are no new events and I have seen all of them. And that they excist only to add artificial difficulties by injuries, food loss etc.
Expedition: Vikings, the encounters there I remember where camp encounters. When you want to make camp but game tells you that first you need to kill wolfs/bandits. Wolfs were "ok", but bandits were horrible. The combat area is huuuuge, you are at one side, enemy on the other and enemy just dont want to fight! They run away, but they cannot leave battle, so they just run around the battlefield and I have to chase hoping I can corner them. I dont know who designed it but it has nothig to do with "fun" at all...
Pathfinder: wrath of the righteous. When I played first I didnt know I can avoid battls by having some spesific character with specific characteristics. So that was a pain: cannot make 10 steps on the world map without being attaked by some trash mobs, so: loadig screen, fight, find where game generates way out from the location, loading screen, rinse and repeat
Non-combat encounters or Bone Merchant. When I was playing first time there was no option to avoid that merchant. If you met him you had to wait for loading screen, turn around, press "exit" and wait for loading sreen again...
Its not fun, its just constant stops on my attempt to do quests
Pathfinder: kingmaker. Camp encounters when mobs attack during sleep. I was unlucky to have them oftem. Want to make a camp and go questing but no, wake up, fight with trash mobs, then send party to sleep again, then find where game generates way out from the location...
Encased. The only game where I like random encounters. Because each time you have "you meet enemy/merchants" event there where 2 options: approach and leave. So I just chose not to participate and leave. That is the variant I like: those who enjoy fighting may go and have their fun with trash mobs, those who doesnt enjoy just go questing without random obstacles
I'm only talking about random encounters/events when you long rest, but I really have a hard time to imagine that having, in exemple something like 5% chances to have a "trash" combat, 2% to meet a merchant and 3% to meet hostile npcs but with peacefull outcomes possible when you longrest at camp in the wild would be a major issue for a lot of players (reduced to 0% for potential combats if you're in a safe area, and, why not reduced to 0% for non hostile meetings and multiplied by, let's say 1.5 if you're in a dangerous one).
But I'm totally convinced it would add a lot of depth to the game.
- The world would feel more alive, dangerous and "real". At the moment it's totally static/frozen. It only react to the players actions.
- It would help to better reflect some basic rules of DnD (especially on action economy and classes balance, which is something the whole system is based on)
- Resting would become a real gameplay mechanic rather than a "no brain" button.
- It could eventually open the game to interresting mechanics (i.e camp defense, watch guard,...)
- It could also increase the feeling that we're really roaming a land rather than just "cleaning a map" (i.e because it could always be usefull to get back to the grove to rest safely. ofc it would require a specific "mini camp")
Ofc it should only be random once/long rest. The chain of 3+ random encounters you could have in the old games before sucessfuly resting didn't occur that much... But sometimes it was really boring too (even if it could led to challenging combats).
On difficulty, I'd say it should be balanced to be something like the bandit group in the crypt. Not so hard even if you're not prepared, but also not impossible to loose.
The problem with all that is: it is very hard to balance it between "fun encounters" and "additional boring micromanagement"
I had "camp guards" in Kingmaker and Vikings, and for me it was just an addintional micromanagement. Nothing fun at all, just additional movements to put guards each time I want to sleep or "put guard and forget about that mechanic"
because it could always be usefull to get back to the grove to rest safely
With my ability to teleport through a map that wont be any "challenge". Just tp to the grove, go inside, sleep, tp back to the nearest tp point, do back. Is that interresting? For me that would be just a borring artificial obstacle that prevents me from exploring the map without runnig back
It is a very thin barrier between "oh, that was fun and interresting" and "aghhh, why the game is constantly putting spokes in my wheel when I am just trying to have some fun???" And in addition, that barrier is different for all playrs
So the point of that a little bit too long comment: random encounters should be either very-very accurately balanced or be optional.
Or they become just a boring/frustrating routine (and/or additional source of unnesessary micromanagement)