Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Divinity: Original Sin, Dragon Age: Inquisition and turn-based combat

I bought Dragon Age 3: Inquisition about a week ago. I started playing it and loved everything about it – except for the combat. I switched the difficulty to super-easy, but the story itself was not enough to keep me playing either, and thus I started thinking.

What if Dragon Age had real tactical combat. That is: turn-based combat. It was immediately obvious to me that I would love it in that case. So I did what I always do before I put a game away – I read reviews. It turned out that several reviewers had had the same idea and proposed to play D:OS. And so I did.

D:OS is a very solid role playing game with slightly outdated graphics and a budget that has been some million too low. For example, I wanted to play an old male wizard, but the only character model I could have is that of a 20-years old body-builder. This is annoying. However, once I encountered the turn-based combat it was easy to overlook this flaw.

In many ways D:OS is the opposite of DA:I. DA:I has good - even brilliant - sound, graphics and general production value. But D:OS has good combat. And since combat is the core gameplay of both games it is easy to say which game is more fun to me.

Next I was thinking about about Skyrim. I had recently tried the Requiem Mod which turns Skyrim into an ‘immersive’ role playing game. Actually, it also turns Skyrim into a damn hard game. At first person perspective the most important skills are reaction and timer-based (blocking, swinging, moving). Skyrim is not all that fun to me this way. I really love that one arrow can almost kill me. But I want to evade this arrow with good tactics without being dependent on my twitch skills and muscle memory.

How brilliant would Skyrim be if combat were turn-based? I think it would be a very different game – but still a really good PC game. This is also the problem: Games like Dragon Age and Skyrim, nowadays, are not PC games, but console games ported to the PC. And console gamers want to lie/sit on the sofa and relax while mowing through enemies. PC gamers want, at least some of them, more than just a relaxing distraction. Real turn-based combat provides this; DA:I - even with lots of ‘space pushing’ - does not.
I really hope the industry has understood this now.

Summary: D:OS, even though it has a lot of shortcomings (graphics, general production quality, and actually the fact that I play with a walkthrough one ALT-TAB away) is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

1 comment:

  1. Whilst I agree that one would like to be able to use good tactics in Skyrim without being dependant on twitch skills and muscle memory, I think that turn based combat would greatly reduce the immersion of the game. What I like about Skyrim is being able really feel that I am a Dovahkin warrior wandering through Tamriel seeking out the dragon Alduin. I don't want to be reminded, by turn-based combat, that I'm actually just sitting in my mage tower, controlling the game through my scrying device, passing the time as I wait for my followers to return from their missions.