Recommend a computer RPG, or make fun of me for asking

Does anyone have any recent recommendations for a computer RPG? I haven’t played a good one in ages, and I’m hoping someone knows of the perfect one that I’ve missed out on. Besides wanting to play a new one myself, my wife is looking at going in for surgery soon, and will be going stir crazy at home while she recovers – it would be great if I can surprise her with a gift of a game she would like to give her something to do that isn’t strenuous.

Just to narrow it down some, my wife and I both tend to like games that are stat-based, non-action RPGs (not first person shooters, so much) with a lot of plot and puzzles.  I like both fantasy and SF genres, while my wife tends to like only the fantasy genres.  We've both loved the Might and Magic series quite a bit, and the Ultima series.  Wizardry was my favorite back when the original came out, but over the years we've kind of lost interest.  I've loved the Fallout series, but my wife doesn't like the SF.  We both like the Final Fantasy series (my wife more than I), although we get bored by the movie interludes.  We both liked Planescape:Torment.  She liked Baldur's Gate, I wasn't as impressed.  Arcanum looked neat, but my wife thought it was so-so.  (I haven't had the time to finish it.)  I suppose I could go on, but that's probably enough info to give some ideas of our tastes.  Oh, and we're not looking for anything on-line.  At all.

If you know a great one that doesn't fit my recommendations exactly, well, maybe post it anyway, and it will help someone else.  It seems to me there just aren't as many computer RPGs out these days.  Feel free to make comments to (explain this/disagree with this/rant about it/be grateful for it) from your POV. 

Let’s see – asking opinions, but it’s about a computer game. IMHO or Cafe? (Flips mental coin) Heads – Cafe it is (for the computer game aspect - I’m fairly certain I’ve seen posts about computer games directed to Cafe). Apologies in advance to the mods if I’ve chosen poorly and they have to move it – I did my best.

Have you seen Morrowind? Probably the best single player RPG I’ve ever seen, ever. I’ve played most of the ones you list (Wizardry 1 waaaay back when!) and Morrowind wins over 'em all.

If she liked BG, she would enjoy BG II: Shadows of Amn, and its expansion: Throne of Bhaal.

I’m not as up on them as I used to be so take my suggestion with a grain of salt, but BG II was my favorite.

Sounds like you liked it! Tell me more.

I have this vague memory that when Morrowind came out, it was kind of buggy. Help me refresh my memory - is this (a) me misremembering, (b) it was buggy but it’s fine now, or © it’s buggy, but it’s still enjoyable.

Also, how does it play? Turn-based combat, or real-time? (We have a large preference for turn-based, as we’re not good at action games, but occasionally we’ll get over it.) Lots of plot and NPC’s to talk to, or mostly combat?

You know, when BG II came out, I suggested it, but my wife didn’t like BG quite enough to get the sequel. However, it’s been long enough, it’s cheaper now, plus there are fewer games out there competing, so I’m willing to reconsider. BG II was your favorite? Was it a lot better than BG, or just slightly, and why?


I’ll second Baldur’s Gate 2. That’s the most replayed game I own. There are some very nice user mods out there. BG 2 is my favorite because it took all the good parts of BG and improved them. Character interaction with NPCs is better - their personalities are more thoroughly fleshed out (and Minsc is back and more hilarious than ever). Quests are more coherent (usually). You get to toss around some serious mojo and wield some k.a. weapons.

Morrowind is top-notch, but it plays much like a first-person shooter (FPS) RPG. It’s not like other FPSs with RPG elements likes Deus Ex or System Shock 2. It’s first and foremost a RPG, and unlike FPSs or other RPGs, you can get so powerful so easily that nothing can truly harm you (other than the all-too-frequent crash to desktop after not having saved for the past 90 minutes). Morrowind was not as buggy as Bethesda’s previous game, Daggerfall, but still had some problems. Many were fixed, but I still experience some crashes (especially when I’m trying to do too many things too quickly); not enough to turn me off of the game. A warning - you need a good system to run this game.
Icewind Dale plays like a better version of many console RPGs (IMO), although if you are looking for character interaction, you are out of luck. It’s based on the BG engine, only you create the entire party rather than pick up NPCs. I haven’t tried ID 2 yet, but I hear it is as good.

I’ve heard good things about Arx Fatalis, and it’s on my shelf to be played soon.

Wizardry 8 is good.

I’ve heard bad things about the latest Might & Magic entry (number 9, if memory serves) and about Pools of Radience; considering my limited gaming time, that was enough to keep me away from these.

Hope this helps.

Actually, the previous games in the Elder Scrolls series (Morrowind being the 3rd) were pretty buggy, but I’ve yet to have any problems with this one. It’s very stat based, the action is easy enough, and the biggest part is there’s a LOT of user made downloads for it that plug into the main story of the game, to allow you more options/weapons/spells/locations plus allow you to change the difficulty of the game or even add monsters and dungeons.

It’s very free form, however. There’s a story and it gently guides you towards it, but you never have to follow it and this bothers some people who play. It’s certainly worth a purchase (especially since I saw it used for 20$ and the expansion used for 15$)


I thought Morrowind was terrible. If your into stat based RPG’s you won’t like this one even though it has stats. The combat is ridiculously easy. I liked Icewind Dale 2 which is a stat/combat heavy take on bg2. You would also probably like Wizardry 8. Stay away from Morrowind.

Fallout I and II have a great plot and atmosphere, and it’s fairly old so it should run on any modern computer and cost stuff-all. Lots of dialogue, turn-based action and multiple solutions for quests. Only problem is it’s post apocolyst setting, which may not be to your taste.

You could try Neverwinter Nights. Personally I found the plot and general ‘feel’ wafer thin compared to BG, but there are some great user-made campaign modules and the 3rd edition rules are fun. Monks kicks ass.

I’ll have to second that one. I find NWN pretty engrosing (granted, I only play it for a few hours a week as I have my games saved on someone else’s computers), and some of the player-made modules are -really- nice (try Penultima City- It’s awsome and quite funny)

A favorite that I’ve played to the end several times. Cool graphics. You have to be careful not to let your “Humanity” level fall if you want the “happy” ending.

I thought it was a big improvement over the first BG, and at the time I didn’t think that that was possible.

They switched over to 3rd edition AD&D rules, which means the re-introduction of two of my favorite classes: the monk and the barbarian.

They also brought back the race of Half-Orc. Make a H-O Barbarian and watch the severed limbs fly…

Bonuses to BG II include but are not limited to: characters start at roughly 6th level, Imoen kicks more ass than ever because she begins as a dual class (keeps all her great thieving abilities, and is now training to be a mage), deeper character interaction with your group members (including several love interest story lines), more detailed quests and the ability to gain strongholds, dragons!, level restrictions are not restrictive (if you get the expansion, you can reach 20+, depending on class, and gain new abilities unique to 3rd edition rules called feats), character kits (like Archer and Mage Slayer, among many others) to customize your main character further, and the introduction of a slew of new spells (including a whole new pantheon of protection and anti-protection spells which adds a whole new level of complexity to deciding how to fill those memorization slots).

Other than that (and I’m sure I’m forgetting some things), it’s pretty much just like the first BG: non-linear storyline, good graphics, good voice acting, etc.

If she wasn’t too into the first one, she probably won’t be all that much more into the 2nd one, despite all the improvements, but it still carries my recommendation :slight_smile:

Good luck, good gaming, and I hope the surgery goes smoothly :slight_smile:

It occasionally crashes to desktop on my system. By “occasionally” I mean maybe once every 3-4 hours. I’m obsessive about saving, so that hasn’t bugged me much. Other than that, no bugs that I know of.

It’s not turn-based, it’s real-time. However, you can pause during combat and do stuff like rearrange spells or get a different weapon - that makes a difference for me, I don’t know if it does for you. It’s not nearly as nerve-wracking combat wise as a FPS. For what it’s worth, I really don’t enjoy FPS, and I don’t consider Morrowind anything like an FPS.

Morrowind’s big draw is the plot and NPCs. You literally can play for days and days without even touching the main plot line. One of the cool things about the game is that everything is “real”. Those books in the bookshelf over there? You can pull them out and read them. The dishes on the table aren’t background graphics - you can pick them up, steal them, rearrange them, whatever you want.

There’s also a ton of skills. One of my favorite is Alchemy. You can find books about Alchemy, then go out and gather the necessary herbs, minerals, and animal parts. Combine them and make potions.

Combat is fairly easy, as people say. That doesn’t bother me much - the plot is rich enough, and there’s enough to do that combat isn’t the main point. There’s also enough “hard” encounters, at least in my opinion, that combat doesn’t get too horribly dull.

Lots and lots of clever riddles to solve, quests to do, etc. etc. NPCs with personalities. And don’t forget the graphics - this game is absolutely beautiful. You can sit and watch the sunrise and be dazzled if you want. The cities are complex and interesting.

I need to go play now…

Have you thought about The Myst games? While not really fantasy RPG’s, the are heavy puzzle intensive. Other than that, I second Morrowind, except to say that if you pick up the expansion (Tribunal), I wouldn’t load it untill you’ve played through the main game for a while. As I understand it, once you have the expansion loaded, it automatically trigers a series of events in the game, with no way to really aviod them. So you can find yourself trying to play the expansion at level 1. Not a good thing. There are also some great user mods out there for Morrowind. It was shipped with the constuction set the developers used to create the game originally, and the users have been curning out some great stuff.

Maybe she might like some of the stratagy type games? Age of Mythology can be a good way to loose a few hours. Although I can never beat the thing on anything other than easy.

Good luck, and I hope she feels better.

Lots of good suggestions here. Let me briefly reply to the major points, and I apologize in advance if I miss anyone.

Several good recommendations on BG2 – I do think I’ll look into this one. I remember that one thing my wife found annoying about BG was the combat system; if that’s been upgraded to DD 3e, it may be improved. Also, she hasn’t played BG lately, so she may feel differently. It at least sounds like it’s worth a try.

D_Odds and KidCharlemagne: Icewind Dale sounds like it doesn’t have enough story that we’d enjoy it, so I’m going to give it a pass for now. Thank you for giving me the information, though.

D_Odds, on Might and Magic 9: We played this one (as we’ve played all of them). Personally, I think it’s the weakest of the M&M series from MM6 onwards (which all have very similar software engines). However, I still enjoyed it, and like it better than a lot of games out there. My wife says it was better than Arcanum (which, as I said earlier, I haven’t had time to play, and can’t comment on). I don’t have any information on Pool of Radiance, though.

Rabid_Squirrel, I have both Fallout 1 and 2, and loved both of them – I agree, they’re great games. My wife doesn’t like the post-holocaust setting, though, so doesn’t care for them. If they made a fantasy game in this style, it would be perfect. If they made a Fallout 3 (and Fallout Tactics isn’t it), I would buy it in a heartbeat for myself.

Atrael, thanks for the suggestions of other types of games, but I’m particularly looking for RPG’s. The ones you suggest are either genres we’re not out of games in yet, or ones that my wife isn’t interested in.

For example, we also really love strategy games. We’ve got just about all of the Heroes of MM series, Age of Wonders, I think we have WarCraft somewhere, I liked Master of Orion II (although my wife didn’t), and we have a few others whose names I can’t remember. However, we have a couple that we haven’t finished yet. We found some “campaign-only” versions of HOMM3 on the discount rack, and haven’t played them all. My wife recently got the expansions to HOMM4, which she enjoys for a while, but then she gets tired of playing that type of game. She’s been specifically looking for an RPG lately, which is why I’m trying to surprise her with one. (And I don’t fault you for not knowing that, - your suggestions were good ones.)

As for the graphical adventures – I really liked the Myst games. (In fact, I have all 3). My wife didn’t care for that style, though. I did – I’ve been playing that style since Zork, as the games grew and slowly added graphics.

In fact, we can see a theme here, which highlights part of the reason I’m having trouble finding games. I have little time, but like a wider variety of games. My wife has much more free time, but only likes a narrow type of game. Consequently, she runs out of games, and I generally don’t – I can always try to catch up by playing the last one she got, that I haven’t had time to play yet. Or I pick games she doesn’t like off the discount rack (I got the 2 fallout games together for under $20) way after they’ve passed their prime in the market.

In addition, it’s been my perception that companies just aren’t making many RPG’s these days. And those that do, are either adding action elements and gearing them towards the FPS crowd, or moving towards MMORPG’s. Those may both be profitable for the companies involved (I don’t know for certain, but I would hope that’s the rational expectation), but they aren’t the types of games we enjoy, and it leaves a big hole in the RPG market. (IMHO). Which means that we have to work harder at finding the few games that are out there that we enjoy.

Hey, where did this soapbox come from? Can someone help me down from here? Please?

Thanks to everyone who has responded so far. I see that a lot of people are talking about Morrowind, but I’m getting some mixed messages here, so I’m going to ask some stupid questions in the hope that I’ll get some smart answers. (To forestall the obvious: I checked their official website, as well as a few review websites, and couldn’t really get a clear picture through the marketing hype.)

Let’s start with plot.
Athena: “Morrowind’s big draw is the plot and NPCs. You literally can play for days and days without even touching the main plot line.”
HideoHo: “There’s a story and it gently guides you towards it, but you never have to follow it and this bothers some people who play.”

I think we would be counted among the people who would be bothered if you don’t have to follow the storyline. I’m not really looking for a completely free-form world. On the other hand, some games are really heavily linear, coughfinalfantasycough, and go overboard in the other direction. So please expand on this aspect. For instance, if I put the game down for a month, and come back to reload my game, is anything in the game going to remind me what the characters’ goals were? Is it possible to accidentally run across pieces of the plot out of order, that won’t make sense then, and can’t be redone? Or is it simply that, at any time, the characters can go off to (get stronger, do side quests, horse around) and can come back to the main plot at any time?

The crashes worry me – crashing to the desktop every few hours sounds extremely frustrating. Closely related to this point – is this a game you can save anywhere, anytime, or only at set locations?

Athena points out that combat is real time – which is a big minus for me. However, if you can pause at any time, that’s somewhat mitigating – similar to some of the later Ultima games, perhaps? What I really want to know is, since we don’t have the fastest mouse fingers in the West (or, in our case, in the NorthEast), are we going to be beaten in combat so many times that we’ll be too discouraged to continue playing? HideoHo and KidCharlemagne indicate that the combat is easy, which far from being a negative factor, is a positive factor for us if it’s a real-time combat game. I have to ask, though – easy by whose standards? Is it only easy compared to a real FPS, or is it easy as in, hard to die even if you are lousy at action games?

And overall – how’s the dialogue? How are the NPC’s? Do they react cleverly to PC dialogue? Are their multiple conversation trees? Do they change based on events in the game (ie, programmed to act as if “aware” of what’s happened in the world)?

Let me help you on Morrowind, which I am currently playing with the expansion pack Tribunal

You don’t have to ever enter the story. You can enter story-line specific places, but without certain triggers, you won’t break the story-line (for example, you can’t pick up an object to complete an early main plot quest until you are given that quest). One exception is for murdering psychopaths - you can kill key figures to the plot, without whom you cannot finish the game storyline. The game will tell you if you have done so. You can continue playing, you just can’t finish the main plot. At just about any point during the main plot, you can leave it to do other things, like take over the thieves’ guild, and return at your leisure. I don’t think there are any timed quests related to the main plot, strictly from memory.

Crashes can be annoying. However, you can quicksave at any time, even in combat. Combat is real-time, although you can pause (necessary for choosing spells or finding potions) during combat. However, it does not need any kind of quick reflexes and unless you power through the game in the shortest time possible, by the end you can easily beat anything you encounter. Combat is indeed very easy - no comparison to FPS, and little in the way of tactics (basically, do I kill the bad guy with magic or might). See enemy, choose offense, click left mouse button to hit enemy. Repeat until enemy is dead. Tactics means not throwing fire spells at Flame Atronarchs. There is a very annoying enemy - not dangerous after your first few levels, just very abudant - Cliff Racers. They’re big flying birds that prevent you from hitting autorun and going to make a cup of coffee. I’ve heard of, but not installed, user mods that can remove them (because their tails are useful in potion making.

The journal system in the main game was a mess, but the expansion included an upgrade that will let you see any quests you are currently undertaking, so you could go away and return and pick up where you left off.

Icewind Dale has an incredibly rich, but linear, story. What’s different from Baldur’s Gate is that you create the entire party, so there is no banter or strife amongst the party. There are no Minsc nor Edwin nor Xan nor Tiax. This is like Might & Magic and Wizardry, where you create the whole party, but IMHO much better. If you like those games, and liked the gameplay of Baldur’s Gate (and if you are a fan of the Spine of the World depicted in Salvatore’s Drizzt books), I heartily recommend Icewind Dale.

If you’d like to try your hand at an older game, Dynamix’s Betrayal at Krondor was a turn-based RPG that I absolutely adored. Part of it was that at the time I was a fan of Raymond Feist’s fantasy world in which the game is set, I’m sure.

The game was released by Sierra as freeware when the sequel Return to Krondor was published in 1997. You can find it as a free download scattered across the web. (Note that it is emphatically not abandonware. Sierra said “Here, take it, and why not buy the sequel?”)

Boo says:

Buy Balder’s Gate II. It’s a lot better than number one. Turn based or not, it’s up to you. When they say multiple story lines, boy do they mean it. Open ended game play? Maybe not 100%, but it’s about as close as you can get. The NPCs in your party do pretty much their own thing. Some parts of the game are only available to certain characters or NPCs.