Poll: I want to get back into Isometric RPGs. Should I start with Divinity:OS or Pillars of Eternity?

So due to growing up during the 1990's during the Golden Age of Black Isle and Bioware, I've always had a fondness of Isometric RPGs and was glad to seem them come back into fashion over the past decade.

Because of Steam, GOG and the like, I've grabbed most of the notable ones on sale over the years(Pillars, Divinity, Tyranny, Torment: Tides of Numeria, Pathfinder)? The backlog is full of them, and this year I'd like to actually start working through them.

Divinity: OS and Pillars of Eternity are the ones that get talked about the most and I want to play both of them, but I feel kind of deadlocked which one to start with. Both games are roughly the same length and both have a sequel that's considered better then the first(I'm ignoring the fact that there are like four other Divinity games for the sake of this comparison). I've heard both games do better in certain areas but that doesn't seem to help much(Divinity apparently has a bit more humor in it).

To give you an idea where my tastes lie, I loved the first 2 fallout games(and beat both multiple times), thoroughly enjoyed Planescape Torment, finished the first Balders Gate and found it...fine(I've been told the sequel is much better), and tried hard to get into Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magik Obscura(It hasn't clicked for me yet and I keep giving up not too far into the game due to how obtuse and clunky it feels).

While not isometric, I pretty much liked Bioware games up through Mass Effect 3, but the Dragon Age series hasn't quite clicked for me either(as in, I've yet to finish Origins because I keep getting bogged down and quitting and have never even bothered with 2 or Inquisition since Origins is supposed to be the best one).

Which game should I start with and why? Keep in mind, I will eventually play both series eventually, unless I end up hating one of the games so much I never reach the sequel.

And before anyone chimes in with "Disco Elysium", I've already played through it, loved it and intend to replay it again someday but that's not the answer I'm looking for. It did remind me how much I enjoy isometric RPGs though.

Divinity is turn based but other than that it feels the closest to the classic Baldur's experience, really deep world and lore, huge game to boot, and there's a sequel which improves everything too. It feels classic and not dumbed down or streamlined for new audiences.

And yeah the older games are fine and all but Divinity Original Sin 1 and 2 are the ones that are must play.

Disco ely-! Oh.

So the big difference is that divinity is turn based while PoE is real time. Personally I like turn base far more, since otherwise battle tend to dissolve into cluster fuck and you constantly get angry at your character pathing doing stupid thing (plus PoE UI is absolutely horrendous). To go a bit more into detail:

PoE is fine, but nothing special, the world building is really strong but the main quest uninteresting, character are okay-ish, only one of them stand out and it's not necessarily positive. Loot is super boring for the most part. I'd say PoE2 is not better than the first one, the main story is really boring and short, the idea was to have more side quest stuff, but none of it is good either. Gameplay wise it's a big improvement (and there's a turn based mode, although it was really badly implemented) and loot is a bit more interesting, but the game is incredibly easy even on highest difficulty, so the system feel wasted since, yeah I could make this crazy complex strategy or I could just let my character auto attack and win anyway. They're the closest to baldur gate

Divinity 1 has issues, they somehow though that everyone would play this game with someone else, so you have two main character, except they're both boring blank slate and you have to do discussion with yourself which are quite awkward. Because of that you can only have two companion at one time in your party and I guess they didn't want to put much effort into them since none feel developed. The character creation/development system is pretty flat, there's no class and you can build your character however, but that make your character pretty flat and flavorless. But at the same time battle are interesting and can actually be quite challenging on higher setting. The flip side to that is that there's plenty of environment effect that are triggered in battle, which can be a royal pain in the ass after the fight are done, since time goes really fast as soon as battle end. So say there's fire on the ground and your character finished the fight in them, as soon as battle end they'll take damage from fire really fast and die quickly. If there's water puddle around (which will happen if you have water mage) then your character will try to walk over them and constantly trip, so you have to micro manage them around those after every fight.

Divinity 2 was a big improvement in most area ... except one big problem, there's insane gameplay number inflation. Going from level 3 to 4 takes, let say, 2000 exp and give you 100 more health, well going from 9-10 might take 100 000 exp and give you 5000 more health or something. This means everything you did previously feel meaningless, since loot become useless very quickly, you replace the legendary you got at level 8 with white trash you get at level 10, and maybe all the side quest in the first area give you 10 000 exp but the very first quest you do in the next area (go talk to the first quest giver) will give you 20 000 just like that. The main story is so-so, there's a bit of a tone issues, where the game can go from comedy to tragedy within 1 minutes. Character are a bit more developed (you can pick one of many character as your MC, the other will be your companion), but only the MC gets much development. Character creation/development is slightly improved, but character still tend to feel flavorless.

Of the three I only finished PoE2 (because of the combination of interesting character development system and turn base combat) but I wouldn't say it's the best of the lot, the other I went trough 70-90% but ended up dropping them since none of them very interesting main story and I couldn't really care less about what happened in the end (although PoE2 ending is boring/bad, not worth finishing). I'd rank them DO2 >> PoE > DO1 > PoE2.

Therefore I'd recommend playing underrail first. But seriously, I'd say start with divinity since they're closer to fallout in case you burn out. PoE are really not a big deal (plus PoE2 bombed hardcore, so I doubt there's ever going to be a 3), I'd say tyranny is slightly more interesting than PoE.

Oh not quite sure why you never finished dragon age: origin, but it might be worth trying the second one. It has minimal connection with origin and is actually quite different in a lot of way. The story is much more personal, with no giant doomsday plot, the conversation system is the best one of any bioware game bare none and gameplay is okay (although it has a tendency to flood you with waves of enemy). It's biggest issues is repetitive environment. Don't bother with inquisition though

I like the Divinity games but they are bloated with content. I've read that most people find the start of Divinity 1 boring but that was my favorite part so far (I haven't finished the game but pretty far in, I think, I hope). The start was a murder mystery that you have to figure out and there's so many fun/interesting ways to go about it. From then on, it's kinda standard save the world story (though the game is pretty light in tone and doesn't take itself serious like most games). The combat system is pretty interesting with systemic elemental effects like casting rain to then freeze it so enemies (and allies) can slip and fall.

Super Bunnyhop's extremely positive Pillar's review actually convinced me that Pillars ain't for me as the dialog/writing is super thick in lore and world-building that just bores the crap out of me, especially in your standard medieval fantasy setting. I don't get why we have to keep going back to medieval fantasy when you can literally create any kind of world you want and it's fucking fantasy. But that might be exactly what you're totally into and Pillars could be the perfect game for you then.

There's the Shadowrun games, which I haven't gotten around to playing. I hear Dragonfall is really really good.

Though this isn't an RPG but Shadow Tactics is an amazing isometric stealth game and has a ton of charm to it. The same devs are doing a Wild West themed game called Desperados 3 that I can't wait to play.

I wish there were much more RPGs like Disco Elysium that aren't bogged down in RPG tropes and mechanics (that really only waste your time) that don't require allocating a month+ of free time just to play them. Mass Effect 2/3 are very much cut from that cloth, focusing on actual ROLE-PLAYING instead of role-playing mechanics and the games just gave you the good stuff, no fluff.

Meiam:
Divinity 2 was a big improvement in most area ... except one big problem, there's insane gameplay number inflation. Going from level 3 to 4 takes, let say, 2000 exp and give you 100 more health, well going from 9-10 might take 100 000 exp and give you 5000 more health or something. This means everything you did previously feel meaningless, since loot become useless very quickly, you replace the legendary you got at level 8 with white trash you get at level 10, and maybe all the side quest in the first area give you 10 000 exp but the very first quest you do in the next area (go talk to the first quest giver) will give you 20 000 just like that.

That's why I bought Divinity 2 on PC instead of PS4 so I can mod the loot system. That is my exact issue with those kind of loot systems in every game that has it, you pick gear that has the better numbers vs picking gear for your character/build. Loot systems don't work until endgame when gear has permanence to it. Increasing damage/defense can all be done on the character themselves like say DnD, your character is progressing, keep it on the character instead of the gear. It literally accomplishes the same exact thing but saves the player tons of busywork.

Why don't you go old school and go right back to Knight Lore- the game that exploded the isometric RPG genre to popularity in the first place?

Phoenixmgs:

Super Bunnyhop's extremely positive Pillar's review actually convinced me that Pillars ain't for me as the dialog/writing is super thick in lore and world-building that just bores the crap out of me, especially in your standard medieval fantasy setting. I don't get why we have to keep going back to medieval fantasy when you can literally create any kind of world you want and it's fucking fantasy. But that might be exactly what you're totally into and Pillars could be the perfect game for you then.

There's the Shadowrun games, which I haven't gotten around to playing. I hear Dragonfall is really really good.

Though this isn't an RPG but Shadow Tactics is an amazing isometric stealth game and has a ton of charm to it. The same devs are doing a Wild West themed game called Desperados 3 that I can't wait to play.

SuperBunnyhop's Pillar's review is one of the reasons I keep wanting to get back into these kinds of games. It sounded interesting to me but I have a friend who got bored or something early on in Pillars and never finished it. So there's that. I'm sure I'll know one way or another once I get around to it.

I do have the Shadowrun games and probably will end up playing those eventually. I've heard Returns was merely ok but the others improve quite a bit.

I also have Shadow Tactics and it looks cool too but again, backlog.

I never thought that have too many choices would be a problem, and then steam sales happened.....

Skip shadowrun return, it feel more like a demo for the engine than a real game (I'd sooner tell someone to play the SNES version than return). But both dragonfall and hong kong are much better, especially after their director cut.

If you want other option, pathfinder tactics is very similar to PoE. It uses the DnD 3.5 engine, so the character creation/leveling system is phenomenal. The game is sadly not so much, you're constantly timed so feel rush at all time (this is made worse because you're not told how long you have to finish quest). The kingdom management system is so shallow it might as well not be there. The UI is atrocious, it can only display something like 5 buff/debuff, but this is a system where you're character will always have 5-10 buffs on them at all time, so you'll constantly miss when your character have debuff.

I already talked about it, but underrail is very similar to fallout, highly recommend it (don't play melee character though). The gameplay is great, build are varied, story is decent (although the last 1/10 of the game is really out of step with the rest). It has this awesome leveling system where you gain experience by exploring the world and finding object. Loot is varied, not randomly generated and allow for crafting to remain useful trough the game.

Tale maj'eyal (TOME 4) is a rogue like isometric RPG (no party). There's not much story to speak of, but the gameplay is great with tons of varied class. The steam version cost money (although its cheap) but you can download it for free from the main website. It's been getting update for over a decade at this point iirc.

Meiam:

Oh not quite sure why you never finished dragon age: origin, but it might be worth trying the second one. It has minimal connection with origin and is actually quite different in a lot of way. The story is much more personal, with no giant doomsday plot, the conversation system is the best one of any bioware game bare none and gameplay is okay (although it has a tendency to flood you with waves of enemy). It's biggest issues is repetitive environment. Don't bother with inquisition though

Part of it was because I was in the military when I last tried playing it and each time I kept trying to get into it it was decided that we needed to spend more time at work(Workups, Training, Deployment) and so my progress on Dragon Age pretty much ground to a halt. It would be weeks or months before I had a chance to get back into it and then there's that whole feeling of needing to restart the game to remember exactly what's going on.

And my backlog keeps growing all the while because "Hey, I heard good things about X and it's on sale so why not?" And when more and more games are 50+ hours long, it makes it harder and harder to catch up. So I have to choose between "Newer game I haven't played" and "Trying for a 4th time to finish I game I started a decade ago".

I narrowed it down to POE/D:OS because that's like one of the things I have planned for this year. Hell, I still haven't played Sekiro, God of War, Red Dead 1 or 2, Cuphead, Outer Wilds(well, finish OW..), Plague Tale, Majora's Mask, etc....

I definitely enjoyed Divinity OS 2 far more than Pillars. The combat is more complex and interactive. The world feels far more different. And I enjoyed the main quest more.

 

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