I've played jrpg's and newer rpg's but never old baldur's gate syle games. I've tried baldurs gate in the past and smoke started coming out of my ears. Any recommendations for easier games of the genre for a beginner?
@gebbycfh: They're all kind of impenetrable in their own way. Pillars of Eternity is maybe a slightly easier dip into it because it doesn't come with having to know the archaic D&D rules. But it's still not exactly an easy sell. The combat in Planescape: Torment is basically trivial, as it is mostly story focused, so that might be a good place to start. Although I guess it depends on what you're looking for out of the experience.
The original 2 Fallouts are interesting too. Personal favorites of mine and more grid-based strategy-style, so a little less heavy up front, but they can still be just as punishing early on. That's the basic mantra for all of those older types of games though: be prepared to feel like you're just woefully unprepared and underleveled for everything (except Torment).
I'm also going to recommend the recent Shadowrun games for someone looking for an entry point into the genre. I would ignore the old Forgotten Realm stuff for now, and return to it if you find that you really enjoy CRPGs.
The Shadowrun trilogy is a good place to start because there's much less to manage. You control your whole party while in combat, but in terms of developing your party (applying attribute points, choosing what skills to learn, etc), you only do so with your main character. There's a small talent tree for your other characters in the second and third games (Dragonfall and Hong Kong, respectively), but it isn't complicated in the least.
Some people don't consider these CRPGs, but things like the two KOTOR games and even FF12 are essentially CRPGs. The main difference between something like those games and Baldurs Gate is the camera.
Anyway, regardless of what you try first, post a followup where you explain what you did or didn't like about the game you chose. It'll be easier to help narrow down what you might like after that.
As someone who loves a lot of old-school CRPGs, I definitely have trouble recommending any of them as being great "gateway" titles for the rest of the genre. I'll echo Planescape: Torment and Fallout 1 as probably being the closest you'll get. The former has barely any combat until its last third, and the latter is surprisingly short and straightforward for something that's literally 20 years old. I guess I'll also throw in a recommendation for Might and Magic VII, which is a much different style of CRPG (first person, party-based, way more about exploration and combat than storytelling) but at least doesn't bludgeon you over the head with overly convoluted rules or too many character development dead ends. I say that, knowing that its visuals have aged incredibly poorly, but I figured I should offer a broader take on CRPGs than just isometric ones.
If you do try and pick up any of the games people are recommending, I absolutely suggest you skim through a guide to get a basic grasp of where to go or the "right" way to build your character. Also, save. A lot. If there's a quick save button, you should be mashing that sucker constantly. These games aren't totally impenetrable, given that I played through most of Baldur's Gate II when I was 14, but they do tend to be pretty punishing if you mess up or a dice roll goes the wrong way. Alternatively, newer games like Pillars of Eternity and Divinity Original Sin 2 offer modernized versions of those same experiences and tend to be a lot more human friendly.
Big question: what did you enjoy about those RPGs that you're trying to look for? A lot of people are suggesting Torment, which is a great game, as it is more story based and are assuming you're looking for something more story driven. However, if you're more interesting in trying out pure mechanics, the Legend of Grimrock games were great in creating a much more digestible old CRPG feel. If you want something in the middle, those new Shadowrun games are fantastic, with Hong Kong being my personal favorite.
Knights of the Old Republic and Dragon Age: Origins are both fantastic entry-level entries into this style of game, although neither is really old. These two can give you an idea of the systems and flow of those old games, with some obvious small difference. Pillars of Eternity is a much more faithful recreation of those old school games, with the same basic gameplay and a lot of nice smoothing over of the rough edges. To be fair, though, the roughest part of going back to those old games is the awful user interfaces and peculiar controls, something which will still be a problem even if you manage to get a better idea of how to play them. It's one of those things where not everyone is able to tolerate the old design elements, especially if they didn't play them while they were new.
Play (as a beginner):
To echo what @wemibelle said, both Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and Dragon Age: Origins are good gateway games. Of the two, I would highly recommend KotOR. It's not overly long, not too complicated, and it's still an absolutely amazing game. DA:O is quite a bit longer and has some stretches that are tedious for even fans of the genre. It's also *slightly* more complicated stats wise.
Shadowrun is much more like the classic CRPGs, with the isometric perspective and combat style, plus they are relatively short for the genre - around 20 hours or so.
Avoid (as a newcomer):
As much as I love Fallout and Planescape: Torment, I cannot recommend those games to someone who is new the genre. Fallout 1 has aged very poorly, and there is far too much freedom for someone who is new to these games. It's really easy to screw yourself over. Same for Arcanum. Planescape: Torment has an absolutely amazing story, but the combat is ass and there are enough words to rival the Silmarillion. It's possible for a newcomer to enjoy these games, but if they're already struggling with Baldur's Gate, I can't recommend going from the lake into the ocean.
Arcanum also has some serious bugs. I don't know if they've been improved recently, but almost everything Troika made had bugs out the kazoo.
@viking_funeral: I played Arcanum with the massive community fan patch not too long ago, and even then there were bugs up the ass. Items and armor would disappear from inventory, enemy AI would go insane during combat. Shame because the game has such a neat setting. I want to go back to it at some point, maybe I'll have better luck.
I would start with something more modern if you want to get into the genre. Pillars of Eternity, the newer Planescape, Tyranny, Divinity Original Sin 2, newer Shadowruns, or Dragon Age Origins have the same feel but come in a sleeker package. The further back you go the more you get into DnD-like rulesets, so you have to have some desire to learn old tabletop rules.
I love me some old RPGs, but I'll be the first to admit that they're damn near impenetrable for most. This isn't that old, but I think that Dragon Age Origins captures a lot of the spirit of those games while making it palatable for newer audiences. I can't think of a better way to ease into the genre. Only problem is that you may need to install Origin, which I know a lot of people don't want to do.
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