The premise and ongoing topic on this blog are MMORPGs and my journey through them. In the last couple of days, though, i (re-)discovered singleplayer games, albeit a very special breed that’s only resurged recently: the isometric solo RPG. A friend bought Wasteland 2 in this weekend’s steam sale, and he liked it despite not really being an RPG guy (more a turn-based-combat player). So i read on and on about that and finally, when i ran out of time, i purchased Wasteland 2, as well.
Although i wished he’d bought Divinity: Original Sin, so that we could play together, i can kind of see where he’s coming from: there’s shooting instead of magic, and there are no orcs. Playing Fantasy MMOs almost exclusively since about 2007, i can relate to the annoyance in what seems to be the same setting, every time.
Now, if you’d want my very first impressions of Wasteland 2, i’ve got to cut it short and say: it’s so very relaxing. I spent yesterday’s evening with creating my party, talking to the first NPCs i met and setting out to travel to the very first “mission scene”. Since it was late, all i really wanted from travelling out there was an encounter- i got that, fought, won, saved and quit the game. There’s a lot of reading involved in Wasteland 2; it’s a game that takes (your) time- and if you’re in the right mood- that would involve a willingness to read and take your time- it is a great experience.
Gameplay-wise, i don’t know- to me, it seems to be what i’d expect the enhanced versions of Baldur’s Gate to be like- it’s just so….90s. This can be a bad thing, especially if progress is what you aim for- there are a lot of little annoyances pointed out in different reviews (like many clicks to perform some action, clunky inventory management etc.), but i think some of them stem from the fact that these reviewers are, for sure, in a hurry. They need to get their review out there, so they want to see what the game has to offer. That criticism, at least to me right now, isn’t so prevalent when you play on your own and take your time.
Divinity: Original sin is both similar and totally different. I feel like dialogues make more of a difference in D:OS than in Wasteland 2, where they are mostly used to bring the story along.
It’s huge fun when you really “roleplay” your characters, when you assign different personalities to them (you can also set an AI to that personality, so that you’ll choose the dialogue options for one character only) and get to the rock-paper-scissors minigame that decides which character will have their way.
D:OS also plays a lot better- it’s what you would expect a game to play like if someone would decide to bring those isometric RPGs back into this decade. As a sideeffect, it feels a bit quicker than Wasteland 2. It also features an open world instead of the “travel map” of Wasteland 2 (and boy, this travel map is oldschool, even more so than in Shroud of the Avatar).
When trying to decide whether to buy Wasteland 2, i looked around for advantages WL2 has over D:OS, and i couldn’t find any. The setting is mentioned, and it is said that your actions have more consequence than in D:OS, but i can’t vouch for that yet. So far, my experience has been the same as the experience of my friend. In D:OS, my latest attempt at starting the game is already vastly different than my first one. For one, i kept the rain scrolls, so i could fight the fire on a boat in the first city. Then, this time, after an argument between my two characters, i killed the drunk guards on the way into that city instead of letting them bring me to a mage. I don’t know what difference this makes in the long(er) run, but it sure feels impactful.
There are advantages for Singleplayer games, especially this kind of games:
- session length doesn’t matter. Sure, you’ll get more immersed when you play longer, but really, it doesn’t matter if you play 10 minutes or 10 hours
- you’re always into something- in MMOs, when i log in, i always take a few seconds to look where i am and what my current goals are. In Singleplayer games you load up your savegame and continue what you were doing
- sometimes, it is relaxing to be alone. I used to have “secret alts” for this in MMOs, but there are still other players around and in some ways, this leads to, well, unrest. The other players are there, they’re maxlevel, there’s an expansion coming and so on- even when playing alone, MMORPGs don’t stand still. This can be an advantage, and i think in the grand scheme of things, it is. But sometimes, it’s also very convenient to find something the way you left it
Needless to say, i’m kind of glad i’m a one-mmo-guy in the moment, because i can see some lonely time ahead of me, as well: with these two games, Cities: Skylines arriving today and Pillars of Eternity also looking quite rad, there’s bound to be some me-time coming in.