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Game Recommendation w/ strategy, economy, or RPG progression elements

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May 20, 2011 1:36:43 AM

I'm looking for a game to play, but I'm not sure what I'd like because I particular details of games tend to turn me off. In fact, I find I don't really like many of the most popular games for certain reasons. I'll try to give examples of these types of details and a general idea of what I like. If you could give me some game recommendations and perhaps mention what you think I'd like about the game, I'd appreciate it. Feel free to skip over the games you never heard of.




I like games that deal with economics/economies, allocating limited resources, weighing positives and negatives of different choices, etc. The more complex, the better. But I don't like when there are easy options that are just plain better than the other options. Balance is key. I also don't like when the game quickly becomes easy just because I made good choices at the start. I also like sandbox, free-roaming games, and games where I am an not particularly more powerful than others but still can make significant changes to the game world as a lowly individual.


I've played Europa Universalis 2 and 3 and though they were really good games. There was a lot of viable paths to take, tough decisions to make, and it was well balanced. For example, winning a war and gaining land came with both bonuses and penalties, and a diminishing return that would keep me from dominated once I reach a certain size. It stayed challenging the whole game. Also the game is all about major choices, and the closest thing to micromanagement is ordering armies around during wars.

The Total War series of games are the opposite. The single player campaigns are extremely easy, since you can take care to overwhelm enemy forces so that you take few losses, specialize each city to make one troop type while the rest specialize in earning money so that you constantly have more money than you ever need, and you also can easily pick off one faction at a time while remaining peaceful with the others.

I thoroughly enjoyed the complex economic aspect of the MMO Pirates of the Burning Sea and I worked with others to create an efficient and convenient free market economy. Unfortunately, economic power was pretty meaningless for the RvR since everyone had plenty of money and could easily afford the ships they wanted for combat. Plus the Auction House was tedious to use if you were dealing in a lot different items. It needed more automated functions.

Patrician 3 was a fun single player sea trading game that also let you build industries and gain political position and new responsibilities as the game when on, but one thing that annoyed me was the lack of options for automating trade routes (as micromanaging becomes unreasonable as you create many fleets). But I did like how tough it was to satisfy all the needs in the game and how towns would grow and change economically based on supplies and business. Also, I tend to like games with that RPG element of starting small and working to become bigger and more well known, and having different reputation statistics (Patrician has a few, including world stats and a standing in each town).

I'm not a fan of most quests and missions. I've played Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion, but never got into it. Running around fulfilling quests just didn't do it for me. I got a bit further in Fallout 3, maybe because I found the weapons more fun, especially with the need to conserve ammo, or maybe the post-apocalyptic non-magical setting was cooler.

I never got far in single player shooters. I got tired quickly in Halflife, COD, Bioshock, Mirrors Edge, and others. Though I remember I played pretty far into the old game "System Shock (2?)" so something about that was different.

I generally play shooter games just for the multiplayer. I get my enjoyment mostly from developing successful strategies, understanding the metagame, and helping through teamwork rather than depending on twitch-based skill. I played a lot of TF2 (and the old TFC), Wolf ET, BF2:SF, BFBC2, Mount and Blade: Warband, and DoD. Also, Mount and Blade single player campaign is pretty cool because it's free roaming, not quest-driven, sort of a sandbox game, and it has good RPG-style player and army progression.

I liked the old Bullfrog games like Themepark, Syndicate, Theme Hospital, and many more. The Sim City series is good, though I haven't played Sim City 4.

The Sims games were kinda fun, until it gets tedious with the maintaining friendships requirement for gaining promotions.

I think I've played both Civ 2 and Civ 3, and they were pretty good, well balanced, and constantly challenging, but it was a bit tedious, almost a grind, but not quite.

Capitalism 1 and 2 were fun, though I'd quit and start a new game once my company would become ridiculously huge and profitable.

I've played a lot of two Soccer/Football manager games: Championship Manager 03/04 and Worldwide Soccer Manager 07 (or was it 08?). It could be any sport, but I just like the complexity of constantly building a better team and adjusting tactics in games to counter the opponent. I like starting from the bottom and promoting a team to the top. I haven't gotten any of the newer versions because I didn't see anything substantial added to the games.

I've played a lot of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms series from Koei on SNES/PS/PS2. Though they were poorly balanced games and often somewhat exploitable, I liked them. They seem to have a lot of personality to them, and it's more about people than it is about size and strength. I've been playing ROTK 10 on a PS2 emulator, and like that one because you play as a single free-roaming individual, so it's fun to do what you can to help a kingdom as an individual instead of being in control of everything.

I liked the Gran Turismo games for Playstation, but too bad they aren't ported to PC. I like tuning cars, trying to buy the best car suitable for a race, buying upgrades, maybe doing a bit a testing before a race to properly set up things like the gears and suspension. And of course racing and getting the cornering down is fun. I don't know if I'd like other racing games though, because I like the progression aspect more than just the racing.

I think the only traditional MMO I've played is Guild Wars. I played that one because I knew it had complex yet balanced PvP, and because you didn't have to grind to be the best in PvP. I got tired of quests quickly, so I didn't come close to beating the PvE stuff. Leveling to the max level was quick. And I actually unlocked the vast majority of the skills through PvP.


Thanks in advance for any recommendations.
May 23, 2011 1:47:53 PM

Hello,
You must try Age of empires 3,2,1 (4th and 5th is Under developement) these games should be the ones you are looking for.And you must also try The witcher 2: assassins of kings, but its a bit easy game,still you must give it a try, it is one of the best RPGs ever made.
May 23, 2011 1:56:27 PM

I think I'm going to simplify your requirements, simply to try to get my head around them myself :p  :)  Please tell me if I'm wrong in my assumptions:

You're an experienced gamer who likes to be challenged in his games. You also like to learn something meaningful, so you don't want a game that compromises on characters or storyline. You're less fussed by setting, despite the fact that some settings do turn you off (fantasy - Oblivion for eg.) You like complexity, and the chance to become immersed in your choices and progression, meaning you enjoy a dynamic persistent and deep environment which you can lose yourself in...

Hmm...

May I suggest EVE: Online? It's an MMO set in space, deeply complex, and has the benefit of real player interaction, so persistent and evolving challenges. I haven't played it past the trial, as I found it a bit too complex and long winded for my tastes, but it's worth a shot :) 

Or, re-reading your criteria, may I suggest Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. It's a deep, story-driven game, quite different from the conventional Star Wars universe. It combines deep (deep deep) storylines with realistic characters and an effective plot direction system in which you can choose the outcome. There are professions, and there is a large amount of character tweaking that allows you to edit, customise and fine tune your character to your needs and desires :)  It's got moral choices and a very potent atmosphere to it. In my opinion, one of my often forgotten but totally favourite games. I'd avoid Knights of the Old Republic 2 however - KOTOR is better from a story/plot point of view (though they are both great.)

Have fun whatever you choose! :) 
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May 23, 2011 3:23:55 PM

you presented a lot of criteria there. I can advise to check out the following games:
Jagged Alliance 2, Freelancer, Alpha Centauri, Test Drive Unlimited, Mass Effect 1, Dragon Age: Origins, Phantasy Star Online and Guild Wars 2 (when it comes out)
May 23, 2011 6:51:34 PM

For strategy / economy I recommend Galactic Civilizations II.

It is similar to Civilization, however, it has a much better AI than that found in Civ. When I first played GalCiv II on normal setting, I had a pretty difficult time keeping up with my opponents.

Unlike the Civ series, GalCiv does not "cheat" the higher you set the difficulty level. The AI works with the same limitations placed upon the player, but the AI becomes more efficient at managing it's resources. For example, in the Civ series on "normal" difficulty, the AI may need 100 shields to build a tank, but on a more challenging level the AI may only need 60 shields to build that same tank. GalCiv II is a space strategy game, but let's continue with the tank... Regardless of what difficulty level you play, the AI still needs 100 shields to build the tank, however, the AI becomes "smarter" about what infrastructures it builds on planets to make tanks as fast as possible.
May 23, 2011 7:05:13 PM

A game noone here has mentioned that I thought i'd bring up is Knights of Honor, a nice little game where you conquer medieval britain. also has the micromanaging of controlling your armies during battle's as well as a decent trade / economic system...hell, you can even claim land by marrying your daughters off to allies and waiting till they die :D 

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May 24, 2011 1:45:01 AM
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oh I forgot, Dawn of Discovery and Ceasar 3 ( I don't know if there's any more in the series)

hell you know what, instead of us retyping the game list that was published since 1995, go to some website like gamespot.com, search for the page of the game you really liked and see what the website suggests for similar picks (on the bottom left column)
May 24, 2011 2:49:45 PM

AntiZig said:

Jagged Alliance 2)


What. A. Classic. Even the original is still fun to play and very tough on the higher difficulty settings. The combination of managing limited resources and equipment, picking the right merc team, and learning how to out-think your opponent in combat is both fun and challenging. Highly recommended.
May 24, 2011 2:58:58 PM

I would recommend Civilization 5, as I enjoyed it thoroughly and the combinations are almost endless.

Also, this might be an odd one to suggest but you also mentioned you enjoyed the original Sims. The new Sims: Medieval is a different take on the series and it allows you to build a kingdom and also build up heroes. You can decide what buildings in your kingdom to create and they each have benefits/negatives. You also have to balance your choices and what deeds you perform and it can result in a different gameplay. Before you decide, read some thorough reviews because I have only played it for about 8 hours. I did enjoy it though.
May 24, 2011 3:15:16 PM

The original Stronghold? :) 
June 2, 2011 7:11:19 PM

Thanks for the suggestions. I actually bought Darkest Hour: A Hearts of Iron Game, before any suggestions came in. It's pretty good, essentially Europa Universalis but with much more complex battle, and more of a scenario feel than the open-ended Europa.

Another game I played that I though had promise was The Guild 2. It seemed to have a good idea of having lots of options and paths to take, like different businesses and trade, thievery, politics, and personal RPG-like development. But it was jack of all trades and master of none. Each of the paths were flawed and tedious. Trade was undeveloped, politics was just a bunch of tedious befriending actions (like The Sims), etc. But a game like this could have been fun.

I might start playing the old PS1/SNES Ogre Battle game again, which was a cool pause-able RPG RTS fantasy war game. Very customizable (units had different upgrade paths) and has lots of interesting dynamics like units can become evil from fighting much weaker units, affecting which upgrade paths are available, etc.


Sorav, I did play one of the Ages of Empires games a long time ago, mostly the multiplayer. But since then, those types of speed-building, resource harvesting, mass army micromanaging RTS games haven't held my interest. I've tried Command and Conquer, Warcraft, and Company of Heroes and quit playing them all after the first few maps.

I might try one of the Witcher games sometime. The features sound interesting, though I fear it'll feel linear and full of cheesy dialog that I won't care about.


Nihilis, that's a decent enough description of what I want. Though I don't dislike fantasy. I just tend to not get immersed in the backstory of different races, and instead I tend to see a race as just another character but with different looks. And I'm not sure that games need to be challenging. I mean, most games I enjoy are kinda open-ended and easy if you take your time, but I always push myself to advance as quickly as possible and bite off more than I can chew, often starting from the weakest position.

Eve seems like it should be the perfect game for me, but I never took the plunge because I'm late to the party, and I wasn't sure that everything to be figured out wasn't already figured out. I don't want to play if it involves just following strategy by the book, grinding it out following orders from a few dominating alliances/groups, with no room for improvement on those strategies.

Pirates of the Burning Sea had many different markets for buying and selling many types of materials, manufactured goods, and ship types, all player-produced, with each person choosing what to buy, make, and sell, and setting their own prices based on a lot of factors, including psychology. The complexity leads people to make many different judgments on the value of things, which leads to opportunities to capitalize on others' suboptimal judgments. So that let me do a lot of analysis to figure out ways to make 10 or 20 times more income than the average player, help allies become more efficient and profitable, encourage people into new businesses and practices to fix shortages, etc. And it wouldn't stay static since the situations would keep changing. I don't know if Eve has such opportunities after being played for this long.


Antizig, those are some good suggestions. Jagged Alliance looks like Syndicate. Freelancers seems like it might be a 3D version of the 2D Escape Velocity series, which is pretty fun for a simple game. Alpha Centari looks to be a variation of Civilization, but I feel in the mood for something that's less of a strategy board game and more of a free-flowing open world that I just influence rather than compete against. Test drive seems decent. I fear I won't get into Mass Effect, just like I didn't get into Half Life or Bioshock (both highly rated shooters). I played Dragon Age: Origins, but found the auto-tactics system to be very limited and didn't allow me to setup the party members to do what I wanted, and that was the part I most looked forward to while playing. I'll probably definitely get Guild Wars 2 when it's out. I'll have to look into what Phantasy Star offers, because the videos I saw of gameplay don't show what strategy there is to it, if any.


jaguarskx, I'll keep Galactic Civilizations 2 in mind if I ever feel like getting one of the Civilization type games.


mottamort, Knights of Honor somehow slipped past my radar, as I've never looking at it till now. Looks pretty interesting. I think I'll buy that next. Only $10 on steam, so should definitely be worth a try.


AntiZig (again), I played Ceasar 3 a lot. Good game. I think I was looking a Dawn of Discovery for a while. Something I read in a review turned me off a bit, but I forget what it was. Or maybe that was Port Royale. I might get it sometime. Though it might not be so different from Patrician 3, which I still play.

JordoR, I did read a review for the Sims: Medieval. It probably would be fun for a bit, but would get old fast. Probably not worth it for me.
June 2, 2011 7:15:32 PM

Agreed. Good call on the Sim:Medieval, it was fun for about 10 hours but then the novelty wore off and made me realize it's not that great.
June 3, 2011 1:38:12 AM

Tomofmars what your describing is known as a 4X game and there have been very little of then built in recent years. Super-fast clickey competitive RTS's have taken over the market due to their competitive multilayer attraction.

eXplore your area
eXpand your territory
eXploit resources and enemies
eXterminate your enemies

The best examples of these games IMO are
Masters of Magic,

DOS game will need DOSBOX to play it. Has RPG hero / wizard / equipment elements, has cities with build trees and various starting races with different pro / con. Army / strategy management, overland resource management and exploitation. Even has alliances / diplomacy between factions. Fairly complex game that could take anywhere from hours (small map) to days / weeks (max players big map both planes) to beat.

Masters of Orion, same people that built MoM, spaced / galactic game with simliar ideas.

Masters of Orion II, extremely successful version of the above, still very old (DOS and later Win98 version) by our standards.

Masters of Orion III, new shiny version, lots and LOTS of stuff to do, but extremely complicated. Takes the idea of galactic management to the extreme, thankfully it has a "wizard management" option that lets a fairly competent AI take control of the micromanagement level while you just make strategic decisions and command the military.

Warcraft III was kinda like a 4X but really tried to stay with the RTS click fest / army horde idea more then actual grand strategy / resource management.

Stronghold was a pretty solid game, it didn't have the "expand" concept as each stage as independent of the previous ones but it had the rest. Resource management and unit development. Mostly focused on defending your castle and building it up ASAP because the AI was merciless at attacking you. I really didn't like Stronghold II, it was ~ok~ until they started throwing werewolves and other nearly invincible units in (in the OC Werewolves were very broken), then it just become boring as hell as there was rarely more then one way to win anything.

Then you had the Civ games, pretty good 4X system, newer versions started to become click fest RTS's.

Simply but, 4X games don't sell well vs RTS games. Its a very niche market that doesn't historically make much profit. You'll be hard pressed to get any recommendations that aren't "RTS clicky now" games.
June 3, 2011 8:48:59 PM

Galactic Civ 2 I second that. The Witcher games are very fun and deep. Stronghold 2 has Some RPG elements with plenty of strategy and economy as well I fould that very fun and you can buy the whole series of stronghold games on steme for only $20 good deal there.
June 8, 2011 8:02:32 PM

Best answer selected by Timofmars.
June 14, 2011 4:20:32 PM

Sins of a solar empire is entertaining for quite some time. Its RTS, but at a slower pace, with civilization like research trees. no singleplayer story, but most strategy games are more rewarding against humans anyway.

Don't count out Freelancer . Even though by today 2002 is old history, Freelancer yet retains a multiplayer community. Some modded servers have even tweaked the game to where it has a dynamic economy.
Any search for freelancer reveals many are still searching for something similar.
It takes a little modding and patching to be able to play online, but each server still running has detailed and simple instructions on how to connect.
June 14, 2011 4:25:29 PM

oh one last thing... try turning the difficulty on both the map and battles in total war.. Medieval 2 remains my favorite.
June 14, 2011 5:50:15 PM

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