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I bought the package that came with all the games before the remake for $1.50 awhile ago and have finally gotten around to want to check out this series. I understand that not everyone has the same idea for what "best" actually is and when you make a post like this people tend to not go in-depth on answers. I'm not going to ask you to spend who knows how long elaborating specifically what you like about the game that's your favorite, so instead I'll ask for you to kindly list off three games.

I would like to know which one you like the most gameplay wise. Which one would you say not only has the best mechanics, but also encourages you to use said mechanics (i.e. there aren't too many dump skills and you have to approach different encounters in different ways).

I would like to know which you think is the best narratively. This doesn't just end at plot and characters, but also how well developed the setting is. I get that the games take place in the same setting, but that doesn't mean they all flesh it out to the same extent and that what's fleshed out could vary in quality.

I would also like to know which you think is the best "balance" between these aspects. This could arguably be considered the broadest idea of "best," but it's still just one of interpretation of it. If you felt that the game with the best gameplay had an unforgivable story/incredibly poor writing or vice versa, then you can put different something here.

Don't be afraid to put the same game in multiple categories as that's still helpful information for making my decision. If you thought one have had an amazing story but only marginally worse gameplay than the one you put for best gameplay than feel free to put it under the most "balanced" one. If you thought that one game outshone all the others in pretty much every way, then put that as all three.

I want to make it very clear that you don't need to elaborate at all as this is part of the point of asking for three games instead of one, but you are free to do so if you really feel like it.

Thank you for your time even if you ended up just reading the post and not answering.
Post edited September 08, 2017 by nuclearunicorn7
Okay. So you first have to consider: These are a series of games, made by one dude with a little help, The first trilogy of games uses one engine, while the latter trilogy uses the Geneforge engine.

There are also two remakes, of which use an even newer engine, with a third slowly in the works.

As such, they all run on a very similar stat system. Not a single stat is considered a "dump",but rather there are merely stats which do not pertain to your particular party build. Thrown Missiles simply won't be of much use to the melee type.

In short: Trying to differentiate them between gameplay style would be impossible, as they all play the same between the differences of the two engines.

The narratives flow together into one massive tapestry. The events of Avernum 1 affect things in 2, and so on. Narratively speaking, however, I feel the latter trilogy is weaker than the first, but that may be nostalgia.

Really, the nice thing about Spiderweb software is that each of the games comes with a free large demo which is more than enough to decide for yourself which one you enjoy the most.
I have tried each of the games so far in the avernum 6.

I have only gone far along on avernum 1.

The weakest gameplay would be in avernum 1 with a lack of a quest journal.

The best story is probably in avernum 1 as it sets everything in motion.

The best balance if you do not mind missing the starting of the story is Avernum 2.

Avernum 4 through 6 have a better engine and graphics. The story really starts to struggle though.

This is my overall balance.

2 = 1 > 3 > 4 > 5 > 6

The composite ratings on videogamegeek:
1 = 7.16
2 = 7.49
3 = 8.82
4 = 7.06
5 = 7.66
6 = 7.35
Post edited September 11, 2017 by abbayarra
The replies so far are good. I agree that the gameplay in the series is very similar. I've only played the first four games, with the fourth being the most different in gameplay because of the switch to a new engine. I liked it the least (although I hear 5 and 6 improve on it) because it felt like the game world was too big and not interesting enough to explore. The earlier games are much more fun to explore.

I recommend playing 1-3 in order. I liked 1 the best, largely because I liked the story the best; like abbayarra said, it sets up the world and is a great introduction. It's true that it doesn't have an automatic quest journal, instead you can copy any conversation into your in-game journal by clicking a button. If you forget to do this, you won't remember about quests. But it also lets you save hints and other things for later so you can refer back to them, so I kind of liked it.

2 and 3 play almost identically to 1, but I didn't enjoy their stories quite as much. They are designed to be separate stories, but I enjoyed them more because I knew the events of the preceding games. That's another reason to play in order. Also, you'll appreciate very small improvements in the interface (like adding an automatic quest journal), but if you play out of order, you'll have to go back to versions without those features which could be annoying.
Thanks for all the replies. I appreciate the help.
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nuclearunicorn7: Thanks for all the replies. I appreciate the help.
Just a heads up, the long awaited Avernum 3 remake is finally on it's way.
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nuclearunicorn7: Thanks for all the replies. I appreciate the help.
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Darvond: Just a heads up, the long awaited Avernum 3 remake is finally on it's way.
Jeff's hoping for a mid-late Jan18 release from what I've heard (in early beta testing right now).

As to the original question:

You really need to play A1 first if for no other reason than to understand the universe that it & all the other games are set in. Read the intro as you start the game & immerse yourself with the info given (not much but that's the point. You're a misfit being tossed into an entirely new world. It's up to you to explore & figure out what's going on in this new society).. Actually that's not bad advice for all of the games. The into sets the stage & catches you up (VERY loosely) on what's gone on in the earlier games.

My personal favorites order would be 1-2-3-5-6-4 but that's after playing the whole series in order the first time through.

1-3 are a much more open world to explore - you can easily get your butt kicked if you chose to go in a direction other than what's being suggested for you (side quests pointing you towards a certain area of the map). Don't forget to save...

4-6 are extremely linear. You generally can't get to a different point on the map until you've completed various tasks in the current area (thus leveling you up & making you strong enough for what's to come). You still have a wide choice on what you want to do to move along but the wide open feeling of 1-3 is gone.

In the end though all of them are worth the many long hours you're going to spend in Jeff's universe. Throw yourself in, go with what information the game provides for you, & let things unfold as they do.