Question Given a choice about combat mechanics, do you prefer Real Time w/ Pause, or Turn Based?

Nov 27, 2020
So I realize that this question could encompass other game genres, like strategy for example, but my experience in gaming is primarily RPGs, so I'm asking it here. If you want to comment on another type of game, feel free please. The definitions of an RPG or ARPG are pretty blurred anyway, as I think we each have our own internal definitions of games we play.

Some RPGs/ARPGs are real time (obviously) and work well. I mean can you imagine playing Skyrim, or one of the Diablo games in RTwP or TB?

What I'm trying to say is, if a game's combat mechanics are either RTwP or TB, do you prefer one type of combat over the other?

The only 2 games (RPGs) that I've played that were TB, were Divinity Original Sin 1&2. Larian has a TB system that works really well, and enjoyed those games; but some battles just took forever to complete.

My preference, given a choice, has always been RTwP, as so many games I've played in the past (not counting those with Real Time combat), used that combat mechanic. Big battles are tactical, and I pause frequently, to maneuver companions or issue orders. Lesser battles, I often rarely pause, and I can be through those almost as if it's real time.

Just curious to know if any of you had a preference between the two combat mechanics.


Community Contributor
Jan 13, 2020
Turn based. Those games tend to have more complex, interesting combat and I like taking time and figuring out just what I want to do. Don't get me wrong, there are PLENTY of real-time-with-pause games that I've loved, too, but I was hitting pause so much (even when battles were easy) that they might as well have made them turn based.

There's actually a couple of turn based styles: one at a time and, well, plural at a time. One at a time is the most common. Character A goes, then B, then C, all according to their quickness and maybe some random die rolls to keep things a little unpredictable. Less common are games like The Last Remnant or Battlestar Galactica: Deadlock where you tell your side what you want them to do then everyone in the battle moves at once.

Then there's Tower of Time's system where you can speed up and slow down time. You couldn't stop it completely but you could slow it enough to let you issue some pretty complex orders. Once the battle was decided, you could speed it up so it's over quickly. It was a pretty fun system, at least for me, so I'm hoping to see more games use something like it.
Aug 25, 2020
Turn based also.

I pause frequently, to maneuver companions or issue orders
I don't like squad games, so I've never really played what you're talking about—I can certainly see why RTwP would work in those. RTS is my experience of managing multiple combatants, and the main point of RTS for me is proper preparation rather than battle management—Sun Tzu's principle of never fighting a battle unless you have it won before it starts.

I've never played one of those games where you have a strategic layer to make global decisions between each 'turn', but then it becomes real time during the 'turn'. That sounds like an interesting approach too.
Jan 17, 2020
It really depends on the game. Total War battles just wouldn't be the same if they were turn based instead of real time. Even if it used the "plural at a time" mechanic Zloth mentioned.

Crying Suns has a real time with pause system that works really well. It has just enough complexity to keep the battles both interesting and quick. If they had decided to do those in turn based mode, I think they would have either given up some complexity or the battles would've taken longer.

I haven't played a game where you could switch between the two, but from what I've read the turn-based mode usually does mean that fights take longer. Which means I'd probably choose the real time with pause option, as I don't have that much time, plus a game that offers both probably has some problems with pacing and/or uninteresting filler fights when playing in TBS mode.
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Nov 27, 2020
@Pifanjr - You're right that it completely depends upon the game. A game designed around Turn-based combat, most likely wouldn't do well with a Realtime/Pause combat mechanic, and vice versa. Pillars of Eternity: Deadfire ended up having both, with Obsidian having added TB mode a couple years after release. I always stuck with the RTwP version, but kudos to Obsidian for listening to the players, and actually doing it.

@Brian Boru - My experience in RTS games is miniscule. The last 2 strategy games I played were Myth 1 & 2 from the late 1990's, it's been so long I don't even remember if there was a pause option or not. Preparation is important in party-based (or squad-based) RPGs as well, whatever combat mechanic, ill prepared companions or troops won't fare well, regardless of battle management.

@Zloth - You reminded me that I actually picked up Tower of Time for free on GOG last year, I completely forgot about that, and of course, have yet to play it. That slow down/speed up mechanic sounds interesting, I didn't really look that close when I grabbed it. It seemed like a different take on the "Diablo-like" game. I'll definitely take a closer look.

As far as combat complexity goes, I think both TB & RTwP are evenly balanced (if the system is implemented correctly). There's a strategy involved with both methods, it's just that I prefer the freedom that RTwP has, where the game in question can actually be in real time if you want, with the ability to stop what you (and your companions or troops) are doing, and reposition, change weapons, change your attack to a certain enemy, or change position on the battlefield, ect.

I'm not trying to say that one is better than the other, and as Pifanjr said, it all depends on the game involved. My limited experience with TB is with both the Divinity Original Sin games. I loved those games (for the most part), but I felt that pre-battle maneuvering was limited, as when you first character was sighted you locked into combat, and then everyone gets a turn. You could get around that imitation by "unchaining" your companions, sending one in (which locked them into combat mode), then switching to one of the others and maneuvering them. Still, it just felt a bit restricting at times.
Sep 21, 2020
I like turnbased. But if i play RTS, i like um to have pause.

I'm so over RTS click fests and 100+ APM, no thanks.

I do like playing baldur's gate though by slowing down the speed. Freedom Force is another that you can slow the game speed, and also has a pause function that just makes things go in slow motion. It was a really need concept. So instead of a complete pause things would move at 1/4 speed or what you set it for. Added some excitement actually watching these big hits in slow motion.
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Community Contributor
Jan 13, 2020
Turn based for strategy, tactics, and RPG. This isn't to say I don't enjoy real time but when I look at my gaming library the ones with the most hours are games like X-Com UFO Defense, Endless Space, and Divinity: Original Sin 2.
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