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How to make MMO combat more skillful and deep

MarzzoMarzzo Member, Leader of Men, Kickstarter, Alpha One
edited October 2019 in General Discussion
A lot of MMO:s combat systems can be hard to learn, but once you know the basics, they are usually easy to master. The reason for this is that most combat systems revolve around a simple system. This system can look something like this:

1 Standard attack that usually builds up power or is a mana/energy/rage/focus sink.
1 Finisher type ability
1 Damage over time ability.
1 Random proc ability (10% chance to open up the ability each time you do an attack)
1 Ability that requires something else to activate (crit, block, parry, dodge, miss)
1 Combo ability (You need a dot or X amounts of stacks to do this ability)
1 multitarget ability that is some form of cleave
1 Aoe ability
1 Short or long CC which can be ranged or meele
1 Interrupt ability
1 Cleansing ability
1(or multiple) damage increasing ability or damage reducing ability

This is what builds the core of most classes. Note that all classes usually don't have all these options. The problem is that there is always a mathematically optimal way to do them. Once players have mastered their basic rotation which usually consists of 2-5 buttons they move on to learn when to use the complimentary abilities (Cooldowns, CC etc). After this a player is usually on autopilot for every single fight in the game only focusing on boss mechanics. This process does not take a lot of time and gets stale very quickly. This means that there needs to be more depth.

One thing that can increase depth and skill is situational combos that increase your performance. A ranger/mage combo could for example first use a freezing arrow and follow it up with an explosive arrow for a short stun or increased damage. This gives the combat a bit more depth.

What can also be done to make the game more skillful and deep is to allow cross player combos. This will multiply the number of optimal combinations to large amounts.

Another way to increase depth is to implement movement and positioning into the combat system. For example a ranger moving while using abilities might have less hit rate or something similar. A character attacking from behind negates the enemies option to block and parry. Jumping might increase the damage of knockdown abilities etc.

The most important thing in my opinion is to design the combat so that classes can compliment eachother. This will have multiple positive effects. The first is that for each party member you have you will have more depth for that particular composition. The other is that all classes will have their unique value to bring to the table. Also, making people coordinate and sync up is a great way to make the game more skillful and teamwork is also fun.

What do you think? How do you think we can make AoC combat deep, fun, skillful and unique?


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    AzathothAzathoth Member, Braver of Worlds, Kickstarter, Alpha One
    I think Ashes already plans to implement the attack/combo thing, and I assume having each class bring something unique to the table would be a goal as well.

    I don't mind optimizing abilities/skills between classes so that they feed off of, or compliment, each other. I think it would have to come down to just the main 8x8 though, as mix/matching 64x64 would be exhaustive. Especially considering the different play styles potentially associated with each of the 64 combos. I would also hate this to lead to 'optimal' group builds because somebody with an X/Y class "needs" somebody with a W/Z class.

    I was under impression that Apoc was also testing collision and action combat, which would go along with 'shot on the run' mechanics. If you are powering up a shot to sting a little harder you should move slower (same with heavy swings, stronger spells, etc). I think these types of mechanics are best left to the players to figure out and master though, and don't require additional adjustments.

    I don't mind attacking from behind reducing chances for blocking and parrying, but negating those would be too far for me. Master fighters in movies can block multiple enemies attacking from all sides, and although yes there could be the argument that "those are movies," but I would counter with "this is a game full of magic."

    Overall, until I have a chance to play Ashes with the hybrid combat system, I can't say for sure what I would suggest to make the combat system deeper, more challenging, more fun, etc.
    +1 Skull & Crown metal coin
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    Do you need a ride to the Underworld?
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    whitedude31whitedude31 Member, Founder, Kickstarter
    @Marzzo go play Tera :smile: Combat in Tera has nearly all of that. The problem with it is that it is a poorly optimized game and requires a decent PC to run at a smooth rate, the learning curve looks like a cliff at endgame compared to leveling, and the story . . . is bad (unless you read the lore instead of watching the in-game cut-scenes).
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