Gameplay will be a balance between the two. MMOGs are not twitch games, but they also don't need to involve boring encounters where you turn on auto-attack, sit back and watch. We plan on adding quite a bit of excitement and decision-making to combat and other gameplay areas. We want you to be actively involved in your character’s movements, advancement, and actions within the game.
Source: Official FAQ
Combat is reactionary. You can react in many ways. To list a few:
Detect errors in your opponent's melee attack, and defend against it. This will allow you to counter attack. If your defensive target is in trouble, you can choose to rescue him or intercept the attack. Other members of your party can create openings for you to exploit. you can do the same for your allies. The attacks that are made in response to an opening will be more effective than standard attacks. Work sympathetically with your party members to create powerful spells. Perceive and counter incoming NPC spells. Choose your method of countering. Create an attack chain that is made of openers (basic attacks), Bridges (more powerful attacks) and finishes (Extra powerful attacks)
“Easy to learn, hard to master” sums up our concept of combat in Vanguard. .You will have to think about the results you want to achieve in combat, as well as how you’re going to achieve them. You will need to counter and respond to tactics and strategies your opponents might employ.
Source: Official FAQ
As for the general play of the Vanguard combat system, with the abilities, counters, bridges, finishes, etc. I have to say, perhaps biased that I am, that I'm VERY happy with how it's turning out. I really makes combat, especially for melee classes, more interesting and more visceral -- you have to think more, and think on your toes. [...]
The counterspell/ability idea also has me particularly excited because it draws from what I feel is a very significant component of games like Magic: The Gathering. [...]
Not only should you be equipping yourself differently once you learn what type of encounters you are likely to stumble across in a certain part of a dungeon, but you should also prepare your stances, abilities, etc. in anticipation of the next battle relative to what you think the mobs in that next encounter are going to try to do to you and your party.
There is no class in the game where you can simply afk and hope to do anything other than show the group how poor a player you are. Every class is going to require attention and pro-active play in order to function well, and in some cases even survive.
Auto-attack is what's going on by default when you attack an NPC. It's your regular swing with your primary weapon that happens at a frequency determined by the speed of your weapon. While autoattacking you are then free to use your abilities, sympathetics, chains, counters, etc.
The more complex, difficult, and high level the encounter, the more decisions you and your group will have to make. Overcoming these challenges will be a result of making the right decisions, together, and being a team.
Part of this will be choosing how to attack, whom to attack, whom to defend, when and what to counter, who to rescue, whether to focus on doing damage or absorbing it, etc.
In principle this has been true since the first good MUDs. It's what we're building on. The combat system, with openers, bridges, forking bridges, finishers, reactions, counters, etc. is part of that evolution. It is by no means a departure from EQ, other MMOGs, or MUDs, but rather a logical next step.
It is not twitch any more than Sojourn/MUD was twitch when I had to make sure I rescued that cleric in time before he died hard. These are RPGs but they are in real time.
Now, that said, read what I posted at the top. The more challenging and involved the encounter, the more decisions you and your gruop will have to make, whether it involves our combat system or anthing else.
Less challenging encounters will involve less decisions.
Casual encounters even less.
Auto attack is not going away.
It's just not going to be enough for some classes anymore when involved in tough encounters. Clerics have, for example, always had to keep a close eye on what was going on. Other classes too. But some classes were not nearly as involved. Their decisions were not nearly as critical as others decisions relative to the outcome of the battle.
I want intensity. I want situational awareness to matter. I want what stance I'm in to matter. I want my gear to matter. I want how much I know about the encounter to matter. I want the abilities I use, depending on the encounter, to have meaning. I want the positioning of me relative to my party members to matter (for example, getting bonus flanking damage if another member of my party is positioned right). I want everyone involved in these riskier fights to have a role they need to play, and play well.
But the key is that you can involve yourself to the degree you want to. You can choose encounters that require those decisions to be made and where those decisions matter. And you can choose to what degree that's true.- 31 October 2005
Well, keep in mind that we slowed it down so that a lot more can go on, round after round. You will need time, especially in higher level battles, to make decisions. Do I rescue this guy? Do I counter this ability? etc.
So low level combat will seem a little slow relative to other MMOGs. Hopefully not frustratingly slow -- we certainly don't want that. But then as you progress, learn the game better, earn more abilities, and the encounters become more difficult, I think you will appreciate the pace.
Source: Aradune Mithara
Considering the many things that you will need to consider while in combat, the 3-5 seconds you get to deliberate between attacks is perhaps too short. Combat in Vanguard needs to be paced so that you can deliberate your next move, because if you choose incorrectly more than a few times in a combat you will likely be dead. Those who saw the Nusibe demo can attest to this. Combat speed will depend on the weapon used as well. -
The time it takes for each round (swing count, whatever) is really fine, having been playing the beta a lot. Even at level 16 there is more than enough going on to make things not just paced nicely, but often frantic at times. You need to be watching what the NPCs are doing to you in order to counter, rescue, etc. You need to be cognizant of where you are, if you are in the right spot to use your abilities, spells, etc. Bridges and finishes pop up with only a few seconds to select them if you decide you want to, etc.
At 16 in a group in a dungeon I find that I have to pay a lot more attention than I do in other MMOGs and really be on the ball, even as a warrior type class. If you just auto-attack and watch the rounds go by, you are NOT playing at your potential (although in casual areas, this will be less important). Additionally, while I admittedly am not a practiced 2-boxer, I've tried to 2-box on multiple occasions and have struggled with all of the stuff going on I need to react to or at least be aware of on both screens.
Whether you have an opportunity to, say, parry is based on chance. Sometimes the parry, depending on the specific ability type, goes off automatically [...] and other times it pops up as an option you can click on or not. Further on in the game you'll likely see several options pop up depending on what's going on, and so choosing the reaction most appropriate and effective should determine who the more skilful players are.
And I tell you, when fighting a heavy magic user and your offensive magic user type person isn't countering some of those spells, it can *hurt*. Not to say that a good offensive caster can't throw a few damage dealing spells in there, but if they'd prefer to be a defensive counter-person, they could potentially (if skilled enough) neuter the opposing caster by just waiting to counter things. And if that enemy caster doesn't have some other help, and you have someone else lined up to rip into them, well they are in some kind of trouble. Of course, fighting a muscle-bound fighter opponent is a different story... Counterspell can't counter axe strokes, for example.
You will have a lot of ways to gain agro, from attacks that build agro (but may not be as damaging) to abilities that will garner you some additional agro on a successful hit, etc. you will not have the "Place myself at the top of the hate list" button though.
We will also give you abilities that you can use when you do lose agro, because it will happen. Rescues are a type of ability that protective fighters get to help them defend their allies. These allow you to take the place of the target, either blocking the damage or, at the least, taking the damage themselves. There are a variety of different rescues, some easier to perform than others, some that even return some damage.
Intercepts are given to the offensive fighters, because it may fall to them to play the protector role as well. These allow them to ward off attacks using attacks. This is not easy to do and if the offensive fighter fails, the intended target still takes the damage.
Taunt/Rescue has it's roots going back to text MUDs. The ability to rescue another party member that is about to die or isn't as suited to tanking is a key strategy in Vanguard. Given our desire to see combat involve less pulling and often involving fighting multiple mobs at one time, rescue/taunt is very important.
Source: Aradune Mithara
NPC's in Vanguard might not always target the players they hate the most. They might actually attack the player that will most impact the attackers if killed.
So just because that tank is hated the most doesn't mean the kobold won't think to itself 'Hmm.. if I ignore this big thing hitting me and kill that thing over there with the glowing stuff around him that makes this big thing not die.. then maybe the big thing WILL die?" - June 2005
We currently have a minimum distance on our bow attacks. As with all things which are minor tweaks, that will make it into beta, and may remain on release. Its to early to say.
At this point in time there is no "archer" class in Vanguard. That's not saying that the ranger, or other classes will are not going to be very skilled with a bow or other ranged weapons - but it will not be their sole focus.
2. Range combat (bows, etc.) and melee combat work fairly differently in Vanguard, and are used for different situations. We have a pretty good design doc written up for range combat [...] and I think it not only solves some of the problems seen in the past with range combat, but also gives it more depth and dissimilarity with melee. [...] I think with flying creatures, etc. in Vanguard, there might be more range situations that one might be used to or expect).
Source: Aradune Mithara
Unfortunately the current decision on the adventuring side is that there will not be arrows in the game. This could change and if it does we will try to support it best we can through crafting. As far as differing bows well we are doing our best to lump different bow styles into the system. -5 November 2005
Yes, to be clear, methods of CC will be available, but neither focused on one class, nor as powerful as has been seen elsewhere (though certainly still viable). We've not announced more detals than that, or what class those might be, etc. -
Source: Aradune Mithara
Some have said that less focus on CC and no specific CC class "removes strategies". It could be interperted that way... but we feel that this may actually open up additional strategies, and spread the responsibility for controlling or affecting an encounter around.
Also, on a side note, one of our goals with encounters and mob AI is to limit pulling and the ability to subdivide encounters. In other words, in Vanguard you should find yourself fighting multiple mobs more often, meaning you quite likely might want more than one tank
Source: Aradune Mithara
Please also do not jump to the conclusion that a "group" designated mob is grouped with its friends -- its simply designed for a certain target audience.
As far as I know (and anyone else on the design team can correct me if I'm wrong -- or I can correct them) we have no intention of showing you up front which NPCs are actually grouped together etc.
Some mobs will be only aware of themselves, while others cognizant that they are part of a group. Heck, some could be part of an army. This is all related to mob intelligence and AI. Sometimes it will be a challenge to take on one really big powerful mob, but at other times the challenge may be taking on 10s or hundreds of ants... who knows? I don't want to eliminate any options here -- variety is what it's all about, and what keeps combat entertaining... it's what keeps the grind away.
Ultimately it will be up to the designer. If he's populating an area and he's ok with players pulling or separating mobs to reduce risk, that's fine. But he'll also be able to 'link' mobs as you say if that's the type of challenge he's looking for.
Source: Aradune Mithara
more on linked mobs...
Linked mobs: Some mobs are linked, others are not. There is no general rule -- it's up to the designer and how he wants to populate his dungeon or section of dungeon or overland area.
I think having the option to do both (and more) creates more variety. There can be encounters where we want you to be able to pulll and seperate an encounter, assuming you are skilled enough and lucky enough to do so, but we also want encounters where you are forced to fight many mobs all at the same time and deal with the chaos of having a primary tank, secondary tanks, assigned who is to heal whom, who is to rescue whom, etc. - January 2006
You will absolutely need a healer in group situations. We are focusing less on the frequency of heals, but they need to be there. A group could find that in some easier situation that they don't need a cleric, but then they would all have to be on the defensive (which we allow you to do in Vanguard), which means that their Damage goes down the tubes, which prolongs the fight, which means that, although the NPC is doing less damage, he is doing if for a longer period...Combat becomes far less certain.
These groups will find that a healer can end the above mentioned cycle of attrition. Not to mention that healers bring powerful buffs and debuff to the table...You won't leave home without one.
If people are countering spells and defending combat manuevers, the health bar isn't going down as fast. Healer has time to add some non-healing type aid with his/her other abilities.
Consequently, if the party is going for a more offensive approach, throwing out damage spells and using the heavy damage attacks, health will be dropping. Healer will be focusing on healing.
Currently you will regen your HP, stamina, mana, etc. more efficiently while resting, but it still goes up, albeit slower, when walking around.
Also, and I think we touched on this in the FAQ, the amount of time, even at high levels, that you have to rest to regain HP, mana, etc. is a lot less than, say, EQ. I think pauses need to happen between big fights, but certainly don't think people should be bored and tempted to finish that Robert Jordan novel
Also, for warriors for example, you use a lot more stamina when using your abilities. Assuming there is a healer with you, they should get your HP up pretty quickly. So in more casual situations, where you don't need to (but certainly can) activate all of your abilities and instead just autoattack, very little stamina is used.
So, theoretically, when fighting more casual mobs, you won't have to rest much unless you don't have a healer, and even if not, it will be mostly to regain your HP which like I said comes back fairly quickly.
We're shooting for a reasonable amount of downtime, depending on what you are doing. The other night in Khegor's I was often running out of stamina because I was using abilities to mitigate damage when tanking and also to rescue mobs off of clerics and casters.
Lots posted on this already. Suffice it to say that it not only works very differently, it plays very differently than, say, EQ 2. It really does make all classes more involved. It makes you pay more attention, make decisions, use sympathetic abilities, counter an NPC's spell, etc. Check out Oloh's -Oloh link here- and other's posts about this that offer a lot more detail.27 November 2005
What we're going for is the middle ground here. We'll still have tons of text going by in your combat window (no way an old MUDer like me would let that go bye-bye). But we also know that the more involved we make combat, the more text that will fly by, and the more people will have problems understanding what's going on, much less reacting to it.
So we're doing a variety of things. We're making a pretty sweet animation system that intelligently displays on your client what we hope is the most important thing to you. We also tint/hightlight NPCs (you can turn this off -- don't panic) to give you a signal that something important is happening. And then we have the icons. Your bridge, your finish, your reaction, counterspell, whatever. These are good because they're iconic (imagine that) and because you need to be able to click on something to make that reactive (or proactive) decision.
I hear you on the carebare thing. I hear the same thing about being led back to your corpse, or our plans to use limited in-game maps. In the past I would agree with you. But with Vanguard and its size and scope, we need more. And with the combat system, we need more too.
Think of them more as trees, or forks. If you are sufficient successful with your opener, you have the opportunity to bridge. But there may be more than one bridge, and you may need to choose the more appropriate one. Then you choose a bridge, and depending on level of sucess you get a choice of finishers. Again, you make the decision.
Then, simultaneious to these rounds of real time combat going off, you may be given the opportunity to react. You may be able to rescue, or counter a spell, etc. But you can't do both. So you have to choose, say, which bridge or counter or if you are going to rescue. And your life and the life of your friends depends on it! -28 November 2005