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View Full Version : Thoughts about the whole combat system and systemic issues:



PlagueGripes
03-02-2017, 04:39 AM
I'm not an "upper level player." And I won't be discussing "upper level play" beyond basic things I'm aware of, as it's needed. I won't be discussing tiers, either. Just to get that out of the way. That's not what this post is about.

But it is obvious the game has a few basic issues. Most of them come down to defensive play and how to get past defenses. Imagine the scenario: you vs a player that does not want to attack until he parries you. Assume the player has perfect AI levels of reaction times. He will parry anything you throw out, tech any guard break and dodge any shoulder bash, etc. Now, how do you get through his defenses and attack him anyway? You don't. And that's the issue that's creating issues in the game right now. Humans don't have that level of reaction time, but excellent players have something close.

As of now, there are the "big four" people are complaining about. And most of what is making them so reliable is "guarantees" and "50/50s." That is, something you know will, without a doubt, deal damage, and something that can branch into two different actions that require different reactions. This results in assurances of damage delivery. The reason people talk about guarantees is because of the aforementioned problem of how to get through defenses. Now, For Honor needs to be a defensive game, in some ways. If players lacked substance to their ability to defend themselves, it would be a mediocre third person action game. I think For Honor is in a good place in its mechanical delivery of gameplay.

However, I believe there are intrinsic issues to the core functionality of some systems that are the cause of many aspects of the game being under represented. I also believe there are two or three things that are the cause of most issues. These items are: parrying, stamina, and to a lesser extent, the representation of attack chains.

Issues:

Parrying, first of all, is usually what people talk about the most. Players will wait on their opponent to attack, parry them and this leads to guaranteed damage. There's that word again. This is an issue for the attacker, since they have no guaranteed options on their first action, whereas the defender will, if they wait for an attack (assuming good timing.) I've seen some people say to adjust parry timing. This isn't a solution. Good players already have their timings. Tightening it will only restrict core play to a small population. I know this is a common fighting game solution to problems, but it will not work in For Honor. The issue is not the ability to parry, but what the parry is doing.

Secondly, we have stamina. Stamina, as it works now, does nothing of substance. Upon exhaustion, your animations slow and some timings change. This does not affect many players. Especially for heroes that are seemingly designed to drain stamina but deliver low damage hits of limited guarantees, this is an especially problematic issue. (Hello, Lawbringer.)

Third, attack chains. When people talk about combos in For Honor, they rarely involve the actual attack chains. Attack chains are very restrictive. That is, you can change stance direction, but you can't change what the combo is or what it leads into. Also, excepting an unblockable here and there, they rarely have an actual effect beyond damage. More importantly, with the prevalence of rebounds (a block stopping a combo entirely), this exacerbates the issue of people focusing on guarantees and 50/50s. A Warden shoulder bash cancelled into a guard break is always going to be a more reliable option than beginning a chain with a right heavy attack.

Solutions:

The big problem child is parrying. If you remove parries entirely, you remove an entire mechanic and displace a style of play. Leave it and you have the issue you have now. Make it more difficult to perform and the problem doesn't go away; you just remove the ability to parry for a large population of players and leave the existing problem for a smaller population. A very foolish way to "fix" the issue. The solution then is to alter parry functionality. As of now, parrying leads to guarantees. And it should. Under circumstances the player must create.

A potential solution is to make parrying only rebound the attacker with no guaranteed defensive into offensive option, as long as the attacker is not at low stamina. No huge stamina loss, nothing of great merit. This places the ball in the attacker's court when both players are at high stamina. Not the defender's. At a threshold of low stamina on the part of the attacker, a successful parry can instantly exhaust that attacker and then lead to a guarantee. Meaning attacks later in the string for someone that won't stop attacking is far more dangerous, but disengages are safe.

Which leads to the second problem: stamina. Stamina should play a much larger role. As mentioned, right now it does basically nothing. I feel if stamina exhaustion was not only undesirable, but terrifying, it would present much more of a long term goal for general combat. When exhausted, remove the ability to guard against heavy attacks. Remove the ability to parry. Remove i-frames from dodges and rolls. And make even light attacks deliver large damage through blocks. It should be a very dangerous state to be in, not an afterthought. If necessary, make the exhaustion recovery uninterruptible (it has a timed reset regardless of actions).

Third, make attack chains more reliable. Make heavy attacks deal large stamina damage through blocks and allow light attacks to continue chaining, except against heavier defensive characters with superior blocks. I think it would be healthier for the game if the attack chains also carried more secondary effects with their late hits, which could apply even through blocks.

Basically, I feel like the solution to many of the games problems comes down to altering parry functionality slightly, and focusing more on stamina drain and allowing more liberties for attackers to feel safe in approaching a target while also punishing them for spamming. For Honor is a game that should be about breaking through defenses, yet has absolutely no mechanic or system for it, beyond guard breaking, which is a button that simply turns it off.

I don't feel these are large changes. And I don't want to focus on my ideas for solutions so much as the analysis of the core issues that are creating issues in the first place.