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View Full Version : Since graphics are fine now can we talk combat system and story telling?



Kiroku
05-28-2018, 11:06 AM
I guess everyone agrees with me when talking about the stunning graphics of origins and its huge open world with almost zero loading screens. The love to detail included of course!

Now since all of this is completely fine now can we move on and work on a good combat system, social stealth, immersion and good story telling?
I just finished the second DLC now and would like to share my thoughts on those aspects for a future AC game.

If someone is interested I will post more about my thoughts.

Swailing
05-28-2018, 11:59 AM
I would love better storytelling. I like games that are nothing but storytelling.

However, I'm making this reply about the notion that Origins has a bad combat system, which I think is entirely false, and one that's aimed for too often at games in general.

This is a complaint I often see about melee combat systems. New game comes out, complaints follow that the combat system is allegedly not so good. Comparisons are made to some other combat system (usually poorly targeted comparisons).

After Hellblade was released: "Nice graphics, but the combat system could have been better". The combat system was fun, contained a strategic risk/reward mechanic, and reflected the fury and stress of combat against multiple assailants. It allowed you to run into battle and jump in with a big swing — an ability that surprisingly absent from many games that are said to have better combat.

Origins appears: "Nice graphics, but the combat system is terrible/not as good as [other game]". On what basis, I'm not sure. It allowed smooth combination of hand-to-hand and projectile weaponry, kept you in control of your movement, had a learnable visual language of enemy types and weapons that could or could not be blocked, and generally ticked all the boxes and added some more. It's good. Could it be better? Probably, but I'm struggling to think of a game that's significantly better at swordplay.

And what are the combat systems that are supposedly better? Bizarrely, the most quoted is The Witcher 3. TW3 is one of my favourite games ever. It's superb. But where it got its reputation as the gold standard of melee combat systems is a total mystery to me. I'm not saying it's bad — again, it's fine, and I don't want to slam it for being fine — but while combat is fun in TW3, the actual combat system is not doing the heavy lifting there. There are memorable battles in TW3 because the setting is amazing, because the monster designs are fantastic, because CDPR perfectly delivered the feeling of entering the unknown of a monster's den and then battling it in its lair (a theme that's the eternal catnip for the imagination of anyone that was ever a human child).

But another part of the excitement created by TW3's combat comes from what's wrong with it. Managing the game's iffy interfaces to bring together the main combat, the oils, the tonics, the bombs, the bows, and Geralt's weirdly wooden movements produces a mad scramble. That panic, in the toughest battles, is a weird kind of thrill. But is it good? Is it exceptionally good? I don't think it is, and I think people overestimate the combat when it's such a small part of why TW3's action elements are intoxicating.

Are we going to say "The Demon Souls/Dark Souls/Bloodborne series"? That one comes up a lot. Again, that's a fine system for those games and they're an eminently respectable series, but is the combat something from which AC or any other game can learn? I'd argue that it's not. That's some dodge and roll-heavy, stressful fighting which suits a game that's infamous for big enemies that are hard to kill. If the combat was all against normal 6ft humanoids, nobody would be lauding the combat system.

I've been playing games for a very, very long time, and genuinely fresh control systems are extremely rare. When it comes to truly remarkable ideas in melee combat, I struggle to think of real standouts (Revengeance is the only one that really deserves a special mention, and I guess For Honor tried). And looking at Origins, that combat is far better than the combat in a ton of games, and up there with the best systems of third-person slashy combat. I think, when people claim there's better combat, what they're really doing is piecing together a combat system from fragments of lots of video game combat without realising they're doing it.

Kiroku
05-28-2018, 09:25 PM
I would love better storytelling. I like games that are nothing but storytelling.

However, I'm making this reply about the notion that Origins has a bad combat system, which I think is entirely false, and one that's aimed for too often at games in general.

This is a complaint I often see about melee combat systems. New game comes out, complaints follow that the combat system is allegedly not so good. Comparisons are made to some other combat system (usually poorly targeted comparisons).

After Hellblade was released: "Nice graphics, but the combat system could have been better". The combat system was fun, contained a strategic risk/reward mechanic, and reflected the fury and stress of combat against multiple assailants. It allowed you to run into battle and jump in with a big swing — an ability that surprisingly absent from many games that are said to have better combat.

Origins appears: "Nice graphics, but the combat system is terrible/not as good as [other game]". On what basis, I'm not sure. It allowed smooth combination of hand-to-hand and projectile weaponry, kept you in control of your movement, had a learnable visual language of enemy types and weapons that could or could not be blocked, and generally ticked all the boxes and added some more. It's good. Could it be better? Probably, but I'm struggling to think of a game that's significantly better at swordplay.

Thanks for the response at first.

Its not that the combat system is super bad or something. For me its just not challenging enough. I noticed that a lot in the cursed pharao dlc with stronger enemies. When fighting the shadows and other bosses at the end of the day its just a waiting game. Wait for them to attack with their red glowing super attack following by a dodge and some hits. When having the special bar at 100% immediately rush in with twin blades and so on.

Another reason I dislike the combat system is that you have so many different shields but all you do with them is just using them to block any arrows and some light hits by enemies. Why is there no way to counter enemy attacks like for example in hellblade? Or like darksouls and bloodborne if they already went in this direction.

Another greater reason especially for me is that there is no need to play the game in a somewhat stealthy way. Compare the time effort for a player that goes in sneaky killing one by one with arrows and the hidden blade and maybe poison to someone that just rushes in with his horse killing the first 2-3 enemies and maybe another 4 by crushing oil bottles that burn the whole camp. The rest will get finished of by a sword. Where is the reward for playing stealth with more time and strategy for those camps? For me it felt like its a waste of time to take 15-30 minutes for a camp or fortress when u can rush through that in half the time and the same reward?

Swailing
06-01-2018, 03:01 PM
I agree with you, it is too easy if you play to your level, and the skills make this situation worse.

But it's much more fun if you don't unlock skills and intentionally go for enemies who are vastly more powerful than you. This is what I did for most of the game. It made stealth matter a lot, and combat/running away was much more exciting when I was spotted.

The problem of being overpowered is a problem with all games with a progression system, really. Some players can't cope with things being too difficult and won't enjoy the game unless they can become superpowered without too much trouble. Some players like a challenge up to a point, but eventually complain if the game is difficult all the way to the end — they want to go through enemies like butter, either to reflect the power that they ought to feel with this badass character, or because they're simply bored of the work involved and just want to get to the end. And Assassin's Creed is dealing with a decade-long legacy of being one of the easiest AAA games on the market. No doubt there are lots of people who are fans of AC specifically because they found it easy to play, and it's hard for the designers to please everyone.

The trouble for people who want a constant challenge is that, in theory, all they have to do is never use their skill points and don't use the best weapons. In practice, it's very hard for the player to enjoy the game with this self-imposed regime, certainly on their first playthrough. Part of the fun is acquiring and using rare equipment, and with no way to remove a skill, you never know if the next unlocked ability is going to mess up the game for you until you try it.

I'm not sure what the solution is to this. Maybe the game needs an Easy/Normal/Hard setup right from the start which stops certain skills from appearing at all, and maintains a good rank gap for the enemies at all times. Then again, in other games that do this, it can make the entire ranking concept feel completely arbitrary.

ThePizzaMan123
06-05-2018, 06:56 PM
And what are the combat systems that are supposedly better? Bizarrely, the most quoted is The Witcher 3.

I think you're right in your follow up comments to an extent but, and this is subjective, but I think that for one; the standard difficulty was just right for most to grasp and two; CDPR got the sword-play specific animation perfect. Parrying blows and following up with a choreographed retort felt good and looked freakin' awesome. The stiffness in Geralt's movements you're describing I felt came from general exploration but when you're locked onto a human enemy 1v1 I didn't feel any inherent 'stiffness' to the game play.

My follow up question would be something like; if AC:O (either Origins or Odyssey) had a smaller selection of weapons would the extra love afforded to the two or three melee weapons you could choose from have improved the 'feel' of connectivity and grounding?

Who knows. But what I do know is that Geralt felt very grounded and very capable, like there was a certain weight to him which is absent in ACO's arguably more 'arcadey' combat system. I would happily do away with the flashy, neon coloured lunges for one. Perhaps even that is making up a larger part of my criticisms for ACO's combat than I realise. I simply wanted it to feel less 'arcadey'. Was it good? Sure, but it wasn't what I wanted from it.