What about arrows to the knee?
The reality of network latency and massively multiplayer games prevents The Elder Scrolls Online from following the real-time combat model that has driven the series since its inception, but the developers are trying to bring over a few of the concepts that define the franchise’s combat. The stamina bar is the fulcrum around which the entire combat design revolves.
I imagine this tidbit of information is the deal-breaker for many of you. No matter what fancy new twist they put on it, combat in The Elder Scrolls Online
will be very similar to standard MMO conventions. There is a certain element of dynamism and flexibility in managing a stamina resource to sprint, block, interrupt, or break free of an incapacitation at any time, but you’re still putting skills on a hotbar and locking on to the enemy you want to deploy them against.
They’re taking a sort of Guild Wars
approach to assigning skills, however, as you’ll only have a small number of them active and available for use at any one time. Zenimax Online says this gives them more freedom in designing “really cool abilities,” since there is less work to be done balancing them against a handful of other possibilities versus giving players access to a full range of 20+ that can be used at any time. That adds an extra layer of strategy, as you have to choose very carefully which abilities you want to use, though you will be able to arrange them freely outside of combat.
There will be a class system in TES Online
, which is a departure from the free-form character progression introduced with Skyrim
. The stamina bar is important for all classes, while there is also a “finesse” bar that is built up by pulling off advanced maneuvers in combat such as interrupting an enemy spell or blocking a dangerous attack. One of your skill slots will always be occupied by a powerful ability that can only be activated once you’ve filled the finesse bar.
Coordinating combo attacks with other players is the most effective way to build finesse; examples given of this include a mage using fire magic to set a rogue’s oil slick ablaze or a fighter using a spinning attack inside a mage’s firestorm to send fireballs flying in every direction. This opens up the opportunity for advanced tactics in PVP, as not only will you be trying to pull off such combos yourself, you’ll be worried about avoiding those being coordinated by your rivals. As for PVE encounters versus AI enemies, Zenimax Online claims they will be just as smart.
“The first and foremost important thing about creatures is that they are not speedbumps,” says gameplay designer Maria Aliprando. “You will encounter the same mechanics from monsters that you will from players.” Enemies work together with general behaviors, like fighters trying to tie foes up in melee while mages shoot from a distance. They also combo their abilities when the opportunity presents itself; the fire mage is only too happy to turn an oil patch his rogue buddy dropped into a deadly blaze.
A big deal here is the fact that they’re trying to avoid the tired MMO convention of ‘aggro’ in PVE combat. In trying to break free from the ‘holy trinity’ of tank/healer/DPS roles in a group, the developers’ goal is to make it possible for any competent group of players to handle most situations. This will have the side effect of placing a higher burden of self-preservation on each player in the absence of a healer, but the idea is to make combat play out in a more natural way, as opposed to “tank pulls agro, healer keeps him alive, everyone else pile on one enemy at a time.”
In the same vein, NPC baddies in dungeons aren’t going to stand around waiting for you to come over at your leisure. Every room is a cohesive encounter, and you will have to simultaneously manage every enemy in the area. Even Game Informer seems skeptical of this notion, remarking that “every MMO developer out there would love to have their monsters do something other than stand around and watch players slaughter their friends 20 yards away.” It is indeed a lofty goal, but considering how far along they are in development, maybe they’re on to something if they feel confident enough to talk about it.