Combos - a bad design?



  • I believe that setting up skill-based combat system was one of the major goals of the dev team. After playing the beta daily for over two weeks now, I can say that they mostly succeeded in that task. However, I’m having a hard time figuring out how the “combo” functionality fits in this. In its current form comboing promotes mindless key mashing rather than thoughtful combat.

    The tutorial reveals the reasoning behind comboing - it is supposed to be a trick move used to make the opponent block early and then strike him with a second, faster blow. The player is supposed to purposefully miss the first swing and then do a combo follow up. The idea of the move sounds quite good, and seems like a skill demanding addition to the combat system. Unfortunately, from my experience it is currently used in a completely different way.

    In short - comboing means mindless spam in most cases. Players just keep mashing their buttons and in return get faster, harder to block attacks. The stamina cost in negligible. Needless to say, this hardly demands any skill to pull off. Instead of being punished by not thinking about their moves, the system rewards them with faster attacks.

    The biggest flaw of comboing is that a combo doesn’t break when hitting the opponent. You can just keep spamming your attack. This is bad design. Skillful combat should be about timings, knowing when to strike and when to block. Do combos promote that? No. It’s just about keeping attacking till one of the fighters is dead.

    Another problem is that you can perform combos repeatedly using the same attack type, which most often is simply the lowly slash. This also adds up to the face hugging problem, because the only reliable way to break a combo is to block it, which becomes increasingly difficult when the enemy is extremely close to you.

    So in general - the initial idea behind the combo system is quite good, but its flawed execution has lead to a mechanic that promotes uninteresting and primitive way of playing. Still, I think that with some adjustments, combos could become a worthy addition. Below are some of my ideas for fixing them.

    1. Combos break on player hit
    This simple change would prevent continuous attack spam and would promote the correct usage of combos according to the tutorial. This is the best solution in my opinion.

    2. Flinch / daze effect after the combo is blocked
    If for some crazy reasons we want to allow players to spam their attacks anyway, they should be punished for doing so in a wrong moment. This change would make them vulnerable to counterattacks if the opponent manages to break their combos by blocking.
    **
    3. Only different attack types may be comboed + significantly increased stamina cost**
    This would prevent the most mindless form of key spam and make comboing a bit more difficult, while still maintaining the very high damage potential.

    In conclusion, currently the combos don’t seem to be working as intended. I think that implementing one or more of the changes proposed could help to make comboing a more skill-demanding move and thereby improve the combat system a whole.



  • I’d vote for number 3 less the increased stamina cost. Its high enough already.



  • I disagree. I like that “combo’s” can continue even when hitting the person. Like as a Vanguard 2 handed sword user, this feature is extremely useful when smartly used. If you just spam, you will likely die, but if you time it right you can catch several bad players surrounding you in a combo that kills them. Though it only takes 1 of those players being smart enough to block or trade or hit you on windup to stop your combo, so you have to watch out for that and not just spam.

    They also are already able to be stopped and countered. Combo’s still have windup times in between the swings, where you can hit a person doing a combo. You can also trade on purpose if you know the damage they take will be much more than what you take. (depends on classes/weapons)

    Blocking attacks in your face is only difficult for players that aren’t fully good at blocking yet, but there’s lots of ways those people usually mess up blocks.

    With practice you don’t actually have to spam when you combo. If you spam it can cause you to do an extra swing you didn’t want.



  • @Alpha:

    The tutorial reveals the reasoning behind comboing - it is supposed to be a trick move used to make the opponent block early and then strike him with a second, faster blow. The player is supposed to purposefully miss the first swing and then do a combo follow up. The idea of the move sounds quite good, and seems like a skill demanding addition to the combat system. Unfortunately, from my experience it is currently used in a completely different way.

    I’ve only ever used it as described in the tutorial, but if people want to use it as a berserker tactic then why shouldn’t they? It certainly doesn’t give them any real advantage, if anything it makes them vulnerable. In my experience people who complain about combos are those who like to control the flow of combat. So when someone comes along and starts putting them on the back foot it comes as a rude shock, but in the end it’s a legitimate tactic that you’ll just have to overcome like all the rest.
    I’d actually like to see combo controls tightened a little, as is they feel a bit floaty and derpy.



  • Hey Alpha! I love hearing what people think about our combat system, so let me try and ease your woes on a few points if I can.

    @Alpha:

    The tutorial reveals the reasoning behind comboing - it is supposed to be a trick move used to make the opponent block early and then strike him with a second, faster blow. …Unfortunately, from my experience it is currently used in a completely different way.

    That’s only one way to use combos! It’s more of a tip than the soul purpose of the design. So yes, some people use them for that purpose, and other’s use them to spam. You’ll see them utilized differently based on player skill and the number of players in the server.

    @Alpha:

    In short - comboing means mindless spam in most cases. …Instead of being punished by not thinking about their moves, the system rewards them with faster attacks.

    While you can mindlessly spam combos, it is not wise. Nine times out of ten, you’ll get your butt handed to you by someone who can parry reliably if you just spam. This is why the combo system rewards you. Use it well, and it’s your ticket to taking out 2-4 guys. Spam it and you’ll get blocked and cut down.

    @Alpha:

    This also adds up to the face hugging problem, because the only reliable way to break a combo is to block it, which becomes increasingly difficult when the enemy is extremely close to you.

    Kicks are your best friend in this situation. There’s no easier time to land a kick than when they’re right on top of you. It’s much easier than attempting to block an attack you cannot see coming.

    I don’t think anyone on the development team can claim combos don’t get spammed. You can enter almost any server and find that guy who’s entirely unaware of the other attack types and just mashes the hell out of the left mouse button. So I would agree with you on poor design if this person was proving most effective, but that’s rarely the case.

    Spamming is a low skill level technique that’s viable against other low skill level players and in large, large games where it’s pure mayhem. Otherwise it’s extremely easy to shut down with a smart kick or block.



  • Kicks are your best friend in this situation. There’s no easier time to land a kick than when they’re right on top of you. It’s much easier than attempting to block an attack you cannot see coming

    This make sense to me, but it’s just has hard to pull off as parrying an attacked while be “hugged”. For me it’s because trying to get a kick off is very sluggish. There feels like a one second delay before you actually raise your boot. Maybe I’m just out of Stamina very time I try…I don’t know.



  • I don’t feel comfortable calling them spammers, how about berserkers?
    There are some skilled combo players out there, who work overheads and such into their attacks to overcome the more patient players who prefer to feint and read their opponent. I’m one of the latter and the thing that brings me down 90% of the time is a player that throws caution to the wind and does something aggressive and unexpected.
    I wouldn’t throw them in with “low skilled” players at all. As a dev, I’ would have thought you’d pick your words more carefully when referring to a tactic a large majority of your players employ.



  • There’s a difference between spamming and using combos intelligently. If you only mash the left mouse button, you can do three attacks before the combo breaks, with only two directions for the swings to come from. If you combo in other attacks, and you land them successfully, you can do as many as you like from many different directions, greatly increasing the amount of work your opponent has to do in order to stop your assault.

    So yes! Berserking is great. For me, it’s one of the best ways to take out a polearm or spear user. You close in on them and hack them to tiny bits before they can even get a swing off! But even in that situation, where you want to land as many attacks as quickly as possible, it’s still better to utilize different attacks than simply using the same one over and over!

    I hope that clears things up, Strudel. :D



  • My only problem with the combo system is it doesn’t function how it was originally described - rewarding you for successfully landing a string of attacks, rather than just successfully swinging.

    I think missed attacks should drain stamina. Combo or not, if you miss, you lose stamina. Combos should drain progressively more stamina the more you miss. This would actually reward people for comboing properly rather than mindlessly.

    The problem with slash spam is just a problem with slash spam. It’s unrelated IMO. Most weapons you can return to idle stance and swing again and only lose about .3 seconds - ‘fixing’ combos will barely touch slashspam.

    We were actually discussing something similar to this throughout almost three maps on a server I was on today - the fact that you’re generally able to spam as long as you don’t combo, which makes stabbing repeatedly with long/fast weapons like the spears or halberd such an easy way to keep enemies at a distance, because you’ll never lose stamina as long as you just keep stabbing, since a stab can’t combo into another stab. There’s really no penalty for doing it unless the opponent is also using a long enough weapon to take advantage of it.



  • The animation system for the combo is so bad, half the time you think hes swinging a slash and his arms appear in a stab 1split second later! Infact half the combos animations are bugged. Wish you would just disable combos till you can sort it.



  • Thanks for your response PatrickL, it seems the tutorial made me misunderstand your goals with the combo system. Honestly, I can’t say I like combos in their current form, but hey - what can I do about it? I guess I’ll just stop complaining about it and adapt. ;)

    And yeah, you definitely should take a look at the animations during combo’d attacks, sometimes they don’t play correctly for the left side swings.



  • It’s a known issue due to lag, we’re looking into it.



  • @b3h47pte:

    It’s a known issue due to lag, we’re looking into it.

    Great! Thanks :)



  • @SlyGoat:

    My only problem with the combo system is it doesn’t function how it was originally described - rewarding you for successfully landing a string of attacks, rather than just successfully swinging.

    I think missed attacks should drain stamina. Combo or not, if you miss, you lose stamina. Combos should drain progressively more stamina the more you miss. This would actually reward people for comboing properly rather than mindlessly.

    The problem with slash spam is just a problem with slash spam. It’s unrelated IMO. Most weapons you can return to idle stance and swing again and only lose about .3 seconds - ‘fixing’ combos will barely touch slashspam.

    We were actually discussing something similar to this throughout almost three maps on a server I was on today - the fact that you’re generally able to spam as long as you don’t combo, which makes stabbing repeatedly with long/fast weapons like the spears or halberd such an easy way to keep enemies at a distance, because you’ll never lose stamina as long as you just keep stabbing, since a stab can’t combo into another stab. There’s really no penalty for doing it unless the opponent is also using a long enough weapon to take advantage of it.

    This is a really good suggestion. It will make managing your resources more critical, but, do you think that this implementation will slow the game down? I suppose it just matters what variables they use.



  • On the contrary, I think it would speed combat up by discouraging backpeddaling and poking at the enemy, since you’ll wear down stamina that way. Being parried still wouldn’t drain stamina from the attacker, but would from the defender (as of the next beta patch) - so it encourages you to attack, but penalizes you for attacking unnecessarily/missing.


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