The Mirage Report: Volume I - March 22, 2016
Xenokkah last edited by Xenokkah
Sin here. I have only been an Alpha tester for a period of around five or six hours total playtime, and here I will be delivering my first impressions of Mirage. I understand that the game is in alpha and that some things will poke through the cracks. However, the game does have several things I feel I should point out, both positive and negative. I hope you, the reader, can benefit from this particular report.
The Stuff That Needs Work
Classes; Balancing Needed
Let’s start off with the two classes who need the most improvement; the Vypress and the Tinker. The Vypress is an extremely entertaining class to play, but it is not immune to the curse of the underpowered. Her attacks feel extremely slow, but that is a secondary concern. There is a glitch in game that allows her dash attack (not the kick) to be spammed and cancelled repeatedly to emulate flight. This makes it impossible for most classes to engage a Vypress who knows how to exploit this. For instance, two other testers were playing Entropist and Taurant respectively and could do no more than think angry thoughts below me as I hovered above them, immune to any form of attack; I could simply flap my nonexistent wings a few meters further. Second, the Vypress needs a better way to effectively engage in a fight. Right now, her most effective form of combat is spamming ranged attacks and using her abilities to keep as far away from melee combat as possible. This subtracts from her role as an assassin; what use is an assassin that can’t even get close to the enemy, lest they suffer the risk of being killed in two hits from an angry Taurant?
The problem of her lack of effectiveness stems from no ability to parry. Without the ability to parry, the Vypress is essentially a meatshield. While the attempts at a mobility based assassin are not necessarily detrimental to the class’ concept, originality, in this case, needs to be swapped out for practicality. Once the game goes into Beta and is released, players will doubtlessly flock to her, and why wouldn’t they? She’s the Persian equivalent of a ninja, jumping and kicking around the battlefield, dealing death to unsuspecting prey. However, as it stands, said prey can turn around and continuously whack her until she’s a battered heap on the ground. If the ability for the Vypress to parry is not added, at the very least her short “dodge” needs to have its range lengthened. In my experience, the dodge has been completely useless in getting away from facehugging Taurants and Tinkers. The lack of health in a Vypress can easily be exploited. And what can they do about it? As soon as their phase walk and dash abilities are used up they may as well stop moving and accept their fate. If the dodge were to be lengthened slightly, or mayhap the Vypress be given a new ability to move faster or dodge further, it would most likely benefit the class greatly.
The second class is not underpowered; in fact, quite the contrary. The Tinker is an ideal class for the current state of the combat; she is quick, very agile, can plant some devious traps, and can hold her own against larger foes. There is one issue; her grappling hook. Simply put, the stun on her grappling hook is far too long for anyone to stand against. A Tinker who knows what they are doing can simply plant all three of their mines in rapid succession and grappling hook over an enemy. One colorful explosion later and you have a laughing Tinker and one dead enemy. Alternatively, the Tinker can simply hook you over, overhead you once, and then Dawn Lunge into you. Even a Taurant can’t stand up to that kind of abuse; most die outright, and if they don’t they usually are in one shot range. For what feels like ages, you are unable to defend yourself in any meaningful way. If the stun timer were to be halved, it would likely improve the combat exponentially. This also leads into my next point; swordplay.
Combat and Characters; Monotonous and Lackluster
We’ll start with parries. As I have seen and has been discussed, parries are pretty much the hard counter to anything; spells, melee attacks, grappling hooks, and dash attacks alike. If it can hurt you and isn’t environmental damage, it can be parried. Even mines can be parried, which hurts a Tinker exponentially if they are fighting a clever opponent. No problem here, right? Wrong; very wrong. The ability for a player to hold up their guard indefinitely invariably hurts gameplay. Feints are entirely useless; the opponent can hold their mouse button indefinitely. Even if you run out of Block Power, the amount of damage that is taken is miniscule at best. This can be remedied with two things; either changing the parry system to be more like Chivalry’s, as in based mostly around active parrying as opposed to hold and parry like Mount and Blade, or get rid of the Block Power mechanic and replace it with Stamina.
Why get rid of Block Power? For one, it would bring down the number of people relying on indefinite parries to succeed in combat. Maybe make it similar to Chivalry’s shield system, in the sense that blocking for too long will drain your stamina. Only, if that system were to be used, Stamina would probably have to be drained much more quickly to balance things out. Second, it kind of makes sense. In Mirage, you can swing your weapon as merrily as you please; strikes that would tire out all but the most conditioned humans; we’re talking Master Chief levels of endurance. Having swung around weapons as large and heavy looking as some of Mirage’s, I can safely say that someone can’t swing around something so heavy for more than a few swings without needing a break. I understand that Mirage is not necessarily a “realistic” game, set in the world that it is, but Stamina was an integral part of the combat that make Chivalry famous. In any case, the current system of Stamina or Block Power needs serious work for the combat to be more enjoyable.
This brings us to the technical details of Mirage’s characters. Myself and other testers were informed that characters in Mirage move about as fast as a Man-at-arms from Chivalry. Whether or not this is true, I cannot say, but I can say one thing; the characters, even the Vypress and Tinker, just feel extremely slow. I can understand the bulk of the Taurant, the amount of armor on a Vigilant, and the extra padding on the Entropist slamming them down, but the fact that a Taurant can seemingly chase down one of the lighter classes even without the assistance of the Chase Mechanic is a bit of a turn off to play anything that weighs less than half a car. As many have already mentioned, the reintroduction of the Sprint mechanic would likely also improve combat. In the Payload-style matches that I have participated in, the defending team (usually Bashran) has been completely unable to mount a defense because the players simply couldn’t move fast enough to defend. This leads into my final complaint regarding the classes; overall speed.
I will be blunt; the classes and their attacks just feel slow. In Chivalry, epic charge-the-enemy moments happened often because the characters felt fast, even Knights. However, that feeling is not mirrored in Mirage. In fact, I am reminded of a certain scene from Family Guy when Herbert and an old Nazi soldier get into a fight; the slowest fight to occur. A similar “charge” moment in Mirage feels almost like that; a group of old people running into another and seeing who falls asleep first. The maps are small, and that is understandable, but that is no excuse for the characters to not feel like actual human beings as opposed to mammoths walking around on their hind legs. When I play as a light, sneaky assassin, I expect my blows to not only be quick and deadly but to feel the exact same way. Instead, I feel like I am wielding a giant lead block lacking all of the stopping power such a thing would entail. If combat was given even a slight speed boost, the game would benefit.
The Good Stuff
Enough pessimism; time for some positive feedback. I, for one, really love Mirage’s art style. Not flashy enough to be like an arcade game but not intense enough to be realistic. Its setting is also appealing to me; the thought of running through Arabian palaces and covering the grand stone and rich carpets with blood and bodies gets me hyped up like nothing other. The environment and aesthetic of the game are excellent and provide an atmosphere of a calm before the storm. Once the enemy comes into sight, you know that you’re ruining a perfectly good location.
Next, the map design. I love it. Either attacking a Bashrani port city with a cart full of poison or crushing a Cabal holdout, the game just looks gorgeous. When I attack the Bashrani cities, I truly feel like I am in the presence of civility and royalty. Finally, the physics. The ragdoll and corpse physics of Chivalry have only been enhanced in Mirage. Furthermore, spells and weapons actually have weight to them. For instance, in one match, a Taurant engaged a Tinker and killed her. However, instead of flopping over like Chivalry characters, the Taurant’s mace blow took the Tinker off her feet with the force of the blow.
Ultimately, Mirage’s alpha shows great promise, but needs a lot of work, as is expected. Any feedback to my feedback would be most welcome.