Alpha 2 Review - Depth vs. Complexity
Mirage has a ton of potential. It’s got great art, excellent voice acting, a decent UI, and a solid base for further development. The melee combat needs work but other users have already brought up many of the issues surrounding parries, drags, desyncs, ability interruptions, overall game speed, etc. Here are my impressions with the alpha, going in order from least important to most important issues.
“PUSH 5” spams your screen when you stand next to the cart. It seems a bit excessive and personally I don’t think it’s necessary to have. On that note all of the other point notifiers such as “KILL 50” or “RAMPAGE 100” and such are unnecessary imo, simply because I like to have as little UI clutter as possible for maximum immersion. That said the art style is fantastical enough that immersion/realism probably isn’t as big a deal here as it would be in Chiv, and I concede that it does feel nice to see the “KILL STREAK” or “UNSTOPPABLE” etc.
The running animation seems more like speedwalking. Perhaps a more obvious difference between walking and sprinting should be included. Think of the knight in Chiv holding up his longsword while sprinting but holding it at hip level while walking.
About the class select UI. It isn’t immediately obvious why some classes are locked (when too many people have picked them). I think the Chiv numbered system would work fine here to show how many Alchemancers, Taurents, etc are already on your team. I’m referring to the class selection screen on Chiv which will usually show the Archer card with a red 4 indicating that the team already has enough archers.
The Entropist’s name seems out of line with the theme/world of the game. Entropy is a scientific word and has no place in a pseudo-medieval Arabian setting with magic.
Voice Lines seem clunky. “Yes, No, Sorry, Thanks,” etc were bound to Z by default, whereas “Forward, Retreat, Incoming,” etc were bound to X… which is the opposite of how the keys were bound in Chiv. It just seems a bit odd but this is a very minor nitpick. The biggest problem with the voice lines is that there is no way to flip the list like in Chiv. Pressing x55 or x11 or something along those lines just isn’t as easy or intuitive as xx2 or xx3 imo. Lastly, the voice lines feel sluggish. You’ll press x1 for example, the list will flash briefly indicating that it has recognized what you pressed, and then it will put the voice line in the chat and the character will begin the dialogue. It feels very unresponsive. This may be due to an issue with queueing, idk.
I like this character a lot, he’s probably my favorite thus far. He has the perfect balance between ranged damage, healing, movement, and melee damage. Frankly, it’s probably a bit overpowered at the moment. I would suggest toning down the melee damage since he’s basically just swinging a little scepter around. His riposte stab also seems to have a janky animation. Regarding his grenade, I think it would feel a lot easier to use if we could press the key again to detonate it. As for the Healing Grenade, it would feel better if it had a quicker cast time and projectile speed thus enabling you to better save teammates in a bind. The Magic Carpet is solid and seems like it’s in a good spot atm. I’ve hardly even used the other Q ability (some draggable projectile) and the belly bounce because they just don’t seem to match up to their competitors. Overall I would suggest TBS nail down exactly what they want this character to do. What niche will he fill?
Hypothetical abilities: In a way he reminds me of Zenyatta from Overwatch. Zenyatta has great damage and healing but no mobility. The Entropist has all three, and I would suggest that perhaps instead of having damaging spells, he instead has, for example, an aoe grenade that slows enemies or roots them in place for a brief time. Alternatively, his grenade could make enemies take increased damage or deal less damage to allies.
Overall, he fits the theme of a berserker quite well. The abilities mesh well together and he does a good job of disrupting fights with the help of Leap Slam and Whirlwind. His Q punching attack seems a tad lackluster. As far as his weapon is concerned I would recommend slowing it down by a lot so that it can basically replicate the Maul/Grand Mace from Chiv. This would allow him to drag much better. If you’re still thinking of other weapons to add, consider a halberd or something like the billhook. I love the macho man voice lines.
Hypothetical Abilities: A spell that makes his attacks do extra knockback for a few swings/few seconds. You could knock someone off a ledge if they stand too close and you use this. Maybe you could also give him a roar ability that “scares” enemies and causes them to turn away from you at 180 degrees, kind of like Intimidating Shout from WoW.
Seems like one of the strongest if not the best duelist so far. She reminds me of the ninja from Deadliest Warrior. Her abilities all seem fine except for the one where you empower your weapons to make your next swing ranged. It just feels lackluster compared to the shurikens. I would also suggest a slight damage reduction for her stab since, atm, it seems it can 2 shot the Taurant and given that she’s already fast like the maa from Chiv, that much power is excessive.
Hypothetical Abilities: Smoke pots. Straight up smoke pots ported from Chiv. I think it would fit the ninja vibe and add to the chaos she tries to create. It would also be neat if she could run along walls like Lucio from Overwatch. To fill the assassin role you might also consider giving her a spell which makes her next few strikes slow the enemy’s movement speed and prevents them from getting away. This slowing poison/enchantment would take the E slot instead of her shurikens.
This guy’s been getting a lot of attention on the forums and for good reason. He’s a polarizing class. Depending on who you ask he’s either too annoying to track down or too easy to catch and kill. Personally I would side with the latter; he’s too easy to kill. As a Vypress or Entropist, it’s easy to chase down an Alch even if they do get away with Teleport. Good Alch players can sometimes get away if they stick with their teammates and make use of parkour to break line of sight, but in the long run once the meta solidifies I’m sure most Vypress players will have a singular focus at the beginning of every round on Lighthouse: parkour up the opposite side of the bridge and ambush the Alch.
Hypothetical Abilities: Give him a spell that allows him to summon a dagger for 10-15 seconds instead of his standard fireball LMBs. This will let him at least parry an opponent for a brief time until he can either regroup with his team or make distance with parkour. Also consider giving him that death ray ability that the Entropist was hinted at having. It would probably fit his role better. Lastly, consider a spell which locks him in stasis for a brief time similar to Mei’s Ice Block from Overwatch. During this period he wouldn’t be attackable nor would he be able to move or cast spells. Ideally he would stay close to his teammates if he took this ability and would be able to rely on them to handle a melee threat if he were ambushed.
She reminds me of the Man at Arms thanks to her shortsword and quick ripostes. I like the mine and the hook shot - they have inherent synergy since you can pull someone into the mine and that’s a satisfying combo if you can pull it off. Her punch feels a bit lackluster and her kick seems a tad weak as a defensive way to make distance. I like Dervish much more although I wish she would dodge in the direction she is moving. Essentially, it would be like the maa dodge but with an attack built in. Additionally, I’m glad the mine takes a moment to activate - otherwise it would become a short range nuke which people would toss into a teamfight with careless abandon.
Hypothetical Abilities: Consider a trap which slows/roots nearby enemies. Or, if this isn’t too hard to code, allow her to set up tripwires which could electrocute players who step through them (players would have to jump over the wires, hit them with another spell, or parry them once they activate). Lastly, consider letting traps stick to walls or the ceiling. This will add interesting verticality on maps like Sunken City where there are plenty of short, narrow corridors.
I probably played this class the least. Fighting against Vigilists definitely felt more challenging than many others thanks to her ability to drag stabs and manipulate her wonky spear animations. Otherwise, I liked her overall aesthetic and emphasis on defensive play such as the barrier/anti-magic shield. I recommend giving this shield a bit more health so that it isn’t destroyed quite so easily in teamfights. Also, it felt odd that she had two shield-throwing spells and they didn’t share the same spell slot.
Hypothetical Abilities: It might be cool to allow Surge to reflect enemy projectiles as it travels. You could also allow enemy spells to reflect off of her anti-magic shield. As for new spells, consider letting her throw her spear and then draw a shortsword like in Deadliest Warrior. Alternatively, try giving her a shout ability that lets her increase the movement speed of nearby allies for a short time.
Depth vs. Complexity
I love Chivaly’s combat. It’s by far the most immersive, visceral first-person swordfighting/melee game I’ve ever played and its beauty lies in its freedom of movement. Chiv drew a lot of flak and confusion from new players who didn’t understand dragging/reverse overheads or thought it was unrealistic. Frustration was the primary factor dissuading most of them I imagine, so the challenge for Mirage is to maintain a combat system that still keeps things fresh after hundreds of hours while also teaching new players how to contest veterans. Take note that this does not mean the game should be dumbed down so that noobs could beat a 1k hour vet in a duel - this just means that the game should teach new players about its less obvious mechanics so that they don’t feel flustered and intimidated. The question is: how do we go about doing this?
Reverses are gone, which means that the variety of attacks a player can use to outmaneuver their opponent has diminished. In its stead, TBS should prioritize dragging as a legitimate combat tactic - otherwise combat just becomes a stamina war/feint spam. We need to maintain the depth of Chivalry’s combat even as we tone down its complexity. What does this mean? If you have 5 minutes, watch this video to see why it’s important to build a simple set of rules that enable a wide variety of strategic options in a game.
Essentially, the more complex your game is, the better tutorial you’ll need to create, and the more complexity you have in a game, the more burdensome that information will be on newer players. That said, some level of complexity is necessary in order to allow for depth; an elegant design is one that is simple on the surface yet allows for new and interesting decisions to be made all the time. If you’ve ever played Super Smash Bros, you’ll understand this. Dragging is an extra layer of complexity, but it’s absolutely necessary to have if Mirage is going to have the depth necessary to sustain hundreds of hours of play over the next few years. If you want to make those sexy skin sales, you’ll need to hold onto a large playerbase over time and that will require making a compromise between veteran and new players. Maintain the depth while reducing the complexity.
Lastly, I don’t know how fast TBS can work, but I’m hesitant to trust that Mirage will be ready to go, well-polished, and appropriately balanced by Q1 2017. I’ll just leave with a quote by Shigeru Miyamoto, developer at Nintendo:
“A delayed game will eventually be good, but a rushed game will be forever bad.”
Excellent feedback, thanks for taking the time to write this up.
Chiv drew a lot of flak and confusion from new players who didn’t understand dragging/reverse overheads or thought it was unrealistic.
Drags are cool, but reversed attacks are absolutely not realistic (but ofc I use them as everyone else in chiv) - I hope they are gone for good in Mirage.
How could weapon at start of windup deal same amount of damage as at the end of windup? No way.
I believe it’s too tricky to develop reverse attack system that would make sense.
Think about introduced spells as a replacement for your beloved reverses.
Oh, and reverses are now like ultimate drags - you can place a very late hit if deft and lucky enough.