EverQuest Next - The Pace of Combat

Posted Tue, Aug 06, 2013 by Dalmarus

EverQuest Next - The Pace of Combat

Last week we were finally released from the shackles that kept us from sharing all of the EverQuest Next goodness we’d seen at E3 earlier this year. Thanks to the game’s official announcement and a mass amount of EverQuest Next panels at SOE Live, we can now talk about everything we’ve learned so far. One thing that hasn’t been clearly covered and is still up for speculation, though, is the pace of combat in EQNext.

Combat in the modern MMORPG moves too fast. Now, before anyone from the peanut gallery pipes up with, “Get with the times, gramps!” or some other comment of that sort, I’m not saying we need a combat system that lets you fall asleep at your desk. I do, however, think today’s combat has become more about speed, the perfect rotation, and how many mobs you can kill in 60 seconds.

Back in the day, sonny, fights took a while!

Back in the days of the first EverQuest, combat was a much longer affair than it is now. Last week I talked about how everyone needs a little fizzle in their lives. That goes for the melee type players as well as the casters. Spell slingers had to deal with their wares being resisted on a regular basis while also getting the occasional (or often, if their skills weren’t up to par) fizzle. On top of all this, they had to watch the amount of aggro they were building. This went for healers as well as DPS types. Not that they had to do this without any type of meter. It was something the player felt, and really became an art form in and of itself.

Melee types weren’t off the hook either. A good Warrior had a ton of manual skills to keep up while leveling – Taunt, Disarm, Bash, Kick, Archery, Hand to Hand (you never knew when you’d have to fight back to your corpse naked), Bind Wounds, and every single weapon type… 1H Blunt, 2H Blunt, 1H Slashing, 2H Slashing, and Piercing. Even if you kept on top of them, these skills didn’t climb quickly. Can you imagine trying to keep all these skills up to snuff at the pace of today’s combat and leveling speed? I can’t.

So with all the skills above, melee types had a wide range of things to keep in mind during any battle and, just like a caster could be resisted or get a fizzle, those players that preferred going toe to toe with their opponents had to deal with misses… a lot. An average fight could last 15-30 seconds if you were a group tagging mobs of equal level, or minutes if you were just out hunting with a friend.

Having combat move at a slower pace may sound boring, but it was actually just the opposite. Because you missed so often, had your spells resisted so often, or just had the damage of your “OMFG I’m unloading my biggest spell on you!” spell cut down to 1/20th of what it can hit for on a semi-regular basis, combat was more exciting, not less, because you couldn’t count on everything to go as planned. Ever.

Can you interrupt him before <em>he</em> interrupts you?

It all goes back to adding a serious level of random chance into combat. When you were in a fight, you paid very close attention to what was happening on the screen. If you were a fighter, you were watching the mob to see if it started to cast a spell so you could time your shield bash to stun it. If you were a caster getting beat on, you paid attention to your opponent and the moment he hit or missed you was the optimal time to get your spell off without being interrupted. Fighters taunted to their heart’s content, and casters slowly built their heals or damage up in order to allow the tank to keep taunt from them. It was a different world of art and feel rather than trying to rush through every fight as quickly as possible.

As a result of all this, players also had time to learn to play classes very well, and took pride in doing so. When your party wipes in the bottom of Kaesora, and you then discover that you have a Warrior who kept his unarmed skill maxed out and you all fight your way naked back to your corpses, that Warrior goes on your friends list immediately and will never wait for a group if you’re around ever again.

Combat took long enough that you could tell who knew their class well and who didn’t. For those players who did, they were set getting groups. For those who didn’t, many treated it as an opportunity to learn and get better – again insuring they were quick to be picked up for future groups. It was very rare for someone to really suck by level 20 and still be around if they refused to learn anything.

The pace of combat and its prominent elements of randomness were not the only thing that kept combat interesting and a bit in the realm of the unknown. EverQuest also had a masterful mob consideration system that is in desperate need of making a return to the modern world. But of course you know that’s a topic for next week!

While you wait for next week’s piece, catch up on any previous EverQuest Next articles you may have missed! If you’ve got questions, old-school aspects you’d like me to cover, or anything in between, shoot me an email or hit me up on Twitter!

You've done it again Dal :) Nice work. How are you finding your return to EQ1?

I've been away for a week, but am looking forward to finding some time this weekend and hop back in. ^_^

You --> hammer --> head of the nail --> nail.

BAM!!!

It's interesting how "old EQ" players have been having the same things on their minds. I was posting just this week on EQHammer about combat pace.

Given that they have gone so far afield from "Old EQ" (and I can see potential) - lets just hope that these sorts of comments (given positively) impact the devs - and that they pay attention to their own "My EQ Story" series...

And realize while they are creating something new - that something they did in the past was very, very good.

Somehow managed to double post - and don't see a delete... so doing this instead!

Dalmarus, I've got a question for you.

You've written extensively about what elements from EQ need to reappear in EQN. Now that the cat is out of the bag, however, it seems like a great deal of EQ's "DNA" is being purposely omitted from EQN. This doesn't appear to be the "deep" (for lack of a better term) experience that you've been admirably lobbying for. How do you feel about what we've seen of EQN and what is your sense of how receptive the dev team will be to ideas like the ones contained in this very article?

Sorry for the late reply (been on vacation)!

Actually, I'm very excited about the game still. In fact, the more we find out, the more I *do* believe the game is going to be very, very deep. Even deeper than EQ1.

For me, I love exploring. That's what I want to do in every game more than anything else. From what we've seen, it sounds like EverQuest Next is going to revolve around a lot of exploring, and discovering things by yourself and with friends. It's for that reason, that I think EQN will offer players more to do and provide a means to have fin for years rather than a month or two.

The world premier presentation touched on a lot, but it left a lot out of some of the other things the team has revealed. Be sure to check out our SOE Live coverage at EQHammer.com - especially the videos of the various panels we taped. There is a LOT of information in them that I think will really appeal to the old EQ1 crowd much more than the original presentation did.

^_^

Glummer - my HUNCH - based on the first 4 polls they put up on the round table... I think they will let the community be involved in "fluff stuff" decisions. Are there ratonga in the game... can I dye my gear... etc...

But I think they will NOT let the community be involved in core mechanic decisions.

I think this for TWO reasons:

1) Doing that proved to be an absolute MESS in Vanguard
2) An incident reported to me directly from someone who was there... someone challenged Dave Georgeson on combat - apparently handed him something they thought was a good concept for combat... the response? Thanks, but we like what we have.

I also think they will let folks design buildings or whatever in landmark that are inconsequential to game play... and plop those buildings in spots in the game world they already designated for such things.

In the end - these things are a good way to keep people involved over the coming months without impacting what THEY (the devs) want to do with the game.

Having said that - I think we should all be absolutely honest with them on what we see - while not being belligerent or offensive about it... because that approach will just fall on deaf ears.

Who knows - if there seems to be unity from the community on a given topic, maybe they will consider it.

As an obvious disclaimer: I, like so many others here, am just an old EQ player with no insight at all into the inner workings or thoughts of what the devs are doing.

Wandidar: I'm sure you're right. The only real hope for the game that some of us want might be in a mod generated with the Landmark program. But even that wouldn't have the player population to create the full experience.

Looking at EQ1 and EQ2, I think SoE have realised they need a new flagship MMO that starts of fresh. My gut feeling is that the game is still very much going to be EQ, maybe not as hardcore as EQ1 but with many similarities.

I'd honestly be very surprised if they went back to their roots in EQ1,in any major way really,including combat.The old school MMOer population has been diluted by the tsunami of modern day MMO players brought in by WoW etc.

SOE will cater to the majority first and foremost, and I just dont see the modern day MMO player taking a liking to the way EQ1 worked.

This just seems like a fluff piece, and the content just doesn't make sense.

I disagree that MMO combat needs to slow down. Sure, some MMO combat is clunkier than others, but there are a few games on the market now that have nailed pacing when it comes to combat.

I have several complaints about SWTOR, but after having played the game extensively, going back to other MMOs takes some getting used to. Why? Because SWTORs combat system is perfectly tuned. The combat is fast and fierce but so fulfilling. Bioware nailed the pace of combat perfectly, if nothing else.

It is also BS that slower combat would result in players learning to "play their classes" better. Pretty stupid statement. In WoW raids, in SWTOR Operations, in The Secret World dungeons, you can tell who plays their class well and who needs some helpful coaching.

Lastly, since Everquest Next will only have 8 abilities, how will combat be slowed down and still be interesting? In SWTOR again for example, I commonly use at least twice as many abilities. This keeps me on my toes as a healer, and I'll tell you now at the end of a nightmare Operation I feel a sense of accomplishment and have had a ton of fun doing so.

Lastly, I'm looking forward to EQN as much as anyone. The game looks gorgeous. Landmark sounds remarkable. The adaptive AI could be just what the genre needs. But from what I saw with parkour like movement, running, and spinning sword attacks, I really doubt 'the pace of combat' will be so different from the MMOs we are playing today.

EQN is not the return to EQ1 as many had expected it to be. Like TESO, EQN is being developed with the console as central to development as the PC. It's a different audience and the word 'slow' isn't in their vocabulary.

Obviously, you're more than welcome to your opinion... just like I am. As such, I stick by all the statements I've made here. And although I love the team at BioWare (many of them are close personal friends and former co-workers of mine), I do not want to see that speed of combat in EverQuest Next. For a Star Wars game, yes, it's a good speed. But that's for blasters and lightsabers - not a medieval-style fantasy game. ;)

^ Did you ever play EQ back in '99?
And just because you might not agree does not mean people aren't entitled to an opinion.

ModernDayDruid:

DID you play EQ back in it's heyday?

If not, your comments are based on experiences you NEVER had - There are reasons MANY but not ALL EQ players enjoyed that pace...

If you DID, then you do know, and just didn't like it in ways that others did.

In either case - you are certainly entitled to your opinion... but do me a favor... Try not to call other people's opinions or thoughts BS - because nobody here is likely to do that to you... It's a mutual respect thing.

Thanks.

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