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Hey Developers - Where’s My Mounted Combat?

Posted Fri, Oct 18, 2013 by Dalmarus

For years, there’s been one aspect of video game design that has always confused me. With each new game that comes out, there’s a desire by developers to give players something awesome. Whether this is accomplished by creating brand new game mechanics that have been tweaked from older designs or something completely new, the goal is the same – to wow the player and have them convince their friends to play as well. As such, it seems like a no brainer to me that mounted combat should have become a staple in MMOs long ago, yet we still don’t have it in the vast majority of our games today. 

To me, mounted combat covers a wide range of various combat forms and mechanics. Some of those include the idea of fighting while on horseback, ship to ship, and aerial combat. For over 10 years now, we’ve heard the promise of mounted combat to be added to our favorite MMOs or incorporated in future titles. Well, it’s 2013 and I still have yet to see it. When the concept was brought up back in the early 2000s, we wanted it all and we wanted it immediately. At this point in time, I’d be happy to just get a single piece of it. No, seriously. Just one.

 

Perhaps part of the confusion surrounding the lack of mounted combat comes from being an “old timer”. You know the type. We grew up in arcades, played Atari when it was a new system, and always ramble on about “the good ol’ days”. I remember playing a game called Defender of the Crown on a Commodore 64 in 1987. Part of the gameplay included jousting on horseback. Now to be clear, I’m not saying this system was incredibly detailed or allowed you to go around killing anyone you came across by running them through with a lance on horseback. What it did do however was provide a fun tournament jousting simulation, albeit a limited one. My point is that this was over 25 years ago. Why the hell do I still have yet to take part in a jousting tournament in any MMO to date? 

Things like this make no real sense to me. I’ve been fortunate to have worked at a number of companies that gave me access to many great game designers over the years. As a result, I think I understand more than the average bear that companies are only willing to innovate so far, but there comes a point when it’s time to take a step off the beaten path and give something new a try. This is especially true when it comes to adding something like a jousting side/mini-game to a much bigger project. 

While I’m on the subject of why the hell has it taken so long to get something new injected into the MMOs of today, what ever happened to aerial combat? Even if it’s not characters with wings locked in mortal combat high above the ground as was promised in the past (*cough* Aion *cough*), we should at least be able to fight in some form on flying mounts. They’ve been a staple of MMOs long enough now that some form of combat from these mighty beasts needs to be made available to players. I understand that allowing Wizards to sling spells willy-nilly at Warriors may be a bit lopsided (“Make fun of my pointy hat again… I dare you!”), that doesn’t mean there can’t be some form of crossbow action going on.

 

Ignoring the ideas of mounted combat on land, or any form of aerial combat, where is my ship to ship combat? Hell, for that matter, where are my ships? Off the top of my head, Darkfall and Vanguard: Saga of Heroes are two of the only games I can think of that even allow you to build ships and sail them in any piece of water you chose. Neither of those games may be smashing successes in the overall scheme of things, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have some very good ideas. It was neither the ships nor their implementation that caused the plummet in popularity of either Vanguard or Darkfall. 

There is a glutton of MMO options for players available right now. By the end of next year, there are going to be even more. Future titles such as Gloria Victus (inspired by Mount and Blade) promises mounted combat and even jousting tournaments as I mentioned above. Whether it materializes as advertised still remains to be seen. Sooner or later, mounted combat has to be done by someone. Players demand too much innovation in their gaming to be satisfied playing the same titles for long. With that in mind, do you want to be the company that’s leading the charge or the company that’s left in the dust? I don’t know about you, but I know which one I’d rather be. 

So what do you think? Should mounted combat be a reality soon? Have you got a game you enjoy playing that’s already found a way to implement it? If so, how did it pan out? Let us know this or any idea you may have about the subject in our comments below. You’re also welcome to hit me up directly at Twitter any time.
 

It's a pity that your post does not refer in even a single sentence to LotRo's mounted combat. Here is one game that put quite a bit of effort into making mounted combat something genuinely different in terms of gameplay mechanics.

Lotro introduced mounted combat in the Riders of Rohan expansion that was released this time last year. You need a level 75 character before it is available, but the system is fully developed with specific trait trees, mounts, items and areas for it to occur. As Ulorik said, it's a pity that you weren't aware of this.

LOTRO mounted combat is innovative, fun and everything I think the author is looking for. Yes, it takes 75 levels to get there but that's not a downfall. It's an incentive. It's a reward for "stick-to-it-ness". For the author to leave any mention of it out of this article, even it's an end game feature, is irresponsible and poor journalism.

Umm as to aerial combat I believe that Dragon's Prophet (that just launched in Sept) has aerial combat, and Allods Online has ship to ship combat.

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