Updated Mon, Oct 01, 2012 by gunky
|Part 1||Part 2||Part 3|
|Getting Started | Training Instance|
The mounted combat training instance takes place at the Harwick stables track, and it is here that you will really discover what makes this new mechanic different from the old-school regular riding thing.
The first difference you will notice is the Mounted Combat skill bar that replaces your usual skill bar when you mount up. This new bar contains only mounted skills - attacks, maneuvering skills and the three mounted combat stances - and drops away when you dismount. You can move skills around as you like, just like on your regular toolbar, and those changes persist. You can call up this skill bar at any time by clicking the tiny up and down arrows at the left edge of the main toolbar.
You will be tasked with riding around the track a few times, running through flag waypoints and jumping over fences. You will immediately discover that the war-steed has a different method of acceleration than standard horses. Your old horse has essentially two "gears" - walk and run - the same as your character. Hit W and your standard horse leaps to top speed immediately, paying no heed to g-forces or momentum or other aspects of physics.
Not so with the war-steed. It has four "gears" - hit W and it starts off at a walk, then a trot, then a gallop, then a full-out run. And once the steed ramps up to top speed, it will maintain that speed until commanded to slow down or stop. This was also possible with the old horses, but it's different from toggling auto-run. Coming to a full stop takes a bit of time, and even using the quick-stop skill requires a bit of stopping distance.
This acceleration/deceleration mechanic takes some getting used to, but it also makes mounted combat feel more realistic and exciting. You are only riding the beast, not controlling it like a bicycle. It feels as though the big creature beneath you has weight and momentum, and it makes the standard mounts feel more like animated paper cutouts.
There is an option to turn off the auto-run in Combat Options. The war-steed will still need to ramp up to full speed, but releasing the W button takes the foot off the gas and the horse slows down to a full stop. Running this way is actually much more difficult than the normal auto-run mode.
Of course, this same force of momentum makes the war-steed difficult to steer, particularly at high speeds. At the lowest speed, you will be able to make sharp turns and run tight circles. At higher speeds, the war-steed starts to act like a drift car from a Fast and Furious movie. You need to start the turn well in advance of where you actually want to curve, and you end up skipping sideways for several steps as the momentum carries you in straight lines.
You'll discover all these interesting physics during this tutorial instance, riding through sets of flags, jumping over low fences, and finally running along what appears to be a jousting track to attack the dummies at each end. This is a pretty simple test - tab-select your targets, queue your attacks and ride up close to hit them.
For tighter turns at the ends of the track, you will want to travel at a lower speed - at stage 1 and 2, maneuverability is about the same and tight turns are a piece of cake; at stage 3, it is noticeably reduced, and at stage 4 it is substantially reduced.
The tutorial instance teaches you about movement, but actual combat works a lot differently. We'll have a look at how the fighting works in Part 2.