Last post I wrote a little about the classes in RoM and the dual-classing system which I like. The question is, given this neat character system, how do the fights play out?
Combat in RoM is solid, but standard, fare. If you have played WoW or EQ2, or any of the multitude of MMOs in existance, you are familiar with RoM's combat model. You have an auto-attack, but most of your action comes from spamming your characters abilities.
As you level, your character fills his hotbar with abilities which do damage and often have some kind of secondary effect. A warrior's Slash causes a bleed effect. A rogue's Blind Stab reduces his foe's accuracy. A knight's Shield of Atonement makes his opponent incapable of physical attacks for a short period of time.
On the resource management side of things, each ability costs a certain amount of a resource that depends on your class. For rogues it is energy, scouts have concentration, warriors rage, and spellcasters have mana. In addition to managing a pool of points, some classes have additional considerations on certain powers. Rogues have a few positional attacks; knights have seals they have to apply before certain attacks can be used; warriors have powers that are more effective if they are chained in a certain order.
Enemy behavior is pretty standard as well. Attacking creatures, or healing your allies causes threat and creatures attack the player who has generated the most threat. Knights and warriors have taunt-type powers that can draw threat to them, sparing their squishier allies from the predations of the bad guys. Some characters have powers that allow them to deal with the threat they generate.
Though almost every class has some kind of slow, root, or stun, I would say that there is not a heavy emphasis on crowd control in RoM (at least through the first 25 levels of play). Most of the crowd control effects are very short lived -- more for a brief respite in an "Oh Crap" moment than for splitting large groups or neutralizing a dangerous foe that stumbles into an ongoing fight. Similarly, there is not a big emphasis on debuffing the enemy.
Now if you don't have a heavy emphasis on crowd control, buffing, or debuffing, you are left with damage and healing. RoM's combat is dominated by the concepts of damage and healing. It is a Holy Trinity game, meaning that for tough encounters you typically need a group balanced around a tank, a healer and dps. To RoM's credit, you can still solo much of the game. Encounters are divided into normal mobs and elites and unless you are fighting way above your level, normal mobs are fairly easy to deal with.
And that leads me to the only big issue I have with Runes of Magic's combat system... there is a pretty harsh binary nature to it. Either everything is easy, and you might as well not be on a team, or the encounter is an elite and you better have your tank, healer, dps. My knight/warrior regularly teams with a mage/priest and I am either totally unecessary as the mage can blow through every trash mob with impunity, or I am absolutely required as everything will one-shot him... and it will three-shot me so I need heals and I need them now!!!
Having ranter, I would like to say that I am having fun with RoM. It is a good game overall. I have started to play with different character combinations to see how the system will stretch. My priest/rogue is an intriguing build and I think a knight/rogue would be pretty tough as well. Still, these combos are just variations on "can I make a hybrid tank/dps/healer"? What I would really like to see is more utility, crowd control and debuffing as part of the core combat mechanic.