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Columns: Resolving Crowd Control Issues

By Shawn Schuster on August 27, 2015

Resolving Crowd Control Issues

I don't know about you, but when I hear about a new MMO announcement, my mind usually jumps straight to questions about the game's setting, character development, and long-term developer support. These are the big-ticket items that can make or break a new title for me, but the more specific game mechanics can sometimes be overlooked... until it's too late.

And I should know better! Ignoring those specialty mechanics is never a good idea because those are what could make a game unique, but too often the unique is lost when the masses just want more content to kill.

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A recent dev blog from ArtCraft Entertainment's Design Lead, Thomas Blair, details the intricacies of crowd control in Crowfall. As Blair points out, crowd control is that one thing that you either love or hate, depending on which side of the control you're on. Between the Mind Controller of City of Heroes, the Lore-master in Lord of the Rings Online, the Mesmer or Trap Ranger in Guild Wars, or a number of classes in Star Wars: The Old Republic, controlling mobs can be a lot of fun.

At its core, crowd control allows a more realistic scope of combat when fighting against dozens of enemies at a time. But where it eventually became a problem was when MMOs started becoming more and more PvP-focused. It's just not any fun to sit on the sidelines, watching your teammates get hammered by the other team. You want to be in the action the whole time!

So MMO developers started implementing more counters to the crowd control, as well as timers and, in the case of SWTOR, a little something called Resolve. But this eternal balance was ruining the PvE experience in many older MMOs that turned their focus toward PvP, especially when that PvP was tacked in afterwards. And as Blair points out, many MMOs simply patched out permanent crowd control within the first year of launch anyway.

So how does ArtCraft plan to be our crowd control savior? How can it make CC fun for those on each side of the fence? Well, interestingly enough, that Resolve mechanic seems to have been borrowed straight from a galaxy far, far away.

Resolve in Crowfall will work much in the same way as it does in SWTOR. It will be a hidden stat for each player that essentially prevents crowd controllers from dominating PvP with endless control. When your character is affected by a crowd control skill or spell, you gain a bit of Resolve. The longer and more severe the CC, the more Resolve you'll have applied.

Once your Resolve meter is full, you're then immune to all CC for 15 seconds. When the immunity timer expires, you go back to zero Resolve and start the process all over again.

"Ultimately, Resolve is essentially a resource stat similar to Rage - the bar starts out empty and decays over time," Blair points out. "The mechanic for filling the bar is just slightly different; instead of hitting things to make the bar grow, it only grows when the player is hit by an attack with a crowd control component in it."

So far, Resolve has been a hit in SWTOR, so it only makes sense that this team (including the guy who worked on SWTOR) would be utilizing it in Crowfall, but the question is if it will work as well in Crowfall.

Another CC counter is something called Retaliate, which sounds slightly similar to how Guild Wars 2 handles being knocked down. With Retatiate, you can jump back to your feet instantly, but the cooldown prevents quick repeat uses. The combination of Retaliate and Resolve should fill in the gaps for what the team believes was a flawed mechanic in previous MMOs and help give new life to an aspect of combat that has been controversial for achieving that elusive balance.

Personally, I enjoy crowd control and tend to focus on it with my back-line character builds. I've never been a front-line fighter and I don't care about achieving a perfect storm that will cause the absolute most damage ever, but getting mobs and other players under control so my buddies can do their thing is where I find my happy place. I truly hope that Crowfall can keep CC fun and make it a viable build focus for my characters.

Shawn Schuster / Shawn Schuster is the former Editor-in-Chief at Massively.com and founder of the indie gaming review site Shoost.co. Shawn has been writing professionally about video games since 2008 and podcasting about games since 2005. When he's not leveling yet another alt, he's running his organic farm with his wife and four kids.