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Community Spotlight: What is Your Preferred MMO Combat Style?

Posted by MikeB Thursday April 22 2010 at 4:58PM
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This week’s Community Spotlight focuses on the thread “What sort of combat system do you prefer?” by Buttermilch. Straightforward and to the point, Buttermilch polls the community on their preferred MMO combat system:

“Hello people!

I would like to get to know: "What kind of combat system do you preferably have in an MMO?"

It would be very kind if you could also tell me, WHY you prefer that particular one.

Ideas on how to spice existing combat systems up are welcome. Maybe you can even come up with a completely new super-uber system that rocks my brain away? ;-)

I'm curious. And now discuss please! :-)


Here is what I think:

Most systems have their right to exist, as it totally depends on the world and overall game mechanics. But what I lack to see are typical RPG elements / combat systems in modern MMOs. Why not have combat simulated as in "The Dark Eye" or "Dungeons and Dragons"? Everything is done with dice rolls, combat is a bit slower and it's more about tactical choices.

EvE is a bit like that, though combat is implemented in a very boring manner in my opinion...

What kind of combat system do you prefer?

n     WoW-style: Autoattacking and some abilities to fire

n     Chronicles of Spellborn-style: No auto-attack, every ability is performed on demand

n     EvE-style: auto-attack only

n     Darkfall-style: You click to attack and you have to actually aim

n     FPS-style: Very twitch playstyle aiming with a crosshair

n     Final Fantasy-style: Combat is separated into rounds, not real-time

n     Strategy-game-style: You command several units and give them orders

n     Other”

Zyonne’s preferences can’t be pidgeon holed into one choice, as he feels Age of Conan doesn’t necessarily require strict aiming, but also doesn’t have an auto attack:

“I like the melee combat in Age of Conan, which doesn't have auto attack, but doesn't really require much aiming either. The combo system isn't perfect, but controlling the direction of the swings with the keyboard rather than clicking with the mouse just feels right, and works fine with a little lag. If the weapon swing visually hits the target, I don't see why it should matter that your cursor wasn't over it when you started the swing

For ranged combat I'd like something in between fallen earth and tabula rasa. Slower paced than an FPS, and slightly sticky targetting to make lag and desync less of an issue, but definitely manual targeting and no auto attack.

I also like being able to switch between combat mode and exploration mode. Interacting with the world in ways that don't involve combat is a huge part of MMOs to me, and I don't want the combat system to impose restrictions when exploring, interacting with objects in the world, NPCs and other players. Autotargeting is fine for this, and if the game has a magic system, there should be no need for precision aiming to cast utility spells and "friendly" spells out of combat.”

Maji prefers the FPS style, but offers a breakdown of several of the other options as well:

WoW-style: Autoattacking and some abilities to fire - 22.4%

The good thing about that one is, that it's very easy and comfortable. The bad one is that it's also very boring. If you are in some kind of boss fight that takes a long time, or in easier smaller fights, then you just have to spam the same buttons over and over, and you don't have to aim. It really invites you to have a movie running on the second monitor, or phone, or stop paying attention in general, because... well there is not really any interaction. If I keep pressing "1 1 2 1 1 2 1 1 2" for half an hour, then it's for me not that entertaining.

At the same time there are certain playstyles with this combat system, where you actually have to pay attention. But that requires than focusing on your hotbar, and that makes the fight boring again for me, since I want to have a good look at the enemy.

 FPS-style: Very twitch playstyle aiming with a crosshair - 18.4%

I prefer that one, especially when there are zones to target at (ie headshot, legshot and whatnot). You have to pay attention, different enemies are different to fight because of the targeting alone (depending on their size and speed). And especially: paying attention rewards you a lot. It's far more involving than the WoW style.

Final Fantasy-style: Combat is separated into rounds, not real-time - 8.2%

It's cute but not really my thing.

 Strategy-game-style: You command several units and give them orders - 8.2%

Well good for RTS and the like obviously, I wouldn't want it in an MMORPG.

Wizardry throws his weight behind FFXI’s combat system:

“No question i prefer FFXI's combat,that is the main selling point of the game,that and it's sub class system.

You howeever left out the fact that FFXI's combat ALSO involves team work and not solo like most games.Geesh even a game like WOW a player can cheat by using add ons and take on instances by himself,how sad is that for MMO gaming?

This is why i prefer FFXI's combat it stands for what MMO gaming SHOULD be, playing alongside other players.I might also add that it is not turn based,it is real time,it uses delays for weapons,with different gear you can up your attack speed 10x if you wanted utilizing Haste and Multi attack weapons,it is possible to hit a mob 7-8 times to his one attack,so that is nothing close to turn based.

FFXI combat is also thought provoking,this was a big deal with the RDM class,making it possible to solo mobs that were not meant to be soloed,but using all the tools that a RDM has it is possible.The added Dancer class and Ninja to boot also make for thoughtful combat,heck even Ranger could utilize thought by loading up tons of early damage then binding him for another go.

Big damage in FFXI is a waiting game for your abilities to load up from timers/TP guages,so it is VERY important to not mess up and miss that golden opportunity,many other games you just button mash the same 1/2/3 icons on the hotbar with no real thought what so ever.”

I'm a bit conflicted myself, as I would actually prefer to play an MMO with Final Fantasy (not FFXI) style combat. Similar to Atlantica Online, except the party is made up of players all with their own ATB gauges. I don’t know if I can say I would prefer this though as I have never actually played an MMO that utilized it. I know Atlantica Online offers some version of this type of combat, but I am not sure how it plays out with other players vs. the mercenaries in your party. I don’t have much of a preference with regards to the other choices, except to say I’m not a huge fan of autoattack.

So there you have it – I want to see traditional Final Fantasy style combat in an MMO!

How about you? What is your preferred MMO combat style? Let us know in the comments below!

Hyanmen writes:

I'm up for anything to be honest. I'm eager to try the "chronicles of spellborn" style in FFXIV, but I've also enjoyed fast WoW combat, slower FFXI combat, and Darkfall style combat (although I suck at it).

Fri Apr 23 2010 10:07AM Report
Reianor writes:

I don't have a single-minded preference. I enjoy both turn-based and active as long as it's done right.

Take a good look at AoC, this is how active should not be done.

Even active combat isn't about just pressing buttons.

There's a difference between gameplay element and inconvenience. Aiming your hits and dodging those of your enemy is a gameplay element in a slasher (ex. - blade of darkness, DMC) and an inconvenience in AoC.

If a game includes movement as a part of combat system it's interface and controls should account for that.

Swinging sword in the air to wind up a combo isn't a sign of appropriate accounting of combat movement in my book.

Mind you, implementation of combat movement at a decent level isn't an easy thing, and that's why I prefer "grounded" combat systems, where moving around isn't going to do any good to a player - those are just better made in general.

As for actual turn-based I wouldn't call a game turn based just because it doesn't allow acting whenever you please (which is a common misuse of a term afaik). The charm of turn-based combat is analysing your opponents moves once they were made attempting to predict his next course of action and reacting accordingly.

Anything that doesn't allow a player the time for a "what is he going to do next" question after every action is just slow-paced in my book.

Sun Apr 25 2010 2:21PM Report
Reianor writes:

Oh, forgot to tell, I also dislike anything that requires me to aim at thing with my mouse in 1st person view, but that's strictly personal preference in other words - just not the gameplay element I'd want to see in a game I'm playing.

Sun Apr 25 2010 2:26PM Report
Gnomig writes:

I'd like to see a bit more action involved... autoattacking based on fixed stats is pretty boring and too gear dependent. I hate it when you already know that you've lost because another player has an uber-sword-of-uber-cleavage because he spends 20hrs a day playing PvE content... ^^

Mon Apr 26 2010 5:18AM Report
Ziboo writes:

AoC's combat I've liked the most as its not so auto pilot like Wow.  Come on spam dps is boring.  

FPS love the games but get major motion sickness watching the damn weapon only - need a 3rd person view - have to see the whole body.

Chronicle of the Spellborn sounds great, but haven't tried it.

Thu Apr 29 2010 11:56PM Report
Suraknar writes:

It is very difficult to express one preference to this question, as it depends on the larger picture, the context within which the combat system exists.


For example, WoW's combat system works for its context, while It would not be applicable to Tabula Rasa. On the other hand I would have prefered a Space combat system more like Star Trek Online (weapons based thought) for EVE rather than what it has now.

So it depends on the game and the context in which combat takes place, is there involuntary loss, etc, all these factors influence the Experience of the game, and in various degrees to each player.

Tue May 04 2010 1:20PM Report writes:
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