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Combat Overview

Phil Penman Posted:
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Mercy? Surely such a romantic notion has no place on the battlefield?

In Star Vault’s Mortal Online they’ve handed that decision, to you.

The combat system for this hotly anticipated title is still in development and no doubt some changes will be made, however let’s have a closer look at what we know is proposed, step by step.


Whether attacking or defending, targeting is achieved by hovering your targeting cursor over your intended target and pressing the target button.

Don’t expect a raft of info when you do this – there won’t be statistics displayed for target health, endurance or mana as with many other MMORPGs, you’ll get a target box but no numbers. The “target list” itself will contain some basic information on the targets you’ve added, their status (criminal/murderer/friendly etc.) but little else. Star Vault seem to be going for essential information only, possibly due to an attempt to keep the player’s interest on the combat, rather than on statistical nonsense. So what happens once you get inside melee range?


Switching to the Combat Stance, leaves you with two options – attack or be attacked.

The left mouse button (LMB) when pressed charges your attack, holding the button down will allow you to delay the attack, releasing it will instantly unleash your fury. This rather neat change from minding clicking allows the player some control over timing, which frankly, is rather sweet!

Here’s the downside, after making an attack, your open for a counter attack for a short time, so be careful as you can’t parry or block during this vulnerable period.

Mortal Online seems to be encouraging the berserker in us all, at least a little, maybe just a tiny bit, OK I’m looking for an excuse. I can see me using their charge attack a lot, whilst running into combat if you attack you’ll unleash the “power stike” with the LMB. This drains a huge amount of your stamina, but I bet it’s a lot of fun!

The action of charging strikes before attacking, negates any benefit from button mashing, it pushes players to think tactics during combat, Do I try to take him down now and risk a counter? Or wait until he attacks, block and cut his balls off with a counter of my own? Reading your opponent will be key and this will only come with experience, probably of dying a lot but we’ll cover that gory detail later.

Shield wall! Shield wall!

So we’ve covered the basics of melee attacks in Mortal Online, how about some defense?

Blocking in MMOs has always been a tricky element to incorporate for many reasons, lag being one of the main ones. To side step this Star Vault are trying a new approach, which at least on paper looks very promising. Earlier we mentioned the left mouse button (LMB), blocking uses the right mouse button (RMB).

There will be a tiny chance that you’re character will auto-block without any intervention by you, however this is going to be rare and unlike other MMOs it’s not intended to be relied upon. If you want to stay alive you have to get involved and get block attacks yourself.

There’s a delay in both entering and leaving the “blocking state”, it’s a tiny delay but it’s there partly to prevent RMB spamming and also to make combat more open and as with attacking, focus player attention on tactics and timing.

To block you simply hold the RMB, your character will raise his shield or weapon and attempt to block. Stamina will be drained whilst you’re in the “blocking state” and each time you manage to block an attack you’re stamina will take a hit, but at least you’ll lose less health.

Whilst you’re trying to block and have the RMB held down, you can attempt a shield bash by clicking the LMB – again this uses up stamina, but at least you still deal some pain to your attacker.

Blocking an attack doesn’t mean you’ve negated all incoming damage, but it will reduce the damage and keep you on your feet and breathing.

Any attacks that are aimed at your back cannot be blocked, but blocking frontal or side attacks will reduce the damage you receive. A “perfect block” will give the defender an opportunity to launch a special counter attack, however you’re timing will have to be spot on – Mortal Online again rewards those who are paying attention.

Kal Vas Flam?

There will of course be non-melee fighting, it’d be rather boring if there wasn’t. At the moment official details are a tad sketchy, but here’s what’s been confirmed, at least in Alpha:

  1. Twenty or so battle spells, no more. Essentially it’s Ultima Online time, make the most of what you have – hey it worked back then!
  2. Very few damage reduction, debuffs or resistance spells.
  3. Even fewer damage buff spells.

There’s currently two types of casting that are being tested, it could be either of these that makes it into beta and perhaps even a combination (dependent on spell type) which makes it into the final game. I won’t go into depth on these as yet, as I have a feeling they’ll be changing it once they’ve had some beta feedback. One essentially uses your targeting list mentioned earlier, the other relies more heavily on you targeting manually, much more like a FPS style shooter.


Any real detail on combat using bows, slings and other ranged missile weapons is currently elusive. At the moment all we know is that they’re still working on it and are trying to get trajectories and arcs into the game. I think we can be quite confident that Star Vault will only include a method which makes sense alongside melee and magical combat.

Mounted combat

This could be interesting, essentially your controls stay the same, however as you’re on horseback your damage output per attack and the chance of knocking your opponent down are higher the faster you’re mount is moving. However anyone attacking you can also take a shot at your horse, the video footage that’s been released so far shows someone being dismounted – it looks like there will be a few seconds where the dismounted player will be very vulnerable, in which case this could be fairly balanced.

Famous last words!


If you’re lucky, when you’re at zero hit points you’ll slip into a semi-conscious state and only be able to speak, at which point you can beg for mercy from your opponent. I’ve a feeling mercy won’t be a frequent outcome of such discussions and that a spectacular finishing move will be far too tempting for most players caught up in blood lust.

I also have a feeling that I’ll be the one begging a lot as a pale skinned teenager covers his monitor screen in spittle whilst screaming “Die!”

What a glorious way to go!


Phil Penman