Article by Guest Writer and Commercial Tester Joseph "Ferox" Denise (page 2)
As far as I can tell combat as described in the FAQ and public areas of the Roma Victor website is in and working. I have had the pleasure of fighting many a player with my legionary brothers-in-arms, and I must say for someone who is usually a wizard-type in most games, I am having a wonderful time melee fighting in Roma Victor. Unlike the vast majority of MMORPG's where combat largely consists of you simply sitting there and clicking to attack, Roma Victor truly does put you in the middle of the most realistic fighting ever seen within the genre.
The style is a good mix of First-Person-Shooter-style player skills and of course character skills that combines to provide a feeling of really being in the battle. The combat is done completely in first person view; third person is in the game but it is only really there for show. While in combat you must aim for spots that are open and not covered by a shield; there is no selecting targets in the game. Wherever the path of your weapon goes is what you will hit so if you can get out of the way of an incoming sword thrust then you have dodged it.
Depending on which directional button you use in combat you will do different attacks. Locational damage is in, and attacking different parts of the body affects different character attributes. That will affect how you do in battle. As stated in the FAQ there truly is no hit point system, and getting incapacitated is dependant on a number of different factors, including armor and attributes state.
Perhaps the largest part of combat is your vigour. Say I am fighting a vicious barbarian and he comes at me with a flurry of thrusts. I am blocking and dodging, biding my time. Suddenly he is so tired from the attacks he cannot even lift up his shield to block… now is the time! I charge in and strike him to the head, dropping him like a rock onto the dirt. Each attack you do, in fact everything you do in the game, uses vigour. This makes combat more strategic as you can't just hope to rush in swinging and win – even with superior character skills and equipment.
Dodge, block, and parry are also in and seem to be working properly. Are you fighting a veteran warrior who keeps blocking and dodging everything you throw at him? Well then call a friend to come in from the side or behind and soon you will see the warrior does not have jedi reflexes and will begin to take damage, as well as have to deal with two people at once. This means that even the most amazing Roman general like myself will have to worry about being ambushed on the field of battle because, as in real life, you may be great but one man can only take on so many at once!
One thing that I have not tested yet is unit formations and the other features that will aid in the large battles; this may come after they have fully implemented guilds and factions into the game, which I have been told should be very soon.
As an old Ultima Online veteran I can honestly say that even though I love riding down barbarians and conquering land for the glory of Rome, I also love to work with my hands and create! Not every trade skill is in the game yet, but many are fully functional and those work well. I have farmed many a field of flax. This flax then must be put into a retting pit to rot. Once you have the rotten flax it must be left out in the elements to dry and then you have material that is ready to be made into tunics! Use the flax on the distaff with a comb to make tow, which in turn becomes twine which has a bi-product called lint. The lint becomes thread, and enough thread and twine allows you to make cloth for tunics and the like.
Sounds a bit complicated doesn't it? Well it is but it's very intuitive and it works in a similar fashion for every type of skill. Want to make a spear? Well first you have to go fell a tree with your handsaw, then take a branch and make it into a pole with the pole lathe. Now you have the pole, but you need the spearhead, which requires that you to go to the mines with your pick and get some ore. You'll need some good firewood and a furnace to smelt the ore into usable iron. Once you have the iron you need some wood boards and nails to make a mould frame. From there you use the frame and clay to fire a spearhead-shaped mould into which the molten iron can be poured. Then when the spearhead's cooked you'll need to sharpen it with the grindstone. Is this beginning to sound like the kind of thing where specialization and teamwork might be important yet?
As you can probably tell, the whole economy starts from the environment. It supplies the resources you need to farm, mine, or cut down, in order to create everything in the game. This I mean quite literally. Everything from walls to every type of building, to even the kilns, work benches, furnaces and pottery benches used in crafting items. At the moment we are having a great time testing the building of roundhouses and the ability to make a variety of armor, shields, and helms.
Anyway back to our spear. So you made this nice spear and you want to sell it, yet you go to the merchant and he calls it a piece of crap that he won't buy. Well friend, you have now entered the economy of Roma Victor. The quality of the item you made is everything. You may have made a wicked looking spear, but if it's about to break after being used two times then it's really a worthless piece of junk isn't it? The merchants are running a business here and they don't want it!
So now what do you do? Well you practice, practice, practice! And hell you may even have to put some money into the business for tools and the like, things aren't cheap you know! As you finally become a master smith and can provide the highest quality spears, then your work will be wanted by the players themselves and you can pretty much kiss goodbye to those seedy NPC merchants.
Another aspect of the economy is that NPC merchants, which can be player owned/managed, do not have unlimited space or money – and they respond to regional levels of supply and demand. If you try to sell them something that they do not have the space for they will, naturally enough, not buy it. Likewise if they have no money then they have to wait to sell something to other players or they are given money by their patrons before they can afford to buy something from you.
The developers fully expect players to specialize in specific trade skills because of how the system works. Players in the game so far have become a sort of large family, helping each other out with training, and availability of parts. I have frequently had players make me specific tools that I could not find for sale on a NPC, for example. So in the ideal setup instead of having to go through all those steps to make a spear, you would be able to find a player workshop that sells good quality poles, and another that sells good quality mould frames, and hence you can then practice on making the weapons raising skills in that specific area. Working together and specialization will really help to create a viable economy.
In the near future I look forward to testing features like commanding player and NPC legions in battle against the barbarians. I also look forward to constructing a little Roman town for my legion to call home when not on campaign. I believe that these and other such aspects will make Roma Victor a shining jewel among copies and rehashes. I can honestly say that in ten years of testing MMORPG's, this is the first game since the original Ultima Online that I can see myself playing for years to come.
I cannot in all honesty make a guess whether or not we will all be playing the game in October as currently seems to be the plan. It would be nice but anyone who has followed this kind of thing knows that such dates are always taken with a huge grain of salt. Either way, until you have the good (or bad) fortune to run into one of my legionary centuries, Salve and, as always...
Thanks to Joseph for taking the time to write this article. Check back soon for another preview from our editorial staff as we continue to cover this intreaguing title.
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