Another Dead Horse: "Clunky Combat" in TSW

Shoutout to the TtV crew!

It being the Halloween season, both Syp and Belghast (You may be able to tell how many blogs I actually manage to read on a regular basis. It isn’t a long list.) have posts up today  about The Secret World. Belghast’s post was a recruitment piece, promoting the virtues of the game. While Syp had some creepy screencaps. Perhaps inevitably, the topic of TSW’s “clunky, slow combat” came up in the commentary, and Tanek finally offered up a possible explanation, at least from his perspective. I decided to write a rebuttal; however, Tanek did point out that TSW is one of his favorite games. But it is in spite of the combat, rather than a result of it.

Scooter, checking the mail

Fighting with fist and blades I have not felt like most skills give any feel you are actually fighting anything. For most of my skills [those that don’t involve knockdowns, etc.] there is no feedback beyond watching the enemy health bars tick down.

Name a game where this is not the case. None of the MMOs I have ever played effectively mimicked how a real battle with swords would play out. SWTOR, for example, makes some attempts to vary the animation to account for blocks, etc. But all too often the characters swing their lightsabers and weather blaster bolts with only a floating red number and a gap in the health bar to show for it. WoW was even worse, with dodge calculations happening entirely in the background.

Sometimes, I mash buttons.

“Some of this may come down to play style and choice of weapon, . . . the game decided that instead of your assist target being yourself or a group member, it picks the enemy or an inanimate object.”

If you’re trying to directly target characters in the battle area, I can see how this might be a problem. As a healer, I target using the party/raid frame (the default will do). This is an old habit I picked up playing WoW.

Mouse-look/target mode:
“I have come to like using what some call mouse-look mode. . . but it seems to only work when that was exactly where you had your cursor when you went into mouse-look. There is no easy way to temporarily use the cursor if needed to do something like click a loot roll button on screen (to be fair, the only game I have seen do this in a way I like is DDO. . .) Switching targets can seem a bit random. . .”

This seems to come down to preferred playstyle. I’ve never used “mouse-look” as described. (When I left-click-and-hold, the camera around my character. Right-click-and-hold cause my character to face the same direction as the camera. Holding both down, makes my character move. (Yes, I realize this is fairly normal behavior for MMOs post-EQ.) By default, reticle-based Target Mode in TSW is toggled by hitting “T” on your keyboard, and works consistently as far as I can tell. Toggling out in order to mouse click the UI or whatever is no more difficult than many other games where Target Mode is the norm and not just an option (e.g., The Elder Scrolls Online). As an aside, reticle targeting being the default is the reason Scooter and I never got into TESO. And if Tanek hasn’t found a satisfactory toggle method outside of DDO, that’s cool. But then TSW’s is simply one of many combat systems he must not like.

Be the bullet.

“This is not always a problem specific to combat, but movement is TSW can seem somewhat ‘floaty.’ When fighting multiple enemies in an area that is not flat, this can lead to some interesting situations where you might have trouble avoiding environmental damage because you just… can’t… jump… on… that… ROCK!”

Again, this is not a problem unique to TSW. I’ve played plenty of games in which jumping and uneven surfaces were problematic at times. This is due to a discrepancy between the generally more intricate visual details of the game world vs the generally much simpler polyhedrons used to calculate collisions in the game environment (“hitboxes”). Hitbox Dissonance affects everything in this list, really.
Overall, I would say that combat in TSW is on par with most other MMOs I have played. Having said that, I do have my issues with it. Though I still consider it one of my favorite games, I haven’t played TSW in quite a while because I developed an extreme dislike of the AEGIS system the devs implemented with Issue 9 (“The Black Signal”) and the Tokyo zones, making an already fairly long per-mob time-to-kill even longer.

A Looonnnnggg Time to Kill

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Source: I Have Touched The Sky Another Dead Horse: “Clunky Combat” in TSW

Rowan Blaze
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