It’s very easy to point out flaws in a game or it’s developer. When a server crashes, it’s impossible not to notice. When you are in a login queue, you know it. If your current class/race is underpowered, it affects your gaming. Even little things like hair poking through a helm or a single skill not functioning correctly get noticed by gamers, and any games message board usually contains plenty of minor errors people want fixed. But outside of ‘back of the box bullet points’, how often do you stop and take notice that something is working correctly?
How many reviews/post/threads have you read about how balanced mounted combat is in DarkFall? Hell, those of you that have actually played the game, how many of you gloss over the fact that DarkFall HAS working mounted combat? It seems such a simple thing: get on mount, pull out a weapon, and swing at people. No big deal right? Look around, how many AAA titles have mounted combat? WoW in 5 years has never added it, instead adding vehicles in controlled spaces to play around with the idea, but never added it fully. WAR, a PvP game that contains mounts, forces you off them before you can fight anyone. LotRO, EQ2 (does, see comments), etc, mounts but no combat. (AoC has it, but given the stories DF players tell about AoC PvP, it’s hard to give it too much credit, but having never actually played it I can’t comment beyond that)
But beyond the simple fact that DF has mounted combat, let’s look at how it balances out. On a mount, a player is faster than a player on foot, and loses less stamina riding over the same distance as a player who sprints. A swing from a mount does more damage than the same swing on foot, and a mount also has a forward and backward special attack that does even more damage. Hits from a mount punt an enemy player a decent distance as well. Given all that, mounts sound rather overpowered don’t they? So why is it that a player will dismount to fight on foot when facing a balanced encounter?
For starters, mounts can be killed, and at 300ish gold a pop, you can’t exactly burn through mounts without it hurting you financially. Next, mounts limit what you can do. You can’t cast magic or shoot arrows while mounted, and turning around on a mount is far slower than a player spinning around. Finally, if you only bring a single mount with you, getting it damaged or even killed during a battle means you have just lost your best means of escape should things go south.
Change up any of the seemingly small design decisions, and how balanced is mount combat now. If players were allowed to shoot arrows while mounted, what would that change? If a mount could turn at the same speed as a player, would you still see people fighting on foot? If the speed advantage was slightly lower for a mount, would players still value mounts as highly as they do now? All of these things are currently well balanced, and so you probably never question them.
Another example of unnoticed features is archery in DarkFall. It’s FPS-ish in that you have to aim to hit someone rather than picking a target and spamming your hotbar skills. But it’s deeper than that, in unnoticed yet critical ways. Ever consider the current rate of travel with arrows? If they flew faster, would escaping on a mount still be possible? If they flew slower, would archery have any value past point-blank chasing? If the arrows flew perfectly straight, rather than curve the way they do now, how would that effect fighting at long distances, or from higher ground? If arrows were unlimited, and only the bows durability effected whether you could shoot or not, what impact would that have not only on combat, but on crafting, the economy, and on the decisions made by players when loading up before heading out on a PvP trip? You see lots of threads about how archery currently does too much damage, but how many do you see complaining about the flight speed of arrows, or how imbalanced it is that archers have to always carry around ammunition?
It’s easy to look at any game and point out broken or incomplete features, let alone design decisions that simply don’t fit YOUR playstyle, but how often do we give credit when things are done right, especially things others have back off of and not even attempted to implement?