Expanding a bit on yesterdays post about combat, I think it will be worthwhile to compare what I currently do in Warhammer Online versus what combat looks like when I play DarkFall. In a somewhat odd twist, most of my time in DF right now is spent doing PvE, while my time in WAR is 100% PvP.
Let’s start with WAR, and what combat plays like for my rank 20 Swordmaster in scenarios or open RvR. As he is specced into the dps tree, my top hotbar contains his specced opener skill bound to ‘1’, his 2nd step snare bound to ‘2’, and his 3rd step finished that puts a damage proc on the target is bound to ‘3’. Key ‘4’ is an alternate 2nd step skill that is an AoE resist debuff, and key ‘5’ is a 3rd step AoE knockback. The hotbar below this has a DoT opener, a parry buff 2nd step, and finally a damage debuff 3rd step. Those are the ‘core’ abilities that are used 90% of the time. Other skills also on my bars include taunt, juggernaut (CC breaker), throw, sprint, and the various blade buffs that a Swordmaster has access to.
For combat itself, regardless of the target, the process is as follows. Run within melee range, hit 1. Staying within melee range, hit 2 (to snare). Now snared, sticking to the target is easy. Hit 3 to place the damage proc on the target, and repeat back to the first skill. If I’m actively being targeted (somewhat rare since I play a tank), I’ll throw in the 2nd step parry move to raise my defense, and if I have a hard-hitting melee target on me (Witch Elf, Marauder, Choppa), I’ll use the 3rd step melee debuff on them as well. Once this is done, it’s just a matter of sticking on the target and repeating the 1-2-3 combat until the target is dead. If I have a swarm of enemies around me, I’ll use my two AoE abilities (though due to their low damage, it’s debatable if even in this situation they are justified). As long as I have a healer behind me, it takes 4-5 DPS classes focus-firing on me to bring me down, and with the use of Juggernaut, few abilities can keep me off a target.
In a word, it’s simple. Getting a high damage score in a scenario is more about bringing a good team and focus firing on the same target than it is about personal player skill. Given the pace of the global cooldown, hitting abilities when they are ready is trivial, and very little of the combat is reactionary (basically only when to use Juggernaut to break CC and the use of the knockback ability). If I’m next to a target, I’m hitting either 1, 2, or 3 whenever the global cooldown allows me.
For DarkFall, I’ll use the current dungeon I solo for this example. Inside are basically three different mobs. One is a caster, one is a weak melee/archer, and the third is a tough melee-only mob. I go in with a full set of banded (decent but not amazing armor), a two handed sword, a bow, and a slow-cast staff for healing. The goal is to raise my sword and defense skills while also making some money and collecting casting reagents and any usable bits of armor. With my sword out, I left-click to swing, and I have one ability (power attack) that is on a 5 second cooldown that I try to use often (both because it’s a bit more damage and because I want to skill it up). Due to how the UI behaves around queuing power attack (if you are in mid-swing and hit the hotbar key to queue it, it won’t queue), I don’t use it whenever it’s up, and generally queue it while running after a mob, as back hits cause extra damage.
For combat, I’ll try to pick off the weak melee/archer mobs first, but any spawn of 4+ mobs (what actually spawns is somewhat random between the 3 types) means I will most likely only be able to kill a single mob before having to run back and heal. If I’m forced to run back too often, it’s possible for mobs to respawn and for gravestones to disappear before I clear the whole room, meaning lost loot (in DF looting takes time, and is not the insta-right click it is in WAR). As the spawns are always 3+, I’ll use the terrain to try and block off the mobs and only allow one to fight me at a time (DF has 100% collision detection at all times). This has the added bonus that when the mob turns to run (mobs in DF run around at random, and not always at 10% HP like in most MMOs), it might get trapped by its buddies, meaning lots of easy hits to the back. Against the tougher melee mob, this is crucial to finishing a spawn without having to stop and heal. If the mobs, especially the melee/archers, feel like running around often, this can make it difficult to pin them down and land hits, and it might also mean getting hit from behind by others mobs. When fighting the caster mobs in a spawn, I try to position another mob between myself and the caster, as sometimes they will launch a spell and hit a mob rather than me. As some of the spells deal quite a bit of damage, done well this really speeds things up. The casters also tend to throw out some nasty debuffs at times, and dodging these as they fly at me (spells and arrows can be dodged if you move out of the way) is again crucial to finishing a spawn quickly.
Assuming all mobs have been killed, I then need to quickly loot/skin the gravestones while casting heal to limit downtime. If I loot while my health is too low, and the mobs respawn, it’s very possible I’ll die before I’m able to flee to a safe spot. Luckily the dungeon is not a popular spot, but dying with all your gear/loot on a gravestone that you have to run back 10 minutes to is risky at best. Another risk is getting trapped by the mobs. As I have to use terrain to try and position them, this at times can put me at risk if a mob sneaks around behind me and decides to stand and fight rather than run around. As far as I can tell, the run/fight behavior is random, making it tough to fully predict what the mobs will actually do. Sometimes they will run around (with me hacking them in the back) from spawn to death, yet that same mob might also run only to turn and fire arrows whenever I stop chasing, with his buddies also drawing bows and firing at me as I run. Sound plays a huge part in all this (thank god for my X-Fi sound card and quality headset), as hearing a bow being drawn off screen lets me know to dodge, and hearing footsteps approach behind me alerts me to turn around and parry. Without sound, I would suffer a lot more hits to the back, and possibly get trapped more often by mobs.
Both examples are of course somewhat over-simplified, but I hope they get the general point across. When playing WAR, it’s a far more relaxed and ‘easy’ pace, as even the worst loss in a scenario or oRvR just means a trip back to a warcamp to try again. I’m not on edge about every little sound or sight, and I know that as long as I stick to the general gameplan (focus fire, protect the healer, stay together), we win more often than not. DarkFall on the other hand, even in PvE, is that constant ‘on-edge’ experience. If I’m at 25% health and a caster mob hits me with a nuke from behind, I’m going to die. If I run whenever I hit 25% health, I’ll never clear a room. Things might be going great, I’m close to full on loot, and if I don’t notice some PK enter the dungeon, I’m going down and getting looted. That mobs and players look somewhat similar at a distance (especially in the somewhat dark dungeon) makes for a ‘wtf is that’ experience even when identifying a respawn. It’s certainly not relaxing, and you can’t play it half-focused, but at the end of a good dungeon run I feel a far greater sense of accomplishment than I do when we win a scenario or take a keep. I also get a lot more pissed about that PK putting arrows in my back when I just cleared the room than I do over a high level pre-made rolling us in a scenario.
The good thing is, $30 a month for both games is not a big deal for me, and I can easily afford both. I like having WAR for that relaxing, ‘hang out with your buddies (or mute on vent fiancé)’ time, as I’m not always up for hyper-focusing on my gaming. I also like having DF, knowing that when I do want to get stuff done, I can log in and get a good sense of accomplishment after a few hours. The threat of failure is there, but without it the accomplishment would mean far less.
(And just to complicate all of this further, WAR PvE is even easier than WAR PvP, and DF PvP is far more difficult than DF PvE, which again changes the whole risk/reward, effort/gain ratio)