Posted in The Secret World

What is wrong with The Secret World’s combat?

combatThe Secret World’s combat system is often cited as one of the more significant roadblocks for people getting to like the game.  I’ve seen enough comments on Massively and elsewhere to know that either a small group of people really, really hate the combat and mention it any chance they get, or a lot of people feel that there’s something not quite on here.

I wouldn’t argue with the latter crowd.  I don’t hate TSW’s combat, but it’s not great either.  There’s something… off with it that makes it a less satisfactory experience than it should be.

It could be the combination of several factors melding together:

  • A lack of auto-attack (and resulting finger fatigue of always having to mash buttons)
  • The length of combat, as even a standard mob takes longer to kill in TSW than a contemporary MMO would
  • You just don’t feel like you’re really hurting the enemy, even with reaction animations — maybe this goes back to the time-to-kill length
  • Overused and sometimes awkward animations
  • The pattern of combat, which involves spamming a builder and then eventually firing off your two closers without much variation
  • Range combat seems to have an inherent advantage

Little things but significant and ones that add up.  Combat is one of the game’s core systems (happily not the only one, however) and as such it should be fun.  Instead, it’s often a chore.

It’s not all a wash, of course.  Some of the attacks are viscerally enjoyable to use, you can cast on the run, the footwork you have to do for fights certainly keeps you on your toes, and the flexible skill system lets you create the type of attacker that you want.

Seeing as how Funcom’s not going to want to redo the combat system from scratch, I have to be realistic in what recommendations I’d make to improve it.  Off the top of my head:

  • Significantly shorten combat time but perhaps make mobs more challenging in other ways
  • Allow us to put our builder as an auto-attack (have to make a change to how the global cooldown works to allow us to interrupt those to fire off other skills)
  • Add more varieties of animations

I also really like what Guild Wars 2 did a while back, which was to add little symbols by flying damage text to show that this damage came from burning or confusion or whatever.  That would be really excellent to see in TSW.

I’ll admit that while I’m excited about Tokyo, I’m a little nervous about the devs adding another layer of complexity on top of the combat system (the AEGIS shields) without taking time to address some of the complaints people have had about the basic system.  We’ll see.

19 thoughts on “What is wrong with The Secret World’s combat?

  1. Actually I don’t mind the lack of auto-attack, I think it makes combat more interesting. But you hit the nail on the head, it feels like a chore, whittling the mob down bit by bit. Not sure what they can do about it without making it too easy.

    I do like the other aspects though, especially fighting/casting on the run. Why more games don’t do this…

  2. Still a game I intend to check out – just waiting for for a new computer which has to wait until I get back to Europe…obviously new house to live, job and the basics may come before new comp, so some time yet…will be following how ‘Tokyo’ goes…

  3. I didn’t ever have a major problem with TSW’s combat per se. I did struggle badly with boss mobs that were intended to be soloed because I am quite simply not skilled enough to beat them. I was unable to get past the second boss in The Search for Tyler Freeborn, for example, and had to abandon the quest (that was in fact just about the end of my interest in TSW – if solo quests were going to be too hard for me to complete there seemed little point carrying on).

    That comes down to the difficulty of the encounter, however, not the mechanics of the combat itself. I read the guides, watched the videos, changed my build but I just couldn’t even get close to killing that boss. I doubt making the combat more visually exciting is going to do anything for that – I just need a difficulty setting on solo instances that would dumb them down enough so I could beat them. That applies to other MMOs as well as TSW though.

  4. Hey, that’s me with the black Stetson!

    Finally, someone articulates what they don’t like about the combat of TSW. I don’t have an issue it per se (though an auto attack would be nice). But too many people describe it as “clunky” without further detail and without identifying what “smooth” combat looks like.

    One of my complaints about TESO was that combat was over way too quickly. Though I suppose real life, most fights are over with the first deep cut of the sword or bullet wound.

  5. Warning, long post incoming to adress the core of your analysis:

    ■A lack of auto-attack (and resulting finger fatigue of always having to mash buttons)

    True. But the rework to have one “default” attack would indeed make things more complicated for any other activity but watching “white damage” scroll by. (The default attack would by effect be white damage. ) Everybody who’d use a more compliated than a 1-1-1-1-1-2-3 setup would suffer a lot by adding in some kind of auto attack. (First example: setups with elemental force. It stacks up by every attack, but is used up and reset to zero with the eigth attack, which is boosted by it. More on that later.)

    ■The length of combat, as even a standard mob takes longer to kill in TSW than a contemporary MMO would

    Mostly true. Very true for the common “survival” builds which everybody (me included) hands out to inexperienced players, as those builds indeed allow everybody and his dog to do about all content, albeit at a slightly lower killing speed.

    I have run some setups with much higher killing speed and i see how they can be successful, but i personally abandoned them again as i often solo when i just feel like relaxing and not being at my best shape. In such a state, the high-damage setups just got me killed too fast.

    Next to that, i also dare to point out: yes, it might take a little longer to kill an enemy in TSW than in some other game. But how many “kill 50 of this” missions do you have in TSW? Now just look at LoTRO and how often you have to rack up a kill count of 20 or 30 there. (I remember plenty of them during the time i tested it. Yuck. )

    So, “time to kill” for a single mob is longer in TSW. Time to success (aka: grind), for a simple mission, is lower than in many other games, though. I guess it’s a matter of taste, but as long as you don’t “go Rambo” in TSW but move carefully and pick your fights, TSW is more convenient in my eyes.

    ■You just don’t feel like you’re really hurting the enemy, even with reaction animations — maybe this goes back to the time-to-kill length

    I am still uncertain of what you mean here. I have played many MMOs, and at each and any it was like attack animation -> a bit of hit animation on the enemy -> some health deducted. Perhaps it’s just me but i fail to see the difference in TSW.

    ■Overused and sometimes awkward animations

    True. Though, i also have pondered for a while on how that could be changed, and really got to no great idea. According to my personal count there are four frequently used attack animations for the assault rifle. (Maybe i missed some, but i can name 4 frequently uses abilities with clearly different abilities right of the bat. ) But honestly, how many ways can you fire an AR without looking ridiculous? When using the shotgun my character usually performs 3 different animation and one of them already looks goofy, and i regularily see 5 different animations for pistols and at least two of them are already in the style of hong kong movies and not reasonable any more.

    Similar patterns are visible for any other weapon type. Indeed blood and elemental magic could have more fancy animations, but then they would not fit into the attacks time frame any more. There are a few attacks for most weapons which break the mould, but they do so at the price of increased execution time. This in turn means that you see them rarely used as players consider them “too slow”, despite them offering higher damage or additional effects.

    No matter which way the developers go from here, people will be unhappy. Dynamic combat just prefers short and snappy animations, which reduce the possibility of variation. If you find an innovative “non-stupid-looking” animation for shooting a rifle which TSW did not implement yet, please send it to FC, i would appreciate it. (Especially as my character is slightly tilting the gun when shooting. My army service time was over 20 years ago, and i still internally wince a little whenever i too closely see how my character handles his gun. )

    ■The pattern of combat, which involves spamming a builder and then eventually firing off your two closers without much variation

    Which indeed is what the community teaches every new player, as these setups are extremely easy to play. When instructing new players you don’t right away go for highest efficiency. You have to assume that a new player still struggles enough with mobile combat and telegraphed attacks, as most players from more traditional MMOs are more used to a “stand and deliver” playstyle. To not overstress the new player it’s better to focus on “ease of use” and provide a “good enough” setup, than to give him an “optimal” setup which he can’t use and just frustrates him. After all, a frustrated player is a lost player and if he’s hooked to the game, he might still learn the more tricky setups (or even find them for himself and have fun by doing so) in the future.

    In my Cabal there are some players who deal significally more damage than most others, and they do so by using a much more complicated rotation. Without covering all details of their setup, i’d rather just paint the rough picture. Weapons of choice: AR and Elementarism. (Accompanied by a second DD with a Shotgun/Pistol setup which plays a bit more traditionally. )The first is being used with a consumer which can be triggered with 3 ressources active. The second uses all ressources and deals damage accordingly, so it wants to be triggered at 5 ressources. To make things more interesting, this setup also includes elemental force. This passive ability collects stacks for 7 attacks while the 8th attack uses up these stacks for a guaranteed critical hit and thus a lot of damage. To make use of this you have to make sure that each 8th attack is a consumer as you’ll loose a lot of firepower if this buff is used up by a builder attack. Now tell me which rotation you use to make sure you never waste and ressource and still make sure every eigth attack is a consumer. If it’s the rifle consumer, make sure it’s at exactly 5 charges. Now tell me how to handle a target switch on boss fights with more than one boss, when the boss which just got immune to attack still has some of your rifle ressources, the now vulnerable one has none, but you still have 4 elemental ressources on yourself. I guess you can see for yourself, how rotations get much more interesting here.

    So, 1-1-1-1-1-2-3 is convenient and i think that all players have some of those setups in their library of decks for convenience, but considering how far i am behind the “top end” damage dealers and being aware how much effort they have put into optimizing their rotation, where i still often fail, the spam-consume rotations are definitely not the final answer in TSW.

    ■Range combat seems to have an inherent advantage

    First: This statement completely false in solo play. The strongest setups out there with the highest killing speed, along with still good survivability, use melee weapons. Having full ressources when initiating combat is quite powerful and using the passive “breakdown”, which only works with swords, hammers and chaos gives you so much more damage on stronger mobs than any other setup, no ranged setup can ever compete in raw damage output for solo play.

    The only thing you at first glance seem loose on a pure melee setup is the ability to pull. But with abilities like blade throw or chaotic pull or using ranged aux weapon this also can be avoided. That all being said, my prefered solo setup by now is using sword and AR. (I’ve spent ages with Hammer/Fist and AR/Fist, but having looted a 10.4 sword in the NY raid and having built a 10.4 AR for leech healing just makes this combination outshine the rest of my “random loot” weapons arsenal. )

    Second: This statement also is false in most group activities outside of dungeons. When running lairs or the likes, where you absolutely need a group but the enemies are not always “one boss” with telegraphed attacks, melee setups do perfectly well. And dish out more damage than most ranged setups, too. This is even true for most lair bosses, although there are some which indeed swamp the area with lots of AoE (i mostly remember one in Romania which covered huge areas with fire) and make ranged preferable.

    Third: The most frequently used setups in scenarios include melee weapons for maximum damage combined with some defensive cooldowns and/or recovery options. In full groups there might be one or two ranged glass cannon setups, but their lack of tactical flexibility makes them optional, while some solid damage+survival setups with melee are considered mandatory.

    Fourth: This statement indeed is true for dungeons. I have seen melee DDs do well and even pull a tiny bit more damage than ranged DDs at some bosses in dungeons, but the increased challenge of dancing with the tank, staying behind the enemy, dodging out of AoE and keeping up the rotation usually gets the melee DD killed or at least forces him to disengage and thus indeed deal significally less damage than the ranged DD who can deliver damage all of the time. So in dungeons the ranged DD indeed is very much preferable.

    So if you only look at dungeons your statement indeed is true. If you speak of all the game, open world and scenarios included, i dare to disagree.

  6. * A lack of auto-attack

    This is the way of the MMO anymore, so it doesn’t bother me. It did initially when SWTOR didn’t have it, but I got used to it, so then when TSW came out it seemed “normal” to me.

    * The length of combat, as even a standard mob takes longer to kill in TSW than a contemporary MMO would

    I don’t see this at all. It comes down to your build and gear, I think. When I was in green gear I ran a build that was heavy on the self-heals, but not so high on the damage. I could take on anything, but it took a while. Even so I got used to that, so as my gear and build improved, it came to feel like it was “fast” as compared to the “old normal.”

    My current solo build takes 2 builders, 1 finisher and a swarm of mobs is dead. A normal 1-dot mob is 3 builders, 2 finishers. A “mini-boss” is 2 rounds of 5 builders and 2 finishers. So… swarms die in 3 seconds, normal mobs in 5, and mini-bosses in 14. IMO this is very quick combat. And fwiw, while all my gear is purple now, it’s still all in the 10 dropped to 10.2 dropped range except for the 1 custom 10.4 piece (my head) but … in NM dungeons I do ok, but not anything to write home about either.

    * You just don’t feel like you’re really hurting the enemy, even with reaction animations

    Agreed

    * Overused and sometimes awkward animations

    Agreed.

    * The pattern of combat, which involves spamming a builder and then eventually firing off your two closers without much variation

    Agreed

    * Range combat seems to have an inherent advantage

    Maybe in dungeons, but out in the world? PBAE melee attacks are where it’s at!

    So… overall I agree with about half of what you say, but those are the parts that I just “suspend my disbelief” and think to myself “it’s a game.” The parts where we disagree are I think the more “critical” aspects, except well… I don’t have a problem with those parts like you appear to, so.. I don’t find TSW’s combat to be bad, simply repetitive. Running through the MMO’s I’ve pspent a lot of time playing, though…… SWG was largely single-button spam. A few situational skills, but for the most part just spam that 1 signature move. EQ2 had a gajillion buttons, but you still did the same rotations of about 6-8 of them for most combats. Rift you could have a gajillion buttons, but it was much more efficient to macro the skills into 3-5 buttons usually and then spam the macros. I guess what I’m saying here is that no matter the game, the combat is repetitive, so I don’t find that a flaw in TSW per se… simply a flaw in the genre. But I still love the genre, so…. take that with the proverbial grain of salt.

  7. Dammit Sylow! I wish I’d known you were posting that. I could have just said “Ditto Sylow” and saved myself a lot of typing!

  8. I love TSW’s combat. By far the best MMO combat out there. It’s so refreshing to play a game where combat actually presents a challenge, instead of being something you can just sleep walk through. The fact that enemies don’t just lie down and die the moment you look at them, the fact that even basic open world mobs have interesting fight mechanics, the intelligence of the AI… Brilliant.

    My experience has been that the vast majority of complaints come from people who never bothered to delve into the ability wheel and find a build they like. Which is fine, but what they should be saying is “I didn’t like having to experiment with several different builds” rather than “The combat sucks.” I’m particularly sick of people complaining about the builder x5, finisher A, finisher B, repeat rotation. There are lots of other rotations — just don’t play that way if you find it boring.

    As for your complaints, most of them — repetitive animations, range advantage, lack of reactions from enemies — are true of the vast majority of MMOs. And as for the length of combat, I’d hate to see that changed. It’s so bloody tedious to wade through an endless army of enemies that couldn’t possibly pose a threat because they die after two or three hits.

  9. I never quite made it to Transylvania or got any gear beyond blue, so my impression may not be representative of the endgame combat.

    But leveling-wise, yeah, it’s basically a mix of time-to-kill (a couple seconds longer on average than say, WoW or GW2, I feel), a lack of visible reaction from mobs when your hits connect beyond their health going down, and a lack of stress on varying up the order in which you hit skills or importance of timing a skill properly (the stress seemed to be very much more in a WoW or Rift style where it’s all about combat rotation and hitting all your skills in a defined pattern as quickly as possible. Which is all very well, but I kinda lost all interest in Rift when I realized making a macro that hit all the right skills in the right order for me and just pumping it over and over produced more optimal dps and healing than trying to press all the skills by myself. The next obvious extrapolation from there was that a bot pumping the macro would be just as effective if not more, than a human playing the character, and I suddenly felt highly unnecessary in the equation.)

    Memory could be fooling me at this point, but I think I did have the impression that some skills also had an animation lock-down, preventing movement for a couple split seconds after being used. Not getting that transition right is often the cause for some MMO combat feeling clunky when folks use WoW or GW2 as a comparison.

    But It’s not that combat in TSW is so bad that it’s non-functional, it works fine for its purposes. It can just feel that little bit “off” at times.

  10. Hehe… So i next time when writing a longer posting have to warn you in advance by e-mail or something? 😀 😉

    Also, as you mention Rift, yay. I just lately out of curiosity (i admit, TSW got a bit stale lately and “she” wants to see some other games) also started playing Rift. And it’s all there. Auto-attacks are insignificant. Abilities are the way to do damage, if you see an auto attack being executed you are clearly doing it wrong. My rogue boils down to 5 builders, 1 consumer, rinse and repeat. And while i admit that perhaps my setup in Rift is “too tanky”, too, i also feel like my killing speed there is not higher than in TSW. Impact of ability, hmm. 5 “scratch-scratch” builders, one “highly impressive” consumer to take 30% of the enemies health. Somehow also doesn’t feel like “high impact”. Ability variation exists but as you already said, you’re probably best off just packing a huge portion of them into macros. And of course, Rift provides plenty of tasks where you have to kill a dozen or more of an enemy, to provide the “necessary” grind factor.

    That all being said, i still have to admit that temporarily Rift is fun for me. I guess i just have a masochistic streak. I just couldn’t agree that it’s superior to TSW in any of those aspects. My only current gripe with TSW is that it, like any MMO out there, naturally can’t keep up with the demand of us players for new content, and due to TSWs rather high quality of content this problem of course is even harder to tackle than in other games, where a new quest is just 5 lines of text, 20 spawn points for mobs somewhere in the area and a new (subpar) piece of equipment.

    Also, some more thoughts on the “problems” of TSW: While i see that combat in TSW is not perfect, i also don’t see it inferior to about any other MMO out there. It might be a matter of personal taste, but i still think that a lot of players just used it as “excuse” to abandon the game. You have to understand the problem they were in, they for some time expressed that they’d be looking forward for TSW, but unfortunately a month later GW2 also came out. So how to resolve the problem without loosing your face? Of course by playing the first one for a month, then finding many “flaws” and moving to the new one. (I very much expect the same effect in a month, when many people suddenly detect numerous problems in ESO, which “force” them to play Wildstar instead. )

    That being said, i also see that TSW has plenty of issues where i understand why it drove many players away. I’ve read many statements of players who considered the setting too grim for their mood. I fully understand that, if you come home after a long workday, you might want to do something else than being sent to Kingsmouth to an atmosphere of fear and despair. I also am aware of many players who were overwhelmed by the skill wheel and just did not get along with it, never finding a good setup (and not having the time and patience to research into it) and thus feeling rejected. This might indeed also have lead to some of the complains about combat, as bad setups indeed result in being beat up easily even in Savage Coast already. But again, i would not flaw TSWs combat itself, but rather the complex skill system behind it, which indeed is a hinderance for a casual player who want to “just play” without investing time and/or brainpower into it.

  11. Opps. The “warn by e-mail” was aimed at pkudude99. Seems like i took too long again and wrote way too much again. 🙂

  12. I agree with most of your concerns but I still generally enjoy TSW combat. At times it does take a long time to kill something and a boring rotation can make that seem even even longer. However, my main problem is with the ground effect graphics. I do appreciate that they are subtle but that’s also a double-edged sword. Subtle ground effects on some textures become nearly impossible to see. I absolutely loathe fighting anything in water because I can rarely see the effect areas in time. They can be difficult to spot on some of the other ground textures as well. A game with combat reliant on being able to avoid things should make those things a little easier to see.

  13. About time someone piped up about this. During my stay in TSW, I absolutely despised TSWs combat, as well as that ability wheel thingy. What is odd though is that I couldn’t for the life of me put into words exactly why. A number of the points you make definitely ring true to me.

    Of course it doesn’t help when you get people either blaming you for disliking it with ‘you just didn’t get it’ or trivialising your problems with ‘that happens in other MMOs too’. Heck, they’ve have already turned up in these comments, and are decidedly unhelpful in every way.

  14. I’m pretty much still a beginner in TSW, but here is my take….

    It seems that the fun and interest in TSW is more in figuring out your decks and rotations, and less in the actual use thereof. During combat you have at max a choice of 7 skills you could use next, and usually somewhat less with cooldowns etc. In many situations some of those skills won’t even be relevant. e.g. You have a big heal, but aren’t getting hurt enough to warrant using it. So with those limits it’s hard to see how combat for any given deck won’t mostly be a matter of spamming a few rotations. Since the mobs are rather tough compared to our damage output, you’ll be running through those few rotations quite a few times in each fight. Which means it does all sometimes feel a bit too grindy.

    On the other hand deck construction is at the other extreme, with enormous possibilities for experimenting.

  15. “Of course it doesn’t help when you get people either blaming you for disliking it with ‘you just didn’t get it’ or trivialising your problems with ‘that happens in other MMOs too’. Heck, they’ve have already turned up in these comments, and are decidedly unhelpful in every way.”

    The “problem” here in some way is, that i for example can’t see some of the issues some people describe.

    I fully understand that the skill wheel is overwhelming for the new player. It makes early gameplay very tedious, as you’re better of researching the wheel than playing the game. This is not a good start for a new game and very well understand that this part turns many payers off. I also understand that the setup (grim, zombies, end of days, abandon all hope… ) of the game is not for everybody.

    But i for example don’t understand what “impactful” combat would be? Please name some games which would have more “impactful” combat than TSW. I have played many MMOs (e.g. SWG, STO, AO, WoW, WAR, NC2, Rift, Fallen Earth, Firefall, GW, GW2, SWtoR and several more with even less important names) over the last years and i personally seem to be way too retardet to see the difference and understand “impactful”.

    To sidetrack a little bit: I’ve also read similar comments for ESO, that combat was not “impactful” enough, usually on blogs which can easily be reached from this site.

    I do not play it now, i ran into too many bugs and even had two crashes, which tells me that in the current state i would be frustrated and dislike the game, so i rather give it a few more months to get finished and then enjoy it. That being said, despite the issues i have had, i think in general the game is fine and will be fun to play in a while.

    The often mentioned problem which i did not experience, though, was the “not impactful” combat of ESO. (The very same words. ) I’ve read numerous comments on that and just don’t get it. You’re in direct control there, and even your simple “right+left mouse button combo” on both weapon types i tried had some noticeable interrupt plus short stun effect.

    So really, can you please explain to me why a flinching NPC in TSW and a stunned NPC in ESO are not impactful, while the same animation in an other game is? Or what am i missing?

    “It seems that the fun and interest in TSW is more in figuring out your decks and rotations, and less in the actual use thereof. During combat you have at max a choice of 7 skills you could use next, and usually somewhat less with cooldowns etc. In many situations some of those skills won’t even be relevant. e.g. You have a big heal, but aren’t getting hurt enough to warrant using it. So with those limits it’s hard to see how combat for any given deck won’t mostly be a matter of spamming a few rotations. Since the mobs are rather tough compared to our damage output, you’ll be running through those few rotations quite a few times in each fight. Which means it does all sometimes feel a bit too grindy.

    On the other hand deck construction is at the other extreme, with enormous possibilities for experimenting.”

    I have to agree on the basic premise. TSW loves theorycrafting and optimizing a lot. So to play the game, you either have to experiment yourself, or research or socialize and get good setups from various sources. (The games forum for example. )

    The “random rag-tag” setup which every player has a the start indeed is cumbersome, as there’s a lot of power to be found by creating good setups. Also, in a previous posting here i have given one possible basis for a more complicated (but also more powerful) setup and rotation. There are others out there if somebody wants to research into, where a simple rotation is not cutting it. Complex setups indeed can be done, but again the game hides them behind a wall of experimentation or investigation, resulting in many players never reaching them.

    Indeed (as already mentioned) veteran players usually hand out some “easy to use” setups to new players when asked for them. If you don’t know a new player, you have no idea how skilled he is and how complex a setup he could handle. You could giving him a high-damage setup with complex interconnections of actives and passives, which require attention to ressources which are used up (and in some cases also built up) at different speeds. Such a setup, when used properly, indeed kills much faster than the “save” setup. But if not used properly, it not only does not provide much of a killing speed advantage, but also gets you killed much faster. Thus i refuse to hand out such setups to new players and rather give them a deck which kills a little slower but gets the job done for most of the game. I by default provide the traditional “bloodsport -> iron maiden -> 12 gouge” debilitation engine, along with several more easy to reach basic passives, which allow the deck to work well enough no matter which weapon and which active abilities are being used. All used passives are either on the inner wheel or very cheap outer wheel passives, so it can be acquired with reasonable effort.

    Any new player studying this deck can easily recognize which synergies are being used and learn how to go on from here. Some do so, others just use this setup throughout the game. (I am aware of several people in my cabal who did that. )

    Finally, at the high probability that i am “the evil guy” again, i still dare to ask: you mentioned running a setup where most abilities were not “useful”, thus your rotation was limited to only a few abilities. May i please know who created your setup, gear and abilities, and blocked you from changing them? If you have that big heal but never need it, you might either change your talismans to a more offensive setup, thus increasing your killing speed at the price of more damage taken, which suddenly makes the healing ability useful, or you could replace the healing ability with some offensive tool. As you have recognized, adjusting your setup is a big part of the game, not doing so naturally places you at a disadvantage.

    But again, i am not aware of any MMO where adjusting your gear and setup is not part of the game. The only difference is that many MMOs are rather easy going and let every setup, no matter how bad it is, be successful through the leveling game just to make you smack into a wall when reaching the “endgame”. {Terrible choice of word, btw} This is one of several reasons why so many players despise their games “endgame”. TSW in contrast already challenges the players rather early so most players you encounter in the later game have a reasonable setup. Only few acquire those setups by their own experimentation, mostly they do by social interaction and the best setups out there were created by people working together. But social interaction is a big plus in my book, so i fully approve of that.

  16. I didn’t say I *never* need the big heal. If I never needed it, I wouldn’t have slotted it.

    I said that at many points in time in many fights it will not be relevant. Therefore at those points in time, it will not be among the skills that come into consideration. The number of skills that come into consideration at any given point in time is therefore reduced, and was not high to begin with. So a lot of the time, the combat consists of spamming a few rotations.

    My point is a mathematical one. There aren’t many things to create sequences of actions from, therefore the number of sequences that are plausible is small, therefore you will be running through the same sequences repetitively a lot of the time.

    The above applies to a given deck. If you swap decks often, that gives rise to lots of possibilities, but having selected a deck, your moment to moment choices in combat will be pretty limited.

    As per Talarian’s post of Complexity vs Depth, there is lots of depth when in comes to deck building, but not that much when in comes to in-combat decisions.

    http://talarian.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/complexity-and-depth-or-why-wow-devs.html

    Btw I didn’t say I don’t like TSW or that it is fatally flawed. I said it is sometimes a bit grindy because of the way the combat was designed. But that is an accusation I would make about most MMOs.

  17. First: I have to say sorry for my missunderstanding with the heal. While i personally by now run with setups which have very little “once in a long time” abilities, i know i had them in former times. I never included more than one or two of them, which still left me with five to six frequently used abilities and thus enough options, but i can understand what you mean.

    Second: look into my first posting in here, check out the high-damage setup i mentioned. For solo play i admit i am way too lazy to go for all the effort, and in dungeons i found that i (who usually heals) is not proficient enough in such pattern-weaving to compete with the top DDs. Still, the option to build decks which have complicated rotations (and reward you for using them well) is there. But i also admit, for most solo play the additional killing speed just is not worth the effort and you then are down to a setup with a very simple rotation.

    Third: yes, it’s true, in most cases deck building in TSW is the “deeper art” while using it in most cases is not that complicated. See again “how people prefer to build decks”, though.

    Fourth: Depth. Hmm, at first glance i would have agreed but still wondered which MMO would actually do it better. Then i noticed some in-combat decissions i have to take in TSW quite regularily:
    – as a healer, your tank drops to 50% health. Do you throw in your big heal and have it on cooldown for the next 30 seconds? Do you use your heal-boosting abilities, which also have a cooldown, and hope they do the job? Or do you just continue healing as you know this tank only activates his defensive abilities when he got smacked a bit, so you save your cooldowns for in 20 seconds, when you know that the tanks defensive buffs will run out and your big heals will be needed there?
    – similarily as a tank, do you use your last interrupt on charged hack, knowing that if it crits it can take 70% of your health? Or do you save your last interrupt, as your other interrupting abilities are on cooldown, in case the next ability of the boss would be mjolnir’s echo, which is an agro reset and almost guarantees that one DD will die if you don’t have an interrupt ready?

    Is this the depth you are looking for? For indeed in a WoW-alike you have much more abilities, but how many of them actually have to be used tactically? I haven’t played WoW since years, but lately spent a little time in Rift and found the abilities mostly “whack a mole” and that’s it. If you block, use the ability which profits from block. No “earlier or later” question, just use it. If fighting a caster, use your interrupt on cooldown, if not fighting a caster, don’t use it at all. No further consideration there.

    While there also seems to be some depth in Rift tanking (i can’t tell for sure, have not arrived there yet), it’s definitely not within the ability use. And from my faint memory, it was similar in WoW, the art was not in the ability rotation, a macro was well able to do your job, probably better than any human. The art of tanking, the depth of it, was rather in positioning and working together with your group, but i think the number of abilities on the hotbar has little influence on this.

    If i badly missunderstand what you refer to as depth, please let me know. But this is how i see it. (But yes, again i admit: in “normal solo play” my examples of TSW usually also don’t matter. Combat in solo play in any MMO i know usually is simple enough to get away without caring for such things. )

    Finally: Yes, like any MMO it is grindy at some times. I agree on that, but i wouldn’t know of any MMO where it’s really different. So unless somebody can either just point at “the one MMO” where it is not, or present the big solution which we all up to now failed to see, i just consider it unfair if one game is blamed for something which all other games of the genre also have.

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