1. #1
    Dreadlord
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    Combat feel and look: An honest a review as I can manage

    I'll keep this post as short as possible, but before I actually say anything about combat lemme start with the why and where. I'm writing this in the hopes that it will help those on the fence make a decision, when it comes to combat. The reason I'm doing this is because I myself was on the fence for the longest time about it, since I all had were those beta videos to go on.

    I'm a huge star wars fan, and I like MMOs. So this game was a no brainer right? Well almost, but then I saw the combat in videos. Was very worried. I'll be honest right now; I've grown to like it. So let's see why and how you can, if you're willing to give it a shot... And please remember, I'm no game designer, so this is merely how I see things.

    Animations are kinda a big deal in this game. It isn't the huge deal it is in some asian MMOs, (I'm going to be referring to Dragon Nest, or DN, for this post), nor is it the minor deal it is in WoW. I played both these MMOs recently (WoW for 5 years, DN for about a year), so memories are relatively fresh.

    Animation clashing with keybind input is the core of this game's problems, and at the same time the promise it brings. Now, with games like DN, animations look smooth in videos and feel pretty smooth because the game literally does one of two things: ONE, while you're casting the skill, you can't skillcancel and go on to the next, so in essence you're channeling, and letting your character do his/her combo in full; the "combo" being that one button you just hit. Two, the skill/spell you casted is a range type ability (like a wave of force for example), so your character's time in animation is short, while the ability animation carries on and you can proceed to do some thing else.

    That's one extreme of animation vs input.

    WoW, on the other hand, only has decent animations for channeling spells, because there's time to put in an animation there. For melee, and instant cast spells, it's literally a very brief wave of the hand in one direction or another. As much as I loved my rogue (my main in WoW for those 5 years), his animations were pretty shit for the most part, except for the odd thing like Shadowstep (and even then..). However, WoW feels extremely smooth because of this. Admittedly, I was very used to this, and animations were never as important to me as getting the job of my class done. I loved how right WoW got the feel of combat, even though animations were compromised.

    So now we have SWTOR, which in my opinion, is trying to find the middleground between those extremes. It provides some good animation, even for melee classes. Range classes typically have their casting times which makes it feel less jerky, but for melee classes, it does at first feel like somehow, Bioware got the timing wrong. To be honest, as much as I've grown to like combat, I think this can still be worked on. Minor tweaks here and they could go a long way to making combat feel as fluid as it should.

    However, for those of you on the fence, if combat is all you're worried about (and you can't try it through a friend), then I say it's still worth it. Combat is nowhere as clunky as some make it out to be. There are two things you can do to make things feel much smoother for yourself. The first is understanding that you constantly need to be hitting a skill, and making sure you have the resources to use it. I love my Jedi Knight, but it felt SO clunky once I got to about level 14 ish, because I still wasn't quite used to a rotation (I was enjoying the game too much to care up to this point, but finally decided to do something about it). So I gave all my skills a good look, looked at the spec I wanted to have, and moved around some skills to make things more comfortable and "natural feeling" for myself. For example, my interrupts are always on F, and my gap closers are on E, alt-E.

    After you get a good feel for your typical skill setup, experiment with the latency compensation option in the Preferences menu. Most people currently feel comfortable at 0.0. I personally go with 0.25.

    With these 2 tips, combat feels great. So basically, I've just had to adjust to SWTOR's way of doing things. To be clear, I liked DN's combat, I loved WoW's, and now, I love SWTOR's. I think SWTOR still has alittle way to go to become **(^^&*%#*# fantastic, but it does feel really good once you get used to it.

    So for those of you willing to try, I'd say gogogo. If you're willing to get good at it, you will like it.

    For those of you wanting to come into the game and automatically slip into the system and feel good with it immediately, don't get this game. I'm not bashing you, all I mean is that the combat needs some more improvements before feeling silky smooth right from the get go. You will not enjoy the combat if you're expecting it to feel like WoW, or like DN, or like any other MMO you may have played. It's got its own feel. I like it, despite it being my number 1 worry about the game. But that's my opinion of course.

    Hope this wasn't too confusing and helped out those of you still wondering about the feel of combat.
    Last edited by Mavecryst; 2011-12-25 at 09:17 AM.

  2. #2
    Great post! It really helped me, for I could relate to everything you said. I was thinking the same thing before picking the game up, and would frequently try and compare the smoothness of WoW and ToR in regards to my Sith Warrior and Rogue. Thank you!

  3. #3
    I think the combat feels way better than WoW. WoW feels floaty, weightless, the aesthetics insanely simple and dated (or overly gaudy with simple, colored lights), this is almost the opposite in every way. Things have more impact, way more style and feel much more meaningful. Totalbiscuit did a good run down of how the better aesthetics and types aid it, as well, which made a lot of sense in his last Bounty Hunter video. Popping down that generic flamestrike vs an extremely detailed pirouette with a a gas powered flamethrower and all it's mechanical quirks isnt even comparable.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by MapleMeringue View Post
    I think the combat feels way better than WoW. WoW feels floaty, weightless, the aesthetics insanely simple and dated (or overly gaudy with simple, colored lights), this is almost the opposite in every way. Things have more impact, way more style and feel much more meaningful. Totalbiscuit did a good run down of how the better aesthetics and types aid it, as well, which made a lot of sense in his last Bounty Hunter video. Popping down that generic flamestrike vs an extremely detailed pirouette with a a gas powered flamethrower and all it's mechanical quirks isnt even comparable.
    In the end there you're comparing graphics. The graphics of abilities in SWTOR are great. What I personally feel is wrong and what I think the OP was trying to say, is that when you press your hotkey, it doesn't match up with character animation. Something is off, maybe its a delay, maybe its not. I found this in both melee and spell casting with the spell queue turned off. Its even more noticeable/annoying in PvP. It made combat feel clunky and using abilities didn't seem to have any weight behind them.

  5. #5
    The OP has the majority right.

    SWTOR still has some refining to do on their combat engine. The skill queue system (even when set to 0.0), the lining up of abilities, and the casting bar "failures" due to button spam overload input. I'm not too worried about it because as a mage I remember the exact same problems from WoW for the first few months.

    SWTOR and WoW both had fairly minor issues with "smoothing" out their combat systems. The difference between them will be how Bioware reacts, and I'm fairly certain they'll get it right with time. SWTOR has a heads up in that the engine attempts to logically deduce how best to display animations to make the combat "look" more realistic (LotRO began using a similar option after people bitched how bad the animation locking was), but the trade off for casters is that sometimes the animations throw off how you're dealing damage.

    Then again, a month down the line, the raiders won't even notice their animations anymore because we'll be too busy paying attention metrics, boss abilities, and adds. Any animation quirks are usually only noticed early in the leveling phase due to not having much to grab your attention.

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