Kirby’s Alpha 1 Combat Analysis
With the unveil of the Alpha 1 combat trailer, I decided to share my analysis of the trailer to highlight noteworthy elements and discuss them in detail. In case you missed it, you can view the full trailer here. The key points that I took away from the trailer are below, followed by my thoughts on each of them. Please let me know if you enjoyed reading this article, I’d love to do more of these in the future!
- Melee Telegraphs
- Potion Launcher Physics
- Headshot Hitboxes
- ADS (Aim Down the Sight)
- Weapon Swapping & Reloading
- Mobile Casting & Mobility
- Sonar & Stealth Counters
- Un-obstructed Teleport
- Weightless Actions
- Final Thoughts
The closest combat system that this can be compared to is Wildstar. I’ve created a simple visual to help explain the process of hit registration when it comes to melee weapons. Upon taking a closer look at the way melee action combat seems to work, the hit appears to register on the targets present within the invisible cone-shaped telegraph. This means you could theoretically hit multiple targets as long as they are within the cone shaped telegraph based on your weapon. Based off of this, we can assume that certain weapons such as the greatsword and polearms will have a larger telegraph due to them having an innately larger reach, whereas daggers would have a much smaller telegraph, with one-handed swords and axes falling somewhere in the middle.
Potion Launcher Physics
The potion launcher weapon type- as stated by Intrepid, changes the way it functions depending on the type of ammunition used. Using frost ammunition results in slows/snares and fire ammo results in your typical area of effect explosion. However, interestingly enough, instead of a simple point and cast telegraph AOE, the ‘potions’ that are fired through the potion launcher seem to have their own unique physics similar to a traditional grenade launcher in an FPS/Shooter. This means individual shots fired from the potion launcher will bounce along obstacles/terrain before exploding, making them quite deadly in enclosed spaces. What does this mean for large scale PvP? We could be looking at a possible new anti-zerg potion launcher meta, where players equipped with potion launchers would simply lob their shots skyward to land within the enemy zerg, resulting in maximum impact due to their shots colliding with the tightly packed players present within the zerg.
In the video we see the player pull off a perfect execution, which is the result of swapping from a staff into a bow, to pull off a slick headshot. Steven later clarified during a Discord QnA that headshot hitboxes will be present in Ashes of Creation for now. The presence of separate hitboxes for the character’s head are commonplace in the FPS and shooter genres. However this raises the question of how the headshot-hitboxes work, are all weapon types and abilities able to trigger the headshot multiplier? If so, then does this mean we’re going to have to aim for the head even when using melee weapons such as swords and daggers? How does this work for different character heights – since some races like the Tulnar are innately taller/larger than their human counterparts, this makes it easier to aim for the head, whereas dwarves will probably be harder to land headshots on. Melee weapons and racial traits aside, how would this work in regards to skills/abilities? Since, for example, the meteor skill lands from above – resulting in it hitting a character’s head first, does this mean all airborne skills will innately trigger headshot multipliers? The more thought that is given to this mechanic, the more complicated it seems to be.
ADS (Aim Down the Sight)
Another surprise that viewers may have missed is the ability to aim down the sight (ADS) within the video. Typically mmorpgs almost never utilize this feature as it is something used primarily in first person shooters. However, considering that we now know that headshot hitboxes are a thing, this changes the value of ADS within the game from a minor feature, to a major addition for players to help land headshots in order to dish out more damage. Due to the presence of ADS, we can also assume that certain toolbelt items hinted at in the past, such as the spyglass would also be usable in a similar manner through aiming down the sight.
Weapon Swapping & Reloading
Throughout the video we see multiple examples of seamless weapon swapping, which is the result of Intrepid fulfilling their promise of allowing the use of any weapon on any class. This is being done to promote the creation of unique builds and not lock players to the use of a single weapon type per class. That aside, we see another FPS/Shooter feature that has been integrated into ashes- Reloading. In the clip below, you see the crossbow user reload his crossbow after firing a few shots. It is safe to assume that other weapon types such as the potion launcher will also feature similar reload mechanics. Whether we’ll have fixed or unlimited ammunition while auto-attacking remains to be seen.
Mobile Casting & Mobility
It’s pretty clear throughout the video that Intrepid did their utmost to showcase the amount of mobility available to the player, be it in the form of casting while in mid air or blending excessive amounts of dodges between attacks. This should be a significant draw for players that prefer the faster pace of combat such as rogues and fighters. Regardless, the main take away from this is that they’re heading in the right direction as we’ve already seen the tab-target gameplay involve plenty of non-mobile skill casting. Putting both combat styles together would eventually result in a combat system that is well balanced with both mobile and stationary abilities.
Sonar & Stealth Counters
An interesting ability as it appears to be a special skill which allows the user to see enemy players through objects and walls. It raises certain questions such as: Are the enemies highlighted via the sonar skill only visible to the caster? Or will they be visible to all friendlies/raid members? Such an ability also further expands on Intrepid’s process of ensuring that stealth will not be overpowered. We can definitely expect to see more stealth-revealing abilities further down the development process.
Traditionally in MMORPG’s, teleport skills usually work via direct pathing, meaning if there is even the smallest obstacle of minimal height in the way, the player does not end up at their desired destination as the object obstructs the destination from the player casting the ability. However in the video we see the player teleport through a fence. What does this imply? It implies that teleporting works similar to projectile travel, which means as long as your crosshair has a clear line of sight to your destination, you will make it there, regardless of the obstacles along the terrain.
Besides the positives, possibly the only con we can see in the video is the lack of character-based physics, resulting in ‘floaty’ movement. While their focus on mobile casting and mobility is appreciated by the majority of the community, too much of anything is never good. That said, this is something which we can expect to be addressed during the upcoming testing phases as this is merely Intrepid’s first pass at action combat.
Projectiles from ranged weapons not travelling on a horizontal plane is something else that I noticed while watching the trailer. Being able to fire off projectiles freely that do not travel a fixed distance above the terrain will result in the effectiveness of archers and mages to be reduced by a certain amount, although the headshot multiplier makes up for this loss in DPS, promoting skill over mindless button mashing. A few other concerns such as TTK (Time-to-kill) and low cooldowns on certain spells such as the meteor were addressed by intrepid who stated that they were exclusively to showcase the combat in the trailer, and in-game, the TTK and cooldowns would definitely be a lot longer. If this is their ‘first pass’ at action combat, naturally we can expect all of the above to be tweaked and perfected throughout the development process. All in all, I’m incredibly excited for what the future of Ashes of Creation holds and I cannot wait until we’re all in-game!
Kirby – Writer – Artist