Thursday, August 23, 2007

20-hit vs 2-hit battles

I finally have access to the internet again. It's nice that Liepzig's conference happened to coincide with my away-time, because there was a little gaming news to come back to.

IGN posted a preview of Viking: Battle for Asgard, a single-player game in which the hero leads armies in siege warfare. The part that most interests me is this:

"In the large battles Scrin's job is less about directing his forces (although that is part of his job) as it as about being in the right place to change the course of the battle. "

In most MMOs I've played, combat tends to lean more toward strategy than action. Worthwhile battles are more likely to involve 15-20 actions, or 10+ "turns", than merely striking the enemy one or two times with your weapon and moving on to the next enemy. Many long-time MMO gamers probably prefer that style, though WoW seemed to prove the wide appeal of faster-paced combat.

Two-hit kills
MMO developers don't have to choose either/or. It might prove very fun to mix the traditional models of player-vs-foe combat with the sort of player-vs-group combat suggested in the quote above. In EQ2, my most enjoyable battles tended to be those in which I was outnumbered, sometimes even by enemies which would have been easy one-by-one. Those battles still involved multiple rounds per enemy, but they hint at the possibilities. Either way, one-on-one or many-on-one, there's considerable room for strategy, but different kinds of strategy.

Viking's "change the course of the battle" gameplay is just one way in which player-vs-group combat could be taken beyond old MMO models. It could make for some interesting raids, in particular. MMOs in general could be more engaging if the pacing varied more.

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