In one of my earlier posts about WoW the comments veered off into a discussion about which game, WoW or AoC, had the more skill-based combat system especially in PvP. Pitrelli contends that AoC is “who spams most buttons wins”. After playing a melee character extensively in AoC and playing WoW for 5 years, I have to totally disagree.
Before I go any further, let me get this out of the way; I do not dislike WoW’s combat system. Matter of fact, I love WoW’s combat system. I have always said that WoW is a MMO that plays like a FPS. Fast, responsive and tight. It has a great feel.
Now, back to the discussion. Pitrelli had two major gripes in the discussion we had:
1. Combat in AoC comes down to “spamming buttons” due to his perceived lack of counters or reactives.
2. Combat in AoC is slower.
Let’s take this one at a time. First, let’s take a look at the “spamming” argument. For sake of argument, I am going to use only melee characters for this discussion. The casters in both games play very similarly. Melee is where the difference lies.
In melee the most important factor is the range. After all, if you can not get close to your target, you can not do damage to them as melee. In WoW if you are not in range and you use an ability you get a simple message that you are not in range and nothing happens. The ability does not fire. Nothing gained, nothing lost. I have not lost rage/mana/energy.
In AoC the experience is totally different. If I am not in range and I use an ability, the ability does fire. It goes off but I gain nothing because my target is not in range. This is bad. Why? Because when the ability fires it goes on cooldown, it uses my stamina and it locks me in place for a second or more while the animation plays. Obviously, you do not want this to happen. You want to make sure you are in range when you use that ability. Missed combos can be death in AoC.
What is the result of these two systems? In WoW, when I played my feral druid and was attempting to attack a mage, I simply spammed Claw (or whatever) until I was in range. No harm done. Once I was in range the ability went off and I went to the next one. In AoC I can not do that. I must be much more deliberate with my ability usage. I do not finish a combo unless I know I am going to hit the target. I am very deliberate when I go through my attack sequences and I spam a lot less.
But what about the contention that it is a spam-fest because of lack of counters or reactive abilities?
Counters and reactive abilities are very important in both WoW and AoC. In WoW, silences, stuns, knockbacks and other counters abound. Don’t want that Priest to get off a heal? The rogue kicks him. Don’t want the shaman to get out of rang? Death-grip him back. WoW is full of counters like these and it is one reason WoW has engaging PvP.
Guess what? AoC has just as many counters. Already on my Conqueror, not even level 40, I have a silence, two knock-downs, a “bubble” and a charge. As I level I get another bubble and a few other reactive tools to add to my arsenal.
Pitrelli’s second argument, about combat being slow, is harder to argue. I believe the perceived slowness is more an unfamiliarity with the combat system because it plays so much differently than any other MMO out there. Because you have to be much more deliberate with your key presses than you do in WoW, it can feel slower especially in the early levels before you get a lot of abilities. However, once you get higher, combat becomes frenetic. There is much more to keep track of in AoC than in WoW. Range is much more important, as is position. Combine that with moving through your combos, active blocking, counters and your double-tap buffs and combat can get really crazy.
I will not argue that combat in AoC is better than WoW. That is a completely subjective opinion. Pitrelli, and anyone else who has played AoC, has every right to say that they prefer WoW combat to combat found in AoC. However, AoC’s combat is more complex and it is a more “skill-based” system than WoW. Some people will like this, some won’t. Some people will like the complexity but dislike the feel of AoC combat and that is fine too. I will only say that it is nice to see a MMO break away from the standard MMO combat that we have seen since EQ.
For that, I thank Funcom.