Darkfall Combat is NOT So Special.

We’re starting this Monday out on a more sour note, I guess. Sorry for that. This got to me over the weekend, enough to inspire a whole post. You’ve probably seen Darkfall players talk crap about action bar MMOs. Yeah, well, they’re full of crap. Here’s why:

This guy secretly plays WoW. Don't tell the goblins.

There’s a common theme that runs in posts supporting Darkfall: the combat is leaps and bounds above other MMOs. I’m sorry but no, no it’s not. Now, that’s not to say that the AI supporting it isn’t good, because it is. Mob AI is leaps and bounds ahead of other MMOs. What I’m talking about it this idea that people playing normal action bar games are somehow dimwits.

The only thing substantial Darkfall adds to the mix is mouse squiggling. Here’s a typical set of combat encounters:

LotRO: 1, 2, 4, 5, 0, 2, 1 – repeat

Darkfall: 1, click, squiggle, click, 1, click, squiggle, 3, click – repeat.

See what I’m saying? What I find especially funny is that all of these people forget to mention that Darkfall uses action bars. The only difference is that you have to left click to make the ability go off! Making the user face the target and click repeatedly does not deep combat make.

Let me dispel a couple other misconceptions. Despite all that advanced AI, everything still seems pretty basic. I don’t doubt that there’s a lot going on behind the scenes, but when a Greater Servant “sees” me from half a mile away, I don’t think “oh crap, it’s dark so he must see better at night.” I think, “gee, he has an aggro range.” When a mob runs around me in circles, then runs away, stops, jitters, runs back, and runs away again, I don’t think “wow, he’s really aware of the situation and trying to trip me up.” I think, “oh look, he moves, and I have to face him.” If having to face your enemy is what the ForumFall-ites are priding themselves on, I suggest they get a reality check.

Look, I like Darkfall. A lot. The sum of all those little parts adds up to combat that is a lot more active but not necessarily more challenging. If anything, I’d say that, for PvE at least, action bar combat is the more complex. Where most Darkfall players will keep to a single action bar and a handful of skills for all situations, the average WoW player manages 3-4 packed with abilities. The current state of action bar combat allows players to not only react to any situation but also strategize what to use and when on the fly.

For many, myself included, the active swinging of a weapon is a lot of fun. And I’m not making any bones about PvP – I firmly believe that DF beats most other games here, if we’re talking skill. Other people find it stressful and annoying. To each their own. But that doesn’t make them stupid for preferring traditional controls over FPS-lite.

It’s pretty simple. Not many of you have played Darkfall or ever will. So, imagine your last fight in DDO. Now imagine the mobs running around you and trying to flee before they die. That’s pretty much it. Except, I don’t see many DDO players calling the rest of us idiots for playing normal MMOs.

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