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Ashes 101 - Combat System Overview

One of the biggest questions about Ashes of Creation is what sort of combat style are they planning on using? Are they going to be going the traditional tab targeting route? Are they going to cater to the action combat crowd? Do they have another idea in mind?

The answer is that Intrepid plans on using a Hybrid Combat system that is a blend of both traditional tab targeting and Action. However, an important distinction to keep in mind is that what Intrepid considers to be Action Combat skills. Anything that doesn’t require a locked target is an action combat skill, this includes Free Actions where you swing your sword through the crosshairs in front of you as seen in Apocalypse/Battle Royale testing, as well as character centered AOEs, Cone Attacks, and Ground Reticles.


An important thing to consider about abilities, is that abilities are action or tab, not both.

This is more easily seen in the video explanation, however, I have picked two abilities to discuss.

The first is Ice Prison. This ability targets an individual, and summons a prison of ice around them. As this ability targets an individual, we can safely assume this is a tab ability. We also know that while there might be an action ability that is similar to it, there won’t be an action version of Ice Prison.

The other ability I picked was Crimson Blast. This ability invokes a destruction cone at enemies in front of you. This ability will not require a locked target, it will be a free action you can execute with the cone extending in front of you. Since it does not require a locked target we can safely assume this is an action ability. We also know that while there might be a tab ability similar to it, there won’t be a tab version of Crimson Blast.

Ability Loadout

A number of people are concerned about the total number of skills that we will have access to on our hotbars. At present time, even though we have only seen 12 on the hotbars in the Alpha 1 previews, we know that we can have more than one hot bar, and that we will have fewer than 30 skills.

It's also important to note that you won’t be able to take 100% of your abilities as Tab or Action. Instead, players will have to take at least 25% of one type, maxing the other at 75%. They can work with any split inside that 25/75 range, so 50/50 or 40/60, but at least 25% of the abilities must be Action or Tab.

Skill Point Investment

Another thing players have wondered about is the way skills are going to be selected. If there is going to be a linear skill tree that must be followed, or if players have more freedom in their builds.

Ashes is going with a lot of Player Freedom, and one of those freedoms is the ability to either spend a lot of skill points taking a lot of skills to be able to address a wide range of encounters, or investing multiple points into a single ability and having less overall abilities but having much more powerful abilities.

This is detailed more in the video, however, to use the same example from the Video, a Cleric may have 3 points remaining. In one situation a Cleric might want to pick up three abilities to have a range of different heals available. In another situation, that Cleric might want to put all 3 points into one ability, in this case Righteous Blessing.

By putting all 3 points into one skill, the Cleric not only gains a spot heal, but also causes Righteous Blessing to add a Heal over Time and a damage over to time enemies near the target.

While it is far too soon to go into Ability discussion and theory crafting, as soon as we have more confirmation information from Alpha 1, we will start doing deep dive discussions.

Crowd Control

One major factor in all combat games is the effectiveness of Crowd Control, specifically the mechanic of CC Lockdown where one player can initiate a fight and through the careful rotation of CCs drain the victim from 100% life down to 0% without the victim ever being able to counterattack.

In order to prevent this from happening, Intrepid is doing everything they can to prevent CC lockdown chains including having diminishing returns on stuns, sleeps, and slows.

They are also going to tie hard CCs to action skills and soft CCs to tab skills. Now, the question is: How does Intrepid classify hard and soft CC?

Intrepid considers Stuns, Knock Downs, Sleeps and Paralysis as Hard CCs. Basically anything that takes 100% of a player's control away (movement and the ability to act). This means skills that proc these effects will be restricted to Action Abilities.

Anything that takes away only one side of control (movement or ability to act), is considered a soft CC. However, when it comes to roots and silences Steven has Stated that some roots and silences are considered hard CCs. If this is an indication of a tiered system of CC or if it just means soft CC will be available to action and tab, while hard is restricted to only action we do not know. I will be flushing out this section a bit more when we get more details, as well as breaking it down in the appropriate skill sections.

Time to Kill

In order to prevent Ashes from becoming a gank box, Intrepid wants the minimum time to kill to be between 30 seconds and a minute. This will of course vary based on how many people attack you and what build you are running.

Action Combat Headshots

Originally the plan was for headshots to be automatic critical hits for the action combat skills. After testing this idea with the Apocalypse: Battle Royale mode, Intrepid has decided not to pursue this plan. Action combat will determine critical hits through the critical hit rate formula. More on that as we get it from the studio.

Threat Assessment

A major concern of players has been the full body cosmetics and how are players going to know what armor their opponent is really wearing. Since full body cosmetics can transform the appearance of a plate wearer into a robe wearer, people were concerned about how to visually assess the threat of their target.

Intrepid has decided that the characters will have a buff on them that shows not only what type of armor they are wearing but also the armor tier they are at. This will serve as the visual threat assessment.

Active Block and Dodge

A number of people have been wondering if the blocking and dodging in Ashes of Creation is going to be Active Blocking and Dodge (sort of like Guild Wars 2 for the rolling dodge). Right now, Intrepid has gathered some data on active blocking and dodging, and they found that the data they gathered in Apocalypse led to it not being as widely utilized as some players would have suspected. Given that Ashes is developing a Hybrid Combat system, not purely action, there needs to be balance with how Blocking and Dodging works.

Right now, the blocking and dodging is going to be found more in the skill sets for the different classes. Some classes will get movement abilities rolled into their skill sets (rolls, teleports, blinks, etc) and some will get buffs for blocking when maintaining proper facing.

Keep in mind, that the action component has to seamlessly interface with the tab skills, and that means it has to work with the stat system. Combat system testing is going to be a major focal point for Alpha 1 and 2 testing.