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 Intrepid Studios plans to implement a Hybrid Combat system: a blend of both traditional tab targeting and Action Combat skill shots; however, an important distinction lies in the definition Intrepid uses to define Action Combat Skills.
In my 2019 Interview with Steven, he detailed out what he considers the difference between tab-targetting and action combat to be. His response is that a tab targeted ability is a skill that you must have a target for. For action skills, those are ones where placement is required, either the placement of a reticle placement on the ground or a directional placement (cone attack/weapon swings). Basically, any free actions that don’t require a locked target are action including swing a sword through the cross hairs in front of you.
Unlike some games, specifically Guild Wars 2, where abilities can be used in either tab or an action version, in Ashes of Creation the abilities are classes as action or tab. I have gone into greater depth on this topic in the video, however, to provide a text example I have chosen two abilities to use as examples.
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.
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 abilities on the hotbars in the Alpha 1 previews; however, we know it is possible to have more than one hot bar and that the total number abilities available to a character at one time will be fewer than 30. 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.
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 time to 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.
Augments are an interesting way that abilities are changed. What we know so far is only primary archetypes and weapons provide access to abilities. Secondary Archetype does not grant new abilities, but instead provides one source of augments which organically change how abilities function. While we do not have a lot of information on Augments, we do have a standard example.
The most common example of this Augment system is the Fighter's Rush ability when Augmented with Mage's Teleport or Rogue's Stealth. The base ability is that the Fighter rushes from Point A to Point B. You see the fighter making this movement.
If the Rush is augmented with Mage’s Teleport, then instead of seeing the fighter move, he would teleport from Point A and arrive at Point B to deliver the Rush attack.
If the Rush is augmented with Rogue’s Stealth, then the fighter would temporarily shroud with the Stealth ability (breaking any tab targeting locks) and then arrive at Point B to deliver the attack.
As you can see, there is no new ability added, but the different Augments offer custom tweaks to the skill that change how the skill functions. At the present time we are waiting to hear more about the class, skills, and augments.
Where augments come from
While the information we have on Augments is still limited, we do know that they come from a variety of sources. So far, we know that Augments come from
- Secondary Archetype
- Citizenship [Different Augments from different Node Types and Stage]
- Social Organization
As more information becomes available on Augments, this section will be updated and breakout sections will be started.
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.
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.