Quakecon Video Dissection: Reactive Combat

Earlier this weekend we all had the pleasure of getting our first glimpse at some solid gameplay in the Elder Scrolls Online.  The reaction has been mixed, and as the combat was not really explained during the stream, giving a lot of people the impression that the combat is spammy.  While I don’t feel this is the case, I find it hard to blame viewers for not knowing what was going on when a proper review of combat mechanics hasn’t really been published since PAX East, and the indicators have never before been seen by the public eye.  In this article, I’m going to try to identify the various indicators so that readers will then be able to review the footage with a better understanding of what’s actually going on.

Overview of Combat Mechanics and Controls in ESO

Combat in ESO is basically built around the player reacting to the fight in a visceral way, including the timing of both offensive and defensive abilities. Here are the basic controls as we experienced that at PAX East:

QuakeCon Banner

  • Left Click: Basic Attack. Hold to power attack (can be released at any time, will automatically release when at full power).
  • Right Click: Hold to block.
  • Right Click + Left Click: To perform a melee interrupt, hold right click to block, then left click to bash.
  • Double tap a direction: Dodge roll (This can also be bound to a key now)
  • Ctrl: Sneak
  • Shift + Move: Sprint
  • X:  Activate synergy

Note that blocking, interrupting, dodging, stealthing, and sprinting all consume stamina

These weapon abilities are basically your bread and butter abilities, and the goal is for players to be able to use them, in addition to the hotbar abilities, to instinctively react to combat cues to properly execute fights.  So what exactly are those combat cues?  In the sections below, I’ll be grabbing screenshots from the Quakecon gameplay demonstration video to try to show what each of the separate telegraphs looks like.  I apologize for the quality in advance, as these are screenshots of a video capture of a low quality stream, so they aren’t going to be pretty.  If you’re having trouble making out what I’m talking about, I’ve included a link to where it happened in the video for each one so that you can see it in action.

Enemy power attacks

At 17:05, the player rushes towards a monster and begins to attack it.  The mob turns to face the player and begins a power attack, crouching down and readying itself for a strike.  The power attack is also indicated by the glowing yellow lines emanating from the mob, and at least in this case, an indicator on the bottom of the screen telling to you hold the right mouse button to block (which is most likely a tutorial feature).

Power Attack Indicator

When this happens, you want to block the attack before it goes off.  Successfully blocking a power attack places the mob in an “off-balance” state where they are stunned, lean down, and have a white glowing circle above their head, as shown below.

Power Attack Downed State

In this state, enemies hit with power attacks will take heavy damage and be knocked down by the blow.

While it wasn’t shown in the video, it seems entirely possible that enemies will also be able to block player power attacks, discouraging players from spamming power attacks outside of the off-balance state.  Keep an eye out to see if you can find any footage of an NPC blocking.

Enemy casts

At 10:48, you can see the player engage in combat with two unsuspecting NPCs –  a warrior, and an archer.  While the warrior charges in to attack the player, the archer stands back and begins casting a frontal cone AoE against the player.  You can barely make it out in the screenshot below, but when he begins casting, he seems to emanate a red version of the power attack animation.  This indicates that they are casting an ability that can be interrupted.

Quakecon Cast Indicator

As you can see in the video, if the cast is interrupted correctly, the attacker will be placed in the same off-balance state caused by blocking a power attack.

Enemy AoE attacks

At 19:06, the player pans to the right to see a wide, red indicator that an enemy is aiming an AoE attack in his general direction.

Quakecon Enemy AoE Indicator

 

Obviously, this is where dodge rolls come into play.  However, as we saw in the enemy casts indicator, at least some of these AoEs can be interrupted if you’re fast enough.

Enemy Synergies

At 18:15, you can see the often discussed oil + fire enemy synergy in action.  Notice the enemy running towards the player, throwing out his hand, and a thick, black oil slick covering the ground underneath the player.

Enemy Synergy 1

Notice the archer in the back left, already firing a flaming arrow.  When that flaming arrow lands:

Enemy Synergy 2

Boosh!  It seems like player will have to react pretty quickly to be able to avoid mob synergies, and it was nice to see the oil placed right where the player was standing, and not just in some random area as some games have done in the past.

Player Synergies

And lastly we have player synergies.  These are a little bit different than others as they add an element of reactive combat that comes from your teammates instead of your enemies.  The way synergies work is that one player will use an ability which will allow players to activate a synergy specific to that field.  This can actually be seen in our power attack demonstration at 17:05, where, after blocking and rolling around the mob, the player enters a synergy area allowing him to activate a synergy called “Leeching Strike”:

Quakecon Player Synergy

I didn’t notice the player using any synergies in the video, but it seems likely that they will be fairly powerful abilities that will give a definite edge to more coordinated groups of players.

The Wrap Up

Well there you go – those are the basics of reactive combat in The Elder Scrolls Online.  With these systems in mind, give the video another look and see what you can notice!

89 responses to “Quakecon Video Dissection: Reactive Combat”

  1. Profile Photo
    Broice

    Apprentice

    Total Posts: 28

    Dunmer Templar

    Really great breakdown of the combat system, and I can’t wait to be doing it for myself in the spring.  One thing that I don’t think you mentioned that I noticed in the video was that unlike in Skyrim the dual wielding attacks were done by separate mouse buttons, but that didn’t appear to be the case here.  I think this is because they implemented the ability to block while dual wielding, so now just your left mouse button will be in control of the attacks.

    “I run the Fo’c’s’le, a boarding house for sailors.  Sorry.  I reserve my beds for seamen.”

    - Mirabelle Monet, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

    -Reserved For Seamen- Elder Scrolls Online Guild

  2. Profile Photo
    IceFireWarden

    Master

    Total Posts: 510

    Argonian Nightblade

    The Outriders

    Broice said on August 3, 2013 :

    Really great breakdown of the combat system, and I can’t wait to be doing it for myself in the spring. One thing that I don’t think you mentioned that I noticed in the video was that unlike in Skyrim the dual wielding attacks were done by separate mouse buttons, but that didn’t appear to be the case here. I think this is because they implemented the ability to block while dual wielding, so now just your left mouse button will be in control of the attacks.

    yeah, I really liked dual wielding blocking. Another article well done.

  3. Profile Photo
    schnoffle

    Master

    Total Posts: 966

    Breton Sorcerer

    Cross

    I believe they have said in the past that dual wield will involve just the left mouse and will alternate weapons unless using certain weapon skills

    thanks for the breakdown. I think it helps people get a better understanding as to why the glowing enemies are there and the purpose of it.

    Guild Signature

  4. Profile Photo
    JuMPMan347

    Adept

    Total Posts: 111

    Dunmer Templar

    Aegis Nocturnus

    IceFireWarden said on August 3, 2013 :

    yeah, I really liked dual wielding blocking. Another article well done.

    Yes! This makes duel-wielding very viable. I’m excited cause I’ve always loved duel wield, but hated that you couldn’t block with it in Skyrim(which made no sense to me cause you can block with a single one-handed weapon, even without a shield).

     PS4, North America, Ebonheart Pact
    aegisnocturnus.enjin.com

     

  5. Profile Photo
    Pugmilamber

    Journeyman

    Total Posts: 78

    Altmer

    Thanks for the breakdown

  6. Profile Photo
    Morningstar

    Journeyman

    Total Posts: 95

    Altmer Templar

    ESOTR

    good article, anyone know if the glowing red around enemy’s can be turned off? I know it’s helpful but it’s not really something thats going to help my Emersion…

  7. Member Avatar
    Malakye

    Apprentice

    Total Posts: 44

    Imperial Dragonknight

    @Isarii

    While I understand that the Zenimax Online team only had 30 minutes to show off for this presentation, they really are lucky to have you following their product and breaking things down for their game.

    For those that may not have been following the development as close as others, their presentation skills can often leave much to be desired and I find myself having a hard time defending the potential of the product to them, until I send them to something you’ve written up in such an illustrious fashion.

    Well done.

  8. Profile Photo
    Karma

    Journeyman

    Total Posts: 68

    Orc Dragonknight

    Tamriel’s Finest

    the game play was awesome, i had to look it up on youtube because i missed the live show!

    Tamriel’s Finest, the guild for real hero’s and kings!

    Join us today!

  9. Profile Photo
    trippe

    Adept

    Total Posts: 161

    Dunmer Dragonknight

    Thanks for this

  10. Profile Photo
    Zanthor Titanius

    Journeyman

    Total Posts: 74

    Argonian Sorcerer

    The Ruby Brotherband

    combat looks reactive, smart, and anti-spamming. this will make players think in order to fight effectively

  11. Profile Photo
    glak

    Hero

    Total Posts: 2913

    Breton Templar

    Tamriel Trading House NA

    Much appreciated this breakdown.

    Morningstar said on August 3, 2013 :

    good article, anyone know if the glowing red around enemy’s can be turned off? I know it’s helpful but it’s not really something thats going to help my Emersion…

    Yes, the visual combat indicators can be turned off.

  12. Profile Photo
    Isarii

    Moderator

    Total Posts: 3930

    Breton Templar

    Malakye said on August 3, 2013 :

    While I understand that the Zenimax Online team only had 30 minutes to show off for this presentation, they really are lucky to have you following their product and breaking things down for their game.

    For those that may not have been following the development as close as others, their presentation skills can often leave much to be desired and I find myself having a hard time defending the potential of the product to them, until I send them to something you’ve written up in such an illustrious fashion.

    Well done.

    Thanks for the descriptive feedback.  This comment made me feel like I’d done good the most.

    Zanthor-Titanius said on August 3, 2013 :

    combat looks reactive, smart, and anti-spamming. this will make players think in order to fight effectively

    Your reaction is the opposite of what people were thinking when just watching the footage without explanation.  Good!  My job here is done.

    glak said on August 3, 2013 :

    Yes, the visual combat indicators can be turned off.

    I don’t think this is correct.

  13. Profile Photo
    Iormungandr

    Adept

    Total Posts: 218

    Altmer Templar

    Emberguard Protectorate

    Isarii said on August 3, 2013 :

    glak said on August 3, 2013:

    Yes, the visual combat indicators can be turned off.

    I don’t think this is correct.

    Are you sure, Isarii? That seems like exactly the thing that would have some sort of option connected to it.

     

    Transcendant Wizard of the Emberguard Protectorate. I advise the group on all political, military, and magical matters. Looking for Aldmeri Dominion Roleplayers to join..

    [

     ”Great men are forged in fire. It is the privilege of lesser men to light the flame.”

  14. Profile Photo
    We know

    Novice

    Total Posts: 24

    Argonian Templar

    I don’t know what you talking about spamming combat, but what I saw here is pure spamming with huge addings of hardlock ability (these holyballs missiles). All this combat so called “features” like synergy and “Pack behavior” exist in all games I saw, currently exists in Allods Online (the game of rank much lower that ESO, much older). As for me, combat looking like LMB, LMB, LMB, smth from 1-5, LMB, time to move one step to the left. Such powerfull attacks of monsters, blue rings on floor, and other new features are old as world of MMO itself. Only “new” thing they add is this LMB attack. This discussion looks like “ohh iPhone5, these is iPhone5″. This is still just a phone, calm down.

    PS: jsut imagine that LMB attack is just a spell along with block and so and you will not find any difference with other MMORPG. And that stamina bar is another type of coldown restriction. Think outside the box.

    http://hatredforeveryone.blogspot.ru/ my blog

  15. Profile Photo
    Frindis

    Adept

    Total Posts: 161

    Dunmer

    Vokundein

    Interesting read indeed:)

    Frindis, Freeman of Vokundein

  16. Profile Photo
    GhostSlayer

    Journeyman

    Total Posts: 64

    Nord Dragonknight

    Thanks for this!

  17. Profile Photo
    Deftknight

    Expert

    Total Posts: 487

    Imperial Nightblade

    The Gaiscioch Family

    Great rundown @Isarii thank you. 2 point though:

    1. Stealthing only costs Stamina when you move, you can stand still in Stealth at no cost (or so it appeared from Konkle’s solo stuff).
    2. Interrupts aren’t melee only, but depend on what weapon you’re using. Konkle was prompted to interrupt a caster whilst wielding his bow at 13:20 (during the fight against Tazkad the Packmaster). I looks like that if you have a ranged weapon then you also have a ranged interrupt.

    schnoffle said on August 3, 2013 :

    I believe they have said in the past that dual wield will involve just the left mouse and will alternate weapons unless using certain weapon skills

    I’ve never seen/heard this. Dual-wielding will follow the same ‘left click to attack, hold right click to block’ as all other weapon types.

  18. Profile Photo
    Marnnex

    Apprentice

    Total Posts: 43

    Nord Dragonknight

    Thanks for the breakdown Isarii.

    This made more things clear which they didn’t discuss in the gameplayand which some of us expected would be discussed. That’s why sometjought the gameplay didn’t show much, including me. But no, they just didn’t pay attention to the video but what he was saying.

    Another thing is that a lot of people come from previous TES games and have already become familiar with a lot of things in their games. This may be more exciting and new to those who didn’t.

    I am very excited to see more of theese gameplays, and to get my hands on any type of new info on the game.

    Thanks again Isarii for revealing things many of us have not noticed.

     

     

    All of us now belong to Tamriel because of our history, and because of our history we claim the land is ours; but Tamriel belongs to no one of us. The true owners are burried deep in history, and may never be revealed.

    But this is a game so they probably will.

    Now we can only fight for who has more rights.

    ———

    EU, PC, PvE & PvP

     

  19. Profile Photo
    Marnnex

    Apprentice

    Total Posts: 43

    Nord Dragonknight

    And about the dual wielding..

    If its LMB for attack and RMB for block, will we be able to equip a weapon in one hand and a fireball in the other? or just anything not of the same type, like a staff and a sword, and to be able to use them separately?

    It would be nice if you could toggle between ‘L/R mode’ and ‘attack/block mode’.

     

     

     

     

    All of us now belong to Tamriel because of our history, and because of our history we claim the land is ours; but Tamriel belongs to no one of us. The true owners are burried deep in history, and may never be revealed.

    But this is a game so they probably will.

    Now we can only fight for who has more rights.

    ———

    EU, PC, PvE & PvP

     

  20. Profile Photo
    Deftknight

    Expert

    Total Posts: 487

    Imperial Nightblade

    The Gaiscioch Family

    Marnnex said on August 4, 2013 :

    And about the dual wielding..

    If its LMB for attack and RMB for block, will we be able to equip a weapon in one hand and a fireball in the other? or just anything not of the same type, like a staff and a sword, and to be able to use them separately?

    It would be nice if you could toggle between ‘L/R mode’ and ‘attack/block mode’.

    You do not equip spells – they are cast from the hotbar (i.e. pressing numbers 1-6 will cast spells/active skills, while the mouse is only used for mundane weapon attacks/blocks/interrupts etc.) – the only equipment you’ll hold in your hands will be your weapon(s)/shield. Staves are 2-handed only so a staff/sword combo is not possible, but any combination of 1-handed weapons is available.

    I really recommend anyone on Tamriel Foundry to take a look this: http://tamrielfoundry.com/development-faq/ (particularly the Gameplay tab). It is a fantastic resource and a big thanks to everyone who’s had a hand in compiling and updating it.

Comment On: “Quakecon Video Dissection: Reactive Combat”

You are not currently logged in. You must log in before commenting.