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
    Bromjunaar

    Master

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    Nord Dragonknight

    Blood Of The North

    Switchb1ade5 said on August 4, 2013 :

    Oh and who let the troll out?

    TROLL IN THE DUNGEON!!!

     

    Thought you ought to know.

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    kequilla

    Expert

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    Redguard Sorcerer

    On synergies, I noticed that you use 1 button to activate them. I think it requires the highlighted target to have a certain condition, or possibly be affected by an aoe. Depending on the effect, the person using the synergy can do a different attack. Weapon choice will likely have an effect on what synergies will be used; it is possible class will have an effect on available synergies as well.

    A fair bit of speculation, but I like writing out my thoughts

    I’m the guy who’ll probably fly under the radar, off the radar, then straight into some  guys face.

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    Lord Dormak

    Apprentice

    Total Posts: 32

    Breton Templar

    Knights of the Eight

    Anyone else think that arrow storm was a bit too much? I mean I could understand Fireballs since they are magic, but arrows? Idk it just didn’t fit with me.

  4. Profile Photo
    kequilla

    Expert

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    Redguard Sorcerer

    Lord-Dormak said on August 4, 2013 :

    Anyone else think that arrow storm was a bit too much? I mean I could understand Fireballs since they are magic, but arrows? Idk it just didn’t fit with me.

     

    Arrow storms are standard fare for a lot of games; most realistic when its an army firing them. Otherwise I agree, it feels more like a supernatural ability, than a natural ability.

     

    I’m the guy who’ll probably fly under the radar, off the radar, then straight into some  guys face.

  5. Member Avatar
    Druidik

    Scamp

    Total Posts: 3

    Thanks for putting in the time to do this! You’re work is great as always!

  6. Profile Photo
    Matwok

    Journeyman

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    Khajiit Dragonknight

    Va Khaj Dar

    We-know said on August 4, 2013 :

    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.

     

    I really can’t see how you think that stamina is just “another type of cooldown restriction”. Stamina instead of cooldowns on various skills make for a much more different approach to combat, with a ton of decision-making.

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    We know

    Novice

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    Argonian Templar

    Matwok said on August 5, 2013 :

    We-know said on August 4, 2013:

    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.

    I really can’t see how you think that stamina is just “another type of cooldown restriction”. Stamina instead of cooldowns on various skills make for a much more different approach to combat, with a ton of decision-making.

    Let me not agree. For damage-effective combat in game exists some set of spells, so called “combo”. To perform such a combo you need to have certain amount of stamina. So if during combat you will run out of stamina, you forced to wait for regen despite the fact that you haven’t cooldowns.

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

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    Matwok

    Journeyman

    Total Posts: 57

    Khajiit Dragonknight

    Va Khaj Dar

    I can see that you have to wait if you use up all of your stamina, of course, but I don’t see the comparison to cooldowns per say. I have the same feeling about cooldowns as I have about the “invisible barrier” you see in some games – it feels like an artificial restriction, in stead of a dynamic a more realistic approach to the matter.
    It would be stupid to be able to spam away with abilities, and therefore there’s stamina/mana and what not – but the way it works is, in my opinion, milestones away from even resembling cooldowns – artificial contra dynamic and “realistic”.

    It’s like if you run in real life, it’s not like you are stopped by an invisible barrier after sprinting X-distance and that you have you stand still and wait – however the resource-structure (stamina, mana) depicts a situation better described as a real run – you run until either you CHOOSE to stop or until you’re exhausted and HAVE to wait until you’ve gathered strenght..

    Am I too far away or what ? – because I see this as a perfectly good explanation.

  9. Profile Photo
    We know

    Novice

    Total Posts: 24

    Argonian Templar

    Matwok said on August 5, 2013 :

    I can see that you have to wait if you use up all of your stamina, of course, but I don’t see the comparison to cooldowns per say. I have the same feeling about cooldowns as I have about the “invisible barrier” you see in some games – it feels like an artificial restriction, in stead of a dynamic a more realistic approach to the matter.
    It would be stupid to be able to spam away with abilities, and therefore there’s stamina/mana and what not – but the way it works is, in my opinion, milestones away from even resembling cooldowns – artificial contra dynamic and “realistic”.

    It’s like if you run in real life, it’s not like you are stopped by an invisible barrier after sprinting X-distance and that you have you stand still and wait – however the resource-structure (stamina, mana) depicts a situation better described as a real run – you run until either you CHOOSE to stop or until you’re exhausted and HAVE to wait until you’ve gathered strenght..

    Am I too far away or what ? – because I see this as a perfectly good explanation.

    Than they must put another resources in game because as caster I can tired of spelling magic words and so they put cooldowns to emulate my tiredness. I still want to know how potions of regeneration will work because in all games cooldown made to not allow players spam with most powerful spells. I’m afraid of situations when mage, wearing robe, hood, and all other staff with magica regen, and using mana potion can spam with superduper fire comet.

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

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    Lafayette

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    Khajiit

    Va Khaj Dar

    The spears looked pretty BD! :)

  11. Profile Photo
    LooHaa

    Adept

    Total Posts: 137

    Dunmer Sorcerer

    Most of these have been mentioned and talked about, but it’s nice to see them in action :)

    Respect creates friendships, Loyalty binds them. Hlaevi Family motto. 

  12. Profile Photo
    TheCelloGuy

    Adept

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    Altmer Templar

    The Poisoned Blade

    I love how quickly how you change to your secondary weapon so quickly and easily.

     

     

     

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    Kieslodarkmoon

    Novice

    Total Posts: 20

    Dunmer Nightblade

    I noticed and correct me if im wrong but the Magic and Archery attacks look like they where on a Auto-Aim system. Meaning that the player didnt move the curser over the mob to shoot. If i miss judge this please correct me cause this will kill the “Skyrim Attack System” with those weapons

    user posted image

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    Ziz

    Adept

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    Breton Dragonknight

    Great write up! Hopefully now that there has been a live demo we can get some good videos from ZOS

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    We know

    Novice

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    Argonian Templar

    Kieslodarkmoon said on August 5, 2013 :

    I noticed and correct me if im wrong but the Magic and Archery attacks look like they where on a Auto-Aim system. Meaning that the player didnt move the curser over the mob to shoot. If i miss judge this please correct me cause this will kill the “Skyrim Attack System” with those weapons

    called soft/hardlock, autoaim yes, jsut face the target

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

  16. Member Avatar
    Hwrath

    Master

    Total Posts: 785

    Ziz said on August 5, 2013 :

    Great write up! Hopefully now that there has been a live demo we can get some good videos from ZOS

    ZIZ! Please close your wings, I can’t read previous posts. Your wings are blocking them :P

  17. Profile Photo
    Kieslodarkmoon

    Novice

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    Dunmer Nightblade

    We-know said on August 5, 2013 :

    Kieslodarkmoon said on August 5, 2013:

    I noticed and correct me if im wrong but the Magic and Archery attacks look like they where on a Auto-Aim system. Meaning that the player didnt move the curser over the mob to shoot. If i miss judge this please correct me cause this will kill the “Skyrim Attack System” with those weapons

    called soft/hardlock, autoaim yes, jsut face the target

    The system is good but that takes the fun out of aim (maybe even splash damage)

     

    user posted image

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    Nelfaeur

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    Altmer Sorcerer

    Amazing breakdown thanks!

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    glak

    Hero

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    Breton Templar

    Grimalkin said on August 5, 2013 :

    Ziz said on August 5, 2013:

    Great write up! Hopefully now that there has been a live demo we can get some good videos from ZOS

    ZIZ! Please close your wings, I can’t read previous posts. Your wings are blocking them

    The neon green burns my eyes just like the he sun :D Getting dizzy…

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    Arya

    Journeyman

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    Dunmer Dragonknight

    Entropy Rising

    awesome write up! really organizes the main aspects of the video

    http://atropos.objects.dreamhost.com/arya-signature.jpg

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