After two weekends with A Realm Reborn, Ragar gives his thoughts on the remade MMO
Combos and Cooldowns
Combat as a Gladiator in the early days starts off fairly simple. You begin the game with a single attack (Fast Blade). Once you hit level 2, you gain a new ability; Rampart, a Shield Wall-style survival cooldown. By the time I hit level 19, I only saw a couple of new attack powers (Savage Blade / Riot Blade / Shield Bash / Shield Lob), an AoE Taunt (Flash), and two more cooldowns (Fight or Flight / Convalescence), in addition to a variety of passive bonuses from Traits. Looking at a skill list, there are a few more attacks further down the road but quite a few more cooldowns. This seems strange for a hotkey MMO to be mostly cooldowns, but there is reason to the design.
The first reason being the slower pace of the combat: my GCD as a Gladiator was 2.5 seconds and I believe it was the same thing when I switched to Marauder later in the weekend. Since all of my attacks shared that same GCD, that left me with plenty of time during combat to fit in those various cooldowns. The second reason is for the physical classes only, it seems: the combo system. Most of your attacks as a DoW class can be chained in specific orders for bonus damage. You can use the attacks by themselves if you want, but you’re encouraged to use these combos and that’s another reason for the slower combat. As a Gladiator, once I’ve used Fast Blade, I have to choose to go Savage Blade next for the bonus enmity/threat or Riot Blade for the MP regen. If I went the Savage Blade route, I could follow that up with a Rage of Halone for a debuff on my target. While these seem like simple decisions early on (i.e. what gives me the most damage Potency for the least amount of TP usage), it gets more complicated once you start leveling other classes/jobs and mix in abilities from those. Sticking with the Gladiator example, that MP regen combo might not seem useful for a TP class, but unlocking the Paladin job would give me a selection of abilities that meshed well with a Gladiator’s techniques but used MP. Endgame jobs aren’t the only way these situations might show up – it could behoove any class to get a few levels in Conjurer and pick up Cure, but then you have to fit that in between your other attacks as well as budgeting your TP and MP.
That brings me to the third reason: limited resources. The game itself is built around players being a bit more deliberate with their attacks and abilities and the resource system lines up with that. Sure you could dump all of your TP into your max Potency combos, but that pool only refills so fast. What if you need some MP regen for a heal later? What if there’s an aggro drop or your Archer decides to unload all of his cooldowns and steal enmity from you while tanking? This isn’t the first time a game’s encouraged players to pay attention to their resources, but it feels like it works fairly well with the slower pace of the combat.
With all of that being said, the combat system isn’t for everyone. If you’re looking for more action-based combat a la TERA, Neverwinter, or WildStar, then ARR probably isn’t for you. While there is movement during combat as well as positional attacks you can avoid, this is a lot closer to a WoW or a Rift than it is an action MMO. Personally I enjoy the combat, though I would like to see a few additional attack options for base classes in addition to the cooldowns and combo choices.