The Ashes of Creation update for December is out and featured a look at the day/night cycle in the game and some group combat focused on the supporting cleric class. Watch the update below and read on for my thoughts.
The first thing I want to say is: combat didn't look great. Janky movement, attacks that seem to take player characters all over the place, and way-over-the-top sound (he did mess with his sound settings in the video so not sure if that was part of it or not). Effects do not fit the visual style of the rest of the world or what enemies are doing. I had more hope after the combat update but many this was a step back from that point.
The second thing I want to say is: everything not combat looked amazing. The world. The constellation system. The transition from day to night. Everything else is so damn amazing. It is so crazy to me how combat is where it is at but the rest of the game is where it is at.
Specific to what was shown off about the cleric it was a bit hard to follow as I think UI elements were missing to help understand the concept of "convictions". From the discussion it sounds like you build up convictions and that improves
There was also discussion of synergy between party members with a stagger mechanic that unlocked another player to be able to stun the targets. I replayed it a few times and not sure I could tell what stagger looked like or how you'd know they were staggered. Hopefully they improve this aspect as combat systems with poor feedback to the player, or overly expect a player to know a bunch of nuances, never work.
Another concern I had was that the group had to take a dedicated break to rest to regain mana. It sounds like with different set ups and higher levels there is regen but the fact there is resting needed is a bit worrying. In today's game market most games are moving as far away from downtime as possible. I like that the team talked about items like campfires that could improve the rest experience.
One really cool thing was how sometimes enemies pop up out of the ground. There really was a sense of an ambush at one point. This was very similar to the combat update where the rock monsters popped out of the environment.
The only worry I have with the spawn system is they may be overusing the "pop out of the ground" spawning system. I know Steven has said he wants to avoid the "enemies just standing around" model but if its just "enemies always pop out of the ground" model then is anything really different other than increased player frustration of not being able to trust the world around you? For the record the only two spawn types we've seen in updates is pop out of the ground and standing around.
One other thing I want to comment around combat is that I felt there was a lack of weight to the feeling of combat. When the party was fighting larger enemies I did not get a sense that the enemy was, in this case, a large rock enemy. It sort of stopped whenever a player was reached. I expected more chaos similar to the cave troll scene from Lord of the Rings movies, but got more of a Steven Seagal karate demonstration.
There were some UI elements; mainly health bars and a skills bar. They looked clean and hit the MMO standard, so not much to say about them.
Something I also caught during the video was the player mount staying around after dismounting. I really like the idea of mounts persisting after dismount. I hope this is something they are keeping.
Steven talked about diminishing returns regarding status conditions (slow, root, silence, etc). Glad to hear this as its an area that games miss on. No player likes to repeatedly lose agency (i.e. control) and diminishing returns are a great way to ensure someone doesn't end up in the dreaded stunlock. This is something New World has struggled with for example. Again, good to know its being tackled out of the gate.
Steven asked for feedback on if players wanted night to be complete darkness or whether they should reserve true dark for specific areas (like a cave encounter). I have fond memories of true dark nights before I knew about screen brightness, but in the modern gaming era it is too easy to cheat real dark out of it's effect. Thus my feedback is: no true dark, anywhere.
Also Steven asked about luminosity during open world gameplay. My feedback here is that the clearer it is the better. I dislike dreary area after dreary area. Let all areas be mostly clear during the daytime hours and minimize how often we have to deal with dreariness. Basically let me have Hobbiton as much as possible!
And I'll leave you with this last comment: boob armor.
Did you catch the boob armor? Either way go ahead and leave a comment.