Forge & Fury - December Alpha Update

15 December 2020

The land of Aeternum is a wild, mystical place with a never-ending tide of dangerous inhabitants. From vicious wildlife to undead pirates, massive monsters, or even your fellow adventurers, there’s almost always a reason to keep your weapon at the ready.

Want to go straight to our December release notes? Check 'em out.

Since play testers first arrived in New World, we’ve taken in a massive amount of feedback on our combat system. In an Alpha update released today, we made changes to combat that we’d like to talk about, and we’d like to share our larger vision moving forward. Below, we've got a high-level view of the player feedback we’ve received and our plans for addressing it.

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Our vision for combat

At the highest level, we have three design pillars for combat in New World:

Skill-based, action-oriented

We want to emphasize positioning, timing, and aiming in a fast and fluid combat setting that allows player skill to shine on the battlefield.

Visceral and high-impact

Attacks from both players and enemies should have a level of commitment and weight to them. Meaty attacks should have appropriate responses from characters which encourages active defense strategies in encounters.

Depth of system and builds

We want to encourage creativity within the system to find the build that is right for you and your particular playstyle. Our goal is to design and tune the system to reward a wide range of builds and strategies.

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Recent Changes

Player feedback is an important piece to helping us realize our vision for combat. While feedback varies based on perspective and preference, there are some major trends and themes to what we’ve been hearing from players. Below are some of the biggest points of feedback we have received as well as the steps we have either taken or will be taking to address them. 

  • Stunlock from light attack spam against either players or AI combatants isn’t fun. Back in October, we added a “free dodge roll” after being hit multiple times by enemies to combat attack spam stunlock. With today’s update, we’re further expanding on that by removing the ability for basic attacks, both heavy and light, to interrupt a combatant. In addition, we’re “chaining” attacks by allowing players to string 2-3 light attacks (depending on which weapon you’re using) together before the chain restarts after a short pause, which will add a bit more of a natural rhythm to basic combat.

  • Players want to use their abilities more (aka “Goodbye, Global Cooldown”). The topic of ability use and cooldowns is a source of passionate discussion among players because it defines so much of the feel of moment-to-moment gameplay. In our October Alpha update, we changed cooldowns to be separate for each individual weapon, rather than being shared across weapons. To go along with that, we also slightly sped up weapon switching. While we continue to monitor how this is affecting combat and iterate as needed. The feedback from our current Alpha Testers has been generally positive.

  • Weapon, block, and skill hit detection needed improvements. In an active, action-based combat system, the accuracy of hit detection is a huge deal and is one of the most difficult issues to address on a grand scale. We are constantly looking into improvements for hit detection and synchronization; some of those will be implemented in the near future, and we’ll keep striving to improve in this area.

  • Weapon balancing is crucial. While the Hatchet was far and away the worst offender during the Preview event, weapon balancing is always going to be at the forefront of mind when making changes to combat. As you may have seen in our previous updates, we have been making changes to the balance of weapons and skills, and we will continue to do so in the future. 

  • AI was able to interrupt players too frequently. While we want PvE encounters to feel challenging and have real threat. Too many enemies were too good at interrupting players, which could lead to combat feeling less fluid. In October, we introduced a cooldown reset if a skill gets interrupted and in the future we plan to implement more changes to the AI system as a whole to address the root of this issue.

  • Healing other players is surprisingly hard. In our November Alpha release, we introduced targeted healing to make the Life Staff easier to use when playing in a group. We are further improving the user experience for healing in today’s release, with even more tuning planned in the future.

  • Body blocking makes ranged damage inconsistent in group play. We want positioning and spacing to matter for combat. We currently don’t allow players to shoot through each other. However, we’ve recently introduced a dynamic scaling function for enemies. Elite and other high-profile targets are now easier to hit at range even when engaged in melee combat with other players.

  • Ability input needs to allow players to react to changing combat conditions. In action-based combat, being adaptable in an ever-changing situation is key, and some of the feedback we received suggested that our skill queueing system, as it existed previously, needed adjustment. As you fight, you are inputting actions. Those inputs are sorted into a queue (or buffer) that “remembers” what skill you want to start using next—in this way, you can queue one attack slightly before the previous one ends, which results in a more fluid feeling to combat. Today’s update includes a clean-up of input buffers, which should make ability use more consistent and allow players to better react to new developments on the field of battle. We’ll continue monitoring the situation and see what other changes may be necessary as time goes on.

Looking Ahead

We will continue to refine combat by adding a larger variety of weapons, fine-tuning abilities and skills, making adjustments to existing systems, and adding new systems to push the envelope even further. Be sure to check out the December Alpha release notes for a detailed breakdown of today’s changes. As we continue development, we’ll keep you updated on our social channels and website with future updates.