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Combat In Oblivion: A Rebuttal to Penny Arcade
Game News - posted by Sol Invictus on Wed 25 May 2005, 22:36:23Tags: Bethesda Softworks; The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
Penny Arcade recently watched a demo of TES4: Oblivion in action and they had some fairly crappy things to say about the game's combat system:
[Combat] is my exact problem with Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, too. Understand that we're talking about a game whose prisons, homes, and forests might as well be real places, for all their visual fidelity. It's better than you hoped. The stone wall in the first room was so beautiful I thought I would cry, screenshots of the game are absolutely worthless as a means of conveying it. I liked Morrowind, as you might recall - I had a Tiger-Man in there I was quite fond of - but the combat is philosophically identical in Oblivion, which, you know, whatever. I doubt it's a problem for most people. What I'd hoped was for the conflict in Oblivion to make the same kind of leap that Tamriel itself had - more elaborate means of dodging, special tactics, timed attacks, parries, ripostes, etcetera. Richness. It's hardly going to make me leave it on the shelf, but I can see where the experience goes from here and I'd just like to go with it.
I felt a lot of dismay having read that, but it appears that Penny Arcade was just talking out of their ass. Here's just what MrSmileyFaceDude had to say at Duck & Cover in rebuttal to Penny Arcade's claim above that the combat in Oblivion was no different than that of Morrowind's.
They didn't play it. Combat in Morrowind had no variety and no strategy -- you just clicked as fast as you could. You COULD choose different attacks (slash, chop, or thrust) by pressing a directional key while you attacked, but that was pointless because there was always a "best" attack, and a checkbox in the options to always use that best attack.
In Oblivion, there are many attacks. You have standard attacks, where you click the attack button, and power attacks, where you hold the attack button. Power attacks do more damage, but take longer to perform and burn more fatigue. If you press a directional button while doing a power attack, you can select different power attacks. And you earn more attacks (plus perks like a chance to knockdown or disarm) as your skills get better. But the control scheme stays the same, so you don't have to do Soul Calibur like button combos to access them.
There are also more animations for the standard attacks, and you can string them together by pressing attack again while your character is following through after a strike. Plus, the animations are always appropriate for the type of weapon. No more thrust attack with a hammer, for example.
Blocking is now active -- you hold a button to block. And you can block with your weapon or even your hands (although neither is as effective as blocking with a shield). If you block a strike, your opponent's weapon may recoil, giving you an opportunity to attack.
You can also cast spells at any time. In Morrowind you had to "ready magic", which meant unequipping your weapon and raising your hands into the "casting position". In Oblivion you just press the casting button.
It all makes combat much more dynamic and adds a strategic element that simply wasn't there in Morrowind.
While you, the player, still control combat -- i.e. how you move around, whom you are targeting, when you attack, block & cast -- your level of success is still dependent upon your character's stats, as well as those of your opponent. It's a balance between player skills and character stats. It's more twitch than a pure turn-based game, but it's nowhere near as twitch as a first person shooter or fighting game.
The goal is to make combat more exciting, more involving, and have more depth than Morrowind's. I guess they didn't get that from the demo.
So there you have it. Penny Arcade didn't get that from the demo, they just pulled it out of their ass.