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Shadowrun Returns Kickstarter Update #79: Dragonfall Director's Cut Dev Diary #3: Combat Mechanics

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Shadowrun Returns Kickstarter Update #79: Dragonfall Director's Cut Dev Diary #3: Combat Mechanics

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Fri 5 September 2014, 13:05:15

Tags: Harebrained Schemes; Shadowrun Returns; Shadowrun: Dragonfall

In the third Shadowrun: Dragonfall Director's Cut dev diary Kickstarter update, lead designer Trevor King-Yost explains the changes that have been made to the original Dragonfall's combat mechanics. They're aimed at making the combat less opaque and more "cause and effect". Here's an excerpt from the update:

During development of the original Dragonfall expansion, we focused most of our time on the new campaign's story, missions and gameplay (though we did manage to squeeze in some time for new weapons and combat tweaks). This overall focus on content and story paid off, and the feedback we've received about Dragonfall’s narrative has been really great to hear.

But coming off of Dragonfall’s release, we knew we wanted to update the engine’s combat to try to address the things that started to bother us during development, and to respond to feedback we got from fans. So, the first thing we took a look at was the way that Cover behaved in the game, and the way that Critical Hits occurred.

If you’ve played Returns or Dragonfall before, you know it’s a bit of a “black box” when it comes to dealing damage. Your “specialization” skill (e.g. Pistols, Rifles) will increase your chance to do a critical hit (greater than 1.0x damage) and decrease your chance to get a “weak” hit, (0.5x damage). At the same time, the enemy’s Body and Armor would increase the likelihood of taking 0.5x damage, and decrease the chance for you to do a critical hit. Cover was also a factor in this black-box equation. Overall, it could just feel random when an enemy jumps out and hits you for double damage even though you’re behind solid cover.

So we decided to break this system down into something with more cause and effect. In the Director’s Cut, shooting through medium and heavy cover now reduce your critical hit % to 0 - you’ll always either do 1.0x damage or 0.5x damage. Shooting through Light Cover, you’ll always do 1.0x damage, no more or less. This goes for the enemy’s attacks as well of course, so using cover will become much more important for all involved. If you’re caught out in the open, or you are flanked, the chance to take critical damage is going to increase drastically - you’ll always take 1.0x or greater damage. If you want to dispatch enemies quickly - and safely - you’ll want to flank them, and attack them from behind cover.

An example of a flanking attack on an enemy in cover. Also note the addition of white armor pips above each character's health bar.

Due to this change, melee combat has more risk & reward than before. You’ll do critical damage much more often, since enemies are never in-cover from melee attacks, but you will want to be careful to not end your turn exposed to your foes. Of course, there are magical ways to add cover to an area, or protect yourself. In our internal testing we’ve found these changes to make the combat more tactical, fun, and dynamic. We’re looking forward to seeing what kind of combinations the community comes up with, too.


When we designed the combat system for Shadowrun Returns way back in 2012, we tried to convert the damage system from the Pen & Paper into a form that would work in the game. As I alluded to before, Armor along with Body would increase the likelihood of taking 0.5x damage, which we called “light” damage, where 1.0x damage was akin to “medium”, 1.5x “serious”, and 2.0x “deadly”. It was a tenuous connection, but we thought it worked well to keep the spirit of the tabletop, even though we moved to a numerical HP system instead of the 10 boxes of the Pen & Paper combat.

So what we have done with Armor, is again create a much more “cause and effect” based behavior. 1 point of Armor will reduce any incoming damage by 1. Stacking more and more armor on will protect you more and more from damage - that’s it.

Of course, now you’ll have to deal with the enemy’s armor, which before was an invisible stat behind the scenes. You’d probably notice during gameplay of the original Returns or Dragonfall that your Crit % would be lower on some enemies, higher on others. This was due to their body & Armor. Now, you’ll see exactly how much Armor an enemy has, so you can react to your opposition more tactically. If you come up against an enemy with 8 Armor, and your firearm only puts out 10 damage, you’re going to be plinking away at their HP for a long time unless you have a backup plan.
DT - it makes everything better. The Director's Cut will also have an armor penetration mechanic, improved AI, and of course the ability to equip your crew, all of which you can read about in the full update.

There are 14 comments on Shadowrun Returns Kickstarter Update #79: Dragonfall Director's Cut Dev Diary #3: Combat Mechanics

Blackthorne needs a kidney

TARGET: $5,000 USD

RAISED: $5,300.74 USD (106%)

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