The focus towards action combat in recent years has been rather welcome to me. I think part of the reason I was never that interested in the mmo’s of old was just how slow and clunky the combat appeared to be next to its single player cousin. I grew up on the button mashing twitch skills of older games and anything else just didn’t compare. Now that the genre is evolving I’m glad to be playing more of this style of combat in larger more connected worlds, with and against a wide range of people.
The one thing I’m not pleased about is the predominance of pixels clogging up my screen. It’s a noticeable trend toward brighter and flashier animations that sees to be harming gameplay. Many times recently I’ve been stuck in combat unable to see important cues about boss attacks, certain movement types… sometimes you can’t even see them as it’s just a jumble of effects. This is just too much, I want to be able to see what’s happening on screen, I want to see the world and characters not a plethora of pixels.
In PvP this is both frustrating and damaging to the experience. This is a time when you need to know the actions of your enemy, the slightest animations can make a difference between blocking, avoiding, or mitigating the damage but if the character models are obscured this becomes problematic. How can you expect the same level of strategic combat if you’re unable to react effectively. The overuse of effects is also why a lot of the large scale combat in recent times has been so lacking. You have to restrict how many players can been seen and interact to numbers that aren’t quite that epic any more and even then it can result in crippling server lag.
In a way I think this is a part in the considerable dumbing down of combat. It’s an obvious part of the experience now and developers seem to be focusing more and more on flashier effects, more than is needed to provide the necessary visual cues. I’m guessing they are aware of the situation as well since there is now less focus on being aware of the actual enemy models and more just focused on the unmistakable red glowing ground effects. There is really only so much you can do interns of strategy if your only tool is red rings of death.
In the older mmo’s I can see the need towards creating more effects in combat but they were paced much slower. They made the experience more interesting in a way and the cooldowns were a natural restriction with the amount of animations. It was a reasonable amount of pixel spam. Now with decreased cooldowns, weapon swapping and focus on action combat style the prevalence of pixels is more a nuisance and completely detracts from the experience.
Comparing this to the single player games, as combat has increased in pace the amount of over embellished actions has decreased. That makes sense. In recent times they have gone so far as to nearly remove the ui and any uncharacteristic effects so as to encourage immersion yet MMO’s, for some reason have gone the opposite direction in their development. A little bit of flash and effects is great during combat, it makes you feel more powerful and the spells and skills that much more amazing but it gets/ and has gotten to the point where it has.. become to much of a game and a game that’s trying desperately not to lose my attention.