GW2 Combat

I keep changing my mind over what I like most in GW2.  This morning it was the combat that really captured my interest.  I made a quick video showing off a newbie Warrior’s attacks.  You’ll see in the video that GW2 has a very traditional “Lock on” and hotkey combat system.  While still not quite at WoW’s level of polish in terms of ‘feel’, since there are times when combat feels clunky, ArenaNet has definitely created a good looking visual experience.  Auto attacks with weapons aren’t simple swings — in the video you’ll notice my mace auto attack looked very stylish. It also ‘feels’ like I’m connecting with my opponent because of the camera shake and proximity of weapon swings.

Combat abilities themselves are very different from weapon to weapon.  I use a 2handed hammer in the video and crack the ground, jump in the air to stun, knock opponents back with a mighty smash, and send out shockwave attacks that make me feel like a tough son of a Norn.

I love weapon swapping.  I can use a Greatsword for one weapon which has a great distance closer then switch to another weapon when I’m in melee range to begin slicing people up.  This entire system is made possible by combat abilities being tied to weapons.   It takes only ~20 minutes to gain all of your abilities with a weapon, which may need to change since it almost feels like you should just get them right away.

Two aspects of GW2 combat have me on edge.  First, you can always move while using any abilities — at least those that I have tried.  Auto attacking, spell casting, channeling, etc., can all be done while moving which makes combat much quicker and requires you to actively dodge.  This puts melee characters at a disadvantage since there is never a since not to kite people.  Second, GW2 combat is extremely AOE centric.  In WvW it’s nothing but massive AOE attacks with dozens of circles on the ground indicating that you’re going to be affected by some sort of AOE.  More on this to come in a post I’ll publish tomorrow.

As I mentioned earlier, combat can feel clunky.  I notice this most in PvP when latency vs. moving targets becomes an issue.  Abilities not firing or connecting with my enemy when on my screen he’s in range give the system a ‘wonky’ feel.  I would like to see those issues fixed before launch.

  • I agree the combat is going to need a little tweeking around the edges to sort out the rough spots.

    That said, I too LOVE the weapon swapping option.
    The ability to dynamically and fundamentally change tactics on the fly is a HUGE bonus to the game play.

    My biggest concern is the small, but vocal crowd who are used to only using a single weapon.

    I saw a comment from a guy who said he’d leveled his ranger up to 15 with only bow skills. He never bothered to use any other weapon and was complaining about how “dull” the game felt witch such a small selection of skills.

  • I think it is a mistake though if they aren’t going to make things viable for people who want to specialize.

    Some people hate hammers or maces or what not and would prefer to just stick to sword or axe, for example.

    Also, yet another game that screws melee by letting everyone else so easily juke and kite? GAHHHH.

    Did nobody play DAoC and see how brilliant /stick was?

  • Although there is a lot of AOE floating around, it doesn’t really kill people. It’s much better to focus spikes, very much as it was in GW1 PvP. That does mean organised groups on TS/Ventrilo are likely to have a big advantage.

  • @Michael – Yeah, see this is what I think ArenaNet is going to struggle with. Weapons in this game are purely physical representations of the skills linked to them and certain effects. e.g. 2-handed weapons are AoE and Bows/Guns etc are ranged.

    The second someone start thinking “But but, I LOVE great swords!!! They look so cool!”, they’ve completely missed the point.

    GW2 isn’t that kind of game. In the end, you may settle on a core “build”, but understand that GW2 is going to reward flexibility and adaptability over specialisation. If you over specialise, you’re going to be inefficient.

    Yes, that’s a complete 180 compared to other MMO’s, but I actually think that’s a selling point rather than a flaw.

  • I liked you can hit press your attack button and still hit mobs without targeting them. I’m not sure if that qualifies as traditional “lock on”. If you use a greatsword, your attack will hit all enemies within the weapon swing. I really enjoyed that too. But yeah, latency has a big part to play in the combat

  • @Arti – Yes, ranged classes “auto-target”, but anything that uses a projectile can still “miss” if you lose sight of the mob, or they dodge at the right moment.

    Melee classes using single target weapons (e.g Axe, 1-handed Sword) struggle to line up targets.

  • cant it be tricky to dodge things and using abilities at the same time?

    I have not played the game, but it just came to mind.

  • I am slightly concerned about gw2s bugginess and the lack of what seems to be beta. They have tons of beta weekends, but i have not seen a beta in the traditional sense, where the game stays live with thousands of players for weeks and months on end. Also I have only played wow on trials but i was never blown away but the smoothness of the combat.

  • Well, you can’t “always” move during combat.

    As a warrior for instance, with the greatsword the second ability (the dice and slice with big hit at the end) requires you to be static, if you move is cancels the “channeling”. This needs to be change in my opinion, as it only reinforces the supremacy of ranged classes.

  • I think it was a long video-review by Total Biscuit that I watched on youtube, where he plays a thief in a dungeon group and comments quite a bit on how he is disadvantaged in many encounters as a melee. as a consequence, he started using his ranged thief attack, simply because it was superior on many occasions; not exactly optimal though if you’re looking forward to play melee.

    this is something they must definitely fix, although it might prove tricky. GW2 IS a lot about AoE and good/bad “circles on the ground” right now.

  • Melee is nearly allways at disadvantage in Dungeons/raids. The boss allways AOE’s, Cleaves, and other stuff. They cant see very much, depending on how big the boss is, and stuff like that.

  • I love the weapon switches and the myriad of kits that you can specialize into.

    I was very happy with the combat as I played ranged toons, but at least in PvE it seemed too easy to just walk backwards and effectively kite NPC’s; I wonder if it will be similar against melee classes in PvP? By just walking backwards melee NPC’s would gt a hit in once in a while as I continuously pewed away at them.

  • Kiting melees is quite simple in WvW. Most people are still getting used to all of their abilities. If you go against someone who is not properly equipped to close the distance, you can kite them forever. Some classes, like Guardians, are even easier since they lack a basic distance closer.

  • Guardians have (at least) leap of faith (2H sword) which is basically a charge.

  • I did not try that out, but if it’s like the Warrior’s 1-hand leap it doesn’t close the distance all too well. Warrior 1h leap basically throws you forward, but you’re stuck in place just long enough to negate the purpose of closing the gap. There isn’t enough time to use the 1h slow.

    You’ll have to let me know how the Guardian 2h leap works. My friends playing Guardians were struggling without a closer yesterday.

  • @C3PO: I didn’t find it difficult to use dodge and abilities together as they don’t share the same key bindings. I quick double tap on the movement keys is a dodge in that direction. I think it is one of the many little details that adds so much variety to this game.

  • @Keen: I may b wrong, but I thought the engineer shield charging/magnetizing abilities need to be stationary during the “charging” period.

  • @Gankatron: That may be true. Some abilities may require you to be stationary, but the vast majority are usable while moving.

  • The one thing I loved about GW2 is that the “lock-on” classic MMO style is there… but it’s completely optional. You can play it just like one would play TERA for instance, just targeting whatever is highlighted on the middle of the screen (but without the annoying targeting reticule).

    There is an option to lock into a highlighted target as soon as you use any skill on it, but I found the game to be much more engaging to leave targets just highlighted so you can easily switch targets without needing to click on any mobs mid-combat. And that still leaves you the option to click/tab select a specific mob if you want to focus fire there. It’s the best of both worlds.

  • Looking at classes like the Engineer I am starting to feel sympathy for melee classes that need to close a gap with utilities such as slick shoes, rocket boots, personal battering ram, net turrets, mine kits, as well as net gun, on top of general dodge evasion jumps (

    On the other hand I can’t help but feel this is my karmic reward as a ranged player after suffering through a Demonologist in AoC at launch…

  • I think part of the problem is people just not being familiar with the traits/skills that are optimal for PVP.

    I think after a couple of more Beta events (when they sort out the frame rate issues), we’ll see an improvement in Melee.

    They’re already doing more damage up close than both ranged and AoE attacks.. Throw in a little passive damage resistance and they could be beast.

  • There’s no such thing as melee or ranged characters. Both options are viable.

    I did struggle with my mesmer more when I equipped a sword but I have less experience with melee. Toggling auto-run toward mobs might be a fix, but I suppose it could be problematic when switching from a melee weapon to a ranged weapon. Or maybe the option suggests and I just didn’t notice it when adjusting other settings. That said, I still had to dodge and move with ranged weapons, and it’s not always easy to maintain range in GW2. I judge the game less by the big zergs that will taper off after release and more by the more average size groups and soloing. And it’s quite an adjustment from playing ranged in other games where you really could stand still unless you had to step out of AoE. Teleports and casting AoE spells is more challenging as well since it has to be targeted vs. automatic. It gives you greater control but requires more work.

    Some aspects were definitely buggy, but I otherwise like the more active, dynamic combat. The freedom of movement is a great thing as a former stand, cast, cast, cast, move out of AoE, stand, cast, cast caster but it takes some getting used to. We’ll all have to adapt regardless of preferred play style.

  • Exists, not suggests. Also, I meant to add that I wish most skills couldn’t be cast without an enemy targeted. I blew my cooldowns a lot because of that, especially before I noticed.

    wufiavelli, there is a closed beta going on all the time. I don’t know how large it is but the bigger open betas aren’t really useful as anything but stress testing as many players treat it more like a trial. I know a lot of people were requesting keys to find out if they liked the game (based on an unfinished product.) I’ve never been in a beta before but it was a lot smoother than I expected based on other people’s experiences in other betas, and my own experience when new content dropped in released games. I don’t share some people’s confidence that it will be out 2nd quarter, but looking good for 3rd, I think.

  • Post about Melee/Ranged combat on the official forums, from a developer:

    Hey all. I wanted to talk about this a bit since it is a hot topic here and also on the internets. The intention is that both styles are viable. Certainly right now Melee is more difficult than ranged. There are some things we will try to do to address this, but I think the more you play you would find they are closer than you think.

    First what’s already there:
    1) Melee does more damage. Melee damage is simply higher than ranged damage across the board.
    2) Melee has more control. With a few intentional exception Melee has a lot more control than ranged.

    What Melee needs:
    1) defensive tools on more weapons, particularly on lower armor professions.
    2) ai needs to favor Melee a bit less than it currently does.

    What else:
    Finally because of the more action based nature of combat Melee needs to be taught better. Effective Melee requires skills that translate over from FPS games which are notoriously harder on casual players. You have to wasd to move, constantly aim with your mouse camera, and hit skills on 1-5.

    Some tips:
    If you have learned any good Melee tips that you think we should pass on to newer players feel free to post them here. I’ll start with a few tips of my own.

    – If you don’t have mouse look on when using a skill you will turn to face. I sometimes let go of mouse look as I activate to help me aim through the chaos and then click it back down in between attacks.

    – Melee has a lot of hard hitting skills and good setup. Utility skills Can really help set up big Melee attacks. Bulls charge on warrior, scorpion wire on thief, judges intervention on guardian.

    – know when to run. No matter what you are not a tank. You have to move in and out avoiding damage. If you have to soak damage try and bring boons like Protection and Regeneration or conditions like Blindness and the very undervalued Weakness.

    Thanks for reading this all. Rest assured we will keep working on this and just keep in mind the subtle differences in GW2 combat that take a while to sink in.


  • Thanks Mero! I plan test out their theories on the next charging melee player I meet in game, pew pew!

  • Sorry, but you picked the wrong class/weapon if you got to the conclusion that combat is lock on mostly.
    With a warrior using long bow and big sword, many of my abilities required me positioning and aiming. Even when it was a single skill like with the sword’s moving swirl (or something), I won more often when I knew how to aim it well. Bow had 2 of those.
    Anyway, combat was lots of fun.