All About Combat in Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen
Slowing things down
Combat in Pantheon will be built around a desire to change things up in the MMO space. Contemporary MMOs have become very fast paced and, for lack of a better term, spammy. While the combat is still reactionary in nature it tends to break down to focusing on your rotation while moving left or right. With Pantheon the desire is to shift things back to a slower paced combat where the frequency of ability execution is slower and your rotation is dictated more by your response to the encounter than just a sequence of abilities.
How will we accomplish this? By reaching into the past, and looking at games like EverQuest, Dark Age of Camelot, and Final Fantasy XI, and focusing on fewer abilities, and a slower pace of combat. In these games combat involved longer ability activation times, and refresh. They focused on the player or group reacting to cues from NPCs and environment and reacting through the use of ability or position. Current MMOs retain this mechanic but if you stop to watch and react you are not focused on your rotation that fills the in-between time. This results in a potential loss of DPS which ends up taking precedence over utilizing your utility abilities. The values of these abilities is then reduced because they end up just becoming a part of a rotation unless a particular encounter is designed around using them.
Abilities like stun, slow, snare, and root have lost their usefulness. In games like those mentioned previously these abilities were important to manage or execute at the right time. With Pantheon we want to bring some of that back while mixing in some current mechanics that exist in today’s MMOs.
One of the key things related to combat is preparation. Similar to the spell slots system from EQ the player is limited in how many abilities they can have available to them in combat. Abilities are stored in ability sets which carry with them certain parameters and limitations. For instance, abilities all have a color influence based on their magical school and adding an ability to a set may require an ability of a certain color before it can be slotted. When out of combat the player can swap abilities if they so desire. The strategic selection of abilities and creation of ability sets will be important when taking on bigger encounters as you explore Terminus.
Abilities in Pantheon are very special. Each ability was used by a powerful hero. These heroes are no longer around but their essence imbues the world of Terminus. When harnessed, these abilities can be used in many combinations with other abilities.There are two types of abilities regular and enhanced. Regular abilities are the common abilities that will be executed more frequently. Enhanced abilities must be powered up through the use of regular abilities.
Regular abilities are all defined with a color and power level, on top of what they do. The color represents the magical influence of the hero. Power level represents how powerful that ability is relative to other abilities.
Enhanced abilities are special abilities that require the activation of other abilities in their ability group. Each enhanced ability is linked to a group of abilities themed after a hero. Like regular abilities these abilities have a color influence and must follow the same slot rules as regular abilities. Enhanced abilities can only be activated when their growth bar has reached 100% or higher. At 100% the ability does normal damage, every 100% after that increases the damage of the ability by 100%. Super ability growth happens when an ability in the same ability group is used.
Skill Chains and Sympathetics
Skill chains are a series of super abilities executed in a particular order. These abilities are executed by multiple players. When a skill chain is completed an additional effect fires, this effect is called a sympathetic ability. There is only a certain window of time between each ability activation that the next qualifying one can be. If the player has discovered the chain their ability will light up if they have a qualifying ability letting them know they need to fire that ability next in order to take the chain to the next level.
Chain discovery occurs through experimentation. In order to discover they must try different combinations until they successfully complete the chain. When a chain is initially discovered it is entered into the tome of war. Only through practice can the player unlock the chain, fully gaining its biggest benefit.
Harnessing a Hero
While the player can combine abilities into various sets, true power comes from combining a number of abilities from the same heroes creating a special ability set called a Hero’s Essence.
A form of advanced ability set, hero essences can grow through use like other ability sets, but they have higher tiers and when advanced fully some of these essences will allow the player to take on the look of that hero granting them access to more paths of power.
With Pantheon we want to bring back class roles that involve more than just tank, healer and DPS. In EverQuest crowd control, utility, and debuffing were a major part of combat and so will it be in our world. This means that each class falls into a particular role but it does not mean that they do not have some basic attributes from other roles. Using EverQuest as an example, damage shields were the domain of druids and mages, enchanters owned the domain of mana regen and haste but a shaman could give you a less powerful haste if an enchanter was not available. Then there were bards who could do almost everything but nowhere near as well as the classes they were mimicking.
In general the classes of EverQuest kept their identities which made for varied memorable experiences as players took on challenges in different ways. It is these moments that have driven our class and combat designs. Here is a list of the roles that will exist in Pantheon.
Tank: Tanks are the defenders of their groups. When it comes to taking damage they do it like no other. If a group mate is in trouble, tanks are there to attract the attention of their foes with a timely shield bash or a quick snap of their blade. They care not for the glory of highest damage only that the members of their group survives long enough to tell the tale.
Healer: Feeling ill and need a pick me up? That is what a healer does. From buffing your health and curing a deadly disease to stitching up those 'flesh wounds' this role is the cog that keeps the group machine rolling through its enemies like a steam train.
DPS: Adept at dealing death, those classes that fit in the DPS role are revered for their ability to execute both burst and sustained damage. Not big fans of taking damage, DPS classes leave the job of tanking to the tanks so they can focus on what they do best...crush their enemies and you know the rest.
Utility: While tanks can take damage and healers can help recover that damage sometimes the situation can get out of control. When this happens you may need some crowd control, or maybe a haste buff or two, maybe someone can sing a merry tune. The utility role includes the classes that don’t care about doing big damage or making a mob angry at them, these classes enjoy managing the chaos that comes with a fight. They enjoy manipulating all of the variables that can affect the outcome of things, as if they were playing a grand piano. In this sense I guess you could say the utility class is the maestro of their group.
To sum it all up, Pantheon’s combat will be a slower paced strategic combat that incorporates some modern day ideals. Allowing the player to survey the battle will give them the ability to make tactical decisions bringing back the utility of ability effects like stun, snare, and root. It will focus on pre-combat preparation and ability, allowing the player to adjust the way they play depending on their mood or the challenge ahead. With depth through all aspects including the ability to slot growth, group leveling, and chain skills, players will have many ways to grow in power and exploit their targets.
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