I’m sure many people watched and examined the mounted combat video that Turbine posted yesterday. It featured some very brief footage of the Captain class on horseback. The video was not captured in-game, but was shot via a video camera pointed at a relatively small 4:3 monitor. At times we saw the screen directly and at others we saw it in long shot to accommodate the discussion between Rick “Sapience” Heaton and with Aaron “Rowan” Campbell. This was obviously intentional as I’m sure that Turbine do not want to give away too much information about mounted combat too soon. It is after all a major selling point and one that fans have desired for a long time.
As you would expects the reaction so far on several forums and popular blogs has been mixed. However I think it best to concern ourselves at present with what we have seen, rather than what we did not. So I have tried to distil what I think are the most important points that came out of this presentation. As I have stated in the past, I am not the most technical player and therefore may not be the best person to assess the video. Therefore feel free to add any additional data that I may have omitted, by leaving a comment.
Firstly, it would appear that mounted combat will be governed by three stances that the player has to choose from. Each of the stances is weighted towards a specific skill-set.
- Red Dawn: Aggressive role, with emphasis on DPS.
- Riddermark: Utility and control.
- Rohirrim: Defensive, healing and survivability.
In the video we see a Captain using the Riddermark stance. We do not get to see the specific skills he is using as that data is off screen.
Now with regard to these stances, it would appear that any class can chose one from the three. Whether you can learn all three and interchange them, is at present unclear. This raises alsorts of questions. For example should a DPS class always favour a DPS stance. Would interchangeability of stances make it easier to group and allocate roles irrespective of class? Details such as this await clarification.
Moving on to the video footage itself, the framing of the shots and the way the video was taken, meant that the picture quality was relatively poor and some important data was missing from the screen, as my screen captures demonstrate. We saw footage of a Captain on horse back attacking a warg. This was shown in close up. As a skill was inducted it added power to an on screen meter, unlocking a more powerful attack. This is a mechanic used by several classes within LOTRO. Combat seemed to involve making several passes at the enemy until suitable skills could be utilised to defeat the foe. The actual kill took place in longshot. We then saw a second attack against an Uruk Shamen which ended in the Captain being unhorsed and defeated.
Here are some observations I made of the process:
- Some of the attacks where not made in close proximity to the enemy. We saw the Captain swing his sword and possibly shout, but often away from the target. Similarly the war-steed rearing up was done at a range. Perhaps this is an AoE attack.
- When in mounted combat the traditional skills bar is replaced. The video showed just a single skills bar for mounted attacks.
- Aaaron Campbell talked the viewer through how he had placed a self heal on his Captain, placed a debuff on the target, set up a charge attack, which lead to the target being dismounted and killed. So it would seem that a strategy is required as well as possible chain attacks.
- The combat process is fast and fluid. This is the opposite of the more static approach of the existing game.
- If a player is defeated, their steed collapses. Whether it is the process of being unhorsed that leads to your defeat, or whether you can still continue combat on foot is unclear. As is whether you can re-summon your mount and continue combat.
As I stated earlier, the video was somewhat limited in what it showed and therefore I do not feel that I personally can make an definitive assessment on mounted combat or whether I will like it or not. It’s fluid nature may well be a stumbling block for some players. Those who play other games and are comfortable with twitch gaming may fair better. The pace of the combat certainly seems to justify why such a large landmass is required. I also think that limiting this aspect of the game to a designated region may be a wise move. Mounted combat may end up becoming an acquired taste and containing it means that those who do not like it may bypass it.
The video ultimately raises as many questions that it answers and I look forward to reading other websites analysis of this footage. Caution still needs to be exercised by both Turbine and LOTRO players to ensure that marketing hype and user expectations remain in balance.