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Calvar The Blade's picture
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Combat in most Assassin's Creed games has been largely unskillful and slow.

AC1 had difficult counter times, but generally wailing on one enemy untill someone attacked you and countering could kill 10 guards with minimum difficulty, helped by the fact that your health could recharge for every guard you killed. Having to wait for a counter slowed the combat down a lot. Having played through AC1 2.3 times, I can tell you that the combat was not as hard as it seemed. It was how tedious it was, and how easy it was to incite it that was the problem.

AC2 gave you an easier counter window, and made enemies attack more often and have different types. Only problem: they couldn't hit you while your countering animation was going off, so it looked kinda stupid and didn't affect anything.. Also disarming was added, and wailing on your target became even more effective.

Brotherhood added the execution system, increased counter windows, and made attacking a single target so effective that I actually beat a Brute with nothing but my fist's normal attack, within 3 seconds. Brotherhood took a step in the wrong direction, but in doing so got something right: combat should be fun. And tearing through guards, using your counter button to avoid being knocked out of your whirlwind of death, that's FUN. However, it made it too easy or unfun because of several things:

The counter button was basically made into a nuke.

All execution hits are one-hit kills (the reason why a similar system of flowing combat worked in Arkham asylum is because each guy you chained into would still be able to get up and fight you.)

The only viable weapon to use became the hidden blade, because it could counter everything, and it was an extremely easy counter besides. You were penalised for using the dagger against a group that had one Seeker in it.

Ezio's movements from target to target were a little... weird. if a guy is behind him, he doesn't change direction, just takes two hops backwards. This is a lithe, powerful ASSASSIN!

Before we even begin to speak of AC3 combat mechanics, we must have a design philosophy about them:

Combat should be fun.
Combat should have an element of danger.
Countering should be skill-based.
Executions should not be one-hit kills.
The Assassin should flow from target to target, not hop. It should never look like he's stopping combat to trigger an animation.
There should be a difficulty level for combat. (normal, easy.)

Now for the first one, Combat should be fun.

The movement during combat in AC has always been completely opposed to the out-of-combat movement. Why would an assassin slow down just to kill a few mooks? Your character should move desicively, enemies should be TRYING to surround him, and attack at once if they do! Movement should be streamlined, targeting should be improved, getting from one enemy to the next should be fun in itself.

During combat, Guards should be calling for help from rooftop guards, or trying to get their sidearms out (since we'll probably move forward in the future in AC3, I'd expect a lot of pistols of some kind) Your job as an Assassin should be to keep them supressed so they can't do these things. With grenades, by killing their highest ranking members one by one, by firing your gun to lower their morale, or simply by killing them really fast. Supression should go down quickly if not acted against immediately, if you enter combat without supressing, you have about 2.5 seconds to do so before guards get dangerous in a serious way. On easy, supression should go down quite slowly.
Oh, and by the way, rooftop guards that are right above a conflict should NOTICE AND SHOOT AT YOU. Guards on the street should comb the rooftops if a gunshot killed one of their brothers from above.

On normal, countering should have windows between AC2 and AC1. On easy, between AC2 and ACB. All that can be done to reduce button lag should be done.

Execution streaks should work only on medium armored guards, and be two hit kills. So you can either spend a few seconds fully killing one guy, or tag them all, keeping them supressed and kill them through a deadly ballet. Light armored guards should last one hit. Meds should be able to break your block. Heavy's should be danced around and dodged, then killed through dodging and attacking, or getting behind them when they swing their weapon, as well as breaking their block. Agile mediums should dodge executions, and be able to survive one counter, and break your block. (animations should have "damage frames", where if you counter and have to abort, the guard lives as long as you didn't already stab him. if the animation required two stabbings, he should just die slowly, with screams.)

Use your imagination for this one. The assassin has just killed his target and is entering his streak. how does he attack? with an all out leap that carries his blade straight through his target, and ending with him combat rolling over the body, using the momentum to pull his blade out. Stuff like that. (obviously don't let him stab guys through lest they're on their second hit, or have lost enough life to be killed in one hit. The assassin should always be moving, so that he cannot be surrounded, because an all out attack by all guards is unblockable.

Easy should include slightly reduced damage, increased countering windows, less intelligent guards. (eg not good at trying to surround you, takes longer to check a hide spot, longer before they'll attack you.)

So there. Got anything to add?

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To start with, well done for such an informed, excellent post. Combat is the most flawed part of the series by a long way.

Danger is the main thing, you should not be able to block, you have to dodge or counter and countering should be difficult so there is a balance between quick killing and taking damage. If you can block than every guard should be able to break your block.

I agree that kill streaks should stay but not kill instantly.

Getting surrounded has been irrelevant in previous games which is not right. Once behind you, enemies should attack and you take time to turn so need to be careful.

Difficulty modes are essential for AC3, I doubt we'll see them in revelations unfortunately.

Basically I agree with everything you say but think that it should have the option of being even more difficult, I've got bored of killing 141 guards in combat training without taking a hit...

oh and lmao at the counter being a nuke, true thouh Laughing out loud

previously massmurder.

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Ah, no ability to block! Good idea! So guards could break your counter! if that happens, there could be an animation for it, and during the animation you have to press high profile+(a) to dodge!

If there's a "more difficult" option, I really hope that they don't use that as an excuse to make normal more easy. Difficulty should translate to you having less health and suppression going down quicker, and if they have a super hard mode, they might think that normal needs to be easier. Maybe if it's only unlocked when you beat the game?

EDIT: Oh, you had an idea for there being a block as well. Yeah, if there is, every guard should block break.

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Can we bring quickstepping back? That tool allowed me to always be moving during combat so I wouldn't get surrounded. Plus it was just awesome full stop. I miss it so much...

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Quickstepping is there. Just double move the stick in whatever direction you want to go.

Ubi should have a more complete tutorial for combat moves, since they like to reassign them without telling us. : P

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Yeah you can still quickstep FLAE.
Didn't you know ? Tongue
Agree with you Calvar, Ubi could have made a better and more complete tutorial. Wink

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sorry but i thought that the kill streak in brotherhood was fun okay not 1 kill but those streaks made it kinda epic but unreal but serious i liked it i agree it must be changed but i think it fits ezio . altair was defensif but ezio was an attacker.

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They need to make it better. More like Arkham Asylum. Timed button presses while fighting not mashing the attack button. It's too erratic.

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Mashing the Attack button was only nessesary in Brotherhood because there was no clear indicator of the window in which you could press X to have the streak carry on. In Arkham asylum, the window is incredibly wide. Doing that might help a little bit, but it's not the most important thing.

It might be helpful for me to describe Brotherhood combat at it's most skillful. When using hidden blades, the only things you have to think about are hitting X, countering, and grab breaking. When fighting a lot of enemies, however, or even just four or five, this can be tricky to do flawlessly.

With a sword or dagger, however, the skill threshold goes up, simply because of spear and haleberd enemies. They cannot be countered with anything but the hidden blade. So, when you fight one, you must kick to lower their defenses, and use high profile+(A) to dodge their attacks, which doesn't delay for long enough to prevent you from spreading the chain on to them. So what this element means is that you're constantly on the lookout for people getting ready to grab you, or attack you, and once they have, you have to ask: "is this person counterable? or do I need to dodge?"

It may not seem like much, but at the speed that Brotherhood combat moves, it's a welcome mental excercise, compared to the pure timing of previous AC titles.

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O.K. It's official. The combat sucks - major-ass. It needs to be changed changed. So here's my suggestion:

Enemies don't have any "traditional health". Now what I mean by this is that in ACII, you see Ezio indiscriminately slash/hack/pound the crap out of enemies and you'll slowly start seeing their life bar diminish. What enemies will have will be called "blocks".

All guards have 2 "blocks" of health. Seekers have 3. Brutes and Elites have 4. Now Ezio has to enter a kill streak in order to take out one block. So picture this in your head - in combat, Ezio will start attacking a random guard. After 3 weak slashes, he takes out 1 block out of his health (instead of just killing him). Ezio will now enter in Kill Streak Mode, where he can zip across the ground to the next guard and attack him, taking out 1 block of his health (that guard still lives). The player can then make the decision of attacking him again (thereby killing him), or attack another guard.

Dual-wielding is still in this combat system I'm proposing, and you can even aim where your bullet/knife will fly through. That means that if some guard is backing away from the fight and preparing to load is gun/crossbow, the player can simply throw a knife/shoot a bullet at him, taking out one block of health from him.

If a guard makes the (unfortunate) decision of attacking you, you have 4 options: counter (taking out 1 block of his health), sweep kick him (stunning him in the ground for 4 seconds), dodge the attack (if timed correctly, he can attack his fellow guards), or counter-steal (grab all of his money, items, and disarm him at the same time). If any of these 4 options are pulled of successfully, then the Kill Streak Mode will continue, and Ezio will still keep attacking. Fail, and the flow is interrupted.

Now some of you may be wondering: wouldn't it be easier to just kill the guard instead of just taking out 1 block of his health? Well, this combat system is suppose to keep the combat flow speed, while at the same time increase the difficulty of combat nevertheless. This combat system I'm proposing will bear similarities to Batman's FreeFlow Combat System, and that's what I'm aiming for.

As for the weapons themselves, I want the ability to customize and add certain attributes to our weapons. Some attributes can be:
- poison
- small % of instant K.O.
- auto-steal money or items
- "shoots" away dirt from the ground, flicking sand in the guards' eyes

Comments?

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I think Vesferatu's idea would be great amounts of fun to play. The customization isn't particularly necessary for me but everything else that you said was very good. It would change up the combat system a little bit, enough to make it more fun.

At the same time, it doesn't change it WAY TOO MUCH, so it still feels like Assassin's Creed.
I'm sure there are other tweaks to Ezio's own health bar and number of hits he can take as well that could prove quite interesting but for right now those are some solid ideas up there.

Nice work. Smile

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I just took my AC:B for a spin and it's amazing how thouroughly shitty the combat is.

There's no strong attack (therefore no strong combo), there's no stepping in, no defense breaker (just that shitty kick in the knee, which is like an unconditional defense break), and of course no fluent one-hand grab and throw (it has a completely out-of-place nonsensical grab move). And that finishing chain is ridiculous.

It seems like the people who made the new combat system didn't really bother understanding the AC1 combat mechanics. They threw out all of the awesome, and substituted it with pure lameness that they could not have possibly be satisfied with, had they really delved into the subtle details of the original system. Angry

I read somewhere that AC3 was branched off from ACII. Which doesn't sound very promising. On the other hand, they say that all of the animations are new. I hope they didn't keep the moves either.

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Pretty much everywhere they say that the combat was rebuilt from the ground up.

And honestly, I found that the AC2 system of combat was basically a simplification of AC1's. And I liked that. There's a reason I try to avoid combat in AC1: the combat is dull. Not really challenging, just dull.

Brotherhood was fun when you didn't totally have the hang of things, but after you mastered it combat was kinda too easy. Revelations made enemies attack a bit faster and do a bit more damage, and they tweaked things so some enemies could take several gunshots/throwing knives, and Jannisaries could take counters. But once you figured that out all it really amounted to was an annoyance.

Long story short: combat has never been my favorite part of AC. If you read some of the recent interviews, things like attacks being based on what direction you're moving in, rather than a lock system, double counters on enemies, and an increased motivation to kill them all quickly (before they can shoot you with their rifles, which apparently pack more punch than the bow and arrow or guns in previous games) give me the idea that I might enjoy it more than ever before.

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Calvar The Blade wrote:
There's a reason I try to avoid combat in AC1: the combat is dull. Not really challenging, just dull.

Anyone who says this has clearly no idea of the capabilities the combat system in AC1 had.

Sorry if I'm being a dick, but it's true.

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I know that it has complexity, but it's really just not very interesting complexity, to me. Sorry, I should have emphasised that pretty much everything I was saying was just my opinion. I know all the details of how the combat works. I'm not stupid. I just have different preferences.

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The combat in AC1 was fun, but got repetitive after a while, especially with getting detected so much.

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AC1 combat is fun when you know how to be offensive. After that, defending and attacking becomes graceful and engaging.

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I feel like with any AC title, if you're playing it right, it becomes just as enjoyable as a killstreak in brotherhood. The thing is, that's not ridiculously enjoyable. AC1 had the highest skill gap, I thought, but that doesn't mean I had any more fun with it's combat. Sorry to be a pill, but that's the way I feel.

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We can all hold our own opinions, nothing wrong with that. I find the killstreak in Brotherhood VERY unappealing.

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I wonder exactly how different it will feel to play AC3 combat. I'm hoping with the removal of target locking it might feel a bit more controlled and kinetic. We'll see.

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I bet we'll get an updated version of the killstreak, but it'll probably handle differently like everything else in the game. I'm excited to see how it feels.

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Brotherhoods combat system is only good in the VR area because thats the only time where its actually challenging, taking on hundreds of guards at once.

But yeah AC1 combat gets boring once you figure out shock and awe, im my damascus save citizen video I show how to do it really well against pretty much any group of guards

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THat targetting system was probably the weakest part of any AC game to this date. Whenever Ezio locks onto someone, his battle stance makes him move much more slower. This is a huge inconvience because whenever a guard is at a huge distance away from me, I have to lock-off, jog near him, THEN turn my bloody target ON. Oh, and there was a good chance of me getting hit, or accidiently sheathing my weapon, or even falling for no apparent reason!

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From the sounds of it that's out. Same controls in and out of combat implies movement is the same, and they've mentioned how they always want Conner to be in motion.

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Hopefully, they'll take a leaf outta Rocksteady's book and impliment some form of FreeFlow combat, where Batman is always moving.

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Well that's what it sounds like, though it won't really be the same since one sucessful animation is a kill. I kinda hate the term "free-flow". It's more about the animation system than anything new with the gameplay. Not hatin', just statin'.

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I'm impressed with how much of my original post was implemented. I wonder if an AC dev ever read this topic?

I've seen a lot of kill animations being aborted and the guard surviving in recent videos, and the fact that certain enemies can't be killed unless you do specific actions on them is far more elegant than my solution.

I guess we won't be getting difficulty modes, but I'm impressed with the balance I've seen so far. New game+ is our only hope, but a far off one at that.

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Yeah hopefully enemies wont die from shock anymore when our animations are interrupted.

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If they have the same combat system in AC4 (or side sequel, whichever comes first), I hope they bring back some of the things from the previous games. Here are my ideas.

Instead of using Head button for ranged attacks you should hold down Armed hand , like in Brotherhood. I like how ranged weapons were linked with melee ones, except there should be an option to link any ranged weapon with any melee. This also frees up a button.

As for combat abilities:
Head Button in Combat
Head button : When being attacked, parry attack. Just like in AC3 except just press it, not hold down, and no slow motion effect. When parrying:
Armed hand : Counter attack.
Empty hand button : Throw
Legs button : Stun with a kick.
Head button : Disarm.
When not being attacked, Head button will taunt (wave weapon around and say random phrase).

Empty Hand Button in Combat
Empty hand button : Grab for human shield. Human shield will be like in Splinter Cell Conviction. You use the character to ward off attacks, both ranged and melee. Enemies won't try to attack with the character in between you and them, but they'll try to go around. Options while using a person as a shield:
Empty hand button : Throw.
Legs button : Quick release.
Armed hand : Attack enemies. You'll be able to do this by having the human shield in a headlock with one arm and holding the weapon in the other hand. Helps with enemies trying to go around the shield.
Head button : Kill grabbed character.

Legs Button in Combat
Legs button : Press to strafe, direction influenced by Analog stick . Hold and release to dodge.

Armed Button in Combat
Armed hand : Attack. Nuff said.

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aurllcooljay wrote:
Instead of using Head button for ranged attacks you should hold down Armed hand , like in Brotherhood.

aurllcooljay wrote:
Legs Button in Combat
Legs button : Press to strafe, direction influenced by Analog stick . Hold and release to dodge.

I definitely like these. +1, Aurel.

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I actually really like Aurel's suggestions, I'd play a game with those combat controls.
One thing I do want to say though is provide opportunity to use each button.
Allow me to explain;

Many, many games these days give you the ability to do a great many things, but many are not required more than once (in a tutorial for said action) and most people go through the game not using them. This wouldn't be such a problem, but some players forget that they're even there - this happened to me with Bombs in AC: Revelations and with Tripmines in Assassin's Creed III. Maybe I'm just crazy, but you know what I'm saying.

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I haven't used smoke bombs, trip mines, or many other things in AC3 yet... I mean, they are just there... not explained at all about what to do.

At least in ACR there were Piri Reis missions specifically teaching you how to use certain bombs. At least they gave you the information even if you didn't use it.

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And RLLCoolJ, those suggestions make too much sense to implement. Instead we'll just get a dedicated button to skip a cutscene, and another button for "eliminate enemies without trying, but look cool doing it to impress your friends."

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Double McStab with Cheese wrote:
I haven't used smoke bombs, trip mines, or many other things in AC3 yet... I mean, they are just there... not explained at all about what to do.

At least in ACR there were Piri Reis missions specifically teaching you how to use certain bombs. At least they gave you the information even if you didn't use it.

I agree. I didn't use any tripmine for the moment.

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I've used everything maybe once each, at least. However I only used the pistol, hidden blade, and the tomahawk during the main story (when I wasn't forced to for story purposes). Not until AFTER I beat the game did I try using anything else, even the rope dart (which is hella fun).

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Some of the Tool Counters are absolutely sick.
The Pistol Counters are obviously cool, but the Tripmine Counter is one of my favorite ones in the series.
Connor throws a Tripmine and the Countered enemy toward the Tripmine. JUST as the enemy is about to regain his balance, he explodes.
The Poison Dart counters are also pretty great, although you can only have three Darts at any time.
Smoke Bomb counter is a good escape tool.
Horse Whistle unfortunately does nothing of value, neither does Money as far as I know.

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I've never used ranged counters. Tongue And I used a tripmine only once, to investigate something. I wish they actually introduced some of these weapons instead of having them without explanation.

Double McStab with Cheese wrote:
And RLLCoolJ, those suggestions make too much sense to implement.

Until AC3, the games kept most of the combat options. Then they revamped the system, and most of the options were removed. Why not bring them back in a way that works with the new system? Especially when it's quite common to bring things back from previous games.

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The things that caught my eye at first were: (a) no medikit and (b) no armor. I was so happy!

I still miss difficulty levels, but the combat is now decent in terms of difficulty. It's probably more challenging even than AC1's, which was the least easy of the previous installments.

I'm kinda lazy right now to do a dissection of the system, but I've explored it quite a bit and would be happy to try to anwer any questions. I'll probably propose the confection of a full guide and taxonomy of the system, later. I certainly have some doubts, myself.

AC3 has surprised me greatly!

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DarkAlphabetZoup wrote:
Some of the Tool Counters are absolutely sick.
The Pistol Counters are obviously cool, but the Tripmine Counter is one of my favorite ones in the series.
Connor throws a Tripmine and the Countered enemy toward the Tripmine. JUST as the enemy is about to regain his balance, he explodes.
The Poison Dart counters are also pretty great, although you can only have three Darts at any time.
Smoke Bomb counter is a good escape tool.
Horse Whistle unfortunately does nothing of value, neither does Money as far as I know.

Just found out today that you can use the SNARE as a counter-tool. It's pretty awesome. Connor wraps it around the enemy's neck and chokes them out.

Still no word on if counter-horse whistle does anything. Tongue

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No doubt in combat in ACIII is the best the series has to offer to date, but my personal favorite has to be the tomahawk. It's slick, sexy, and the kill animations are the fastest compared to any other weapon (I think they copied and pasted the animations for the tomahawk towards the knife as well). I almost found the hiddenblades a bit redundant in my taste.