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It's no secret that the usual form of MMORPG combat we see in the major games today is a little bit on the boring side. Select target, autoattack, spam powers. There's nothing to really differentiate the different types of combat. Melee is ranged is magic, just with different sparkly effects. It's all the same target and hotkey.
There seem to be a lot of good discussions about how to make the melee combat a bit more interesting. What I'm looking for is a good discussion on the ranged side of things.
Now, it seems that the as a reaction to the type of combat we see in WoW, Rift, ToR, some games have gone to the opposite extreme and implemented a first person shooter style of ranged combat. I appreciate the sentiment of wanting to make combat a bit more engaging and skillful, but I personally think these games (like Darkfall) take it a bit too far.
These games are still RPGs, and so I would like my character to have an effect on combat, not just my own personal skill as a player. If my character is a Master Archer and has 100 skill, why can a new player hit targets more accurately than me just because he's better with this FPS style combat? That takes a way some of the immersion of having a character who progresses in his skills.
So where's the middle ground? What are our options here to make ranged combat more engaging but keep character skill involved?
One method I like is what we see in Mount and Blade. It's still the shooter-style combat, but character skill plays a role as well. The higher your skill, the more quickly your targeting recticule shrinks and it is smaller (more accurate). You still have to take the time and aim, but a skilled character makes it easier on you.
Another game that added a little bit was Asheron's Call. It was still an auto-attack, but you could use a slider to make trade-offs between speed and accuracy, and you could aim your shots High, Medium, or Low, depending on your target. It added a little extra engagement.
I like something similar to Mount and Blade, and maybe even a little more towards traditional RPG combat. You can still select a target, but you have to hold your mouse on him while you line up the shot. Depending on your skill, you go from having a high miss chance to a low miss chance over a few seconds. I would also like to see combat skills or powers, which of course aren't present in Mount and Blade.
So what do you think?
Top MMOs: Asheron's Call, Shadowbane, EVE Online, Planetside
Played: Pretty much everything at one point or another