View Full Version : How to make the combat harder.

12-07-2013, 02:13 PM
This has been a gripe of many AC players since the inception of the series. In this thread we will suggest ideas on how to make the combat more difficult and challenging. Me first.

Stamina bar

I love the stylish, fluid combat of the AC series. Bad *** does not even begin to describe how I felt during AC Brotherhood when I finally got the hang of doing kill streaks. But since then, combat has become far too easy. Counter, push stick towards enemy, press button to kill. Occasionally press the sweep and then the kill button for when an enemy can resist your kill streaks. There is no reason to use stealth, no sense of danger, when you can just hack everyone to pieces.

Incorporate a stamina bar which depletes slightly every time you do a counter kill, and every time you perform a kill streak. Once it reaches a certain threshold, your animations would be sloppier, simulating battle fatigue. As you progress through the game, or maybe by increasing your synch (finally, a reason to collect the collectibles!) your stamina bar would increase allowing you to perform longer kill streaks. Also on this threshold your counters and kill streaks will be blocked by even the most common soldier.

More aggressive AI

I think AC3 did this pretty well with having soldiers form firing lines at you and forcing you to be vigilant, as well as having multiple enemies attack you at once. However, this was negated by the fact you could just counter and kill them both with ease. My suggestion is to have a double-counter-kill only actually kill one enemy, but wound the other. This would also deplete a huge amount of stamina. Have soldiers interrupt your combos, make more of them attack at once.

A system that I always liked was the combo-block system in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon where you had to tap block in a timed rhythm to block a combo. Something similar to this could work in AC. When multiple guards are attacking, you would have to tap the block button in order to block all of the attacks, with the last one being open to a counter kill.

These are all just off the top of my head while I'm procrastinating, but I believe that these implementations would give people an incentive to run away instead of hacking away at everyone.

12-07-2013, 03:03 PM
So far my favorite idea came from a friend of mine.

He says: "I feel like fights are going in the right direction... they're making efforts to make it harder. Yes on (the idea of) AI (being improved). A guard shouldn't see me then immediately forget that I'm there if I simply duck into a stalking zone. I loved the human shield mechanic in 3 and somewhat 4, make it more stable then make musket fire extremely unforgiving. Shot twice and you should be on the brink of death from full health, dead if already weakened. Firing line of 3+ should be instant desync if you don't dodge or break the firing line. Also as health falls you should lose the amount you can kill streak and eventually not be able to chain kill at all until you restore sync."

I like his idea because I feel it would make the combat harder without taking away from the fluidity of it.

I've also been toying with the concept of more guard types.

12-07-2013, 03:50 PM
This is a major gripe of mine about the series. I'd like a difficulty mode where enemies become more aggressive. I'd like to see 2-3 (even 4) enemies attack in quick succession and us having to press the counter button every time to deflect each attack (instead of AC3 where pressing it once results in a double-counter kill).

I'd like there to be certain enemies that require us to quickly switch between another weapon/tool during combat to take them down. For example: in AC3 and 4 you can use the Rope Dart and Guns during a kill-streak to kill Heavies and Captains. I'd like to see more variation on this and become more specialized.

So yeah, I agree that the AI should be more aggressive. Not too keen on the idea of a stamina bar though - just wouldn't fit with the rest of the game. He can run for miles and not tire, so should be able to fight and not tire.

I think a lot of people enjoy the casual nature of AC, and that's why I think implementing a higher difficulty mode would be a good idea (if Ubisoft ever do dare to make the game challenging in any way).

12-07-2013, 04:06 PM
It seems we think alike. I also had a similar combat idea. I will post here some of my previous posts along with some new ideas.

AC needs to have a real combat system that isn’t a matter of triggering violent cutscenes where the assassin performs some Hollywood stunts. It could be something like a “stamina based combat” where the point is to tire the opponent causing his moves to be slower, less powerful and less accurate. In order to tire the opponent, the player needs to attack repeatedly while being able to respond to the enemy’s attacks and use a combination of different moves (attack-quickstep-punch-attack, for example) in order to catch the opponent by surprise and deal some damage (like wounding by hitting the arm, leg or chest). Wounding the enemy will result in slower and less accurate attacks. In this phase, the player can more likely pull off “heavy attacks” (stab with a knife, impale with sword, etc.), by holding the attack button (square on the ps3), that are slower and easier to deflect but that deal much more damage. An enemy that has his “stamina bar” depleted, is more likely to fail to block or evade a heavy attack. These heavy attacks deal a lot more damage and will incapacitate most enemies.
So, to summarize, the objective here is to tire the opponent (deplete the stamina bar) so that he eventually fails to block our attacks. The less stamina the opponent has, the slower and less precise his attacks will be along with a slower response to our attacks. In order to deplete an enemy’s stamina bar faster, the player should combine normal attacks with other moves in order to surprise the opponent and wound him (kicks, punches, quicksteps, head-butts, etc.).

This is the control scheme plus each one’s functions:

Attack button (square on the ps3) – can be used both offensively and defensively, depending on who controls the flow of the fight (the enemy or the player). The attack button is also used as a chain starter. By pressing other buttons right after a successful attack, the assassin will chain different moves together that will difficult the opponent’s life and tire him much faster. Chaining different attacks together can also be used to surprise the opponent causing him to fall (after tripping him), to be stunned (after a successful punch or kick) or even to be wounded if he fails to block our attack. These chained attacks also have the benefit of ensuring that weaker opponents aren’t able to gain the upper hand or to control the flow of the fight.
Holding the attack button will trigger a heavy attack (stab with knife, impale with sword, etc.) that are slower and easier to dodge or to block but that do a lot more damage. Heavy attacks should be saved for situations where the opponent is stunned or when the stamina bar is depleted, otherwise the opponent is likely to counter forcing the player to lose the upper hand.

Empty hand button (circle on the ps3) – used to grab objects in the environment that can be used as weapons. A second press of this button will cause the assassin to drop the object. After a chain starter, the empty hand button can be used as a punch or as an attack with an object (only if the player had previously grabbed an object that can be used as a weapon, such as a glass bottle, a knife, etc.)

Navigation button (x on ps3) – used in combat as a quick step or as a backwards jump/evasion maneuver (if the player presses the navigation button while walking backwards with the direction pad). During a chain sequence, the navigation button is used as a kick that may stun the opponent or even make him loose his balance (tripping the opponent). The more depleted the stamina bar and the longer the chain attack sequence is, the more effective the attack is. This means that, in the beginning of a fight, enemies will be able to block or evade kicks and punches, but after tiring him, both punches and kicks may stun him and the assassin may even manage to trip the opponent.

Aim (L2 on ps3) – aim your ranged weapon such as a bow, crossbow, gun, throwing knife, etc. as well as any object you picked up.

Fire/throw (R2 on ps3) – fire any ranged weapon or throw any picked up object. You can fire without aiming first, but it will result in less precise attacks that deal less damage.

Now, this is all good when it works, but keep in mind that the enemy may be able to block a kick, a punch or a weapon attack and counter them in a split second. They may use quickstep to dodge and strike as soon as you realize your attack failed. In such cases you will still be forced to clash swords with your opponent (press the attack button when the opponent strikes), but you will do so, defensively, as the enemy will now control the flow of the combat. He will attack you repeatedly and you will be forced to match his attacks as well as being forced to retreat, step by step, as he advances. However, if you time it well, you can use quickstep to dodge the attack and, by attacking right away, you will regain the upper hand. There are many other ways to regain the offensive and control the flow as long as you can interrupt your enemy so that you have the time to strike first. For example, you can retreat so that you can throw some object at the opponent and attack right away before he has time to strike.
Notice that, by chaining different moves together (attack – punch – quickstep – attack), you will more likely maintain the upper hand and decrease the chances that your opponent manages to dodge or counter your attacks.
I also want to add that the camera stays behind the assassin and that, when facing multiple opponents, the player will have to take care not to let enemies attack from behind, as it is impossible to block and the player’s only option will be to evade (with quickstep for example). Fighting more than 4 enemies is very difficult and, if outnumbered, the player can always escape and resume stealth or try to separate the pursuers and strike them in smaller groups.

12-07-2013, 07:01 PM
Combat needs a lot of work, because atm it's frankly boring and if there's one thing combat shouldn't be it's that. The main problem for me is the lack of moves and depth. Even if they increased the difficulty significantly in AC4 it would still not be a good system, it's just too simplistic. I think there needs to be a greater set of moves and enemy archetypes. There also needs to be more depth in the sense that you can string together various moves in different ways. No enemy should go down in one tap in the killstreaks, that is just too short. The minimum should be break defense -> kill. And in between you may be interupted and have to do a counter.

There should be a difficulty settting. Some people just want to plough through the game to see the story unfold (nothing wrong with that). Some people reaaly enjoy a good fight and they need a bit of resistance from the game. To serve both these groups with one setting is impossible.

Things like dual counters need to be rethought to include the player more. I suggested a different system in which after you tap the counter button you tap one facebutton/enemy. The game then does a single/dual/tripple attack based on these taps (the order is decided by the ranks of the enemies). Many of these are non-lethal, some could be blocked by certain archetypes (just as in regular combat).

I like your idea of more aggressive AIs, as you need to be more on your toes and abort your plan midcombo to instead play more defensively.

I absolutely hate your stamina bar though (sorry :) ). It's much, much better to increase the difficulty of maintaining the killstreak than to arbitrarily put a cap on it. If the player is skilled he should be rewarded by letting the streak go on. That is the entire point of this kind of system. With more enemy archetypes, aggro AI, a greater set of defensive moves and more depth in taking down an enemy, maintaing the streak will be a lot harder.

12-07-2013, 07:55 PM
First of all, Ubi needs to get rid of the current combat system where it relies counter prompts.

12-07-2013, 07:56 PM
I really hope someone at Ubisoft sees a few of these ideas. I'd love for them to recognise that the combat is far too easy for people that would like a challenge. Just look at Deus Ex: HR - it has 3 difficulty modes ranging from "tell me a story" to "Give me Deus Ex". Like, is there some technical reason why AC can't have difficulty settings?

12-07-2013, 08:09 PM
Like, is there some technical reason why AC can't have difficulty settings?

other than time to properly work on this feature (I don't know this can be called a "technical reason" to be frank), I don't think so, I believe they just don't want to put some effort on it because it wouldn't be something they could take advantage to advertise the game, so it's probably not worth their time...

12-07-2013, 08:16 PM
no, I believe they just don't want to put some effort on it because it wouldn't be something they could take advantage to advertise the game, so it's probably not worth their time...

I dunno, if they advertised that AC would now have a more challenging difficulty level for people with functioning brain cells, I'd eat it all up and pre-order the game immediately.

12-07-2013, 08:29 PM
I dunno, if they advertised that AC would now have a more challenging difficulty level for people with functioning brain cells, I'd eat it all up and pre-order the game immediately.

I'd definetly keep an eye out for that AC game, but I wouldn't pre-order it (given how much I trust Ubisoft and the way they treat Assassin's Creed)

Just for fun, take a look at all the options (especially the ones concernig the game's difficulty) that let the player customize the gameplay on the new Thief reboot:

Display Options
Each of these can be turned on or off individually based on your preferences:
* Navigation prompts
* Interaction prompts
* Waypoint markers
* Threat icons
* Threat health meters
* Mini-map
* Mini-map rotation
* Reticle feedback
* Journal updates
* Pick-up notifiers
* Light gem
* Object highlight
* Loot glint
* Lockpick helper
* Frame search helper
* Garrett narrated hints
* Health meter (on, off, or fade over time)
* Focus meter (on, off, or fade over time)
* Ammo counter (on, off, or fade over time)

Custom Difficulty Settings
You can create your own custom difficulty level by toggling on any (or all!) of the following mods:
Base difficulty: easy, normal or hard
Classic Thief Mods
* Chapter Save Only: manual saves and checkpoint auto-saves are disabled.
* No Focus: the use of Focus is completely disabled and no Focus Points are earned.
* Stealth Takedowns Only: you cannot perform combat Takedowns and Takedowns from above.
* No Reticle: no aiming reticle is displayed when drawing the bow.
Legendary Thief Mods
* Specialty Arrows Only: only Blunt, Water, Fire and Rope Arrows are available.
* No Resources: food (health) and poppy flowers (Focus) are not consumable.
* It Hurts Not: if you take any damage, the mission is failed.
* Expensive Tools: the cost of arrows, tools, food and poppies is greatly increased.
* Slowed Movement: running and walking speeds are reduced.
Ultimate Thief Mods
* Iron Man: if you die or fail a mission, you lose your game and must restart from the beginning.
* No Upgrades: non-critical upgrades are disabled.
* No Kills or Knockouts: if a human or animal is killed or stunned, the mission is failed.
* No Alerts: if a human or animal detects you, the mission is failed.

12-07-2013, 09:01 PM
I dunno, if they advertised that AC would now have a more challenging difficulty level for people with functioning brain cells, I'd eat it all up and pre-order the game immediately.

I had the more casual audience in mind when I said that, and also the newcomers Ubisoft loves so much that they feel the necessity to dumb down the story in order to make the new games sell more...