Ideas To Improve Next Elder Scrolls Melee Combat

Arnoxthe1

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This is where we make sideswipes at, and most importantly, make suggestions to improve the Elder Scrolls' current melee combat system. (Skryim's, dur.)

Now, there are a lot of ways we can go about doing this but for me personally, I say we go the more satisfying yet realistic route. So let's say you're beginning the game and you've got a nice sharp iron dagger. Now, in Skyrim's combat system, it's hardly more than a pitiful toy. Barely better than your fists. I say we change that.

The first thing I say we do is overhaul the backstab system. Everyone can do one now right from the start HOWEVER, there are 3 types of backstab, 1 type each corresponding to how hard the backstab will be to pull off successfully. Your Sneak level and the enemies general level will decide what type the backstab will be and you will be able to know just by looking at a person what type it will be.

Type 1: The hardest backstab to do. If you backstab someone that is a Type 1, you will enter into a 3-button quicktime sequence that must be done successfully or else the person you're trying to backstab will break free and might even possibly damage you in the process.

Type 2: Just like Type 1 except it will only take 2 button presses instead of 3 to do the quicktime sequence successfully and you have a little bit more time to do the correct button presses. Also, if the opponent breaks free, you will not incur any damage.

Type 3: Sneak skill is high enough, overriding opponents level. No quicktime sequence. Sneak attack for an automatic instant kill except in very rare cases against very powerful opponents.

Type 4: Yeah, I know I said 3 types but this type is for when you are just using Unarmed. This is worse than a Type 1 in that it will require 4 button presses to do but otherwise act like a Type 1 UNLESS your sneak skill is high enough. (It must be much better than your opponents level.) If it is, it will act like a Type 3.

A successful backstab of any type will kill 99% of the time, no matter what kind of dagger is used. The remaining 1% being bosses or equivalent. A dagger of some kind or Unarmed must be used though.

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The second thing would be to make melee combat more than a case of whoever-can-do-the-most-damage-wins. Maybe we should put some skill into it and make it more real-time. This is much trickier to deal with than simple backstabs though. One thing that I think does need to be more effective is blocking with just a sword. It will block all damage from a strike but you will be staggered in the process unless your Block skill is high enough.

I'm going to leave this one to you though, Escapists.

Any criticism and/or comments on any of the above are completely welcome.
 

stroopwafel

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They should give the melee combat more weight. It just feels too clumsy and loose. Skyrim improved it some but it's still nowhere near the level of visceral melee combat the likes of Demon's or Dark Souls. The melee combat has always been my most major gripe with the Elder Scrolls games. Simply b/c it's not satisfying, unlike the Souls games which have the best medieval swordplay of any game in existence. This doesn't mean I don't really like the Elder Scrolls games though since the sense of adventure in this series is unparalleled, it's just that the melee combat has always been a sore spot for me. There is no need to re-invent the wheel so what Bethesda should do is just really closely study the swordplay of the Souls games and try to translate this to the next Elder Scrolls game. Imagine an Elder Scrolls game with Souls like melee combat. That would be freakin' awesome!
 

Arnoxthe1

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One thing you guys need to consider though is that Dark Souls' combat is made for third-person. Elder Scrolls has been and (hopefully) always will be a first-person game at its core. (With optional third person of course.) I really don't know how Dark Souls' combat would translate into Elder Scrolls.
 

Rose and Thorn

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I actually like the way the melee combat already is. I don't think the games were designed to have complicated sword play, just kind of a hack and slash dungeon crawler feel. In fact I really liked Skyrims combat, it felt good. I liked banging my sword of someones shield, and shooting arrows and magic felt right.

I think if you make backstabs that easy, or make it more of a skill game then that takes away from a lot of the leveling mechanics and will make it more like Demons Souls/Dark Souls. 99% chance insta kill seems a little too easy, Elder Scrolls has always been more about the who has the better stuff and dice rolls. I am not saying a combat system like that wouldn't be a fun idea, but better to be used in a different game I think and keep Elder Scrolls the way it is.
 

Tayh

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Oh god, no. No quicktime events, and an even bigger NO to four of them in a row.
I'd take a look at how combat works in Mount&Blade: Warband, and see where they can go from there.
 

stroopwafel

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Arnoxthe1 said:
One thing you guys need to consider though is that Dark Souls' combat is made for third-person. Elder Scrolls has been and (hopefully) always will be a first-person game at its core. (With optional third person of course.) I really don't know how Dark Souls' combat would translate into Elder Scrolls.
Well they could start by making it look like you're actually hitting your opponent. Also improve the sound effects when your sword is hitting armor or flesh(can't tell the difference now). And also improve feedback when your sword bounces off hard surfaces, be they armor or things in the environment.
 

Arnoxthe1

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Rose and Thorn said:
I think if you make backstabs that easy, or make it more of a skill game then that takes away from a lot of the leveling mechanics and will make it more like Demons Souls/Dark Souls. 99% chance insta kill seems a little too easy, Elder Scrolls has always been more about the who has the better stuff and dice rolls. I am not saying a combat system like that wouldn't be a fun idea, but better to be used in a different game I think and keep Elder Scrolls the way it is.
But it already instakills with the right dagger. This system would actually make it harder. It doesn't make any sense that I need a perk to backstab. It DOES make sense that I need to be more skilled if I want to pull off backstabs easier though. And the nice thing about this system is that it does still very much depend on stats.
Tayh said:
Oh god, no. No quicktime events, and an even bigger NO to four of them in a row.
I'd take a look at how combat works in Mount&Blade: Warband, and see where they can go from there.
It sounds like you just took one look at the word quicktime and just stopped reading. If quicktime is not implemented, then backstabbing someone will be way too easy to do with everyone.

Mount & Blade might be a good inspiration but we do need to find a way to get stats in there as well and make it less about real-time with that system.

stroopwafel said:
Well they could start by making it look like you're actually hitting your opponent. Also improve the sound effects when your sword is hitting armor or flesh(can't tell the difference now). And also improve feedback when your sword bounces off hard surfaces, be they armor or things in the environment.
That's something I can definitely agree on as well.
 

TheYellowCellPhone

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Make it a lot less spammy and make actions have pretty much no delay to them.

Make it like Dishonored. Fights are fast-paced and it's really responsive and evident on if you got a successful hit or blocked an attack. Also incorporate Dishonored's fascination with correctly timing parries to disarm opponents or stun them.

3-button quicktime sequence
no
 

TheYellowCellPhone

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Arnoxthe1 said:
TheYellowCellPhone said:
3-button quicktime sequence
no
Yes. Please give an argument or a different suggestion as to how we tackle this please instead of a meaningless statement.
Not using quicktime events.

The current backstab system is fine. A simple stab to the back of an unsuspecting enemy does a huge amount of damage and has a chance to initiate a killcam. Obviously it doesn't work right out of the gate, not until you level up Sneak and get the correct perk, but that's a part of the RPG experience. And obviously in vanilla it isn't a guaranteed instakill regardless of gear and combat level, but if it was an uncontested instant kill, it would make Sneak way more overpowered than it already is.

You could argue changing Sneak to be a load more challenging and use the instant kill backstab as a reward to sticking for a much more challenging Sneak -- and even then I'd half disagree. Anything that is an uncontested instant kill has to be treated with care, but because of how RPGs work, Sneak only gets easier as you go on, so instant kills only get easier.

But not quicktime events. Isn't the inventory juggling enough of a game pauser and flow breaker?
 

Vern5

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Arnoxthe1 said:
-Nerf sneaking, keep backstabs the same. The most important part of a backstab is just getting into position undetected. The reason its so easy to get sneak criticals in Skyrim is because the Sneak skill is ridiculously OP and the AI has no self-awareness.

-Quicktime events rarely improve anything. I have never heard of a game that was praised for its quicktime events.

-Mount & Blade already has stats involved in its combat calculations. The higher your skill with a certain weapon, the faster you can swing/defend with it.

Enemies in TES rarely respond to being sliced, bludgeoned, burned, frozen, or electrocuted with any other reaction than an "Ouch". Sometimes you can stagger your opponent but beyond that they can take an axe to the face and simply shrug it off, assuming it wasn't lethal damage. We need better injury reactions. Perhaps port the limb damage from Fallout but in a watered down sort of way.
 

votemarvel

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Having a decent third person view would be the thing.

First person is shite for melee combat because of the lack of depth perception. Sure third person is hardly realistic but it replicates depth perception by allowing you to judge your character against the background.
 

Hero in a half shell

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It's actually really hard to balance because you've got the 1st person view and only one mouse button to attack with (as opposed to being able to use a few buttons for combo melee like Prince of Persia.)

Saying that you want more reaction from enemies is alright, but you have to get a balance between them taking damage with no reaction at all until they drop dead, and getting stun locked into submission as soon as you start landing blows, which Skyrim manages pretty well (although I have a mod running that boosts stunning with heavier weapons)

There are a few excellent overhaul mods that do wonders for combat, DUEL COMBAT REALISM being the one I use, but it's designed around one handed sword + shield fighting, so it neglects a large part of the melee combat system.

Personally I would just like more variation between weapons and more weapon types. Not just a different speed for each weapon, but different slashing angles, some stabbing weapons, long ranged spears, maybe even javelins or throwing knives would be awesome so archers aren't just restricted to bows.

I would really like them to take a page out of the other medieval FPS style games that have recently cropped up, hopefully they will for the next one.
 

Arnoxthe1

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TheYellowCellPhone said:
The current backstab system is fine. A simple stab to the back of an unsuspecting enemy does a huge amount of damage and has a chance to initiate a killcam. Obviously it doesn't work right out of the gate, not until you level up Sneak and get the correct perk, but that's a part of the RPG experience. And obviously in vanilla it isn't a guaranteed instakill regardless of gear and combat level, but if it was an uncontested instant kill, it would make Sneak way more overpowered than it already is.

You could argue changing Sneak to be a load more challenging and use the instant kill backstab as a reward to sticking for a much more challenging Sneak -- and even then I'd half disagree. Anything that is an uncontested instant kill has to be treated with care, but because of how RPGs work, Sneak only gets easier as you go on, so instant kills only get easier.

But not quicktime events. Isn't the inventory juggling enough of a game pauser and flow breaker?
While I will agree that Skyrim's backstab system certainly does its job and so does the general combat system as well for that matter, we're trying to make it more satisfying here.

Indeed, it does a huge amount of damage. But when you have an iron dagger or something equally pathetic, you can kiss any chance of a kill goodbye no matter who you're backstabbing. This isn't right. Why can't it work right out of the gate? It doesn't have to work WELL since one is unskilled when they're first starting out but it should work.

And with my system, it's only an instant kill if your skill is high enough. Otherwise, you will have to fiddle with the quicktime sequence. That's what you get for trying to go after something that isn't your skill level. Or perhaps you'd rather you arbitrarily can't do it at all until you have some perk and even then, it mysteriously still doesn't kill someone unless you have a sufficiently good dagger. Makes hardly any sense at all. But the funny thing is, even with all that, in vanilla, backstabbing is still pretty OP'd so in reality nothing would really change in terms of power with my system.
 

skywolfblue

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Arnoxthe1 said:
The first thing I say we do is overhaul the backstab system. Everyone can do one now right from the start HOWEVER, there are 3 types of backstab, 1 type each corresponding to how hard the backstab will be to pull off successfully. Your Sneak level and the enemies general level will decide what type the backstab will be and you will be able to know just by looking at a person what type it will be.

Type 1: The hardest backstab to do. If you backstab someone that is a Type 1, you will enter into a 3-button quicktime sequence that must be done successfully or else the person you're trying to backstab will break free and might even possibly damage you in the process.

Type 2: Just like Type 1 except it will only take 2 button presses instead of 3 to do the quicktime sequence successfully and you have a little bit more time to do the correct button presses. Also, if the opponent breaks free, you will not incur any damage.

Type 3: Sneak skill is high enough, overriding opponents level. No quicktime sequence. Sneak attack for an automatic instant kill except in very rare cases against very powerful opponents.

Type 4: Yeah, I know I said 3 types but this type is for when you are just using Unarmed. This is worse than a Type 1 in that it will require 4 button presses to do but otherwise act like a Type 1 UNLESS your sneak skill is high enough. (It must be much better than your opponents level.) If it is, it will act like a Type 3.

A successful backstab of any type will kill 99% of the time, no matter what kind of dagger is used. The remaining 1% being bosses or equivalent. A dagger of some kind or Unarmed must be used though.
I'd say no to a QTE. QTE's are shallow, and should never be used to replace primary combat.

Now a slow-mo "choose what you slash" like the Blade Mode from Metal Gear Solid: Revengeance would be nice. You fail to cut their neck (you'll still do some decent damage like 1/4 of their health), but the game slows down for 3 seconds, and you can slash their arm and render them weaponless, or slash their leg and leave them crippled, or crush their throat so they can't call for help.

But more important then backstab, is fixing Stealth gameplay so that it's not so broken. Enemy AI needs to be smarter to actually do some believable "hey our friend just died" checking, and stealth needs to involve more then just crouching, social stealth and smoke bombs would be nice additions.
 

MeisterKleister

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I like the Elder Scrolls games I've played so far, Oblivion and Skyrim, but the combat is just so unsatisfying.
The camera in first-person view doesn't move at all when you swing your weapon. Your arm has the same movement animation, whether you hit a fully armored enemy or just thin air. And the enemies don't even flinch when you hit them, only after certain hits.
It just feels like almost all of my attacks don't have any force or impact.

As previous posters have mentioned, Dark Messiah: Might and Magic is a first-person fantasy game with a melee combat system that I think is really fun and satisfying. Dark Souls has a really challenging and extremely satisfying third-person combat system, though I'm not sure how well it can be implemented into a game that also uses first-person view.
I hear the Condemned games have excellent melee combat, but I haven't played those.

Anyway, I think any Elder Scrolls game would be vastly improved if it emulated one of the above melee systems. The Dark Messiah combat system would probably be the easiest fit.
 

Arnoxthe1

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skywolfblue said:
I'd say no to a QTE. QTE's are shallow, and should never be used to replace primary combat.

Now a slow-mo "choose what you slash" like the Blade Mode from Metal Gear Solid: Revengeance would be nice. You fail to cut their neck (you'll still do some decent damage like 1/4 of their health), but the game slows down for 3 seconds, and you can slash their arm and render them weaponless, or slash their leg and leave them crippled, or crush their throat so they can't call for help.

But more important then backstab, is fixing Stealth gameplay so that it's not so broken. Enemy AI needs to be smarter to actually do some believable "hey our friend just died" checking, and stealth needs to involve more then just crouching, social stealth and smoke bombs would be nice additions.
QTE's have a really bad rep and it's certainly been earned but with my system, QTE's are NOT replacing combat. Not entirely anyway. As long as your Sneak skill is high enough, you won't do a QTE and will automatically kill an opponent. The QTE's are simply a penalty one must take if they try to assassinate a target that's too high a level. Your method leaves stats out and focuses too much on real-time. Stats need to be there in some way or else it's not really an Elder Scrolls game. However, perhaps we can build off of your idea. The main problem with it besides not implementing stats at all is that I don't really think it will be that hard to cut someones neck at all. Especially in a 3 sec. timeframe. The challenege is non-existent.