Mordhau

Mordhau Lacks Emergent Gameplay

1909 961

Ever since the release of Mordhau, there was something about the gameplay that I didn't like, but I couldn't quite put my finger on. I still have a hard time pinning it down..

It's gotten a bit better over the recent patches. But honestly, the feel of Mordhau still doesn't feel right, it's just not fun. And just to be clear. It has nothing to do with the game modes, it's the core mechanics themselves that are the problem. Most of my 1k+ hours in Chivalry is just from dueling, but I could never imagine spending that amount of time dueling in Mordhau.

After reading this article

I think probably the core problem with Mordhau, is that it lacks emergent gameplay. Emergent gameplay are solutions, or 'Strategies' in this case, that can emerge from the games rules in ways that were not scripted, or even more importantly not even foreseen by the developers themselves. Chivalry had a lot of emergent gameplay, and we saw this in the form of strategies that players invented, such as backswings, spins, and many others. The key here, is that the developers of Chivalry did not foresee the development of these strategies. They made a system that did things, that even they could not predict.

Mordhau seems to lack this almost entirely, everything we can do in Mordhau, the devs know we can do. The devs seem to be purposely trying to constrain the gameplay, to only allow for a specific way of play. To force the gameplay to look a certain way, and only that way. As a consequence the only thing that we can seem to really get better at is things such as timing, aiming etc. The game seems to only allow us to become more efficient, and doesn't seem to allow us to be creative and invent our own strategies.

I think this problem, may be connected to a bigger, more fundamental problem, which I think lies within the mindset/vision the developers have for how the game should work.

Mercenary 2548 4562
  • 11 May '18
 SIEGE

Too much freedom is just as bad, you’ll end up with gamebreakingly “effiecient” ways that are just not fun for anyone

Knight 925 2541
  • 11 May '18
 Pred

@roshawnmarcellterrell said:
And just to be clear. It has nothing to do with the game modes, it's the core mechanics themselves that are the problem. Most of my 1k+ hours in Chivalry is just from dueling, but I could never imagine spending that amount of time dueling in Mordhau.

After playing Mordhau I regret every single hour I wasted dueling in Chivalry.

Knight 253 544
  • 11 May '18
 Gauntlet

I do agree that the game feels very much explored, however the way players interact with the combat has changed over time but they are subtle differences. I think the final layer that could reasonably be added to the combat are either perks or more weapon specials for more weapons (think like the billhook pull but more gameplay changing). This would open up more strategies and play styles. Maybe the game just doesn't resonate with you, Roshawn, and that's fine. I would never go back to chivalry after mordhau, and that's my opinion.

1308 2875
  • 11 May '18
 Monsteri

I think there's too many mechanical inhibitions at places.

1909 961

@Gauntlet said:
I do agree that the game feels very much explored, however the way players interact with the combat has changed over time but they are subtle differences. I think the final layer that could reasonably be added to the combat are either perks or more weapon specials for more weapons (think like the billhook pull but more gameplay changing). This would open up more strategies and play styles. Maybe the game just doesn't resonate with you, Roshawn, and that's fine. I would never go back to chivalry after mordhau, and that's my opinion.

If you guys honesty love Mordhau the way it is, then ok I'm not trying to destroy what other people love just because I don't like it.

I am disappointed though that with the way they're taking it, it doesn't seem to be the game for me. I really like being creative and coming up with new ways of playing that other people didn't expect. And that aspect of play doesn't really seem to be here. Even with all my time in Chivalry, I still feel like there's room for exploration. And that's what makes me keep coming back to it. I honestly think that's what makes these games great, Jedi knight Academy has this exact same aspect. And that's why people still play it even after all these years. There's always new strategies and new ways of fighting that no one, definitely not even the developers predicted.

Baron 1551 2083
  • 1
  • 11 May '18
 yourcrippledson

@roshawnmarcellterrell said:
Ever since the release of Mordhau, there was something about the gameplay that I didn't like, but I couldn't quite put my finger on. I still have a hard time pinning it down..

It's gotten a bit better over the recent patches. But honestly, the feel of Mordhau still doesn't feel right, it's just not fun. And just to be clear. It has nothing to do with the game modes, it's the core mechanics themselves that are the problem. Most of my 1k+ hours in Chivalry is just from dueling, but I could never imagine spending that amount of time dueling in Mordhau.

Chivalry had a lot of emergent gameplay, and we saw this in the form of strategies that players invented, such as backswings, spins, and many others. The key here, is that the developers of Chivalry did not foresee the development of these strategies. They made a system that did things, that even they could not predict.

Never thought I would agree so hard with this.

I feel like MORDHAU devs really want me to play the way THEY want me to play, rather than how I want to play. Where as in Chivalry, shit was broken, but more enjoyable, as It was evident from the start that the devs would just let me do my own thing, and basically abandon all the mechanics they meant for me to be using.

I don't find any draw to duel whatsoever as of patch 15, even though the mechanics are objectively better. Dueling is boring.

Knight 925 2541
  • 11 May '18
 Pred

yourcrippledson is the Zweihander Analgrinder now.

Baron 1551 2083
  • 3
  • 11 May '18
 yourcrippledson

@Pred said:
yourcrippledson is the Zweihander Analgrinder now.

I realize this. When I sleep at night I dream of dragging a nice lengthy poke into the top of someones head...

EDIT: There I removed the perfect example involving the Zweihander if that helps people to take my complaint more seriously...

Knight 154 452
  • 6
  • 11 May '18
 Nautilus

I agree with you, which is why Mordhau is not the successor to Chivalry. Mordhau often feels so slow and like I'm being controlled by the mechanics, where as chiv is more spontaneous and feels like a rush.

However, I've grown to like Mordhau more recently as more things are being added; it breaks up the monotony of Mordhau's combat and brings a lot of fun into the game.

Mordhau is a different beast and I find that I can't enjoy it in the same way that I enjoy Chivalry. There's no way that I'll enjoy many hours of dueling in Mordhau, but I believe that game modes, veichles, and map interactions could really make me love the game.

As a side note, duels are really boring in Mordhau. Team play is much more fun, but it seems that most players only want to duel.

Knight 693 1593
  • 11 May '18
 das

Have you considered that it's because we did so much exploring on Chivalry already? Imagine if Chivalry never existed and this game got released out nowhere with zero cool or educational Youtube from Jax, moosey, Sharantil, Giru, etc. You'd probably have the same half-decade slow meta optimization and discovery process of matrixing, spacing, aiming, etc. We've discovered the big, obvious, macro mechanics long ago. There's still a lot of subtle depth not being touched imo. I'll elaborate furthermore.

I play mainly with US West Coast, which means I do play a bit with some US Central and East, but the best players there tend to only Private Skirmish these days.

Gauntlet and Bob Sapp are two good examples of players comfortable with a blisteringly fast playstyle. With weapons like Bastard Sword or some other 1hander, their aim is to condition you with a barrage of riposte and chamber accels, then mix it up with morphs (punish blind counterchambers), chamber feints and empty ripostes (punish parries). The Bastard Sword in particular is quite versatile because it can drag a bit like a 2h. Unfortunately, I can't have a fair superspeed 1h vs 1h with them because either one of us is gonna lag.

GAY FISH has a pretty solid and underrated "neutral" imo. He's among the best at baiting and initiating a fight that has yet to start. Very good spacing and matrixing. A lot of people telegraph pretty badly and don't give much consideration to a duel in that beginning phase when neither player has attacked, or when the fight has reset with neither player flinched or out of turn (thus, neutral).

Nauleaus, wizardish, and Huggles really ingrained in me just how essential footwork is in tandem with chambering and overall defense. Combine this with GAY FISH's matrixing to force later hits/whiffs, and your defense feels so much more in your control. Still not common, but I think people are slowly starting to utilize more and more waterfall/wessex drags. Not the most reliable thing, but it's good against stationary chamber bois and can screw over even regular parry attempts with their deceitfulness.

Speccing and playing against Prince is always a good "barometer" of sorts in learning how to play with and against stab drags. It's taken me a long, long time but I've finally understood how stab drags play out on both sides of the fence (well that and the recent patches make it look less silly lol). Both my defense against stabs and my estoc/rapier gameplay have improved tremendously in the past 3 or so days just from conscietous practice and observance with the one player everyone here loves to hate.

You want to diagonal strafe AWAY from the hand he's winding up with (go WITH the stab flow, not AGAINST it). If his hand is raised (thus starting a "high" stab), do a crouch tilt back matrix and chamber a little late, you're forcing him to do a late stab drag by taking advantage of his turn cap since you're "dodging". Your smaller hitbox also disallows him from doing mid to headshot drags. Since he started winding up high, he won't have the turn cap to do a headshot to foot drag with a stab. If he's aiming lower, it could be a side stab or aimed at the foot. Sprinting sideways will buy you time to chamber the former reliably. For the latter, doing that and aiming low should suffice.

So let's say YOU are Prince. How do you start gnawing at the defenses at a guy who knows how to chamber your stab drags? Start using your strikes like a quarterstaff! Estoc and alt spear have blistering speed LMBs that are ALSO really long. Mix up those chamber feints and morphs, ripostes, heck even drags because of their lengths. Condition your enemy to move in a way so that, when you morph or riposte back into a stab, they'll be caught "in the middle" of your stream and have immense difficulty reading/guessing which side you'll stab drag to. The worst scenario to be in against a spear stab is backpedalling with no lateral movement; from here, he can drag from sky to head, side to left, side to right, torso to lower, and any combination of these since you're not footworking to limit his options. Of course you can parry. If he's conditioned you enough to parry in these troubling spots, whose to say he won't feint the next time your feet are tied?

The way I approach the same people with Zwei, Rapier, Estoc, Battle Axe is all pretty different man! I adopt different philosophies in range playing (or lack of -> facehugging unga bunga me axe man), mixup "patterns" (more morphs on Zwei rather than feints, more parries and feints on Rapier because it's tough to FTP or morph with it), and emphasisbon aiming. I love adopting to enemy reactions and their own unique adaptations. For instance, I headshot Prince with my rapier aftee he falls for a feint. He begins crouch 180ing when he falls for a feint, thus dodging my headshot attempts. If I whiff and didn't combo, that's bad news. Now, he's soft forcing me to aim for torso hits as feint punishes, which is significantly less damage. Or, I disarm him or successfully feint him from a distance. His reaction is to 180 and sprint - darn I can't reach him! Except oh wait, I'll chuck my damn sword at him!

Forget about duels. There's so much freedom in how you want to approach team fights and what "role" you wish to play. You can play nimble, backstabbing rat with a rapier, flinching enemies any moment they don't look at you. Or, similarily nimble footed, you can wield a mighty Zwei, Halberd, or Maul instead and sneak up for some nasty headshot and cleaves. Or you can play more with the team and support them with pokes from the backlines with spear, halberd, or Zwei. Maybe you prefer 1hers but want to be more of a frontliner? Well, how about a shield + 1h messer, bastard sword, or shortspear? Fire pots and smoke pots leave a lot of room for clever play, and this will undoubtedly be even moreso with Frontline maps. And we haven't even considered archers or cavalry and potential counterplay styles to them... Billhook + caltrops, anyone?

Baron 1551 2083
  • 1
  • 11 May '18
 yourcrippledson

@Das said:
Forget about duels. There's so much freedom in how you want to approach team fights and what "role" you wish to play.

Let me preface this by saying I'm not bad at duels (If you don't believe me I can duel you, whoever you are), and I can appreciate all the things described above that make them work so well.
But currently, I have more fun slaughtering bots than testing my skills against other players. The mechanics are solid, but I need a motivation to use them beyond the fact that they exist. For me there is a world of difference between fighting someone just to see who will win, and fighting someone because he wants to kill my filthy peasants and I am the only one standing in the way.

Have they ever even tested a 32v32 player game? It's the main game mode, so how do they expect balance mechanics around this without testing it?

When Alpha launched, I doubt that I was the only backer expecting a rudimentary version of frontline to be available right away, or in the very near future from the launch.

Knight 154 452
  • 11 May '18
 Nautilus

@yourcrippledson said:
For me there is a world of difference between fighting someone just to see who will win, and fighting someone because he wants to kill my filthy peasants and I am the only one standing in the way.

Have they ever even tested a 32v32 player game? It's the main game mode, so how do they expect balance mechanics around this without testing it?

I'd just like to add that these things do take time and that alpha access is not just for having fun, so I'm not complaining about a lack of content, but I think it would be very ideal to start testing these larger game modes as soon as possible. The fighting mechanics are very polished and I think we need to really test them out in large fights so that there is plenty of time to iron the game modes out and make sure that the mechanics compliment these larger fights.

301 875
  • 1
  • 11 May '18
 Naleaus

I disagree with the idea that you are forced into only one style of play by the game. From the beginning of the alpha I've purposely spent time finding ways to do things differently, cause I'm never going to be better than the top players consistently. The problem with doing this is that until you are proficient at what you're trying and understand the implications of how it works, it'll probably be less efficient than just playing "normally." Somethings I've messed with pan out, (waterfalls, various footwork, jump kicks etc), some don't or get nerfed (certain drags, baiting overheads and jumping the release, some dumb almost reverses, etc) But my playstyle is still mostly unique and I'm still testing stuff.

As for stuff about waiting for main mode, that's a legitimate concern, but I also went into the alpha with the mindset of testing gameplay instead of playing only for fun. I HAVE had fun, but I can understand why someone wouldn't. It'll come and hopefully be better for the wait and extra time spent.

And for the 32v32 testing, it's not necessary combat wise because fights will break down into sub fights. The map testing is more important for balancing of 32v32 than the mechanics at this point, since most things are close to being set.

301 875
  • 1
  • 11 May '18
 Naleaus

Oh, and I agree with Gauntlet and Das about the game being pretty explored, because of the years of Chivalry and similarities between the two. I played Chiv from release and watched and participated in the evolution of that game. We walked into Mordhau with that knowledge and ideas of possibilities. It might make it seem less deep, but there is still more to find.

Baron 1551 2083
  • 11 May '18
 yourcrippledson

@Naleaus said:
And for the 32v32 testing, it's not necessary combat wise because fights will break down into sub fights. The map testing is more important for balancing of 32v32 than the mechanics at this point, since most things are close to being set.

Impression I got from the kickstarter was that the base mechanics were basically finished. Meaning they needed us backers to test the larger scale modes.

I agree with you for the most part. I had the same thought, that testing 8v8 is similar in scale to the battles that would primarily exist in a 32v32 map.
But I think a lot of people are wondering if that is it, or if there would actually be a benefit to fighting on a larger scale, with functional legions, and a command structure, archer companies behind shield walls, cavalry unit on the flank. Larger scale teamwork, like Chiv TO with a little bit of M&B influence.

This is what a lot of nubs who have never played one of these types of games before are going to imagine when they see the trailers and stuff.

140 66
  • 12 May '18
 s522662

if you cant do well with a zwei in a duel, there is something wrong deeply inrooted in the gameplay mechanics

301 875
  • 12 May '18
 Naleaus

Zwei is great in team games, and the alt grip is good in duels, but normal still works. Nothing wrong with it.

Knight 693 1593
  • 1
  • 12 May '18
 das

You CAN do well with Zwei, with either grip. I use it all the time in duels against the top NA players... If anything, basically any weapon, even the fucking farming tools, is at the very least SERVICEABLE thanks to the game mechanics unlike in Chivalry where you literally had 95 - 5 matchups like Heavy Flail vs Maul.

Knight 693 1593
  • 12 May '18
 das

But I think a lot of people are wondering if that is it, or if there would actually be a benefit to fighting on a larger scale, with functional legions, and a command structure, archer companies behind shield walls, cavalry unit on the flank. Larger scale teamwork, like Chiv TO with a little bit of M&B influence.

This is what a lot of nubs who have never played one of these types of games before are going to imagine when they see the trailers and stuff.

It's practically impossible to have this kind of organized gameplay with online strangers.

However, clever map objectives and design can certainly encourage team coordination. For instance, people actually do shield wall formations on Darkforest pubs (pre-sluice gate and point C).