Mordhau

The problem of playstyle monotony in pubs

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One of the more commonly discussed issues in Mordhau is how everyone runs around in pubs using Halberd, Zwei or Maul with the occasional Bloodlust slapped on top. There's little to no variety because literally any other playstyle is deliberally handicapping yourself. Just go in with a heavy hitter and LMB riposte your way around the map.

I'm going to rant on what contributes to this problem, comparing Mordhau to Chivalry and various other multiplayer games. Most of the below issues revolve around Mordhau's lack of a proper support playstyle.

 

1. Shields still haven't found their place in the game.
From the theoretical perspective of a new player, held shields (Heater and Kite) have lower stamina values than you'd expect, behave completely differently from shields in literally any other videogame and their riot mode has been nerfed/changed so drastically that the current speed makes no logical sense. Why does it suddenly take so much effort to lift up the shield when you can parry with it instantly?

Honestly I don't know what to do with shields but I think they were closer to whatever role they're meant to fill on release day than they are now.

 

2. Toolbox feels underdeveloped and most of its usefulness isn't rewarded with points.
The assists when someone else uses your ballista is a good idea. But what do I get for enemies having to destroy my walls? Teammates using my fire pits? The only rewarding way I found to play "a toolbox build" is to barely use the toolbox at all; just place down a ballista after you spawn, pick a weapon off the ground and go play as you usually would while acquiring the occasional ballista assist.

 

3. Medbags offer no alternative playstyle or focus.
Playing a "medic" in Mordhau is 99% the same as any other loadout. The only difference is that you throw some shit on the floor before the fight starts.
A more active method of supporting your teammates wouldn't be out of place in Mordhau. This could be anything, ranging from manually healing a teammate yourself or blowing on a war horn to apply a temporary stamina regen bonus to nearby allies.

 

4. Everything in Mordhau works together to make Archery as bland as possible.
Bows/crossbows don't deal as much raw damage as they did in Chivalry (thank god), but also cost a lot of points, deal with aiming sway, get disarmed on hit, have slow projectiles, have generally worse stats than almost any throwable (with the exception of ammo) and there's a perk (Huntsman) designed to counter them even more.

But what is there to make up for all this? Even Billhook and blunt weapons have special negative effects applied on hits, why not arrows? There's even already a system in place for plucking arrows out of your body/armor. What if arrows and bolts apply a stackable debuff? Or prevent health regeneration?

 

5. Almost every weapon has an alt mode, and as such almost any weapon can fill almost any role.
The downside of adding alternate grips to a lot of weapons is that they actually reduce weapon variety - both by making many weapons fill a similar role but also potentially rendering some weapons/modes obsolete.

Mordhau grip is similar to any blunt weapon. Bastard Sword and Messer both have alt grips that don't make logical sense (two-handed deals less damage against wood?) nor are consistent with each other (BS has better stamina values two-handed over one-handed, Messer doesn't). Estoc's main mode and Greatsword/Zweihander/Spear's alt modes can all be grouped together. I'm glad I'm not in charge of balance changes in this game because I can't imagine how many other weapons I need to take into account while changing one.

Then there's the spear, a weapon which theoretically should be the ultimate support weapon (and is often still seen as one). In Chivalry it was indeed a great support weapon because it was balanced around its lack of a helpful alt-mode.
But in Mordhau the overall reduced lunge, reduced knockback (and 0 knockback on chambers), reduced range and the recently added movement speed penalty all ensure that any kind of possible range advantage is immediately lost after your first attack. It's still a good weapon but that's because, like every other weapon, its alt grip makes up for any shortcomings of its main grip.

 

6. Amount of opponents correlates to the effectiveness of the current main playstyle.
The 48p and 64p player servers may leave a decent first impression on newcomers but they offer Mordhau's gameplay in its most dumbed down form. Why go with light armor if you'll just get one-shot the next time you (inevitably) get hit by some random unforeseeable arrow, explosion or swing? Why wouldn't you go with Bloodlust if the map is filled with free, living healthpacks all eager to jump into your next riposte? What's the point of carefully strategizing the placement of Toolbox structures if at least 10 players on each team have firebombs?

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It's really depressing. Instead of getting rid of hit trades, they made it the core mechanic the game revolves around.

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They removed hit stop on allies, but spamming slash weapons indiscriminately is still the meta... team mates are still hitting me from behind while enemies feint me by incompetently hitting each other in the back and then hitting me after my parry. Double parry is a total gamble. I would really rather just hit trade even in light armor.

Spear is still pretty good, but maybe a point or two, too expensive now... Still the closest thing this game has to a sniper rifle though, sorry @archers, you aint shit and archers prolly shoot more allies than enemies... and can't push objectives.

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  • 8 Apr
 esturias

That's the "half-assed'ness" I'm always talking about. The game still doesn't fit together very well, which is quite normal for a game in its alpha stage.

Knight 5408 7405

Yep, you summarized it very well.
I think that long times in between big content patches wouldn't be so scarring for the community if they dropped more frequent patches with the bazillion quality of life changes and inconsistencies being addressed.
Even if they would slow down the big patches even more, It gets really tiring and annoying having to constantly face these small things that have been voiced hundreds of times, for literally months or years. They sometimes even make the game look and feel like it's still in beta state.
If patches like this were dropped more closely together, they would also become opportunities to test "experimental changes" for shorter, more reasonable periods of time if they turn out to be cancer like the removal of hit stop on allies that should have been hotfixed way, way sooner. They could put stuff in, then try to tweak it and if needed they could remove it.

Knight 125 167

@Shitscrubber64 said:
1. Shields still haven't found their place in the game.
From the theoretical perspective of a new player, held shields (Heater and Kite) have lower stamina values than you'd expect, behave completely differently from shields in literally any other videogame and their riot mode has been nerfed/changed so drastically that the current speed makes no logical sense. Why does it suddenly take so much effort to lift up the shield when you can parry with it instantly?

Honestly I don't know what to do with shields but I think they were closer to whatever role they're meant to fill on release day than they are now.

Completely agreed.

@Shitscrubber64 said:

But what is there to make up for all this? Even Billhook and blunt weapons have special negative effects applied on hits, why not arrows? There's even already a system in place for plucking arrows out of your body/armor. What if arrows and bolts apply a stackable debuff? Or prevent health regeneration?

This is an excellent suggestion of how to improve the archery part to a better direction. Why not make arrows that are sticking in you slow you down a bit, until you stop to pluck them off.

Baron 1644 5230
  • 9 Apr
 Lincs

Now that I've had a lot of time to reflect on mordhau in hindsight, I think the game suffered primarily from too much feature creep too early in its development. Instead of starting very small, with only a handful of weapons that fit different niches and worked well in different situations, the devs tried to bring the whole circus to town right from the get-go, including tons of extra mechanics, modes, and new weapons and other gadgets and then got totally overwhelmed trying to fit them all into one streamlined, aesthetically pleasing package. The amount of content they were aiming for fell very much into the realm of quantity over quality so that you had a handful of artists designing things and one or two people frantically trying to balance them into the game. I don't think they've ever found their footing after release either, as many other alpha backers will attest that combat was more satisfying in earlier patches.

I say all this to say, I would have been perfectly fine playing a game much smaller in scope, yet more satisfying in experience while the devs worked on adding things to the game according to how well they fit.

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  • 10 Apr
 Vonwolf

With archery i REALLY feel like an arrow should cause flinch. When a horseman rides at you with a lance, an arrow to the head doesnt uncrouch the lance when it should. Or when a player is running at you, spamming feint until they finally release their swing. Meanwhile, point blank arrows wont interrupt their attacks.

Out of all the mechanics in the game, i think ranged weapons were left in the dark when it comes to mechanics.

Honestly thrown or ranged weapons should flinch players AND/OR remove max speed sprint from them or halt their sprint in general.

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@Vonwolf said:
With archery i REALLY feel like an arrow should cause flinch. When a horseman rides at you with a lance, an arrow to the head doesnt uncrouch the lance when it should. Or when a player is running at you, spamming feint until they finally release their swing. Meanwhile, point blank arrows wont interrupt their attacks.

Out of all the mechanics in the game, i think ranged weapons were left in the dark when it comes to mechanics.

Honestly thrown or ranged weapons should flinch players AND/OR remove max speed sprint from them or halt their sprint in general.

I'm 90% certain arrows do flinch couched riders. I was actually pretty angry the other day when a puny shortbow shut down my lance ambush.

But hey combat is pretty confusing and chaotic, I could've been wrong about the source of the damage.

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  • 14 Apr
 Vonwolf

Sadly doesnt mate. Ive headshot many of riders within 10ft but still get smacked by a lance.

Ive had situations where the rider completely missed me and rode off but then i died moments later lol.
Hell, there was a time i did a held shield and blocked the blow even had the thunk sound against the shield but still died.

I feel like since horses are moving to quickly the hitbox of their crouched weapon and the hitbox of the horse and rider become to unstable. But i would absolutely love if arrows caused melee attacks to flinch.

Knight 5408 7405

Projectiles flinching couched weapons and resseting full sprint could be interesting, but flinching attacks is a no no.
It was like that at the start of the alpha and it got quickly removed. It's just too annoying and in the right hands it's op af.

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You made some great points there. I'd like to add to some of them.

Shields:
I feel like the only shield worth equipping is the buckler. The other shields are just plain trash now.
Throwing Targe as frisbee with huntsman was pretty much the funniest shit I eperienced in this game, although not intended and not immersive at all.
But I think held block needs to return with a new mechanic. Drain 2 stamina every 100 ms or so. That'll be 5 seconds of shield holding until you run out of stamina that you'll need to time well enough so you don't get disarmed.

Toolbox: I mained Toolbox when I was new. Kept playing it, when we needed them, but no chance vs fire mage. If firebombs aren't limited to 1 per loadout or changed / nerfed in another way, there's not much hope for the engineer class. Smokes don't help the engineer much, ballista dies too fast, they're only effective on the cata. Maybe change something about that?

Medic: Who needs a medic when you can roleplay a vampire? Right? riGhT?

Archers: I like your Idea about the arrows stuck in bodies applying a debuff. Other than that, damage wise, I think archers are in a good place right now, but t3 should provide a bit more protection against recurve and longbow, crossbow is fine. Crossbow bolts should pierce armor more than recurve or longbow.

@Vonwolf: I don't think the flinch mechanic in chivalry was any good. I played archer, people hated me, I played melee and hated archers. A possible solution would be to allow the flinch during windup, but not during release. This is how it should be implemented, if it were to be. This way, people won't have their attacks magically stopped by arrows when they're about to hit someone.

I'd like to add some thoughts about armor. Currently the t3 armors are too weak against most blades, like rapiers and cleaver, but also arrows. The other big downside is the movement debuff for helmets that's still in place. I don't like that movement speed is only based on your armor, and not on your equipped weapon. It should be a "combined weight of both" that determines how fast or slow you are. I vaguely remember something being changed about weapons from the ground or Bloodlust movement speed. Might be a step in the right direction but not enough.
So t2 torso because won't slow you much, t3 legs won't slow you a lot either, it's only about your helmet now which is stupid.

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so with 2 stam drain per 100ms you're forcing a defensive playstyle to play aggressively or the opponent will just wait a few seconds and then go for the kill as the stamina fight has now already been won... smart.

nah man, just revert shields to their release state now that kick has been improved to better deal with them.

EDIT: IF something like stamina drain was applied to held shields, then it better come with instant stam regen once the shield is lowered, and at a 125% rate rather than 100%. otherwise stam drain per second would keep shields useless, especially when you put the actual block stam drain on top of it.. you'd basically be able to block 3-4 attacks and then you'd be completely drained of stamina and then die to the next incoming attack as that means you'd also be disarmed.

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Far be it from me to make balance changes to shields as I've had hardly any playtime with them before they started getting completely overhauled every month.

But why not start from scratch? Then give shields only the following qualities:

  • Can hold block by simply holding the parry button. Parry timing is not required.
  • You cannot riposte. At all.
  • Maybe, maybe re-introduce a quick counter like kicks so shield turtles don't take half a year to kill in FL/INV. Maybe. If kicks aren't so fast and easy anymore in the future.

...and then just balance them from there if needed.

Their stamina negation would be the same as normal weapons, maybe slightly worse. No different keys for different types of blocking. No hidden movement speed debuff. Keep it simple.

The end result would be (as far as I can predict) that shields are great in teamfights again. For duels you can use a shield (if you're having trouble reading drags or feints) but you'll generally want to quickly un-equip it for the ability to riposte, otherwise you'll eventually lose the stamina game by having to chamber in order to ever gain initiative.

 

I don't know if this would be useless or overpowered. It just seems better than having overly complex shields that don't serve a purpose.

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Ah, remember Alpha patch 14, where shields were perfectly balanced, fun to use and alot of fun to fight? Good times, good times.

People said they were too hard to use, but I, a true chad and shield user, thought they were just right and fairly intuitive. That's the beauty of differing playstyles and skill sets, right? But Mordhau isn't about encouraging different playstyles and tactics, it's about forcing you to play the meta. So gay kick stun got added and shields became stamina whores that had a magically massive parrybox. Gay.

I'd rather the devs give up AND NEVER TOUCH SHIELDS AGAIN than take shield advice from anyone else here or worse, the comp players. I'd rather shields stay as useless as they are now, than be reverted into even more useless noob crutches.

Bring back Alpha Patch 14/15 shields or you're gay. Or just leave them alone, you've done enough damage to my babies.

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@Lionheart Chevalier said:
Ah, remember Alpha patch 14, where shields were perfectly balanced, fun to use and alot of fun to fight? Good times, good times.

People said they were too hard to use, but I, a true chad and shield user, thought they were just right and fairly intuitive. That's the beauty of differing playstyles and skill sets, right? But Mordhau isn't about encouraging different playstyles and tactics, it's about forcing you to play the meta. So gay kick stun got added and shields became stamina whores that had a magically massive parrybox. Gay.

I'd rather the devs give up AND NEVER TOUCH SHIELDS AGAIN than take shield advice from anyone else here or worse, the comp players. I'd rather shields stay as useless as they are now, than be reverted into even more useless noob crutches.

Bring back Alpha Patch 14/15 shields or you're gay. Or just leave them alone, you've done enough damage to my babies.

I'm intrigued. I'd like to see any footage if there is some and you're willing to dig it out for me.

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I don't have any :/ which is really sad because I have a fuck ton of screenshots with me using shield in Alpha Patch 14/15 but no actual footage :(

But basically shields had held block but required extreme accuracy at the benefit of a stamina buff. So they were really good at dueling and holding choke points but required you to be very smart in group fights.

"But how can you block multiple attacks at the same time" foot work, also the shield didn't flinch if you were back stabbed so it was actually superior to regular parry when surrounded... also you can "drag" the shield across multiple attacks and shields had a very loose turn cap. They really were the ultimate 1vX tool, and even more so in tight quarters/hallways.

Also, it's more intuitive to block WHERE an attack is going as opposed to WHEN... especially in a game that's online and ping based... where attacks can be dragged/caceled but parries can't be dragged, manipulated or canceled. Shields gave greater depth to the game by allowing you to manipulate defense against manipulated offense. Shield duels really were beautiful.

It looks like Chivalry 2 will bring this logic to its new combat system. Total freedom to manipulate both defense and offense as opposed to Mordhau and Chiv 1's static, magic forcefield parry.

What was also beautiful about Alpha 14/15 shields... you can augment your armor based on your specific weaknesses... if you have a hard time blocking leg hits then you would naturally wear leg armor... but if you NEVER fell for side stabs then you might wear light/medium torso armor... and if you fell for shoulder drags and fake leg hits alot, then you would definitely wear a T3 helmet.

Also, Morphs/feints took on greater depth against shields. They worked just fine against shield users but you had to be smart. Feint at the shield's legs, then stab him in the face. Stab left, then morph overhead over the shield onto his now-exposed right side. High IQ plays all day. It was so beautiful and I'm still bitter they swapped that for gay fucking kick stun.

Knight 5408 7405

Yep, that patch was fun, I could use shields without feeling unfair. I never understood why the hell they removed them.

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@Humble Staff said:
Yep, that patch was fun, I could use shields without feeling unfair. I never understood why the hell they removed them.

because 2H users (mainly maul users) were crying they had issues killing people using shields.. its a very simple explanation.
of course you will never actually see them admit that, but if you go back in forum history you will notice that a lot of anti-shield whine threads pop up everywhere.

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  • 15 Apr
 Kashi

Dude shields didnt counter maul users , they almost countered any playstyle in the release version of them

It was simply too easy to use because it negated almost every playstyle except stamina battles

The issue lies purely with its massive magical parry box and the ability to ignore all mixups including drags and accels on top of kicks being kindof a bad counter to them

What these guys are talking about is the specific version that had a skilled parry box where you could be hit around your guard with well placed hits the release version you basically couldn't do that
Release version of shields where unfun to deal with on all fronts basically

And no the one weakness of old shields being slightly less stamina efficient is not the way to balance something that let you ignore most of the games fight mechanics

Imo I would have loved to play the alpha 14 version because having to aim your block would be a great way to play shields , none of that block while staring at your opponent and holding S nonsense , that had no timing and no aiming required