The Daily Grind: Which MMOs have the best combat feedback?

I’m quite fond of 20XX, but I really hate the upgrades you can pick up in the game that eliminate hit stun. Sure, it means you don’t get knocked back by things, but it also means you can easily overlook when you’re taking damage until you explode. I consider that slightly less than a desirable outcome, you know?

MMOs, in general, do not have the same sort of combat feedback as platformers, but they can have similar problems. One of the problems I found in early versions of The Elder Scrolls Online was combat feeling floaty and devoid of impact, making it hard to tell if my attacks were actually making a difference. (That’s no longer the case, I should note.) Similarly, I’ve always found Final Fantasy XI with its slow pace to give you a pretty clear picture of whether or not your attacks are landing and doing something; the answer might be “no,” but at least you have an answer.

Of course, there are lots of different games with many different combat styles; TERA has excellent feedback about whether you’re doing well in combat, with everything feeling like it has a solid impact, but the similarly designed WildStar sometimes feels devoid of a strong sense of impact. So let’s turn the question over to you. Which MMOs have the best combat feedback? Which games are great about making you feel like you’re hitting something and causing an impact, and which ones leave you unsure?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!
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49 Comments on "The Daily Grind: Which MMOs have the best combat feedback?"

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Oleg Chebeneev

World of Warcraft: Legion. They did great job improving melee animations.

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Lily Cheng

I’d say Mabinogi definitely has the best combat feedback of any MMO I’ve played.

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Ben Stone

Neverwinter has a really impactful combat feel. They really nailed it. Other thinga though… Not so much.

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Bryan Turner

I don’t mean to knit pick that’s a picture from ARPG Diablo 3 not an MMO.

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Bryan Correll

I think you mean ‘nitpick.’ ;-)

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Bryan Turner

Auto correct.

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Melissa McDonald

I know folks either love it or hate it, but I have to say that my best answer to this question is Black Desert Online. or GW2. I do prefer more of an action combat thing than having to stand perfectly still lest my skill/spell be interrupted, etc.
I always loved original Diablo. It was just pure gold.

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luxundae

The game I play that does this the most is The Secret World. I was just playing through the Tokyo storyline again last night and spent a good chunk of my time getting dropkicked by filth-infected and ending up flat on my back, then thwapping them with a hammer so they end up flat on their backs. In my experience so far, most mobs (even really large ones) have animations for falling backwards and then struggling to their feet again. I assume just to make me happier when I use my hammer…

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Tanek

This probably illustrates what MJ mentioned in one of her columns. The way a player experiences combat in TSW can be VERY different depending on weapon and skills used. I don’t use a hammer in any build and when using claws I don’t really get any feedback at all.

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Tobasco da Gama

Yes. Also, I feel that TSW does communicate status effects (like being knocked down) extremely well.

The problem is that attacks that don’t do status effects aren’t communicated well at all. Did your attack hit? Penetrate? Crit? Was it blocked? Glancing? The floaty combat text will tell you, but the actual combat animations don’t communicate any of that information.

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Robert Mann

I’ve never been that picky about combat feedback in most MMOs, so long as I can tell what is going on. I mean, ideally yes a good combat system with accurate animations and all would be lovely, but when you have a world as immersion breaking as most MMOs are being worried about combat immersion is just a little ridiculous. I personally care far more about fixing all the problems with the worlds around us, and then looking at fixing some animation issues with characters, than vice versa.

Thus my input on the topic would likely be very skewed, as I’d have to be so jarred by the combat that I in turn felt it more breaking than things like watching dozens of mobs pop back in from the ether.

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rafael12104

The best, hands down, is Blade and Soul. It is complete and seamless. The animations are great and when you hit you see the impact immediately. But more than that, your eyes are your best weapon. You can see what is coming from your opponent of mob. It isn’t necessarily telegraphed with and aoe range, it is simly understanding the animations and the timing. It is the best way I can explain it. It is fast but once you you know your class and your opponents, you really get the sense that you are in a real fight.

Unlike BDO mobs aren’t walking into your spam of aoes. And it is crisper than Tera visually and in terms of impact and counters. Yup, BnS combat is the best in MMORPGs, IMO and
the immediacy and impact of the combat is part of the reason why.

miol_
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miol_

One of the problems I found in early versions of The Elder Scrolls Online was combat feeling floaty and devoid of impact, making it hard to tell if my attacks were actually making a difference. (That’s no longer the case, I should note.)

o.O What?

Even Bree keeps saying in your podcasts, how bad ESO’s combat animation still is!

Crow
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Crow

I kind-of agree. ESO’s combat (as of a month ago) still feels floaty and kind of muddy. It works and isn’t much of a huge detriment, but I wouldn’t raise ESO to be the bar in much of any way.

BDO, TERA… WoW. To an extent I find LotRO combat to have a lot of “weight” behind it.

I dunno. I don’t have issues with TSW’s combat so maybe I just don’t get it.

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Rottenrotny

Best: WoW, easily. Really nothing even comes close.
Worst: TSW. Terrible animation, boring.

I’ve been playing SWGEmu recently and omg I’m always surprised at how bad the combat is. If it weren’t for how awesome most everything else is I don’t think I could play it.
Another MMO that I feel has a poor combat feel: FFXIV. S o s l o w. P l e a s e j u s t l e t t h i s f i g h t e n d. Z z z z z

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Greaterdivinity

Will totally confirm ESO combat being pretty not great in the visual feedback department. It’s largely a reflection of its fake action combat presentation, because at its core it’s not really a proper action combat system. That’s why shit like, and I don’t know if this is still in the game because I’m too lazy to check, butt blocking or 180 degree ranged attacks (completing the attack animation while facing away from the target) were things that existed to begin with. It’s always an annoyance to me, but thankfully it’s far less of an issue for casters.

I’ll throw in on some of the more action-oriented MMO’s like Tera or Vindictus though. In general, those have always felt great, and they’re packed with a lot of visual feedback (and often times some solid audio, though that’s more hit or miss…heh, hit or miss, JOKES, I HAVE THEM) that delivers a sense of weight to your character, your attacks, and enemies. Especially Vindictus, as it makes pretty solid use of the physics built into the Source Engine.

I’ll throw a shoutout to Division though, and this is more based on the audio. It’s got some pretty great visual/audio feedback for all the guns/explosions/abilities from my experience so far. Super dig that all of the barrel attachments actually significantly change the sound of each gun, shit like that pleases me greatly. It’s super satisfying, I just need to get my gear up to snuff now.

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Vunak

TERA and BDO I feel have the greatest combat feedback, with TERA being superior in my opinion because its not as flashy and you can actually read your opponents animations and see what exactly they are doing and how you should respond based on your own classes kit.

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blah blazh

Vindictus has the best combat feedback. BDO also feels very nice.

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Gamie Glasglow

Can someone give me the skinny on Terra? I vaguely remember trying it out when it released. Is it any good now? Healthy population?

Nathaniel Downes
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Nathaniel Downes

I’ve found it has a very healthy population, which I expect to be climbing soon when the console ports are released.

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Gamie Glasglow

Will there be intermingling of PC & Console folks?

Nathaniel Downes
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Nathaniel Downes

Up in the air. They’re working on cross-platform play support, but only time will tell if it happens.

Line
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Line

Pretty much only Tera and Black Desert.
They actually took the time to have good sound design (something that’s just straight up ignored in MMOs, both by developers and players), as well as good visual feedback, if a bit excessive sometimes in the flinching animations. Some monsters get kinda shaky when you have multi hits attacks.

Tab target suffers tremendously from bad feedback, because a lot of the systems only revolve around dices. The Elder Scrolls was notorious for that (talking RPGs, TES 1 to 3) with action combat that just didn’t need the player. just a button to hold.
MMOs are largely based around the same model, with no way to get good feedback when damage is done with little interaction from the player.
They can at least go for some nice hitboxes and physics on projectiles, but once you are in the face of an enemy… it falls apart.

Wildstar is especially bad because of the terrible design that they made the game with.
They tried action combat in a tab target game, kinda bad but not unusual… but they also kept white damage to give some work to healers (because derpitty derp old school MMO rulz)… you avoid the constant telegraphs… and you die. Because white damage just stacks up on your face with no way to avoid it.

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DeviateFish

I like Tera’s combat.

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Arktouros

Going from a true action combat title like Black Desert where you have to aim and do attacks/combos to pseduo action combat titles is probably the biggest difference for me. Like in BDO if something is in range of an ability it will get hit. You can gauge your abilities and they just land if they were within the animation. It’s good and solid.

What really messes with me however is pseduo action combat games like ESO where even if your bow shot physically goes through the target, for example, it won’t actually hit unless you had them targeted in the first place (where then the bow shot wouldn’t arc/hit right). There’s also whole hitscan to it where if they were in range even if they go hide behind a tree the projectile will magically swerve and still plunk them which just seems silly.

This can vary from game to game like in GW2 you can dumbfire abilities and they still hit and games like TSW where you basically can’t at all and the dodge move wasn’t really a dodge/evasion. I forget which game it was but the whole combat kiting tactic was run, jump, turn mid air, hit ability, turn back, keep running and while certainly effective it basically ruins any feeling of feedback for me.

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Dobablo

you can easily overlook when you’re taking damage until you explode

or put another way.

Starfleet UX designers learned that if they didn’t make some bridge consoles explode, captains would ignore damage until the shields failed.

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Bryan Correll

It’s true. Things aren’t serious until a console explodes and kills a redshirt.

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MrSaxon

I don’t have enough experience to say which MMO has the best, although I’ll say that I very much enjoy ESO’s combat and it’s one of the reasons that particular MMO is currently my favorite.

Agreed with the Tanek that I hope TSW improves their combat feedback as part of their “upgrade”. That game’s combat is one of the “floatiest” feeling that I’ve come across.

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HNN

Vindictus probably the best because of its focus on bosses and raids making some epic fights that require skill. Blade and Soul is really good too then Tera. Only thing I really like about Tera is tanking. Blocking is so much fun

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HNN

I forgot the feedback part. Vindictus feedback is the sound and visuals of some blood coming out. Tera probably have the best feedback, the animation let you know when you’re you’re getting hit when you’re blocking an attack and see your body being pushed back by the attack while trying to maintain your stance

Cyclone Jack
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Cyclone Jack

CoH had great feedback on whether you were hitting or missing, and had very noticeable effects when someone was under an impairing effect; you always knew what was happening on your screen at a glance, which was quite impressive when thinking about it since you could have a team of 8 fighting 20 MOBs (a stark contrast to the normal team of 5 fighting 3-5 enemies). It also had the best tab-target cycling in any MMO I’ve played, greatly increasing the satisfaction of combat (seriously, some games’ tab-targeting is so bad you have to wonder why they even added that feature).

TERA had great combat feedback, which really added to the satisfaction of beating up mindless baddies and BAMs. WoW’s combat was also fairly decent in terms of feedback.

Past those, most MMOs are greatly lacking in this area. Combat is either super floaty, or there are no hit reactions at all.

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TheDonDude

Y’know, I never really thought about it, but you’re right–CoH (sometimes) actually changed the animation on a miss vs a hit.

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Tanek

I am having a good time with the combat in Black Desert at the moment. Between the sound of the strikes and the screen effects, I can certainly tell what is going on.

(Side note, really hoping Funcom’s TSW combat changes include something to provide more feedback of any kind.)

kofteburger
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kofteburger

Neverwinter.

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TheDonDude

I’d also argue that Wildstar’s combat feedback isn’t actually particularly bad. Stunning a mob and turning them purple for increased damage feels great.

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TheDonDude

City of Heroes. When it comes to explaining why CoH’s combat was fun (given on paper it was a standard tab targeting power bar affair), the feedback, oomph, and powerful secondary effects on your attacks is a huge reason for it.

camren_rooke
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camren_rooke

Yes this.

The best.

Ground stomps, Hand claps, nuke a guy with a energy bolt and they all go flying.

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Bryan Correll

Sniff. Making me miss Earth Control again. Stalagmites was one of the most ‘oomph’ feeling powers in the game. Stomp your foot and send spears of rock shooting up into a crowd of baddies then watch them stumble around aimlessly. Plus you got Earthquake to knock them down and KEEP knocking em down when they try to get up. And then you can use Volcanic Gasses to make them stand around choking. Those were some powers that felt powerful.

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TheDonDude

I’m missing my Ice/Storm Controller. Laying down that sweet sweet Ice Slick on such a huge area and just watching the mobs helplessly and repeatedly fall over each other. Mmm.

deekay_plus
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deekay_plus

pretty much nothing beats wow for combat feeling good. the animations sounds and combat speed come together in a synergetic way to create a good feeling of impact and oomph without feeling overwhelming or losing out on situational awareness of what’s happening in combat.

while gw2 for example has a dazzling light show of particle effects, it also generally has a very floaty feeling and in any kind of group situation starting a low number and ramping up, important combat information feedback is lost in the so called “particle soup”.

which ffxiv is slower but also suffers from being too much too over the top combat animations which are likely to cause epilectic siezures in people with no prior history while also being excessively loud the closer you get to the target no matter your volume setting due to the high volume range of the game (nothing hits me harder in that game while traveling as the doppler effect kicks in as i run by various ambient things that sound quiet until get within 2 meters than suddenly my ears are bleeding and i’m waking up from my half slumber).

wildstar is close to wow on some classes but others tend to have a weightless feel even if the class is strong in teh meta. i really notice this contrast when switching from my spell slinger which has a really solid impactful feeling in her main dps nukes to my warrior which despite being tankier and hitting harder, just feels like i’m flailing a wet towel around instead of a big over sized sword.

miol_
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miol_

Your knowledge about GW2’s “particle soup” is very outdated, since they added the effects-culling in 2013 (a year after launch), especially noticeable in WvW!

https://wiki.guildwars2.com/wiki/Game_updates/2013-08-06#Improved_Effects_Culling

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Tobasco da Gama

Yes, the effects will be culled when they stack. But most attacks are still totally illegible beneath their own particle effects, even if they’re not being covered up (as much) by everyone else’s as well.

GW2’s combat feedback is a complete mess, and deekay is right to call it out. ANet just kind of hopes that the flashiness distracts from the fact that an attack that’s blocked looks like an attack that missed looks like an attack that hit, etc.

miol_
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miol_

So I guess, you never ever saw a projectile flying past you or the muffled sound of every blocked attack…

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Tobasco da Gama

No, because they’re not noticeable under the giant clusterfuck of projectiles, particles, and sounds.

miol_
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miol_

Yes, they are!

If you didn’t misunderstand the label and therefore didn’t switch off culling, you can see your own projectiles just fine along with the Miss message and appropriate sound! The block sound (along with the prominent shield symbol) is louder than the sound effects of others, if you didn’t put dialogues and music louder than the effects channel!

And I want to see you counting projectiles of 150 other players in any other MMO, that even dare to have open world bosses and doesn’t have culling of effects!

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Tobasco da Gama

I didn’t fuck with the culling setting, GW2’s design is just a clusterfuck of noise even after they tried to fix it.

deekay_plus
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deekay_plus

i assume this is some setting in options that people wouldn’t know about unless told because the particle soup was still there playing a couple hours every few months from early 2013 until the year the expansion came out.

miol_
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miol_

Nope, it was set enabled by default one day later in August:

https://wiki.guildwars2.com/wiki/Game_updates/2013-08-07#Performance

ice_screenshot_20170316-180817.jpg
miol_
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miol_

But some people still think, they have to disable it in order to take the wished effect, because of its misunderstanding name.

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