Even if the combat is not the focus of this game, we can’t deny it plays an important role in both singleplayer and multiplayer survival. In its current state, fights are not very enjoyable.
I don’t want Minecraft to become an highly technical fighting game, but following well-established fighting games’ mechanics, such as frame data and landing lag, can help the combat of this game to evolve in a much more solid system.
I will follow the idea that an engaging combat system is one where you have many opportunities but also costs, decisions that have risks you are willing to take. Because of this many of this points are nerfs to the current system.
These changes aren’t meant to make the combat more difficult, but to make it less repetitive.
Start-up and recovery frames instead of cooldown: Prevents spamming attacks and allows more interactions (hit during a start-up to cancel the enemy attack).
Player’s movement speed lowers a bit during attack animations: easier to escape enemy attacks and more readable action.
Jump attack recovery: can still jump but can’t deal any more damage until you stay on ground for a short period; Prevents spamming jump to be elusive.
Cooldown issues: heavy and light blows looks the same
The cooldown is an interesting mechanic. Waiting for the weapon to cool down to strike an heavy blow or hitting earlier if you want time advantage can make a fight more strategic, but in the current state the idea is conveyed very poorly and isn’t explained in-game. Players don’t see or hear any difference between the two types of attack, and, as the enemy is constantly pushed back, a new player may think that spamming is the best option. (This may also be solved with an infinite knockback resistance when the damage is too low.)
Meaningful attacks need start-up and recovery frames (or animations). Being hit during these periods will result in the cancelling of the attack and a stagger (or stun, or any other name) that will prevent you from attacking again for a very short period of time (but still being able to move).
This will make spamming completely useless and encourage waiting for openings and good timing. (The player can still spam, but it will be less efficient.)
The first player that attacks will be in advantage and will lead the dances as the opponent needs to adapt to his playstyle. Hitting the opponent in his start-up animation rewards the player with an extra hit. If the opponent instead waits the attack to land before counterattacking, he will gain advantage.
Each weapon has different attack animation duration, similarly to cooldown times (but they need to be slightly shorter, as the player will lose control over the attack button).
Slow down the pacing
In the heat of fast paced battles, especially in first person view, attacks seem invisible and your enemies will exit the screen while still in the damage animation. For an attack to feel good, it needs to have visible impact on the opponent.
This problems can be solved in a system where, during attack animations, the player’s walk and run speed diminishes. Even if the battle slows down only by a small bit, all attacks will seem more important and successful hits will feel more empowering.
This also let the players execute a deathly dance against the opponent, trying to move out of range to avoid enemy hits while also moving in range to land yours. Speed potions and healing items will be revalued too as they change the players’ speed.
Another strategy is to stand still while the opponent moves backward to evade your attacks and falls in some pit behind him.
Jumps are too cheap
Trying to hit one or more enemies while jumping to increase the damage while being more difficult to hit is fun(?). Hitting an enemy this way may seem skillful play but it’s actually pure luck.
Differently from many games, where being airborne is both useful (powerful attacks, bypass shields) and a danger (easy to see and hit), in Minecraft, jumping has no downside and also makes you deal critical hits.
This can be solved with a landing lag that prevents new attack while still allowing to move. The landing lag should start after an aerial, and should be long enough to prevent players to do damage if they keep jumping.
- To feel powerful, attacks also need a good visual and sound design (clashes and particles on successful hits or stagger, for example).
- Some items don’t follow one of these mechanics (e.g. the shovel bypasses landing lag as a shovel knight reference) to create variety in strategies.
- Battles against mobs who hold items can become more strategic.
- Bosses don’t follow these rules, so their battles become more unique.
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