Hello, everyone! In our last dev update, I mentioned that we’d start talking more about gameplay systems and combat after E3. So let’s get to it!
I’ve mentioned what combat in Tyranny will be like in several interviews. But for those of you who haven’t read any of those, here are some highlights: Our combat is real-time, with the ability to pause at any time to issue commands to a party of up to 4 characters, including your own. In addition to the spells and abilities each character can use, we’ve also added companion combos – abilities that allow your character and a companion to work together in concert to create a powerful effect. Abilities use a cooldown system, allowing you to use most of your abilities multiple times per encounter. Combat is based on your character’s skills, and the more you use those skills, the more experience you’ll gain.
With that overview in mind, let’s dive into some specifics!
When you perform an attack in Tyranny – whether it’s a basic weapon attack, casting a spell, or using an ability – your Accuracy is compared to the target’s Defense to determine how well the attack does. As with Pillars of Eternity, each attack can have one of four possible results: Miss, Graze (attacks deal less damage, status effects are applied for a shorter duration), Hit, or Crit (attacks deal greater damage, and status effects are applied for a longer duration).
Your Accuracy is determined by one or more character skills. A basic attack will use the skill associated with the weapon you’re attacking with. A spell will use the magic skill for that type of spell and the character’s Lore skill. If more than one skill is used, their values are averaged together to produce the final skill value. Accuracy bonuses from weapons or abilities are added to that base value to determine the final Accuracy for the attack. The skills used to determine Accuracy are also the skills you gain experience in for that attack.
Each attack targets one of five possible Defenses: Parry, Dodge, Endurance, Will, or Magic. Enemies and party members have different strengths and weaknesses in these defenses, making some attacks better options against one type of enemy than another.
Accuracy is compared to Defense, and the resulting difference is used to modify the combat result table. Higher Accuracy results in a greater chance to Crit or Hit, reducing the chance to Graze or Miss. A lower Accuracy has the opposite effect, making you Graze or Miss more often.
Damage in Tyranny works similarly to Pillars. We have multiple damage types based on the armor a character wears: Slash, Pierce, Crush, Burn, Shock, Frost, Corrode, and Arcane. Different enemies have strengths and weaknesses against different types of damage. To maximize the pain you inflict, you’ll want to target your enemies with damage types they are weak against.
Armor is still important to mitigate damage, but we also wanted to give more options for different character builds. Heavier armors (bronze or iron) provide Armor, which reduces damage dealt down to a minimum of 1. We’ve also added a new stat to lighter armors called Deflection. Deflection provides a chance that an attack will be downgraded one level (IE: a Crit becomes a Hit, a Hit becomes a Graze, or a Graze becomes a Miss). Deflection can be increased by the Finesse stat, and by talents and other items you can find in the game.
Tyranny handles hit points differently than Pillars did. Instead of the combination of Health and Endurance, we have a single Health bar to focus on. As attacks deal damage, your character’s Health is reduced. When it reaches 0, a character falls unconscious (or dies, depending on game options). Characters can be revived using special abilities or consumables, or they will regain consciousness at the end of combat and begin regenerating Health.
We’ve also added the Wound system. When your character falls unconscious, they will gain a Wound – more than one on the hardest difficulty settings. On harder difficulties, you’ll also gain a Wound when a character reaches low health. When a character is Wounded, their max health is reduced and all of their skills suffer a small penalty. Wounds can stack and will remain on a character until they rest.
Tyranny will ship with four difficulty settings for the game: Story Mode, Normal, Hard, and Path of the Damned. Each of these difficulty settings will affect how challenging combat is with Story Mode being for players who mainly want to experience the story and reactivity of the game. If you watched any of the videos from E3, this is the difficulty setting you saw.
As difficulty increases, we focus more on the AI and tactics of enemies rather than just adding more enemies to each encounter. On harder difficulties enemies will choose targets more effectively as well as use their abilities more frequently and strategically. We also replace some weaker units with more challenging ones at higher difficulties.
Other Combat Changes
We’ve made several other changes to combat, a few of which I want to highlight:
Interrupt: We still have interrupt in Tyranny, but we’ve simplified this a bit. Unlike Pillars, we don’t have a separate Interrupt roll. Only some abilities will interrupt the target. When those abilities Hit or Crit, they will interrupt (Grazes and Misses do not interrupt). An interrupted target has any queued actions cleared and enters recovery. The length of their recovery depends on how strong the ability’s interrupt was.
Consumables: We’ve changed how consumables work in Tyranny. They’re now an instant action, meaning the effects apply as soon as you use the consumable, even if the character is on recovery. Once a character uses a consumable, all consumables for that character are on cooldown for a short duration. This allows you to rescue a character at low health, but you can’t just spam healing potions to make your party members invincible.
Friendly Fire: We’ve removed friendly fire from abilities in Tyranny. I wanted players to be able to focus on maximizing their damage to enemies, without worrying about harming their own party members in the process.
Hopefully this gave you some insight into how combat will work in Tyranny. In our next dev update, we’ll introduce you to one of the Companion characters who can travel with you through the world.
~Brian Heins, Game Director