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MechQuest Critical Analysis III: Uber Battle System?

Posted by The Peanut Master on December 28, 2008

Hey, who said all of these critical analysis posts would be negative? Not this one.

Any RPG that wants to make it to the big time has to have certain elements of its gameplay that put it in elite status. One of them is having an exceptional battle system. Since RPGs are centered around battling, it would only make sense that one of the most important aspects of the game be the battle system and its features. While AdventureQuest, DragonFable, and AQWorlds have some major battle system drawbacks, it is MechQuest’s battle systen which outdoes the rest, putting it in the necessary elite status to excel to greatness.

Before we examine MechQuest’s battle system, let’s look at the battle systems AE has concocted for its other games, starting with AdventureQuest. I won’t lie, I am no AdventureQuest specialist. I don’t play the game anymore (my level 37 character has been collecting dust for ages), and don’t plan to any time soon. While I can’t accurately describe AdventureQuest’s battle system, I can describe its shortfalls, as they are some of the reasons I ultimately quit the game. AdventureQuest’s battle system, while advanced and multi-purposed, is a slow and painful trek to the end. The animations are chunky and dull, and the slowness put me to sleep. The consistent damages not appearing over the enemies’ heads never helped either, as it would have been nice to see what kind of damage I was doing more than half the time. Overall, for a new player to the game (someone who hasn’t been playing since the beginning), AdventureQuest’s battle system never did it for me, and I much prefer the faster and more up-to-date battle systems of newer games.

DragonFable has much different shortcomings from AdventureQuest, and there’s really only one glaring weakness: Not enough depth. Yes, DragonFable fights are fast, fluent, and fun (alliteration FTW!). However, choosing your strategy is nearly 100% based on damage and resistances, nothing else. There are no other strategic elements to choosing which attacks to use. If the first weapon does more damage than the second weapon, the first weapon is most definitely the better option. All the time. There are a wide range of elements and weapons in the game, but it is so damage-reliant that DragonFable’s battle strategy is incredibly limited. Furthermore, on the subject of strategy, enemies have that same lack of unique special strategies. Their battle strategies are also based off of only damage, and if you can do more damage than your enemy, you will always win (and vice versa).

AQWorlds, AE’s newest concoction, is in its own little realm of issues. Creating an MMORPG battle system is an incredibly hard task to take on and ultimately succeed in doing, and while AE gets an A for effort, its ultimate results thus far have been kind of awful (and it’s one of the main reasons I haven’t upgraded yet). There are really too many holes in AQWorld’s battle system to speak of in this post, and deserves its own book, but let’s leave it at this: There are TONS of areas AE needs to work on, and I mean TONS.

Now, let’s move on to MechQuest. Maybe I’m biased, and I probably am, but MechQuest’s battle system is, without a shadow of a cherry of a doubt, the best battle system AE has concocted thus far. Many have drawn similarities between MechQuest and DragonFable. Battles are not one of these similarities. The foundations for MechQuest’s battle system were fantastic and solid, and the way AE (a.k.a. Warlic) has built on those foundations is truly awe-inspiring. MechQuest combines the best of both AdventureQuest and DragonFable, while leaving out what didn’t work in those games. It combines the depth and strategy of AdventureQuest with the fluency and elegance of DragonFable to form the best battle system AE has ever created, and it really is a sight to see.

The foundation that was set was beautifully done. Cooldowns and energy were implemented from the start perfectly, and the core battle system, heavily reliant on simply damage, energy usage, and cooldown remains the foundation for all of the new high tech stuff. In fact, you could very easily compare MechQuest’s battle system’s beginnings (i.e. Gamma/early Soluna City) to what DragonFable looks like now: The foundations for something great. And it ended up being great, too.

If you look at the progression from MechQuest’s beginnings to the present, you will see an enormous evolution. Now, while damage, energy, and cooldown are still very important in weapon selection, there are so many more elements to consider, making each and every weapon its own unique experience. It started with simple DoTs, stuns, and chances of bonus damages. Now it has evolved into an ever-growing pool of special abilities and effects, spanning through every possible idea you could think of: Immobility resistance raising, enemy weapon cooldown increasing, energy DoT, house-specific effects, it’s nearly overwhelming. Even mechs themselves, with their seemingly set in stone health, energy, and energy regeneration being its only attributes, have received upgrades, with tons of mechs coming out with immobility resistances, bonuses, and some unique ideas (such as the one-of-a-kind energy regeneration technique of Mysterious Johnson’s latest concoction).

AE has even taken a step further, starting to enter new realms of strategy by exploring weapon combos to create devastating effects. They’ve also explored build-your-own-mechs, forcing us to create our own setup. Who truly knows where AE will take it next? The great thing is, while so much strategy has already been reached, the possibilities for future enhancements remain endless, and it’s one of the key reasons why MechQuest’s future ultimately looks bright, even considering the awful creation time and understaffed team (;)).

To conclude, while MechQuest may not have a lot going for them, one of the things it does have is a unique and incredible battle system, which Warlic and Co. have so beautifully crafted. AE has proven with MechQuest that they can indeed learn from past failures, and it’s great to see that in action with MechQuest.

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18 Responses to “MechQuest Critical Analysis III: Uber Battle System?”

  1. Zeke said

    MQ Battle System = Win.

    There is NOTHING more to be said. There ARE some flaws, though, and that is the extreme overuse and overpoweredness of immobility resist, but that’s about it.
    ~Zeke~

  2. Yeah, the immobility resistance thing is very much hit-and-miss, and it’s in a kind of weird cycle.

    I would also add that newer equipment is more powerful than same-leveled older equipment because of more potent specials, but that is a result of the battle system’s main strength, and isn’t necessarily a bad problem to have.

  3. ZamuelNow said

    Yeah, other than the power creep with new equipment outclassing the old, the engine is pretty solid. In fact, Zargon even managed to add environmental effects into the mix without breaking things. I think the final clencher is the strength of the enemies we have to fight due to the unique skills they have. I feel that DragonFable would drastically improve if we simply had better enemies.

  4. Seriyu said

    to be honest I’ve always been a fan of AQ’s battle system, if only because it’s simple and makes it easy to multitask. Granted if you get to levels with ubers, and don’t like the animation on the uber of your choice, well, you’re kinda out of luck, that’s a definate negative.

    Personally I like MQ’s system, but it’s not really being implimented very well if you ask me. We have energy and cooldowns but as of now it’s pretty simple to find out how to set up the cooldowns so you don’t have to wait a turn for anything. And how often have you ran out of energy without some form of energy stealing going on?

    I’d like to see some weapons that hit VERY hard but have a high cooldown/very high energy cost or something similar. Of course, part of this problem is the fact that no-one strays from the defaults, but even so most of the weapons seem to be either brute force, DoT, or stun. There may be a lot of status effects, but not many of them are being used, persay, aside from special enemy effects.

  5. It is per se’ not persay. Just saying. Lol. But anyways, brute force weapons are NOT what I want to see. Then it is no different than DF. What I do want to see is more weapons with low damage and super-high DOTs. And weapons with low damage and high stun like that one old weapon that I can’t remember the name of…I think it was Stun Gun RC1?

  6. Zeke said

    When I have a battle, and it goes 5 turns in, I check the enemy’s page.

    What I see, is a SCREEN full of DoTs, Nerfs, Buffs, effects, etc.

    That is what I want to see more of. It is something that MQ has done greatly.

    @CCM: I think you’re thinking about the Used Electron Sniper XD
    ~Zeke~

  7. No…it is actually quite a secret. It is a BACK arm weapon that can stun for 3 turns that was passed as obsolete. It cost 50 EP per use with a high cooldown. Now, with mecha with lots of EP, it is very effective and useful…

  8. Zeke said

    Oh, so you WERE talking about the Stun Gun XD

    It’s no secret, it’s pretty unbalanced, really.

    It only stuns for 2 turns, BTW.
    ~Zeke~

  9. Seriyu said

    Well we obviously have some different opinions but you get the idea well enough. Although some high damage DoT’s certainly sound good.

    And thank you for correcting me on perse’, I’ve used it wrong for about a year now apperently. :p

    And I’m gonna have to check out that stungun for my lower level charecters.

  10. Yep, you’re thinking about the Stun Gun RC1, an extremely overpowered weapon that is the only one available with a 100% two turn stun. I actually had a whole write-up about it when the K&S forced strategy and the Stun Gun RC1 gained tremendous popularity: https://artixentertainment.wordpress.com/2008/06/03/stun-gun-rc1-what/

  11. ZamuelNow said

    Stun Gun RC1 isn’t as broken as what it might seem and is more of the type of weapon MQ needs. It does little damage, uses 50 EN (I think QWN-1138’s Healing Arm is the only other weapon so far with that large of a drain), and has an 8 turn cooldown. The tradeoff is a really good effect that is even more minimized due to the recent increases to immobility resistance. A really good effect that is balanced out by numerous other setbacks.

    Seriyu makes a good point that MQ is in need of more good weapons that actually have setbacks. Most good weapons are…well…good and that’s that. If we look at the infamous Equinox, the Back Arm had the drain amount reduced and then changes were made to the overall game engine. To this day, I feel that they should have done what they originally broke and switched the cooldown between the two arms. With a 5 turn cooldown, the Whip would have been really good but a bigger risk if it missed and would flow differently in turn cycling. This said, more enemies need balanced EN drains/strikes and forced cooldown weapons.

    The team has made a lot of progress since the somewhat dramatic Kurosawa revival as far as adding more unique specials to mecha and enemies. I think we can officially mark the date of that Design Note entry as the day things changed for te better in MQ.

  12. Two things I’ll add to the discussion:

    1) About the Stun Gun: For lower level players, the weapon is nicely balanced, because the 50 energy and 8 cooldown (with only around 4 weapons equipped), along with mediocre damage, is very tough to overcome, and provide serious drawbacks to the weapon. For higher levels players however, it is extremely broken. The energy cost is only slightly above average for level 28, and an 8 cooldown isn’t that bad since you would still have 5 weapons to choose from. Even the low damage is nullified because you get it all back plus some when the enemy is stunned for two turns. There needs to be a major effect of the weapon that seriously penalizes higher level players, without making it completely unusable for the intended lower level players. If nothing is done, higher level enemies will almost have to have a high immobility resist or they will be pieces of cake to defeat.

    2) I would definitely agree that the Mecha Revival project (with revivals for Kurosawa, SPD, and MJ) was the biggest strategic advancement in MechQuest’s battle system, and remains that way to to date. Those were the first mechs that started introducing effects that had never before been seen in MechQuest, such as buffs/nerfs, and unique effects that would start showing up in different ways in future mechs (such as the Kurosawa’s last-ditch 200% attack, SPD’s energy regeneration halting special, or MJ’s energy regeneration technique). This was compounded by the DWA release, which initially received a lot of criticism for being underpowered, but in reality, was perfectly balanced and a nearly unstoppable force if strategically used correctly (remember the Zeus + Advanced Cockpit strategy combo?).

  13. Zeke said

    @The Peanut Master: I was one of those “DPA IS UNDERPOWERED!” people XD It was underpowered…At best, it only had the sweet energy regen to be “good at” The Advanced Cockpit + Zeus combo is what MADE the mech great, I believe. Should’ve seen Mike, waiting for my opinion on the new head >.>

    The Mecha revival project is one of the greatest things to ever come to MQ. Not kidding. You should do a Critical Analysis on that, no joke.

    ~Zeke~

  14. It wasn’t all that bad even before the head. People were just expecting some sort of godly mech that would 1 hit kill everything.

  15. Zeke said

    I’m sure I wasn’t expecting that sort of mech >.> It wasn’t bad, but for a rare, it wasn’t good; sub-par, at best.

    ~Zeke~

  16. ZamuelNow said

    While the mirror effect of the body weapon was nice, it wasn’t until the head weapon was added that things got truly interesting on the DWA/DPA. It’s a specialized mecha but fills its own niche. DWA used to wreak havoc on the E-Series (then AE altered forced cooldown strategies 😦 ) and was the bane of most mecha that only have 4 weapons.

    @Peanut: I still feel that Stun Gun RC1 isn’t all that bad for the simple fact that a lot of high level enemies do have immobility resistance AND they have a lot of options to fight back like accuracy nerfs.

    Something interesting about the July 11th Design Notes for the Kurosawa revival…Warlic was fighting a WolfBlade 😉

  17. simidorl said

    yes i also think mq battle system is best… but there should be a little variation in monster health. I mean its always the same until you buy a better level mech… come on!

    There should be some randomizer on city battles, at least so sometimes the fight is really easy, enemy 90 hp and other times brutal, 320 hp (IDK) and the difficulty settings just changes that range.

    Also, if it’s possible, make it so that maybe if random effect is placed on you AND another on the enemy at the beginning.

    maybe something like df’s weapon that does 1-99 damage i forgot its name…

  18. simidorl said

    oh no… from the newsletter:
    “This year our main focus will be on expanding the storyline with more new planets and an ever increasing Shadowscythe threat! This is so exciting! I can’t wait!”
    Looks like they’ll never finish Westion…

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