Barbarian Beat-Based Combat in Orbus

Orbus is a new VR MMO that I'm currently working on. If this is your first time here, you might start at the beginning.

One of the things that I think about when it comes to melee combat in VR, is that just sitting around swinging a sword isn't so fun after a while. A few other games have tried this approach already, adding in some armor on the enemies, or some swings to dodge. But those type of interactions require lots of physics processing power and don't seem well-suited to an MMO environment.

The Barbarian is a class built on Rage and Fury; they swing their axes with wild abandon and cut down their foes. But there's also an element of grace and finesse to their attacks, almost as if they are doing a dance with their enemy (that will ultimately result in their enemy's demise).

So how can I combine the ferocity of wildly swinging axes, with the finesse of a dance, while at the same time not soley relying on a physics-based approach? One concept I'm working on for this is inspired by games such as Guitar Hero and Dance Dance Revolution. I give you, Barbarian beat-based combat:

This is a very early prototype (that I made in just a few hours this morning), but I think I like where it's going. The Barbarian could have a basic "beat" that they have to maintain with their regular axe swings. Following the beat results in building up Fury, which they can then use to power more effective combos, use abilities, etc. So the play style would be all about keeping your beat going steady, while weaving in additional abilities (such as buffs) between beats by pressing the buttons on the controller.

To make it more challenging, I'm planning to add multiple types of hits, so that you might need to do a vertical slash with your left axe followed by a horizontal right-handed slash, followed by a massive dual-hand overhead swing.

The one thing I'm still struggling with, however, is the actual positioning of the player. This all works fine if you're fighting a small enemy like the forest golem in the video, but how would this work when you're taking on a massive dragon? Are you just sitting there attacking its left foot?

Another approach that I'm considering taking is actually having the player stand back out in the same range as a mage, but then "copies" of the enemy you are currently fighting fly at you. And then they would have markers on them showing where to strike/with what axe. This seems much less realistic, but it might make more sense from an actual gameplay standpoint. I will try to put together a short video showing this alternate approach in the near future.

In the mean time, let me know what you think about this type of gameplay by discussing this post on Reddit: https://www.reddit.com/r/Vive/comments/4mzzv8/barbarianbeatbasedcombatinorbusvrmmo_im/

Also, if you want to stay up to date on all the latest, I'm going to start posting to Twitter frequently here: https://twitter.com/OrbusVR

Riley Dutton

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