Some of the most asked questions about Pirate101 involve the combat. Currently, only about two photos of a battle board are released, and there are a number of hand-to-hand combat shots, so just how exactly does Pirate101 combat work? Hopefully, my explanation will point you in the right direction, but first, I want to start off with talking about how your pirate wields weapons.
Now take a look at these two photos of J. Todd Coleman's in-game character. In the first one, he's standing on his ship (both hands free) with what looks to be the equivalent of the Wizard101 Sheep pet! In the second, he's talking to the Witchdoctor Trainer - a sure sign that that's his class. No wonder we aren't seeing a sword or gun! However, there's a shield across his back. What's that all about?
Let's take some insights from another game. Here's my character in a non-combat situation. Sure enough - his shield is across his back.
Look closer, though - he can do the same thing with a sword, or even the two combined!
Here's another clue - see this musketeer? What's strapped to her back?
However, take a look at this Pirate...
He's in a fighting stance. Let's look to my other game for an explanation. I made my way over to a few guards, and began combat. Immediately, my character takes a fighting stance, pulling out his whip, and arming himself with his shield. (Don't mind my health, it's a simple enemy, and all of my armor that I just equipped gives health bonuses, making my health appear to be very low)
Here's the cool thing that may also be coming with Pirate101, however. This other game (which I am currently playing in beta) is planning to release dual wielding - and I think that Pirate101 is doing the same thing. For example, that female pirate fighting the Troggy Warrior - she has two swords. Or that other female pirate with the monkey companion - she had a sword AND shield.
He's where things get interesting - you can go for a two-handed weapon to get huge damage bonuses and high power, or you can go for two weapons, with large damage bonuses, and more maneuverability, or you could go with a weapon and a shield for decent damage and higher defenses.
As you can see by the table above, you get an idea of average damage, plus a hit bonus, and the type of attack you're using, plus the bonuses of your offhand weapon if you're using one. You also see your total armor bonus, as well as the extra health you get - and armor makes a big difference. I have 7x my usual health with armor versus no armor.
In this other game, your armor also has weight, and it affects the amount of time you can run before having to walk. While that may not be the case, it may affect combat.
Here's how it'll work, in my mind - Buccaneers get the heaviest armor and largest weapons in the Spiral - they'll have decent defenses from heavy armor, but probably carry no shield. That's because of their two-handed weapons, which make for sensational crush attacks and powerful blows. In combat, they cannot move the distance that most other classes can, despite their massive power! In hand-to-hand situations, these will be the best characters to use - just hope that you won't be fighting many Witchdoctors!
Musketeers using long-range weapons will probably not have the option to wield two weapons. However, if they come by a pistol, they can use it in unison with a shield or other weapon. With their long-range guns, they'll be able to move, or attack over, more spaces than almost any other class. However, their range is balanced by their only decent damage, and very low defenses.
If you're a Privateer, you're much like the Myth and Life class combined. You can have the most companions, and learn spells to heal them and your allies. Your healing abilities probably mean you aren't the toughest of class, though you likely have a wide range of weapon and shield options. You likely have an average range on a battle board.
With the potential to lean Dance of Steel and other moves, a Swashbuckler most commonly uses two weapons. It is likely that Buccaneer is to Swashbuckler as Storm is to Fire. That is, the Swashbuckler will use two blades, so that they have damage close to that of Buccaneers, but may be presented with an opportunity to swap one for a shield. The "speed and finesse" mentioned on their official Pirate101 page probably means that they have a pretty good battle board range, especially versus Buccaneers. However, their high power and high maneuverability must be counteracted by their low defenses.
A Witchdoctor is probably the Pirate101 equivalent of Balance and Death, making it a potentially deadly class. Witchdoctor learn a variety of powers and spells, from hexes and weaknesses, to long-range fire spells and health-draining hoodoo! They can have a variety of ranges on the battle board, able to adapt to a variety of situations, though they have extremely low defenses, which is probably why J. Todd Coleman chose to add a shield to his equipment list. Their power is also likely very moderate.
Now that we know when our swords will be drawn and our shields will be equipped, how exactly does combat work?
Take a look at the above photo. It's a companion against a member of the Armada. But look at the others behind them - and take a close look at the shadows. They all line up perfectly - into a grid.
"We wanted something more akin to chess than a card combat game, and we felt that bringing a game like that which we loved and repackaging it for a broader audience was a great way to do this."
Also notice that, depending on your character's class, that symbol will appear in the lower left-hand corner. Also notice that your companions appear here.
What will make combat so interesting is that you can have a number of different objectives, making for a fun story. Even better, you may have multiple objectives in one battle. So, you might need to use three statues, then to defeat all enemies! You might also have to protect allies, survive a certain number of rounds, defeat a certain enemy, and you may have to do it all in a set number of rounds!
Combat doesn't stop there, though... take a look at this bar.
This is the abilities bar. Most units can be upgraded, and upgrading companions, either by level or tier, probably results in new abilities, just like your character learns new abilities. For example, Musketeers get Rain of Mortarshells, pictures below (I believe).
In my "other game", as we level, we learn new special moves. We all have basic attacks, but these moves are what set us apart.
I'm not sure what Pirate101 options will be, but in this game, there are so many options that we get to build our own special bars out of available options.
In this game, the top bar is called the Adrenaline bar. As we use basic specials, it fills up. When it's full enough, we can use higher-level specials that are blacked out. Some use up adrenaline.
Since Pirate101 combat is turn-based, powers/abilities will have recharge times in turns, and some may require initial turns to charge. Here's a basic Witchdoctor.
Notice that he or she only has five abilities possible versus a companion's seven. Interesting. If you're wondering more about companions, your character, and the storyline, check out one of my other posts at http://www.swordroll.com/2012/07/pirate101-storyline-your-character-and.html!
Finally, after you've fought long and hard on the battle board, you characters act everything out in a cinematic performance sure to please! They've even mentioned ship to ship combat that leads to combat on the deck of one ship or the other! I can't wait to see more!
Thoughts? Questions? Ideas? Thanks for reading, and see you in the Spiral!