Posted on 11.16.18 in News
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Rend Roadmap: Combat Reloaded

Never should a man walk a step from home
without his weapons of war in hand;
one knows not when their need will arise
or what menace is to be found in the wilds.
-- The 38th Stanza of Hávamál: The Words of Odin, the High One

Even in its earliest designs, Rend’s development has been guided by two principle mechanics: survival gameplay and third-person-shooter gunplay. Over the course of Early Access, we’ve been harvesting player feedback and found that while Rend’s survival elements are strong (if a little daunting which we’ve begun to address as of Patch 6), its gunplay needs to feel more impactful and visceral. We’ve taken the community’s insights to heart, evaluating where combat can be improved upon further and how best to make Rend’s weapons “feel good” with the goal of designing the game’s combat to be competitive with other mainstream multiplayer shooters.

Aiming Higher with Rend's Gunplay

Combat improvements will always be a top priority for our team. Feedback from our Early Access players indicated that their key pain points centered on weapon imbalance with clearly superior and inferior options and a general lack of visual and audible information with regards to the gunplay. While we planned for the game to do a better job of conveying what was happening in a fight, it was community feedback that helped us prioritize those improvements to be deployed sooner. Involving our players in the development process is using Early Access the way it was intended: listening to and incorporating constructive criticism from the community, focusing on making the gameplay more enjoyable, and producing a more polished game as a result.

We began making immediate, iterative improvements to Rend’s combat with the first elements implemented in September as early as Patch 4. These initial updates centered around rebalancing all of Rend’s damage sources with a focus on scaling outliers back in line with the greater weapon curve. This led to more than a few “greatly increased/decreased [value]” patch notes -- some of which were unpopular at the time -- but as a result, this data revealed necessary changes. This was followed by a series of improvements to how Rend communicates combat to the player: shaking the camera when shooting or shot, adding more sounds for footsteps, reloading, and empty clip clicks, and implementing visual interface indicators and audio cues for hits and crits. For instance, now a player clearly knows when an arrow is nocked in their bow and ready to fire from sound alone.

And We're Just Getting Started

We’ve also been making your targets more engaging to shoot at (and to get attacked by). On the PvP front, players are now able to shoot mid-jump to stay on the offensive while dodging incoming fire as of Patch 6. Additionally, player character movement has been stabilized for smoother turning and walk/sprint transitions, allowing for easier tracking and leading of targets. The team has also performed a full creature pass which means the PvE foes you’ll face now have re-evaluated and improved attacks and special abilities. We plan to continue iterating on the challenge and danger that creatures present in Rend as well as adding new monsters such as Jotuns and more foes introduced in the latest game update.

With our upcoming game updates, we’ll be complementing these changes with improved enemy detection, affecting how opposing players discover each other in Rend. While visual elements such as gunfire tracers and impacts from hitscan and projectile weapons are all being adjusted to increase target visibility in combat, skilled warriors will want to use both their eyes and ears in tracking a foe. With Patch 6 this week, noise discipline is now a vital aspect of Rend’s combat with the implementation of sound scaling and attenuation providing vital clues as to a target’s position and movement. A player’s own noise level is displayed as a new interface bar, providing better insight into which actions are making sounds and allowing for tactical hide-and-seek gameplay with beasts and rival faction members.

Another way we'll be enhancing the hunting and stalking of other players is by improving the three-dimensional spatialization of sound in-game. Players will hear the exact source direction of incoming shots, approaching footsteps, and panting breaths and most importantly how far away they are. A different future combat improvement that we’re putting the final technical touches on focuses on redesigning the mechanics behind Rend’s bow weapons: originally requiring right-click to draw and left-click to shoot, we’ll be simplifying it to left-click for both (right-click for zoom/ADS) and instead have the weapon’s damage scale based on how far back the bowstring is drawn for a more engaging and intuitive experience using the weapon.

Preview Upcoming Patches and Help Shape Rend

While we believe these features all work in tandem to put Rend’s combat on par with its competition, we want to put it to the test. Starting with our latest patch and continuing with future major game updates, our internal quality assurance testing will be likely be followed with patches spending some time on the player-accessible PTR (Public Test Realm) for community feedback. This has already allowed us to detect issues at scale and preemptively resolve them before they hit live servers and gives us a chance to make any final adjustments necessary to polish the overall feel of a feature (such as gunplay). Keep an eye out on the website and forums for future opportunities to check out game updates before they go live: we’ll be asking for more directed feedback from the community on our upcoming patches that introduce Early Access roadmap features.

We look forward to getting your take on how Rend can further improve both in gunplay and overall!