Absolver is a gorgeous game with a intricate combat system at its foundation. At Playstation Experience earlier this month, I had the opportunity to speak with Pierre de Margerie, Designer at Sloclap, about the deep melee fighting mechanics and what it means for players coming from different backgrounds.
On the onset of its announcement, I was intrigued by the stylized aesthetic and free flowing choreographed martial arts. This led me to assume that Absolver was all about combat but there was obviously more. “We also didn’t want to make something that’s just about combat, players to build meaningful relationships with each other,” Pierre says. “You’re on your own adventure but you meet others all the time. So you can trade, you can make friends, you can make enemies.” In interacting with others in the world, players progress faster by learning new stances from mentors as well as teaching others.
There were, of course, some challenges in executing a real-time online combat game like Absolver. On the design front, up to three people can be instanced into your game at one time. As for the technical part, it was all creating an environment where people can easily connect to one another. “Doing seamless matchmaking is pretty challenging because you want to matchmake people based on location but without them noticing it, so you’re actually changing servers but always is invisible to the player,” Pierre elaborates. “This was a pretty significant technical challenge.”
Stances comprise the structure, nature and strategy of Absolver’s combat. Four initial stances are available for the player, which can be assigned attacks through a dedicated interface called the combat deck. You can assign a sequence of three attacks, starting from one stance and ending in another. The rationale? “All the attacks blend together and that’s how you get a system that looks good and feels good,” says Pierre. “You want to build a unique deck that corresponds to your playstyle.”
Now that the basics are all covered, how does Absolver accommodate players who are more green to the combat system? “We do want the system to be accessible. I rather ease people in, although we also want there to be a significant challenge.” Pierre continues, “Our objective is to recruit players who are interested by the story, the adventure, the art direction, the world. And these players, progressively bring them to the competitive PvP experience.” “We think that our game, the way it’s built, could also be of interest to players aren’t into that competitive scene.”
The feeling of reward for exploring the world and beating opponents in competitive PvP is deeply ingrained in Absolver’s loot system, ranging from equipment to more cosmetic changes found in pigments. While it has a while to go before launch, the team is committed to supporting the game after it releases, moreso its social and competitive elements. “You can also expect quite a lot of things to appear post-launch in the game,” Pierre concludes. “We really plan on updating this game after its live, once it’s live, so that the community gets that they want.”