Mage On Combat Beta - Personal Review!Edit This Entity
In most games, I have always played as a character of either the Range or Mage class usually in the form of some sort of Necromancer or Elf Hunter. Naturally, when I heard Magic was going to advance past the good old days of autocasting and playing the gutwrenching waiting game, my first instinct was to get on the BETA during an open weekend and try it out.
First of all, I imported my live character to test what equipment I already had - namely a Virtus set and Arcane spiritshield, though later on I obtained a Virtus wand, gloves, and an Arcane Blast as well to maximize performance. This was all because I didn't want to distract myself by trying anything in gear I couldn't afford/get by other means, only to realise that after a whole load of wasted time - the Evolution of Combat blows for my actual stuff.
I started by trying out the normal spellbook, to see if Jagex had finally given people a real reason to PvP with it, but the results were fairly disappointing. I used Fire Surge as a filler, with Entangle as a spare root for when my Stun was on cooldown, and it still turns out that the damage dealt is mediocre. I couldn't come close to killing anything without my actual abilities and so putting my severe disappointment aside, I opted for Ancient Magicks.
Here's where the fun really started. I switched my filler to Blood Barrage (upon learning Ice Barrage had been nerfed to a 5 second freeze) for some good healing and used Soul Split with the new Magic/Range Turmoil. The damage dealt this time round was incredible. First thing I noticed was that for the most part when I was up against a Melee-based fighter - II was practically invincible, even up close. This seems to indicate that for all intents and purposes - farcasting might very well be a thing of the past. The melee-based style of attack has so many much needed gap closers and stuns now that your main option is to fight them up close. Due to the stigma generally associated with farcasting, it felt good to finally get up close and personal to fight without being flamed, and win!
The problem was, though, with my Arcane - which as many of you may know received a huge buff recently (it has been practically put on par with its Divine and Elysian counterparts), I was invincible. I never thought I'd say this but being invincible was actually boring. I had to fill my inventory mainly with prayer potions because the damage that I was taking was being overwhelmed by the healing affects of Soul Split, my Blood Barrage filler, and other more basic Magic abilities. To make matters worse - if it makes the warriors I tormented feel any better though, Rangers posed the same problems to me as I did to each and every one of you; I just couldn't hit them for anything. Now although some people may be reading this thinking "durr - this is how the combat triangle is supposed to work, MVP" - sure, but this should only be to an extent. As a result what we can deduce from all this is that you might end up getting sucked into mirror-style fights, as people will not want to take on that which is meant to counter their own. Right now on the live servers people will happily fight each other no matter what the style (although it's mostly melee). Everyone can kill each other. It's just not the same on the BETA - a player countering your attack style will use your spells to butter his/her toast. The fact is, I played some melee (admittedly not for more than a few hours as I didn't have the gear for it and only used what I could find) and I could do a fair bit of damage to Range and take some in kind.
Jagex needs to be careful. Though they seem to be on the right track for now, if the importance of the combat triangle is pushed too hard upon players - it's going to lead to the frustration of everyone running around with Range or Melee because Mages are relatively weak. My friend used Range in Duel Arena to fight me, and he only had to eat twice during the entire duel whilst I sat there being utterly annihilated. It almost made me log out of the BETA there and then.
However balance aside, I really had alot of fun. The game actually takes a degree of skill it didn't originally have. You can't just cast Polyderp (I hope you see what I did there) and win now. Ideally you should now have to time your abilities instead of spamming keys as well, even though that's what I still expect 75% of the community (whom have probably had limited exposure to other MMORPGs) to do haha!
Nevertheless there are few things more satisfying than building up adrenaline and unleashing a huge tidal wave upon your opponants. I need not mention the methods of escape Mages have are amazing too. You can freeze and run, teleport into dragon fire before freezing and running, and after teleport away and run for dear life. The one thing Jagex really must fix though, is the ability for Melee to use that particular ability (which allows you to teleport several spaces in front of you) with no consequence. It's better-suited as a unique Mage's trick, and should be enshrined as such, as in my opinion the ability to hybrid needs to die right now.. It was an awful way of letting melee'ers in black dragonhides run around close to invincibility and shouldn't have happened in the first place because after all, who wants to fight someone who can hardly die? Blanket protection from 2 sides of the combat triangle was unashamedly unfair on potential opponents, who would probably be better-described as victims to be honest.
Moving onto animations - this is the one aspect more than anything else I hope Jagex changes. Those of all three styles look terrible and the way you hold a bow and melee weapons is just awkward - having a shield on your back looks great though. The animations from my point of view are clunky and look out of place, but that might be because I'm still getting used to seeing such advanced and fluid strokes in what has otherwise been a very simplistic game to date.
Another point I want to raise is that there should be more action bars, one is not nearly enough. Having two stacked on your screen would be much more practical, I am aware you can scroll through to the extra action bars already, but this is not feasible in the heat of battle. It might be for the average slayer or PvM'er, but for a PvP Mage the present system just doesn't cut it. I can only fit Ice Barrage and Blood Barrage onto my action bar land leave enough space for required abilities, but the problem is many of them like Stuns and Ultimates are either situational or rarely used. A separate action bar with harder to reach binds would be much more practical, which also brings me to my next point - I would kill for the ability to use shift/ctrl/alt+x binds. Because I quite like having the flexibility of multiple easy to use binds on my keyboard. This is because I turn my camera with mousekeys on a gaming mouse, and thus it's a lot of hand movement to hit those harder to reach binds (like 7, 8, 9 etc). Bearing in mind also that I use a laptop, so I do not have the luxury of a number pad close to my mouse.
So in conclusion, I've had a great load of fun testing out Magic on the BETA and should hopefully get around to testing out Melee this weekend, so I'll keep you posted!