Ok, before I give my 2 cents worth on the combat system, I would like to preface this by says I am both a gamer (been playing Chivalry and M&B for years) and a Historical European Martial Artist (for the past five years).
The combat system as it stands is the most realistic I have encountered in terms of simulating sword technique.
The player can apply real world sword-fighting principles (like distance, timing etc.) and the system has the five basic cuts and the thrust which you will find in most European sword systems from the Middle-Ages to the Renaissance. The combos are simply stringing these cuts and thrusts together, which is in fact what most real life combos really are. The animations are also spot on in that the cutting line for the cuts is between 'shoulder to hip' and 'ear to knee' (of course, the overhead is up and down). This is unlike the horrendous chest-level horizontal cuts you get in most games but in a real fight you would never do lest you want your opponent to whack the flat of your blade and knock your sword out of your hand.
The parry system is curious and requires study. I have found there is a direct effect between which attacking guard you are sitting in (the attack direction you have chosen on the star) and your ability to parry in each direction. i.e. the further the sword has to travel to get from the attacking guard to the parry, the slower the parry will be and the less chance of success. In other words, each guard has its strengths and weakness against different opposing guards. This is also realistic as in a real fight, you change your guard in reference to your opponent.
The system takes time to learn but after a while one picks it up. It takes practice and the player needs to develop tactical awareness.
However, I agree the system in its currently form is glitchty and needs to be tweaked and refined. There are some bugs to be fixed and some refinements to be made, to which I am confident Warhorse will attend. I believe the following tweaks are critical:
- Locking On: The locking on the opponent feature makes sense (even in a real fight with multiple opponents you can only attack/defend against one opponent at a time) but the player needs the ability to switch the 'lock' quickly and fluidly on demand. Currently, fighting multiple opponents is a nightmare as breaking lock is difficult and disorientating, and accordingly, it is very easy to get flanked.
EDIT: Played the beta further and found this not an issue. I discovered that holding down MMB temporally disables your lock and lets you place it on another foe. Fighting multiple opponents was viable using this method. 'Shift' (Run) also does this but I found that unwieldy to use. My bad for not reading the instructions. .
- Stamina: I don't believe the players needs a bigger stamina pool (let me tell you in RL doing a real attack doing a combo of 4-5 actions [attacks & parries] is about everyone's limit before they have to retreat out of measure) but the recharge rate has be substantially increase. In a real fight, you don't stand there for 10 seconds out of measure between exchanges because you are out of breath. You may stand there for that time to asses your opponent if your opponent is not aggressive and lets you. In other words, the pauses in combat due to waiting for Stamina to recharge are simply too long in KCD.
- Damage & Health: Swords are sharp and should be able to cut through a guy wearing a gambeson or a jacket (with a little resistance). The swords in game seem a bit blunt. Now against a guy in mail or plate, I can understand it taking a few hits but it takes too many hits to down a foe who is wearing only a gambeson or shirt. The weapons need to be more lethal especially against targets with no to light armour. This is critical for fights against multiple (lightly armoured) opponents as the player's only chance is to down enemies quickly.
All this said, I believe Warhorse is on the right track and I look forward to using a refined version of this the combat system at release.