Disclaimer: If you do not play on the Hardcore difficulty, you are unlikely to be able to contribute to this topic. Hardcore does not have a “green shield” icon for timing perfect blocks or a star reticle to show which direction your enemy is attacking from. As a final thought, this post will contain minor spoilers such as character names and their interactions with Henry.
To begin, combat is very interesting in KCD, I would even say unique insofar that I’ve never experienced anything like it. It reminds me of when I first played Batman Arkham Asylum and was blown away by how blocks and follow up attacks flowed in its physics engine.
That being said, the combat feels broken by modern standards. I learned all the key combat abilities from Captain Bernard, such as perfect block and master striking. I perk’d into several combo attacks and have decent strength, agility, defense, sword, and warfare levels compared to where I am in the game. Gear is full plate (so my dodging is harder).
Here’s the problem. I feel like I have to cheese the enemy AI to win combat engagements, this prolongs fights beyond what is reasonable, sometimes lasting over 15 minutes for a single enemy.
Combos are rare to successfully pull off, not because the timing is difficult, but because the AI will almost always parry, dodge, or (worst case) perfect block into an unblockable attack at some point in your combo. In an average fight, I will land maybe one or two combos, even though nearly every attack I throw I intend to bring into one of the combos available to me. The enemy simply blocks/parries/dodges too many attacks even if you start them with a feign attack (hold down left mouse button and aim in a direction they do not have their weapon, then switch to another direction and release).
Most fights against armored opponents end up with me cheesing their stamina through perks (their blocks cost 30% more stamina) until their gaurd drops and I can get away with one slash on a high slash damage weapon (they will still block a follow up attack in a combo).
It takes absolutely forever for your enemy to decide to hit you. They will quite literally stand in front of you, changing weapon stances, waiting for you to hit them so they can block you, which is exactly what you want to do to them. I almost never go for perfect block anymore because the damage master strike does is minimal at best and you can’t combo off of it. The daze a perfect block leaves is also incredibly short and only allows for at most a single attack before the enemy starts blocking again. I have lost entire fights to a single enemy to their perfect blocks into unblockable attack combos (the classic trope of when YOU do it, there’s barely any damage, but when the enemy does it, get read for some pain).
And that brings me to blocking. I don’t mind the Batman style block system, meaning if you are already in an attack, clicking block will not actually block. Most modern combat systems will block any time you hit the block button from almost any action (like Assassin’s Creed Odyssey). Although this system is feel-good, it’s certainly too easy. But there are at least 10-15 times in a fight where I have my weapon in correct position, clicked block, but still didn’t and take a full hit (and sometimes even the follow up). I read endlessly on what I am doing wrong and the best response I got was that there is an RNG element with your stats, even if you clicked everything correctly, there is still a chance you don’t block. If this is true, this is cruel.
I am forced to goad enemy attacks by triggering their “running away” attack scripts. If the enemy thinks you are running, they will run up and strike you, so what you do is run away a few steps, face them and be ready to block the strike into an attack of your own. This doesn’t always work, but is far better than waiting for them to strike in a normal setting.
And the final cheese strategy I do is backpedal on nearly every slash attack I do. What this does is increase the chance that if the RNG gods decide my block will not work on their riposte, I will simply be out of range to be combo’d by them. They lose a bit of stamina and I get to try again unwounded. This is not a dodge, this is simply a backpedal out of the way.
In summary, every fight I am afraid to swing at my opponent (even using feign attack) because they almost always riposte me which does perhaps 10x the damage my equivalent riposte would do to them. Every fight I am forced to cheese my opponent into attacking me first so I am able to get one swing in with a higher chance of landing. Forget combos, they will always block/riposte at least one of the attacks, negating the combo and sometimes damaging you. Eventually when my opponent’s stamina is low enough (huffing and puffing, cursing, etc) I can now start to throw stab attacks which have a high probability of landing. after 20-30 of these bad boys, the opponent goes down. I then bandage, eat, drink, and hope I don’t have another fight coming up before a save.