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Stances, Opinions, and Momentum


Vendalkin
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Preface:
I've been really enjoying melee 3.0 and the re-balancing done. Still needs some tweaks of course tho. Recently I've been testing and playing around with stances from all the different weapon types and I've noticed a few subtle things that directly effect my opinion of a stance and its utility in actual game play. Additionally i've been noticing how these stances play a role in my effectiveness as a melee player. In short I feel that some weapon types are neutered not because of stats, but simply because of the limitations of their stances. Because of this I wanted to both overview some of those aspects of some stances and suggest a few things for the future going forward both of a cosmetic and gameplay enhancing nature.

What aspects make a stance valuable?
-Speed?
-Damage?
-Forced Procs?
-Some stances are slightly superior because of their DPS output, and its quite obvious.
-Some stances require condition overload to work perfect because they have so many proc chances of differing nature.
-Some stance just match the style fantasy the player desires
AND what has stood out to me the MOST
-Some stances have a fluidity that makes them invaluable. I want to talk on this a lot, but am going to bring it up more near the end of my post.

Anecdote about fluidity and a powerful stance. Let's take a look at Blind justice for Nikana.
I personally am not a fan of Nikana's BUT Blind justice is an excellent stance and is the reason I still play them.
It
-Possesses a high damage base combo
-a unique lifted proc on its forward movement combo
-3 unique procs on it's guard stand still combo that comes out extremely quick.
-The fluidity I mention above
-Unique and FASTER finishers. In brief having a different finisher timing allows faster finisher focused kills like from ash (fatal teleport) or naramon dash. On the flip side tho it means less time invulnerable.
-additionally the stance has built in massive bonuses for slash procs.

These features make the stance phenomenal for any build style. Crit builds will see higher value from the base combo, while status builds will see incredible value from the proc combos.
Now lets talk about that fluidity. Most stances possess a gap closer. However some stances employ this gap closer FAR better. Blind justice is one example. So lets talk about the 4 things that make a gap closer a phenomenal tool, AND what in my opinion makes some gap closing moves....sub par.
1.The movement starts IMMEDIATELY upon button input. Most gap closers have some charge time. Blind justice's does not.
2. The movement is fluidly continuous (similar speed throughout the animation) Many Gap closers have staggered travel speeds causing jerky movement and loss of control. Blind justice's does not
3. The damage is continuous throughout. Which means it can apply the damage as it moves through a crowd. (most gap closers tend to only cause damage AFTER the movement occurs)
4. After the gap closer finishes momentum is not lost. 

These 4 things make Blind Justice's gap closer phenomenal. A player can go into their dash the moment they touch ground from airborne. Upon completing the dash they can immediately chain into a combo OR CHOOSE to go into a slide attack for further position and then repeat back into the gap closer with almost no stand still time. Additionally a player can: Dash into combat, Maneuver with zato's creed while applying a lifted status, follow up with destined path to proc 3 more unique statuses (impact, slash, ragdoll) and finish with guiding light for the massive damage multipliers if anything nearby is still alive. All the while being able to end any of the above combos early to immediately perform a dash

So in conclusion a great stance requires mainly:
-The ability to be employed with different build styles (High damage combo and a multi status combos)
-Fluidity in the form of the gap closer and maintaining momentum.
-A unique animation set that separates it from previous stances.


Lets take a look at some other stances/weapon types.
Tonfa for example
There are three variations of tonfa the game. two stylized on puncture and tearing(boltace). two stylized with blades (kronen) one stylized with classic blunt tonfa in mind, but electric (ohma)
Both tonfa stances have flaws.
AND both tonfa stances emphasize blunt force and impacts which really only compliments the style of the Ohma
Gemini cross has
-a High status combo (3 unique) (blind tormentor) BUT a player is locked into it and loses moment and control when using it.
-mostly just impact procs
-a gap closer that has to charge up. Moves suddenly a varied distance depending on the enemy the game's algorithm determines you were trying to hit, and loses all momentum on hit requiring you do to a forward movement regular attack before being able to go into a slide attack that actually covers distance. In short your movement is staggered both before and after the gap closer.
-what should be it's damage combo because of forced momentum loss and stops in between manuevers, ends up being less dps than just spamming the gap closer combo with the status combo making gameplay stale AND uncontrollable because every attack has weird janky movement.

Sovereign outcast is even weirder when it comes to movement.
I wont go into too much detail but my main beefs with it are
-again impact based
-gap closer has terrible range, doesn't move you till after the throwing strikes (impossible to actually manuever on need with it), is not fluid, still has momentum for sliding issues.
However it has a kinda positive side in a very strong basic combo that has more movement than the gap closer, that also has status procs. and the ability to get four unique procs from its movement block (Scout command) and base combo alone, but again ends up as boring employment of the stance

What I would like to see in a new tonfa stance.
-One focused on either slashes( sweeping kick twists with slashes involved, flips, etc. less ground pounds) or puncturing maneuvers (hard stabs) to compliment the boltace and kronen appearance
-gap closers that are actually functional instead of just flashy.
-varied procs compared to the two stances we already have. 

And finally i just wanted to comment on the limited amounts of stances many weapons have.

Thus we have my proposition to the Developers: Melee 3.0 was great. Going forward please spend more time with the stances, Particularly their gap closers and the momentum involved in performing the gap closer combos. Consider separating the damage combo from the status combo for more dynamic and skill based gameplay. Additionally although it will cost more development resources please consider unique and different grip styles for weapons, and combat damage style focuses for each stance. Blind justice is IMO one of the best stances because of how it performs, and how unique it is stylistically. Other IMO good stance for these cosmetic reasons and skill reasons (even if they might still have issues) Cleaving whirlwind: with skill and timing a player never has to stagger, and movement is great. Vengeful revenant for it's uniqueness.  Malicious raptor vs Vermilion storm in just comparing how different the styles of the stances are.

As I test more I will add things to these two lists and would love to see other player input in them as well:
Stances well made.
-Blind Justice (Reasons above)
-Spinning Needle (Good momentum, unique spinny style, Good balance of procs and damage strewn throughout)
-Vulpine Mask
-Carving mantis (could use a 4th unique status tho)
-Reaping Spiral
-Grim fury
-Vermillion Storm
-Twirling spire (best polearm for uniqueness by far, can maintain momentum after gap closer for slide but timing is tight)


Stances with some flaws, but other large positives
-
Gnashing Payara (gap closer has good momentum, Main combo is cripplingly slow and janky and is used twice as the block combo as well)
-Swirling tiger (good momentum, good unique style, BUT only has two statuses available to it knockdown and impact)
-Gemini Cross (should not remove momentum after the gap closer, limited statuses, janky un-fluid movements)
-Malicious raptor (some maneuvers really need to be cancel-able early or have broken up inputs)
-Atlantis Vulcan (cannot slide attack after gap closer, BUT follow up is an additional dash. style of combos are unique BUT only has 2 status...)
--Wise Razor (hitboxes are a bit wonky on some attacks, but its gap closer comes out fast. you lose momentum but it makes up for it with a slam. You CAN follow up with a slide but timing is really weird and wonky. could us a 4th status somewhere)
-Slicing feathers (janky movements and pauses cause issues here, but it is a fun stance)
-Cleaving whirlwind (complex to use properly which is a positive in my book, unique stylistically, gap closer stops momentum BUT basic combos have crazy momentum anyways so it doesn't really matter. only flaw IMO is its basically just got 2 status.)
-Rending Crane (same as cleaving in its uniqueness, but... its pretty much just impact)


Stances that need work/have a glaring flaw
-
Sovereign Outcast (Gap closer is terrible, both concerning the throw range, the distance covered, and the momentum during the maneuver)
-Sinking Talon (everything except its gap closer looks exactly the same, good momentum on the closer tho)
-Glaive Stances in general. (good often in unique aspects or standard movement etc, but.... you can legit kill yourself with heavy attack. This may be intentional, but is really not wise to have on melee weapon. To trigger aim at the ground or near you and tap the heavy button twice somewhat quickly)
-Brutal Tide. (3 of its 4 basic combos are.... exactly the same.)
-Bleeding Willow (3/4 the same)
-Shimmering Blight (3/4 the same AND same as bleeding willow)
-Defiled Snap dragon (surprisingly unmobile. Has great range obviously, but if you cant move its not a real advantage)

Weapons in need of new stances (only 1 exists or the stances used are too similar, and yes i know some of these weapon types have only 1 weapon released but still)
-Tonfa's
-Polearms
-War Fan
-Blade Whips
-Nunchaku
-2H Nikana

More opinions to come after the thread gains some discussion and I do more testing. If i missed your stance let me know! there are a few i just don't have but most I do have just haven't gotten to doing full in combat tests with + simulacrum tests.

Edited by Vendalkin
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7 hours ago, -Kittens- said:

 

 

Nunchaku and Nodachi really don't need to new stances as the stances they have are hee haw strong. Brutal Tide should be in its own category for how bad it is.

I dont disagree with the strength of the nunchaku stance atlantis vulcan, I just think every weapon type should get at least two stances. Additionally atlantis vulcan only has 2 statuses which is kinda weaker. Damage is off the charts tho. Nodachi wise razor is strong, but it has some flaws and its the only stance for the type thus i think a new one is needed.

But yeah. Brutal tide
Bleeding willow
And shimmering blight are hot garbage.

Edited by Vendalkin
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Nice analysis, thanks!  It's very cool that the rework puts so much more emphasis on stances and makes them a central part of the build, with proc infliction being so much easier to control and do.

Another factor for stances is multi-hit attacks and quick combo stacking now that True Punishment, Exodia Triump and their ilk are new build styles - useful for both classical Blood Rush/Weeping Wounds builds and new "burst combo" builds where you empty the combo counter in a heavy hit or two.

Sovereign Outcast's first attack in the gap closer combo (Villain Rule) is a good example.  It's a very fast combo builder with 8x hits in very little time over a wide-ish reach and it may be better placed in the neutral tactical combo (Scout Command) because it doesn't really fit the usual gap closer attack. I switched Telos Boltace over to Sovereign Outcast to use that attack after seeing a xandypants video showing its use in a Kronen Prime burst combo build.

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16 hours ago, Vendalkin said:

So in conclusion a great stance requires mainly:
-The ability to be employed with different build styles (High damage combo and a multi status combos)
-Fluidity in the form of the gap closer and maintaining momentum.
-A unique animation set that separates it from previous stances.



Thus we have my proposition to the Developers: Melee 3.0 was great. Going forward please spend more time with the stances, Particularly their gap closers and the momentum involved in performing the gap closer combos. Consider separating the damage combo from the status combo for more dynamic and skill based gameplay. Additionally although it will cost more development resources please consider unique and different grip styles for weapons, and combat damage style focuses for each stance. Blind justice is IMO one of the best stances because of how it performs, and how unique it is stylistically.

There is maybe 0.1% fluidity wher it comes to new stances. At best the a stance was mostly unchained, at worst riddled with animation locks instead of being a upper body/free movement animation. Worse is stances that got cut apart like tempo royale are glued together with it (even blind justice neutral which you praise as fluid has them on all but 1 attack).

Also no new animations were added into the game, all the stances are just butchered or in the few good scenarios (form a animation point) trimmed down animations in game already.
Somes a stance stole another stances animation which is why the 2h nikana setup now uses 1 hand for some attacks despite the stance text, but it was all there already AND unlike now, there arent moments where your frame is animation locked during a teleport snap because DE didnt align the end of one animation to another.

And no, gap closers shouldnt be faster, what they should be is like before scaled off if you hold sprint or not and depending on the animation have partial keyboard/directional steer (like slide attacks do) ontop of camera steer or have a clear animation (tho this part BJ does do well) that shows why its a camera only. PLAYER CONTROL is the crucial part. Of all the listed stances onl Vermilion storm does it even close to right.

The only actual buff melee got is the input change which allows you to input que across different attack chains which is something that onl required keybind chainges/keybinds being per attack node instead of attacks being a tree/each branch hardlocked into unless cancelled out of with a dodge.

P.S. While bleeding willow and shimmering blight lost animations and attacks, the fact that they have the old quick attack already means they are vastly stonger and better than twirling spire, which due to animation locks on all but the first and shortest attack might as well not even have a forward combo as both the static and static block combo are stronger AND move you faster (even if they shouldnt move you at all being STATIC attack chains and they are animation locked so you cant control how much they move you nor strafe during them only camera steer and bet on attack speed... only unlike the forward combo the 2 dont hard root as often).

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I hear what you guys are saying. And i know no new animations were really added with 3.0, but of course more will come in the future.  I don't mind some combo moves rooting me in place, just... not the ones associated with the forward move button. And I don't want't gap closers faster per se. I want gap closer to have less rooted charge up time in many cases, even if that means maybe slowing down the actual movement animation, AND i want them to not root afterwards generally.  momentum not velocity. 

But more than anything I'd just like to see more variation in styles for some weapon groups, and less duplicate moves.

Sovereign outcast i've spent some more time with today cause of what V1ld said. And it feels almost reversed (in terms of moveset not what you said). IE the standard forward movement combo provides far more mobility than the gap closer inputs. I kinda wonder if they should have switched the two. but even with the standard forward movement combo it's still not that great at covering distance when compared with anything from cleaving whirlwind, to vermilion storm, to blind justice. And yeah the burst combo on it is nice, but i still don't like how much rooting the stance has overall.

And bleeding willow/shimmering blight. It's nice that the quick attack has some increased value. But the stances are really really lame overall. I mean both share the exact same moveset minus 1 of 4 combo inputs. I'd honestly just like to see them condensed into one.

I'd love to hear more input from both of you and others on other stances you find strong or weak.

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