by Brian Giaime
Combat lies at the heart of Moonrise, and it takes a lot of forms. You and your team of trusted Solari might battle wild, rampaging Lunari. You might fight against another Warden in a friendly duel. Or perhaps you’ll face a truly nefarious villain, with innocent lives at stake! But regardless of the enemy, combat follows the same rules.
How do you fight?
On the surface, combat is pretty simple. You select a Solari to attack with, then a skill to use, and finally, a target for that skill. Seconds later, the attack is launched…but meanwhile, your opponent is doing the same. As this real-time battle progresses, you select more skills and more targets, while weathering your opponent’s assault. A flurry of attacks go off in sequence, defeating all but one of your Solari…but while that happens, your Warden’s relic has become ready for use! Your Warden launches a huge attack against the entire enemy team, taking them down and winning the battle!
All our game’s systems come into play during combat. The affinities and skills of your Solari, influenced by the stat upgrades you’ve chosen for them, guide your overall strategy. As you use your Warden’s relics, you see the impact of the gear you’ve equipped and the stats affected by that gear. Of course, your actual tactics in battle—how and when you use your Solari or activate those relics—make a huge difference in the success or failure of that strategy.
And if that’s not enough, you make all those decisions in real time. If your skills are ready first—thanks to Solari with a good Speed stat, short boot times for skills, or a game-opening Haste buff—you can land a hit or two before I can, putting me at a disadvantage in combat. Of course, your own reaction times are also crucial. A skilled player knows their team’s strengths and weaknesses before battle even starts, with plays and counter-plays ready to deal with whatever challenges their opponents cook up.
What does your team do best? Will you deploy a wall of defensive Solari while your Warden hurls attacks from afar? Will you rely on Resolve and Erosion to increase your offense and lower your opponents defenses? Perhaps all you need are a handful of Fire and Electric Solari to deliver damage quickly, ignoring your own well-being as you race to defeat your enemies before they can deploy strategies of their own.
There’s a lot to take in here. Fortunately, we’ve crafted the content in Moonrise to ensure that these elements are delivered with gentle pace, alongside instruction and plenty of opportunity to practice before you need to master them. You’ll develop strategies as you recruit new Solari, experimenting with various combat approaches until you find one that’s fun and effective.
Getting combat to feel right
Combat in Moonrise is fluid. There’s a real sense of back and forth, as every skill “moves the needle,” shifting momentum toward you or your opponent. I charge a buff for both of my Solari while you charge an attack. Your attack lands first, and now I’m behind: advantage you. Meanwhile, did you set up a block? Do any of your passive Traits prevent damage? Did you Dispel my Solari’s buffs? If not, my souped-up Solari will come crashing down on one of yours, clearing them off the board: advantage me.
Every decision made in combat matters. That’s a bar we set early in our design. No attack is small enough to ignore, and none is so important that one error will ruin the fight. You’ll find yourself testing your enemies, trying out various strategies and skill combinations. Not everything will work, but when you find patterns you like, you can to use them time and time again.
But that just describes the environment of player versus the AI of in-game enemies. Player versus player combat is a different ballgame: here it’s all on the table, with every second and every skill selection of paramount importance. Watching two experienced Moonrise players duke it out competitively is quite a spectacle, as each person must plan their moves and countermoves with split-second timing, never leaving a Solari or Warden to dawdle when they could be selecting their next skill. It’s a rush.
Affinities: the juicy details!
Each Solari and each skill has an affinity: a special connection to one of the elemental aspects of the world. Solari are most effective when using skills of their own affinity. A Solari deals significantly more damage with skills of its own affinity than with skills of another affinity. Of course, limiting your Solari to use only skills of their own affinities makes it easier for your opponent to guess your strategy, so many players vary up their skill selections a bit.
Affinities also interact with one another on the battlefield. Each Solari’s affinity renders it “strong” against a subset of affinities, and “weak” against some other affinities. Solari that are strong against a particular affinity deal more damage to Solari of that affinity and take less damage from skills with that affinity. Conversely, Solari that are weak toward a given affinity deal less damage to Solari of that affinity and take more damage from skills of that affinity.
Each affinity also brings certain specializations to the battle, such as speed, defenses, control, healing, or even typical stat distribution among its attacks. When your opponent lines up an array of Stone Solari against you, you have a good idea of the likely strategies and tactics they might use.
Now for some more details:
A quick note on stats: Strength-based skills derive their damage from the attacker’s Strength stat, drawing on their physical prowess. Spirit-based skills derive damage from the Spirit stat, relying on the innate energy that a combatant brings to bear.
Basic: The safest of affinities, and an exception to the strong/weak affinity details you just read. The Basic affinity has no strengths or weaknesses, at least against the other affinities listed here. Basic Solari wield Strength and Spirit skills alike, and they use a few buffs and debuffs to increase their damage output or decrease that of their opponents. Some basic attacks damage the caster as well as the target, but these often grant extra damage or other benefits in exchange.
Fire: Fire is all about damage! Between up-front hits and Burning debuffs, Fire has fantastic single-target and AOE (Area of Effect) damage potential. Fire has some access to Stun attacks, and like Basic Solari, Fire Solari occasionally damage themselves as a part of particularly strong attacks. Fire Solari tend to favor Spirit-based skills, but some utilize Strength attacks as well.
Fire is strong against Nature and Electric. Fire is weak to Stone and Water.
Stone: Stone is the 800-pound gorilla. Big, slow, and tanky, Stone Solari are built to weather enemy attacks, then come crashing down with their own, often stunning enemies in the process. Stone Solari tend to have high defense stats, especially Armor, and they favor Strength attacks rather than Spirit attacks. Stone wields one of the more unique debuffs, Petrify, which interrupts an enemy, leaving them unable to use skills and unable to be dismissed (so their controller can’t easily replace them on the battlefield). On the plus side, your Solari are immune to damage while petrified, but that’s a small consolation when you’re one soldier down for several seconds.
Stone is strong against Fire and Electric. Stone is weak to Nature and Water.
Electric: Electric is all about speed and gaining the upper hand in a hurry. Quick boot times, quick cooldowns, Haste buffs, Stuns, and direct attacks against the enemy Warden add up to give Electric the tools it needs to take the momentum in a fight. Electric Solari excel at applying quick pressure, wielding a wide set of skills within seconds of being summoned. Electric Solari specialize in the Chain Lightning debuff, a risky maneuver that zaps the entire enemy team with a random number of lightning bolts. Electric Solari have an even mix of Spirit- and Strength-based skills, though their attack stats are rarely as high as their Speed.
Electric is strong against Nature and Water. Electric is weak to Fire and Stone.
Nature: Nature has an answer to everything. Toxin deals damage, Slow and Root control your enemies, and heals and Regeneration keep your allies in the fight. Nature isn’t great at dealing direct damage, but it makes up for that with all the other utility skills available to it. Nature Solari generally have a higher score in their Strength stat than in Spirit, and they feature decent defense stats and middle-of-the road speed.
Nature is strong against Stone and Water. Nature is weak to Fire and Electric.
Water: Water is about the long game, manipulating the board until everything’s just where you want it. Water wields the Erosion debuff, increasing damage received by an enemy (with an extra damage increase for water attacks). If that wasn’t enough, water is master of both Dispel and Cleanse, allowing it to remove buffs from enemies and debuffs from allies, respectively. Water has access to a few heals for emergencies, but specializes in turning fights around and keeping them locked down, often setting up big attacks from allies that wipe out enemy teams.
Water is strong against Stone and Fire. Water is weak to Electric and Nature.
There are more affinities to Moonrise than these six. As for these advanced affinities, we’d like to not spoil anything yet — to discover them you’ll have to play the game!
Our affinities help build a world full of Solari with varied strengths and weaknesses. These in turn provide differences in play style, strategies, and tactics. All together, this variety provides you with the tools you need to experiment with different ways to win fights, and in turn keeps combat fresh for many hours to come.
What combat must achieve
Combat in Moonrise has some important responsibilities. It must reward skill, first of all: a player who knows affinity matchups and their team’s capabilities must see that mastery rewarded by victory over those with less information or less practice. Combat must also reward your time investment. Your carefully trained, wisely upgraded Solari should on average find more success in battle than those upgraded randomly.
Of course, combat must carry the weight of making your gear and relic choices matter. Your Warden and their stats must be a big enough part of combat that the way you build and equip them meaningfully impacts how you engage your enemies and how you respond to challenges. For more on on the topic of gear, check out our previous article on customizing your Warden.
Finally, combat has to work with the overall constraints of the game and its mobile platform. Fights can’t drag on too long, or it stops being a game that’s convenient to play. Combat can’t be too fast, or the key player skill moves from strategic to twitchy, which makes the game less accessible. It’s on us to make sure that Moonrise holds up as a compelling experience for a wide audience, while still captivating players willing to put a lot of time and thought into it.
Why we did it this way
Moonrise aspires to be your next hobby. We want to build a compelling set of game elements to chase after, experiment with, mix up, and master. Done right, that means you’ve got loads of content waiting for you and plenty of stuff to do. All of that only works if there’s real value in that content, and combat is how we establish that value. You bring your achievements and your mastery to bear as you conquer dungeons and quests, in turn gaining new gear, learning more skills, and finding new Solari to recruit and fight alongside.
We also support competitive play, such as Solari Draft and Unranked PvP. What you’ll want to know is that each skill, relic, and Solari is crafted and designed to be compelling in PvE and PvP. This desire for exciting, engaging competitive play also informs combat, and demands that we keep battles understandable. When you show the game to a friend for the first time, we want them to find it just as cool as you do.
Most importantly, Moonrise has to be fun for the people who play it. We’re here to provide a rich and fulfilling experience, both for core gamers and for mobile game players craving something with a little more depth and agency. We want to make games that, regardless of platform, respect both our players and their time.
That’s all for now. Stay tuned for the next article, where we’ll dig into some details on game balance!
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