Researching For Authenticity, War Of The Roses Style

By Nathan Grayson on September 26th, 2012 at 2:00 pm.

Now I'll never fulfill my dream of being a ravishingly attractive hand model!

Regardless of the final product’s authenticity, it’s pretty easy for, say, Medal of Honor, Battlefield, or Call of Duty’s developers to get an inside look at how their subject matter really works. The real War of the Roses, on the other hand, took place roughly six centuries ago, and time travel either hasn’t been invented yet or was wiped out by someone who traveled back in time to destroy time travel. And so, the War of the Roses team did the next best thing: they ran around England in authentic medieval armor. Hilarity, as you might expect, ensued. You can now view the entire four-part behind-the-scenes saga (which also contains some pretty fascinating info) via the modern sorcery that is streaming video after the break.

So I now know the origin of the term “bollocks.” I wasn’t expecting to learn that today. The amount of nuance that goes into recreating this type of battle is very impressive, though. Mount and Blade aside, great melee-focused medieval games are few and far between, and I feel like this kind of explains why. It’s one thing to swing a sword while wearing shiny steel pants. It’s another thing for it to feel weighty yet powerful – and not like caressing a pinata with a rotten stick while your legs are stuck in a trash can.

War of the Roses is launching next week, and – based on what we’ve played so far – it’s shaping up to be pretty special. Also, not entirely realistic, given the relative effectiveness of my suicidal lance jousting tactics. But then, War of the Roses never claimed to be a sim. Fun is its main goal, and I think it’s got a pretty good shot at delivering.

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27 Comments »

  1. derbefrier says:

    This just made me remember early access started yesterday for those who pre-ordered. My buddies figured out a pretty reliable way to co-op in Dark Souls so our 3 man team was so busy smashing face i completely forgot i should have been smashing face in this game. Well i know what i am doing tonight.

  2. InternetBatman says:

    I wanna roleplay Mallory of Newbold Revell. Hopefully horse theft is an option.

  3. MrLebanon says:

    QUICK COMMENTERS I NEED YOUR HELP: Is this worth my moneys if I am a M&B fan? Or should I stick with M&B

    • Mr Bismarck says:

      I was ridiculously excited to get into the beta for this and after 60 hours my suggestion is to keep your money in your pocket.

      I believe the NDA precludes me from saying more than that.

      • MrLebanon says:

        Will take your word for it random internet stranger! Perhaps I’ll nab it for 5$ on sale sometime… Until then I’ll see how Chivalry compares

        • Mattressi says:

          I asked a similar question in another thread and a beta (alpha?) tester of both Chivalry and WotR said that WotR isn’t worth it right now, but Chivalry is awesome.

          I’m definitely going to wait until WotR is released and there’s some kind of demo available. Hopefully they’ll listen to the hardcore fans and increase the combat speed and whatever other fixes may be needed. Otherwise, it’ll be a game of “block each other until your swords break” for veterans. Not fun.

          • MrLebanon says:

            this is exactly the kind of comparison I need! I was leaning towards chivalry but this sets it a little better for me, cheers

      • DogKiller says:

        It’s very frustrating when somebody comes up with a very good idea for a game, and then messes it up in the execution. I don’t think the NDA holds any more, as the game is open for early access for people who preordered. They’re letting threads stay on the forums, at least.

      • Domino says:

        I’m just going to leave this here.

        Save your money and wait and see what Chivalry will bring, having played WoR since the beta went live couple of months ago, I’m disappointed with it.

    • JarLoz says:

      It is well worth the money, I’d say.

      The basic gameplay is basically identical. You swing and block just as you would in M&B. The difference is mostly in the feel of the game. Everything has more weight. Movements are slower and more deliberate, swings have more power behind them, impacts feel stronger. The combat is slightly slower, but feels more satisfying in my opinion. The armor system is brilliant, since it’s no longer a mere damage reduction, but you actually feel protected when wearing heavy armor. Hitting a knight in bad angle results in a pitiful “chink”, but swinging your pronged bill in the face of some archer causes a sickening wet crunch as the victim crumples into a heap.

      Other big difference is the health system. You can bandage yourself to gain health at any point, but it’s a slow operation that makes you vulnerable to attacks, so you can’t really just instaheal in the middle of a battle. The bandaging removes the annoying situation in M&B where you appear victorious from a brutal melee, only to notice you have two pixels left in your health bar with no means to replenish it. Next glancing blow from a dagger is going to take you down, no matter what you do.

      I also like that the weapons are noticeably different in the way they work, and there is plenty of customization you can do to create a custom class that fits your playstyle.

      A major downside currently would be the lack of 200-player servers or game modes beyond team deathmatch and conquest (point capture).

      • MrLebanon says:

        two game modes does indeed sound underwhelming :(

      • Mattressi says:

        Sounds bad to me. Any slower combat than M&B is both unrealistic and will result in matches where veterans don’t land a hit on each other (if their reactions are faster than the animations).

        • derbefrier says:

          I think the slower combat is more realistic. I have never seen some one able to swing a sword so fast for so long as they do in these games but the slower combat gives it more “realistic” feeling imo. i would really like to see a stamina system of some type added to take advantage of the different armor types and swords(its kind stupid to be able to swing that big as sword for 5 minutes straight in a game that’s trying to be somewhat realistic). That and some sort of siege mode would be awesome. as it is now I think its decent but theres no questions theres still a lot of room for improvement. I hated mount and blade by the way it surprises me to hear people say its better combat wise. I guess it might be because it was your used too.

          • MrLebanon says:

            havent played WOTR, but in M&B the only cap on speed was your ability. Albeit I think some kind of stamina would improve it to stop spammy type fights reality is two well matched openents would have an intense battle.

            If WOTR has slower combat, it negates the good coordination of good fighters and makes it easier for more casual fighters.

            Just my theory anyways

          • Oak says:

            Your speed in M&B is also affected by the weight you’re bearing and whether you’ve been running in a straight line.

            I’m interested in slower, more realistic combat – not sure what is meant by it negating good coordination – but impressions of the WotR beta have been all over the place. I seem to remember movement in Age of Chivalry being pretty laborious, and I liked that, so to speak, but melee combat suffered from that usual first-person fuzziness.

            EDIT: You meant combat speed. I am an idiot.

          • Mattressi says:

            That’s odd, since I’ve never seen someone unable to swing a sword as fast as they are in M&B. They aren’t heavy and they’re very well balanced (if they’re well made, of course), allowing them to be swung quite quickly. You would tire quickly swinging one, but not instantly. However, I’ll concede that in a game where plated knights slash each other with swords (seemingly cutting each other…?) and repeatedly block attacks, realism probably isn’t the main focus.

            MrLebanon is mostly correct that the combat speed in M&B was as fast as your reflexes – blocking was, but attacks still obviously took time to complete. Even with the speed that attacks had, high-skill players would frequently be in movie-like battles that go on for minutes without either of them landing a blow – they both had good enough reflexes to insta-block their opponent’s “slow” swings. I don’t think there’s much of a way around this. From what I’ve seen and heard of WotR, this would occur too, but with players much below the highest skill level.

          • Ateius says:

            And that sort of stalemate is realistic. It’s why combat training for those periods went beyond “thrust, slash, parry, dodge” and into grappling, tackling, tripping and outright martial arts. Two equally skilled opponents with shields can block each other all day until one of them knocks the other off-balance.

            That sort of complexity might be a bit beyond a game, but the inclusion of, say, shield bash and/or trip moves could do a lot to break up stalemates.

    • Grovy says:

      From the little I played of the beta there isn’t a single aspect this game even matches M&B Warband, let alone improves upon it. Disappointing but there it is.

  4. DK says:

    They really screwed up when they changed the game from first to third person out of the blue. It instantly lost all of it’s franticness and the punch of armored medieval combat. And it also made the helmet implementation go from cool and realistic to plain old stupid.

  5. Reapy says:

    Ahh yes didn’t know it had prelease already, going to have to check that out tonight. From some of the forum posts it looks like it still is very similar to beta, so that’s….not good. Saw some dev posts though on work continuing though, so maybe it’ll just need some more time.

    Look forward to hopefully forming a new opinion tonight.

  6. DogKiller says:

    Bollock dagger has the coolest name for a dagger ever. I’m hearing very, very mixed things about WoTR at the moment. I went to a Hastings reenactment in 2006, and the sound of scores of knights charging on horseback is very surreal. It’s like rumbling thunder in the distance.

    • rapier17 says:

      I was in the third Saxon division (the rearmost line) for the 2006 one, with Regia Anglorum on the left flank, and having the horses charging at you was absolutely terrifying and unbelievably loud. Especially if you were as hungover as I was.

      Personally I’m waiting until WotR is in a sale before I consider buying. I have put around 80 hours into it from the Alpha & Beta so I’m happy to wait until it’s cheap before buying it.

  7. Meusli says:

    I like the game very much but it needs to change a few mechanics.

    1)Squad spawn needs to be dropped as it adds nothing but frustration.
    2)Plate armour wearers should not be able to wield crossbows/bows.
    3)More game modes like siege.

    As for all the rest it is a very enjoyable game, much more tactical in one on one than Mount and Blade.

    • MurderFish says:

      Yeah, the squad system in general doesn’t make sense; on paper, it lets players stay on the frontlines without having to trudge up from spawn, but in practice it usually just ends up with you getting jumped as soon as you spawn because you couldn’t see what was happening around the guy you were spawning on. What if instead of this spawn system, you had it so that if a majority of players occupied a certain area, kind of like in a Conquest style game but applicable through all the game modes, you could spawn in that area if you were on the majority’s team?

  8. The Random One says:

    “Regardless of the final product’s
    authenticity, it’s pretty easy for, say, Medal
    of Honor, Battlefield, or Call of Duty’s
    developers to get an inside look at how
    their subject matter really works.”

    Conversely, it would be pretty hard for game devs researching medieval combat to be arrested as spies.

  9. MurderFish says:

    I got this game on early release was in the Beta briefly. Overall, I think it’s a great game, well worth a mere $30, but personally, I don’t see myself playing too much. It’s not that I have a huge problem with something in the game itself, but that my laptop isn’t of a high enough caliber to process it fast enough for me to play competitively (I have an AMD 6620G HD graphics card with an AMD A8-3520M processor; somewhere in the low-mid tier).

    See, I’ve played a LOT of Mount and Blade and, as anyone else who has played it can tell you, combat in that style of game is HEAVILY dependent on your system’s responsiveness to controls. After personal skill, everything relies on timing and reaction, and any lag in your control’s responsiveness will result in your repeated and untimely death (read GOD DAMMIT I SWUNG AT THE SAME TIME AS THAT GUY WHY DID I DIE oh I have 120 ping and 20 fps how silly of me to think that I would be able to be decent at this). The graphics and engine in M&B, however, are much more dated than those of WotR, allowing someone with a computer such as my own to play comfortably and without too much rage.

    Unfortunately, my computer simply cannot run WotR fast enough even on low settings, with its shiny new engine and polished, realistic textures and animations, and whenever I play, I am often left stewing as my character is slaughtered over and over again because he swung his sword a second after I let go of the button, an undercurrent of frustration gently manhandling my clenched, pained buttocks with the all-too-well-known warmth of mild annoyance.

    As a footnote, I’m also having a problem damaging people whenever I manage to get a hit on them. Especially when I’m against a guy in platemail, I always seem to hit a more armored part and never deal any damage, unless of course I am doing a stab, which still only does limited damage; surprisingly, this still happens even when I’m fighting a guy in a cloth gambeson, basically a padded shirt. I’m fairly sure this is an effect caused by the game’s much-lauded hit detection system, which I believe was quoted as being “able to tell if you shot an arrow through the slit in a visor” (probably not an accurate quote, but I heard something of the like somewhere (here?)), but I find myself thinking that it’s not as useful if you can’t see exactly where you’re going to hit without a precise targeting reticule. And seriously, how is a padded shirt supposed to protect against a fucking sword?

    And that’s my two cents, with a little extra on the side.