When I play a big multiplayer combat game, I like to stop fighting and look around. I judge a lot of games on what I see at those moments, seeing how the battle feels when I’m not a part of it: In Battlefield, it’s thrilling to see jets gracefully curving through the air as tanks blast them from below; In Team Fortress 2, ubered Heavies leading a charge as the enemy hastily rework their defenses makes me happy. During a lull in my hands-on of War of the Roses, I took stock: to my right, through grasses and the trees, I watched a knight stand up, yanking his sword up out of the face of an unseen body on the ground. The effort it took to wrench metal from skull was beautifully transparent from the animation. Behind him, a galloping horse dropped in that heavy way horses do, crashing to the ground and out of sight in seconds, spilling its lance-wielding rider. A lot of intimate battles formed as the slow, deliberate combat locked people together.
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