Today I am pondering what it means when combat feels "floaty." This is one of the most common criticisms I’ve seen about ESO: "The combat is too floaty." I’ve seen this criticism leveled against a lot of games over the years, actually.
But what does that mean?
I don’t know about anyone else, but when I was swinging my dual daggers in the ESO beta, at no point did my Argonian begin to float away into the sky*. His feet stayed right there on the ground where they belonged. His weapons did not levitate out of his hands, either. So what in god’s name do people mean when they say combat is "floaty?"
The only thing I can figure is that these criticisms are coming from people who jump a lot while they fight. That is: Those PvP players. You know the ones I mean. The ones who took advantage of game engine bugs and splash damage back in the 90s and now think of jumping as a core component in fighting, even though it probably has no effect on combat anymore, especially in an MMO.
I say that because I could see characterizing the jumping in ESO as "floaty." It’s a very high jump and you stay in the air a long time. I think you can change trajectories in the air, too, but I don’t remember. It’s very unrealistic in comparison to the rest of the game, because it feels like you’re on a planet with 1/4th the gravity of earth. So if people were saying "the jumping is too floaty" I’d be right there with them. But they aren’t.
So I’m left thinking that people must be using the word "floaty" as a generic term for "unfamiliar." As in: "The combat in this game I just started playing doesn’t feel like the combat in these other games I’ve played for 5,000 hours. It’s too floaty."
(By the way, I don’t mean to suggest that ESO’s combat is not floaty. I just can’t figure out what people think is wrong with it.)
* There was a time in ESO when I was walking up a short set of stairs and somehow got launched into the air like I’d been shot out of a cannon. It was pretty cool but I couldn’t duplicate it to save my life.