A reader tries to work out what title has the most satisfying sword-fighting in gaming, from Skyrim to Dark Souls.
Swords. They are inarguably cool. Swords in video games? Well now, that’s something else. Having one is always nice of course – even the more ridiculous Daedric creations in The Elder Scrolls series. Wielding it can look anything but.
Action adventures, or free-roaming brawlers if you prefer, such as Devil May Cry, Ninja Gaiden, and Bayonetta all feature very satisfying swordsmanship. Although Dante is probably more flash than form. His brother seems far more disciplined. So much so that I don’t believe that Dante would have a hope in hell in defeating him.
Link from The Legend Of Zelda series has always been fairly basic swordsman up until fairly recently. He got some new tricks as of The Wind Waker and Twilight Princess, like parries and shield bashes. The Mortal Draw, which your teacher says is great against enemies who also know how to use a sword. He also says that there is no defence against it, using it equals death.
Do not be taken in by this enticing pork pie. It will instant kill most things, yes – but not Dark Nuts. Or Ganondorf. In fact, it is incredibly difficult to even get the King of Evil to fall for your dirty trick. Because, in real life, turning your back on the enemy, even for a split second, could mean getting yourself killed.
Spinning around like some sort of ballerina happens all the time in SoulCalibur. Seriously. Everyone at least has one move where they spin and present their back to the opponent. In a real battle, spinning around for a strike to the neck or a jumping attack should only be attempted when victory is absolutely in the bag. Preferably when the other guy has been disarmed and is disoriented. Otherwise the very best thing that can happen to you is that the opponent interrupts your next attack. Or you could get your back sliced open or be stabbed.
As you may have guessed, I’m no fencing expert. But I am a writer who likes to role-play as my characters when given the option in role-players. And I have a character who is a prodigy-level swordswoman. So I’ve looked into this. A lot. Swordsmanship is not about strength, it’s about speed and grace and agility. I’m going to pick on Bethesda Studios here as I don’t think they’ve even seen a sword fight in the movies. Just waving a blade around like a maniac in the hopes that you’ll hit something – also known as the American style of combat – is rather absurd and neither looks or feels very satisfying.
As the celebrated philosopher, L. Kravitz famously noted: ‘American swordsman! Stay away from me! American swordsman! Just let me be!’ Wise words that we can all agree with there.
Fallout 4 allows for extremely powerful melee characters in just the vanilla game. Just by putting points into strength, Big Leagues and Blitz will make you devastating. Even though your character looks like they’re wielding a crowbar. Part of the problem stems from the mistaken belief that swords are extremely heavy, when in reality even a Scottish claymore only weighed in at 2.5 kg. And a one-handed, European long sword is barely much more than a bag of sugar. Yet in Skyrim, a Skyforge steel blade weighs over 4.5 kg! And the strongest dragon bone swords are twice that!
A sword isn’t supposed to wear you out in only a few swings, you’re not meant to look like a lumbering oaf with one in your hands. Dark Souls is a little better. The avatar looks like they have at least been taught the basics. But if you want to role-play as a master of the sword it’s still not quite right. They’re always overextending themselves which would leave them wide open to counters. And it does. Quite often. Which is the point in a way.
Fable II was actually quite good at this. As long as you kept your swords light and fast. Because if you’re a beefy, two-handed Warhammer kind of guy… that game does not like you. At all. The bandits will shred you to ribbons like one of Dogtanian’s apples.
But is that it though? Are those the best examples if we ever want to role-play as a great swordsman? A choice between the knowledgeable amateur in Dark Souls or the Devil May Cry lite of Fable?
So here I open it up to you, those who have played what I may have not, are there a few other role-players that you feel like a deity with a sword? Let me know. Games where the combat plays out automatically like Dragon’s Age or Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic do not count. My memory is getting hazy on Dragon’s Dogma, greatswords were much too slow but the sword and shield? I can’t remember – and that’s the combat style I went for! I think it was pretty decent.
Let’s end it there, but what does everyone else think? What great duelling examples have I missed? Feel free to lambaste in the comments.
By reader DMR
The reader’s feature does not necessary represent the views of GameCentral or Metro.
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