Introduction to Combat in The Matrix Online
Even with the Truce in place, the Matrix is by no means a safe environment. Once you jack in, you'll run into dangerous Exile gangs, redpills working for other Organizations, and various enemies whose goals oppose your own. While negotiation is sometimes an option, more often than not you'll have to defeat them in combat.
A hallmark of the Matrix movies is the intense combat styles used while jacked in. The Matrix Online reproduces these battles with a technology unique to the MMO world called “the Interlock Combat System”. There's nothing quite like going hand-to-hand (or gun-to-gun) versus an opponent in the wire-fu style of the Matrix movies.
Along with melee combat, there are Disciplines dedicated to the art of ranged combat. This includes both characters that learn to use high-power ranged weapons and those who learn to launch programs while in the Matrix in order to help or harm others.
What is “Interlock”?
The Interlock Combat
System gets its name from the idea that you've “locked” an opponent
into a battle with you, and is only used when characters are in Close Combat.
While the system is engaged, you and your opponent choose different Tactics
and Special Moves to use. When a Close Combat exchange happens, those choices
get a number assigned to them based on a random “roll” plus
any loaded Abilities and buffs that increase your combat strength.
When the numbers for you and your opponent are compared, the highest number wins. After the comparison is done, the fun really begins.
The game takes into account the winner and loser of each exchange, what Tactic or Special Move was used, adds any combat abilities wielded by the opponents, and then generates animations based on those factors. Unlike other games, animations for both opponents are synchronized to create realistic combat. For example, when your punch connects with your opponent's head, his head snaps with the hit. Sometimes you'll even throw feints that your opponent will duck away from before you hit him with the real thing.
While lower-level combat looks cool, as you gain experience
you can load higher-level combat abilities and new Special Moves. With multiple
combat styles loaded, you can choose your preferred style before or even during
combat. (After all, Kung Fu isn't all that Neo knew.)
The game takes your chosen style into account and generates combat animations based on it. For example, countering an attack using Aikido may result in grabing and throwing your opponent to the ground, while countering using Karate may result in striking your opponent's arms away forcefully.
Guns. Lots of Guns.
Just like in the Matrix movies, guns aren't only for shooting from a
distance. You can also choose to use one of the many types of firearms in The Matrix Online while
engaged in Close Combat.
Not only does this result in a whole different set of animations (for gun against gun or gun against bare-handed), but there is also a set of Special Moves available for armed combat. For example, the Pistol Slide move makes your character dive backwards away from your opponent, firing back at them the entire way.
What would fighting in the Matrix be without bullet-time action? The Interlock
system in The Matrix Online allows for special bullet-time animations;
where time seems to slow down as your character executes a particularly devastating
move on an opponent.
Bullet-time isn't something you can control directly. There's no Special Move or Ability that enables it; it just happens. You'll be in the middle of an exchange when everything suddenly goes into slow motion. The first time a player goes into bullet-time is always a memorable occasion. Of course, so is the first time someone bashes you in bullet-time.
A question that always comes up regarding bullet-time in The
Matrix Online is what other players see when watching someone else go into
bullet-time. Other players don’t see anything unusual about the combat.
Bullet-time is something that represents your own mind moving preternaturally
fast, so that the battle seems to go into slow motion as you analyze your opponent’s
moves and react to them with exactly the right counter.
Not all fighting in The Matrix Online happens
in Close Combat. Combat that doesn't use the Interlock system is called “free ranged” and
covers both weapons and viral attacks.
Free-ranged combat is most often used by characters supporting the front-line fighters involved in Close Combat with enemies. Ability loadouts for support characters include ranged combat specialists, patchers (healers), or viral attackers.
An entire section of the Discipline Tree focuses on using firearms effectively. Some of these disciplines concentrate on Close Combat with firearms, while others make characters adept at firing from a distance.
These ranged-combat specialists learn to use weapons with ever-increasing range and damage. Some disciplines, like the Sniper, can even hide within the Matrix code itself and inflict immense damage with specialized weapons. Whether using stealth or brute force, these fighters can turn the tide of combat for a group.
Hackers: Patchers and Viral Attackers
There are also
discipline branches which include abilities that allow characters to launch
programs that affect other characters. The Hacker path contains disciplines
that specialize in program launching to both help and harm others.
Patchers learn ways to heal other characters' Residual Self Images (RSIs) by “fixing” their code. When not using their abilities to help their allies, they often use firearms to inflict some damage from a distance. High-level Patchers can even fix entire groups of allies with a single program.
Virologists, on the other hand, learn to launch programs that attack enemies. At the most basic level, they harm enemies by directly damaging their code. They can also “lock” enemies in place or even disrupt their connection to the Matrix. In the same way Patchers can heal, the higher-level viral abilities can be used to attack large groups of enemies with a single program.
It's All About Choice
Although combat isn't everything in The Matrix Online,
your character exists in a dangerous world while jacked in you'll be
forced to constantly defend yourself and your ideals. Luckily, how you choose
to defend yourself is still up to you, as your character will not be forced
to stay on a single path of advancement.
Whether you feel like being a toe-to-toe brawler, a stealthy attacker, or a tactical hacker, you'll get a chance to do it all inside the Matrix.