Archery Popshots | Mordhau
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Archery Popshots | Mordhau

August 15, 2019


Welcome to Archery Popshots, a series in which
I, as a real archer, critique archery in video games. For lovers of gruesome medieval combat who
aren’t watching this video in 2012, you’re probably already on the battlefields of Mordhau.
A spiritual successor and a much improved upgrade to the acclaimed Chivalry: Medieval
Warfare, Mordhau brings the player into the dirty, up close and personal combat. Featuring
numerous armour sets, dozens of deadly weapons, and a simple yet well-executed combat system.
Swing, parry, thrust, riposte, kick, chamber, morph, accelerate, drag and taunt your way
through the battlefield. Blade on blade combat has never been so much fun. And then you have bows. Whether you’re a Chivalry veteran or a new
Mordhau fan, you probably gave a collective sigh as you felt yet another annoying prick
in your side. You’re enjoying the most intense duel, and some cowardly scum has to pick a
bow and shoot you in the back. Screw archers. Unfortunately, as I am an archer, I had to
put aside my love of melee and role play as one such annoying archer scumbag. And I actually
had quite a bit of fun, even if it came at the expense of others. So, let’s take a look at the bows and archery
in Mordhau, how it works in the game, and throw a bit of historical commentary for flavour. Mordhau differs from many class-based games
in that…it doesn’t have classes. While there are some default archetype characters
to start off with, the heart of the game is in creating your own custom mercenaries with
in-game gold, earned from fighting in battles. With a limited pool of mercenary points, players
have to balance out their weapon loadout, armour and perks, such that a single build
can’t have everything. For those looking at playing as an archer
– and yes, there are people who do that – the default Huntsman class is the starting
point. After gaining some gold, you can purchase the bows for your own builds, of which there
are three. The longbow is the most versatile – the
general purpose bow, as you will. Somewhat slow, but dealing high damage, excellent for
long-distance shots. The recurve bow is a smaller, lighter, faster and weaker option,
with less sway and more suited for closer distance harassment. The crossbow is as strong
as the longbow and can be held indefinitely without shaking, though it must be manually
loaded between shots, leaving the user momentarily vulnerable. The crossbow’s ease of use makes
it effective at picking off targets of opportunity and excellent for counter-archer combat. Because the bows take up a significant number
of points, it is unlikely that a character build will incorporate much else. Typically,
an archer build will have light or medium armour along with a sidearm, such as an arming
sword of warhammer for personal defence. And in this regard, a competent player can hold
their own with carefully timed parries and counters to defeat more heavily armed opponents.
This is important, as being hit while holding the bow knocks it out of your hands, forcing
you to switch weapons and fight in melee. Even without the duress, an archer may choose
to rush into the fray to help allies deal with enemies instead of hanging back to take
potshots. While being struck by arrows is annoying and
distracting, archers are seldom a threatening presence, since it takes many arrows to bring
down armoured opponents. Thus, hitting a random enemy may simply tickle them, and they’ll
recover by the time they reach the front line. This isn’t useless, however, as picking
bloodied targets may result in opportunistic kills, or weaken enemies to be finished off
by your teammates. Archers can also bring down mounted combatants
with well-timed shots, who would otherwise run rampant around the map and pick off individual
players at whim. Archers – especially using the longbow and
crossbow – are ideally suited to engage other archers. The Huntsman perk gives bonus
damage against other archers, with a single torso hit enough for a kill. Things brings
up some very fun counter-sniping sprees and archer duels separate from the battle raging
in the middle. The battlefields of Mordhau don’t really
showcase archers in their historical roles as massed ranged units, as you only really
have a handful of archers on a team. However, a small group of archers fighting together
can actually be quite effective, as they can bring down a single enemy with rapid hits,
compared to the slow and vulnerable solo engagement when fighting alone. Finally, bows have a unique purpose in the
Horde mode, with the standard strategy being to load up on ranged weapons and climb ladders
to deal with the hordes below. Though recent patches have nerfed this strategy in that
the AI fighters throw area damage turds – yes, you heard that right – this still remains
the safest way to complete the mode. As an archer, you have to deal with multiple
challenges if you are aiming to contribute to your team. The first is surviving. It’s
very tempting to get close to the front lines to get easier shots, but if you choose to
do so, you must not become tunnel-visioned, as the rapid flow of battle will mean that
enemies will spawn and flank you, easily killing you on sight. Even when perched on advantageous
positions, you will be rushed by a lone player who can easily dispatch you as you slowly
load your next shot. Your presence is also going to be obvious to eagle-eyed enemy archers,
who will counter-snipe you as you stand outlined in predictable places. Staying alive also means constantly maintaining
situational awareness, scanning your surroundings between shots and relocating frequently to
avoid counter-sniping. It’s scary how often you will see someone of the opposing colour
running at you when you turn around. Listen to your instincts – if you feel like someone
is coming up to you right about now, you’re probably right. Next is making your shots count. Unfortunately,
there’s no easy way of doing this – and that’s probably a good thing. Your arrows
move slower than you may initially think, especially if you’re used to faster first-person
shooters, and when you start, you will always feel like you’re a split second too slow
and the arrow whooshes behind your target. Even when you get used to the arrow speed,
the erratic movements of human players all but makes it impossible to get a bead on your
target, with shots going off the mark and often hitting your teammates. My advice here is to avoid the rote action
of nocking and shooting into the crowd or trying to twitch-play with a bow on a close
opponent. Instead, analyse each situation and recognise patterns in player actions.
It’s easier to hit a player moving in one direction at a constant speed than someone
dancing around in melee. If you are shooting at someone who is fighting an ally, you’ll
recognise their duelling habits from a distance, such as when they move forward or backpedal.
Position your crosshair to where you’ll think they will be and let them walk into
the shot. In my opinion, the crossbow is the easiest
to use for this purpose, as it can be held indefinitely, while the recurve and longbow
will begin to shake when held too long. Experienced players will often snap-shoot with these bows,
letting go as soon as they get to full draw or even slightly before. You’re also better off going for light armoured
targets, as the damage reduction from medium and heavy armour largely negates the effect
of ranged damage. Hitting a heavy-armour melee fighter once or twice probably won’t give
your team any advantage, and it’s an inefficient use of your ammunition. If you’re going
to be archer scum and annoy the enemy team, at least help out your team by picking the
right positions to cover the moving front line rather than cherry-pick the easy distant
shots. We’re going to briefly go through the historical
accuracy of the archery in Mordhau. Obviously, the game isn’t meant to be historically
accurate, so we’re not going to roast the game over things like damage and balance.
This is more to prompt some questions and curiosity, and maybe learn something new. Firstly, do bows handle the way you see them
in the game? The archery kind of feels slow, both in shooting speed and arrow speed. For
the longbow, this is roughly about right, given that the game leans towards faster loading
speed to keep you in the action. While a lighter, modern bow can be drawn and aimed much more
quickly, a medieval war bow might be in excess of 80 pounds of draw, and the English longbows
were over 100 pounds. Drawing these bows required careful technique and physical exertion, so
the sluggish pace of drawing and aiming the longbow is a relatively decent reflection. The recurve bow is meant to represent the
recurved horse bows used in this time, more commonly in Eastern Europe and the Middle
East. Typically, these are meant to be shot with a thumb draw from the other side of the
bow, but the game models the same technique as the longbow, I’m assuming for the sake
of simplicity. While the recurve bow is a little faster, I would actually expect a real
life archer to shoot these even faster. I also feel that the power of the bow is a little
undervalued, as the arrows drop quite soon, making long-range shooting difficult. The crossbow handles a bit too quickly compared
to real life. Light crossbows could be loaded by hand, but heavier crossbows would have
required additional tools, such as a belt hook, or devices such as the goat’s foot.
The game’s rate of fire makes it comparable to the other bows, and I think the crossbow
could be slowed down a bit between shots, and perhaps balanced by giving it more damage. Regarding the visual depiction of these bows,
the crossbow looks like a typical medieval crossbow, so that gets a pass. It’s worth
noting that the stirrup at the end of the crossbow is meant to have your foot placed
into it when loading the bow so that you could pull the string up, which the animation doesn’t
show. The default longbow skin looks more or less
similar to an English longbow in size and shape. The alternate skin resembles a Holmegaard
or flatbow. The “divided” skin, with the limbs bolted onto the handle, is definitely
a fantasy design. Medieval bows were not manufactured this way, and this is an allusion to a modern
bow design. The bolts may actually weaken the bow, causing the wood to split from stress. The recurve bow’s divided skin is similar.
However, the default skins seem to be an all-wood design. Historically, these bows were commonly
made of composite materials, namely wood, horn and sinew. This is because these materials,
combining tension and compression strength, allowed for stronger bows to be made in a
more compact size, especially without the wide availability of appropriate woods for
longer bows. On a side-note, Mordhau gives all archers
a belt quiver, which is historically accurate, avoiding the popular game trope of back quivers,
which were seldom represented in historical sources and is largely a modern invention. Finally, while the game obviously measures
damage appropriately, the heavy plate armour would have been highly effective at deflecting
the arrows used, making armoured fighters arrow-proof in real life. This lopsided performance
would eventually lead to the historical shift from bows to firearms. As interesting as this may all be, I wouldn’t
be surprised if you haven’t changed your mind about archery in Mordhau. To be perfectly
honest, Mordhau isn’t the kind of game that embellishes or rewards archery. It is, at
its core, a melee combat game, and the game’s mechanics all revolve around the intensity
of hand-to-hand fighting. This isn’t to say that archery has no role.
While fairly superficial, games like Mordhau include ranged weapons to introduce another
element to the battlefield, forcing players not to be too comfortable with running headlong
into the melee. Effective archers can help control the battle with area denial, pushing
back overconfident players and just generally causing frustration. The main thing to consider is whether you’re
missing out on the game by playing as an archer character. The rest of the game has so much
depth to it, compared to the point and click of archery. It’s hard to justify your place
in the team as an archer when you could be another spear or sword on the front line to
fight at objectives and bring down numerous enemies. Overall, archery is what you would expect
in a fast-paced action game like Mordhau. It’s there, but it’s clearly not the focus
and is overshadowed by other weaponry. If you’re looking at this medieval combat game
for the archery, this isn’t that kind of game. But if, like most people, you’re drawn
in by the intense combat, Mordhau is an excellent time sink and a satisfying experience if you
invest the time to learn the mechanics. Thank you for watching this episode of Archery
Popshots. This is NUSensei, and as usual, shoot straight and aim for your best.

Only registered users can comment.

  1. You have basically taught me everything I know about using my bow and arrow properly. Within 2-3 months I've watched almost all of your archery video's and now, because of your advise and tips, I can accurately use my bow. I live on top of a mountain in a very small town. Unless I go to bass pro or Wal-Mart (which truly sucks) there is no way for me to learn about the art. You are awesome! Thank you for all you do for archery! Keep up the good work!!

  2. What I hated about this game is that like chivalry it's too fast paced, there's no way someone carrying weapons and wearing armor could move this fast and this makes me frustated. I would love to see a multiplayer game with the combat system similar to Kingdom come deliverance for a change

  3. Im am 14 year old boy who want to start archery… i am 5'2 idk my arm length but i think it is average , so should i get a 25lbs recurve bow 62" or what??? PLZ HELP

  4. ive been interrested in bow lately to fight off anxiety ive thoguht to make my own bow aince i dont run with alot of money and i want something elegant still, i was wondering if its possible or i should avoid using breaded fishlines as bow string?

  5. back in chivalry archers were pretty fearsome in 1v1 duels, though often they would use throwing spear, hit you a couple of times with it and then swap to shortsword/dagger and win with speed even if you were a knight or vanguard

  6. Maybe the recurve bow should do less damage at long range, since longbow arrows are heavier?

    But the recurve could do the same amount of damage at short range, and couple that with much faster draw speed, would make it the close quarters weapon. Would be interesting if it had an arrow type that it let it shoot farther than a longbow for low damage – mainly to distract and annoy players though (but historical). :V

    And what about the very heavy crossbows that might have stood a better chance against plate armor, but had agonizingly slow reload rates?

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