So let's talk about the targeting system.
I enjoyed both betas very much these past weekends and I love the game greatly. With that said, nothing is perfect and that's why NT is looking for community feedback. One thing that i found could be a little better is the targeting system. I've talked about this with other members of the community and while some people agreed with me, others were pretty defensive about the current system. I would like here to propose a series of options to improve the system without modifying the current experience for folks that enjoy it in its current iteration.
For me, the problem resides in the complexity of the current system. Two options are available, a toggle mode and an hold mode.
Toggle mode will activate pressing one key, and then rotate through targets with another. This, imo, requires too much time and key presses to achieve the end goal of the system. If multiple targets are close to each other there is no way to know which target the system will choose when activating it with the first key press. I then have to spam the other key until it finally targets my desired victim. The system also take objects into consideration when rotating (such as Gizmo's turrets or Kulev's totem). This means I have to spam the second key a great deal of time before it finally fall on the right target if a lot is happening in a confined space. For these reason, I dislike this targeting mode. I understand this is a personal opinion and I am not saying the system is badly designed.
Hold mode feels better to me, while still imperfect. The system requires me to hold the target key before doing an ability so the game knows what I'm trying to target. Upon release of the key, the system will keep targeting the same target as long as I'm attacking it, regardless of what's closest to the centre of my screen (camera mode). So let's say I start a melee combo against an enemy, then rotate my camera (while releasing the hold to target key), the system won't allow me to change target until another one is close enough. Weirdly enough there is an exception to this rule, which is holding the W key. Not any movement keys, only the W key. If you hold the W key, the system will release targets upon release of the targeting key and attack where the camera is pointing. If you hold any other movement key, the system will keep the same target, even if it is out of range. It will even rotate your fighter back towards it without you pressing any movement key, as shown in the video here. For ranged attacks the system will also keep the same target as long as your are holding the attack key, but will change target if you release it, going to where the camera is pointing regardless of holding W or not (camera mode). For me, 2 problems arises with this setup. First, the requirement for me to hold the W key for the system to understand I am trying to attack something else, and secondly the requirement for me to release and reset my attack key for it to understand I want to switch target with ranged attacks. Again, I understand this is a personal opinion and I am not saying the system is badly designed.
When talking about this with fellow players on the official discord, people suggested to me to simply not use the system at all. I could just use camera mode and that would act as a soft-targeting system on its own. I felt kind of stupid for not thinking about it earlier to be honest. I hoped into a match and tried it. To my great despair, this is not a playable solution with the current system, the reason being a lot of abilities requires me to clearly indicate a target. Bastardo's leap is the most obvious example. Leaping into a target is doable only if you hard lock onto it. Leaping without doing so, Bastado will leap forward to the maximum range of the ability, not considering any targets even if they are in the middle of my screen (camera mode). This means I need to use the system to target my ability. This is just a simple example, but most abilities work that way. Without a clear locked-on target, the system will just default the ability to a set value of distances and angles. Not only that, but as discussed earlier, even for normal attacks camera mode actually only uses the camera angle as a reference targeting point when holding the W key. That means anytime the circumstances requires me to do any other movements than going forward, I need to hard lock on a target. If not, my fighter will even turn around on its own to attack in the direction where my last target is. For these reasons, ignoring the system and using camera mode as a soft-targeting alternative is not a viable solution.
Now, the solution. I would like to propose the addition of a soft targeting mode into the system. Again, this would not change anything for anyone currently enjoying the system as it is. I am not proposing a re-work of the current system, but only the addition of a couple of options in the options menu to create a way for the system to target what is in the centre of my screen, regardless of anything else.
First, a true camera mode option. This option would make it so the system always target where the centre of my screen is, regardless of anything else. No need to hold any movement key. The fighter would simply turn around to attack at wherever the camera is pointing, targets or not. This assumes a very generous auto-targeting, meaning players don't actually have to be precise in aiming for their attacks but simply keeping targets loosely in the middle of the screen.
Secondly, since activating the option mentioned above requires the players to 'soft aim' at targets, a sensitivity censor would be required. This would change at which distance the system would switch targets when another one is entering the centre of the screen. Think of it as the Zarya or Ana ally targeting sensitivity slider in OW.
third, an automatic auto-target switch. This means the system will not take into consideration my previous target when choosing who to attack and will not require me to let go of the attack key to change target. This is specially useful for ranged attacks. Note that this option would not be required to use the 2 others mentioned above.
Fourth, an option to deactivate the entire system holding a key. This would allow players to rotate the camera and look elsewhere while still targeting something. Think of it as the free look mode in PUBG, for example.
fifth, a crosshair option. I'm not talking about a crosshair in the conventional sense of the term though, since there is no aiming involved in the system. Just a simple point of reference to where the actual middle of the screen is, since this is now the reference point the system uses when choosing a target.
and finally, a UI element would be needed to illustrate to the player which target the system is targeting at any moment. This could use the current little box that the lock-on system uses, or put a coloured hue around the target. That is how ESO does it in their soft-targeting system, for example.
Now, when proposing this to fellow players, some people felt like that would essentially turn the game into a third person shooter. While i understand that visually this would effectively look a lot like a TPS setup, it's not the same. TPS assumes that aim is required, sometimes helping players by adding an auto-target on top of it. What I am proposing here is different in the sense that it does not assume any mechanical skills from the player. The auto-target would be generous to the point that anyone could easily hit anything on their screen. The game would not calculate projectile trajectories to see if it hits something, it would direct these projectiles directly onto the target the system is on at any moment. This is not something that changes combat mechanics, but its something that changes how the player interacts with the current set of combat mechanics. My goal here IS NOT to raise the skill cap of the game.
I think the advantages of adding these options lies in the fact that the system would not require any key presses for it to understand what target the players wants to hit. This removes the need to toggle through targets in the middle of a chaotic fight and the need to hold any key to aim an ability. This would also makes it much easier to precisely aim AOE abilities, such as Kulev's totem or Gizmo's bomb. As of right now you have to target an enemy to do these precisely (which doesnt make sense for Kulev's totem really). If not, you have to drag your mouse around with a completely different sensitivity until your satisfied. I have not tested this on a controller, so maybe its less of a problem for console folks. The sets of options mentioned above would basically turn these instances into the same system Smite uses. Hold ability key to aim and release to confirm.
Thank you for reading this all the way down here. This turned into something much bigger than I initially thought. I would like to hear what people think about this and ideally hear if NT is open to adding something like this in the future. I understand this is somewhat of a hot topic in the community. Please stay civil, I am not trying to take anything away from the game and I love it dearly as it is already.