• Open-world games focus on exploration over combat, offering players freedom to do as they please in the game environment.
  • Rocksteady and Ubisoft exemplify success by building games around combat systems, drawing in gamers with action-packed setpieces.
  • Unique combat mechanics in games like
    Sleeping Dogs, Mad Max,
    Ghost of Tsushima
    offer visceral, varied experiences for players.

Many open world games follow the traditional formula of non-linearity, where nothing is shown or given to the player in order for them to progress. The idea of the modern open world in gaming, however, is that the entire environment is a playground for the superhero-like protagonist to explore, find secrets, and defeat bad guys. There are objective markers and missions, of course, but the player has the freedom to do whatever they want. It’s no secret that a majority of casual players don’t particularly like complex or challenging gameplay, but they do love to spend their free time in the game beating up enemies if they like the combat.


Games With Some Of The Best Melee Combat

Some games have better melee gameplay than others. Here’s a look at some with the best melee content out there.

It seemed like a no-brainer for studios to capitalize on this, so some companies like Rocksteady and Ubisoft built their games around their combat systems to great success. Although games with an open world are more focused on exploration rather than combat, the genre’s titles are increasingly incorporating action-packed setpieces to draw gamers in. Today, franchises like the Batman: Arkham series have influenced the combat systems of a lot of other games, for better and worse.

6 Sleeping Dogs

Kung Fu Combat

Sleeping Dogs

August 14, 2012

United Front Games

A game with a combat system that takes inspiration from the Arkham games, Sleeping Dogs still manages to distinguish itself with its unique Hong Kong setting and its great story. It feels like an HBO crime drama, and even though the game was in developmental hell for many years, it hits all the right notes.

The combat pays homages to classic martial arts action movies, with a bit of dark humor mixed in, making for a truly compelling combination. There are environmental attacks, spinning kicks, grapples, and limb breaks. There are only four types of enemies, though, so there isn’t a lot of depth to the combat once the player gets settled into the game, which is a shame. However, the kung fu action and richly-detailed setting are worth it, and there isn’t anything quite like itthanks to the excellent story.

5 Mad Max

Underrated And Visceral

Mad Max

September 1, 2015

Mad Max flew under the radar when it came out in 2015. It has a beautiful open world, the vehicular combat and sound design are incredible, and the game is officially canon in the Mad Max universe. The side quests are missable, and the story gets monotonous after a while, but the combat and harsh terrain of the desert world is enough to make the entire game an enjoyable experience. Its melee combat, while again clearly taking notes from the Arkham games, unfortunately didn’t get a lot of attention because most fans think it’s a simple clone.



26 Best Combat Systems In RPGs, Ranked

More recently, RPGs have incorporated combat systems that are satisfyingly fun to use. These games are the proof.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. The quality of the sound design shines here as well, with each punch and shotgun bullet sounding extremely guttural and raw. Although there isn’t a lot to speak of here in terms of complexity or difficulty, each base is a nice break from open world exploration. Inside a base, Max goes from one arena of enemies to another, mowing them down with a boxing-centred fighting style. Melee weapons can be picked up too, along with a shotgun and a sniper rifle later on in the game, but ammo is scarce. Mad Max’s combat is very much inspired by the movies and lore that it’s based on – full of animalistic violence and total brutality.

4 Ghost Of Tsushima

Stylish, Bloody Combat

Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut

Sucker Punch Productions has a knack for making open-world games with unique combat mechanics. The inFamous series famously had protagonists with all kinds of powers – electric, video, neon, concrete, and even fire and ice powers. In Ghost of Tsushima, the team at Sucker Punch decided to give their fans a great approach to stealth without sacrificing any of the variability that they are known for in the game’s melee combat system.

This variance comes in the form of stances. Jin Sakai learns different stances througtouy the game as he kills each leader of the Mongol camps, which enable him to fight against new types of enemies. Eventually, he can fight and counter spearmen, brutes, swordsmen, and shieldmen. The brilliant thing about this is that the game’s combat feels aligned with the story, as well as with Jin’s legend of becoming the Ghost. When he learns the Ghost stance, a feeling of awe and terror is palpable across all characters, not just the enemies that the player is fighting. The game is even better on the Lethal difficulty, and it is hard to ignore how aesthetically pleasing the duels are. With clear inspiration from Akira Kurosawa’s samurai films, katana strikes leave splashes of blood on the ground, enemies remain standing for a few seconds after being killed, and the screen flashes blindingly when Jin enters the Ghost stance. The flow of combat in this game is only rivaled by that of the Arkham series in terms of how visually satisfying it is. It comes as no surprise that the game recently became Sony’s biggest first-party launch on PC.

3 Middle-earth: Shadow Of War

A Unique Enemy Mechanic

Middle-Earth: Shadow of War

October 10, 2017

Action RPG

The combat in Shadow of War builds upon its predecessor in all the ways its fans hoped for: it’s a lot more unforgiving, adds variety, and feels like a refined experience overall. Not only did it improve on everything that the first game did well, but the fighting feels faster than ever.


6 Games That Redefined Exploration

Many games are just begging to be explored, but these games took exploration to another level altogether.

Not only is the combat in the Middle-earth series fast, slick, and brutally violent, but the inclusion of the Nemesis System adds a personal touch that many other games can never replicate. An incredible mechanic that was frustratingly patented by Warner Bros, it helps the game provide some truly memorable moments that make the combat feel so much more fleshed out in comparison with other similar games. When the game has NPCs that act on the actions of the player, in so many different and unique ways, the entire combat system feels incredibly rich and personal. It adds a new dimension to what feels like an ordinary game, and it’s a shame that the system hasn’t been used in any title since Shadow of War, although Monolith’s upcoming Wonder Woman game is set to change that.

2 Batman: Arkham Knight

Not Just Button Mashing

Batman: Arkham Asylum’s combat, although great for its time, drew some criticism upon release due to the simplicity of its counter system. All players had to do was tap a button upon seeing a prompt above an enemy’s head, and Batman would counter the attack and deal some damage every time. Technically, it was possible to win a fight with basic-level enemies by just pressing that one button from time to time. By the time Batman: Arkham Knight came around, the combat was almost unrecognizable. A variety of gadgets, environmental objects, and allies come in to help the Dark Knight; the conclusion to the Arkham trilogy had it all.

Not only is the combat buttery smooth and flows better than ever, Batman jumps around like a maniac and feels like he has truly trained harder in order to best the enemies that he faces in Arkham Knight. There are many different types of enemies, and they all require different gadgets and movesets to defeat. Environmental objects add a new layer of depth to the combat abilities. The quickfire gadget system feels extremely satisfying when used in combat, and has also inspired a similar quickfire mechanic in other games like Spider-Man.

1 Marvel’s Spider-Man 2

Spectacular, Free-Flowing Combat

Marvel’s Spider-Man 2

October 20, 2023

While Marvel’s Spider-Man had a combat system that was praised by gamers and critics alike, it was a little too easy, and the gadget abilities were overpowered for most players. Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 rectifies this by bringing the combat system more in line with its swinging mechanics – it feels organic and creative, and although the number of gadgets is reduced overall, the player has more freedom in deciding how they go about defeating enemies.

For example, the fact that gadgets are now bound to a quickfire mechanic means that the fast-paced combat isn’t interrupted at any moment. While combining special moves with regular attacks and aerial combos, both Peter and Miles have different gameplay styles that the player can switch between depending on the situation that they’re in. Not only does this add a lot to the table in terms of gameplay experience, it also shows how much the two protagonists have grown since the Spider-Man and Miles Morales games.


6 Best Combat Systems In BioWare’s Games, Ranked

BioWare is a huge company that has made some of the biggest and best franchises ever, and their combat systems are a huge part of their success.


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