In my rambles around the ‘net, I’ve often seen complaints – especially in reviews – of the fighting style in “action/RPGs”. Of course, it isn’t so much a style as an activity: frantic button-pressing.

This way of attacking was popularized by Diablo. You target an enemy and keep clicking away until it’s dead or you are. Whether or not you hit depends on the skill of your character.

Some games allow for “press and hold”. Instead of continually clicking, you hold the button down and keep fighting. That does make for a little less wear-and-tear on the mouse and your finger.

The other method is “twitch” fighting. Here everything depends on the skill of the player rather than the character. Usually, this is more elaborate, with you and your opponent moving around, blocking blows as well as delivering them.

This is how combat is done in Oblivion. Your skill with a weapon has nothing to do with whether or not you hit the enemy. Only your own ability – which usually comes down to timing – determines success.

Between these two is what we could call the “Neverwinter” approach, a sort of real-time yet turn-based form. The big advantage here is that you just click once on an enemy and keep fighting until it’s down, however long that takes.

Considering that it seems many players are becoming tired of “button mashing”, it’s strange that designers keep putting out games with that type of fighting. Why not use the Neverwinter approach, and simply target once?

That certainly makes more sense than having to press the button so many times, or holding it down. One click ought to be enough. You get the same result, after all.

Perhaps designers think that “one click” isn’t enough for an “action/RPG”, that it wouldn’t be “action” unless the player is hitting the button as fast as possible.

Well, Diablo was a big hit, but that doesn’t mean similar games should stay in the same rut, with the same basic mechanics. By now, there ought to have been more advancement in that area.

Of course, we also have to take into account “fear of change”. “Button mashing” has become such a staple feature, designers may be afraid of changing it and thus alienating the players. We know how risk-conscious the industry is these days.

Personally, I’d like to see “one-click combat” tried out in these games. All that “press-press-press” does become tedious in time, particularly given the number of opponents you face, not to mention what it does to your hand after awhile.

What do you think? Would “one-click” take the edge off the “action”, or would it make fighting a little less hectic and painful?