Combat might be different from your expectations and seems to be highly misunderstood by many. It's actually quite enjoyable once you get it. This will give you some basics so you'll have fun playing Dark Alliance!
Guide to Emergent Combat
The developers call the combat system "Emergent Combat". It draws inspiration from games like Dark Souls and actually reminds me of Jedi-Fallen Order. Random button-mashing will not work in this game. Actually it will work on easy monsters at easy levels, and many people fall into the trap of using this to get through the level, then they get demolished at the Boss, rage-quit, then go and write a review to bash the game. Understandable reaction, but misguided.
Arguably the game should give more complete guidance for those people not familiar with the combat genre.
Once you understand the combat system, you start appreciating the game.
At the beginning the moves are fairly basic. Use that time to learn the basic combos. Once you get through about 3 levels and have enough money to buy new combos, the fighting gets a whole lot fancier and cooler!
Solo playing tips
- Set you Camera speeds to max! This makes a huge difference! (Settings, Camera). Default is way too slow to be usable in a fight, and I think that's a major cause of the frustration people expressed.
- Use a controller. The game description actually says it's needed to properly enjoy the game.
- Discover and learn your combos methodically. Find 2 combos that are relatively fast and do decent damage. Once mastered, find your next one. You must take this slowly and integrate it in real-time combat one at a time. Else you'll never remember them.
- In combat, don't get greedy! The game will punish uncontrolled long combo chains. Use a short combo sequence and then dodge out. Repeat.
- Dodge and Parry are essential skills!
- Parry is risky to pull off, but powerful! It knocks your opponents down for free hits after! Practice it with easy monsters at easier difficulty
- 1st Feat upgrade: Extra Potion! Every time you find a potion in a chest, this will give you 2 potions instead!
- Resist temptation to rest, increase rarity instead. Drink a potion then find the next hidden chest nearby and you'll get 2 potions. This will give you better loot and make you more powerful, more quickly.
- If you get killed at a mini-boss fight, just run full-speed from the restart point right through all the enemies you've already fought, and go right back to where you were. (and resist the temptation to do this to get straight to the end-Boss because that kinda spoils the fun...). I think the devs did this to make the game less hardcore, and certainly helps with the current balancing issues.
- Your max potions is 3. If you find a potion and already have 3, it's lost and wasted. So drink a potion to max out your health before opening a fancy chest.
- You, the player, need to do your part in getting better at fighting. Contrary to games like Diablo and the original Dark Alliance, it's not just your character doing the work. So you must learn and practise. Dying is part of the process, don't rage, just roll with it, it's okay.
- Don't use Cattie-Brie for now. She's OP and it's hard not to exploit the current game limitation that makes monsters not react if she shoots from far enough.
- Play at the easiest level to keep your sanity (unless you really master the fighting system and don't mind spending an hour or more trying to beat a boss). Because the mini-boss fights and boss fights will overcrowd you and kill you with unbreakable combos once you get your first hit, and there's no one to revive you. Future patches will surely help with difficulty balancing in solo, but at launch, play difficulty seems to assume multiplayer even if you're solo.