In the Eastern Marches, the hardest hitter is more often than not the one who survives. You can survive using anything around you - swords, bows, tools, and even your own bare hands. When an enemy is in range, you can tap the interaction icon to initiate or return combat. Each tap is an attack attempt. You can also hold down the interaction icon to automatically attack as fast as possible.
The range you can attack depends on the weapon you have equipped. Bows can attack at a greater distance than swords, for example, and swords have a further reach than your fists. It is also possible to equip a secondary weapon in your Quick Slot to be able to swap between weapons quickly without bringing up the Inventory interface. The time saved can easily be the difference between life and death in the wilderness. Alternatively, you can equip Bandages or another health Item in your Quick Slot for a quick recovery option to stave off harsher injuries.
Another important aspect of combat is your Curse. Fighting corrupted creatures will accumulate Curse Points. The higher your Curse Points are, the more the enemies are attracted to you in locations. You can cleanse yourself of your Curse with Potions of Mara and some other items. Keep an eye on how serious your Curse has become, and make sure not to explore too far into the dangerous territory before cleansing yourself of its corrupting effects.