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No more heroes?

September 4, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

One of the single biggest gameplay elements I’m getting tired of in MMOs is the single combat.

The trend of having you continually fighting ever increasing, slightly harder MOBs in single combat every time you level. Most games – WoW, WAR, EQ, LotRO, CO etc- rely on a 1-on-1 (or 2-on-1 or 5-on-1) style fight where the “1” is always the poor creature your group has decided to kill. They usually do offer some AoE attacks in an MMO but focus is always on a single target. Most noticeably in the fact that you can only “target” a single enemy at a time. These games also put in crowd control measures to insure your domination of a single target.

Everyone remember to /assit the main tank. Ill CC the rest.

"Everyone remember to /assist the main tank. I'll CC the rest."

What happened to the epic battles I read about or watched in the movies, growing up? Where the hero stood against the many minions of evil? Where it was only the grandmaster villain’s deadliness that was demonstrated by his ability to stand against a group of heroes; not every Tom, Dick, and Giant Boar-man under his command.

When 6 adventures, armed to the teeth with all manner of steel and arcana, square off against a single inbred giant boar-man armed with a rock tied to a stick; that doesn’t make me a hero, that makes me a bully. And kind of a jerk.

How did this boar-man and his entire clan, who stood by 10ft away and watched us decimate their kinsman without so much as blinking, get higher level than us in the first place?

And finally, where did the simple farm girl, who sent us on the quest to kill 10 of these boar-men, get the magic infused Fel-Axe of Decapitation she’s handing out as a quest reward? Someone needs to check that girl out; her story is eff’ing shaky.

Facetiousness aside, I think that these are all things that we take for granted as being part of gaming that we don’t necessarily have too. At least I’m tired of anyway.

Would it not be more impressive if the challenge came in the form of taking down creatures in greater and greater numbers? Intermixed with the occasional 1-on-1 boss battle. That’s the way it works out in the books, movies and most single player games for that matter.

At some point every fight should look something like this.

At some point every fight should look something like this.

AoC did a great job with group combat but still suffered from the same unbelievable trend of having me forever fight guys that were higher than me in order for there to be a challenge (i.e. experience).  When you do that you set up the need to have these situations where you have these inexplicably high level no-name MOBs who are so crammed together that they have to be made oblivious to all things further than 10 ft away, and then random peasants are given epic equipment to hand out, as rewards for killing these MOBs.

Bah…

Is there no better way to do this?

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  1. September 4, 2009 at 11:35 am

    Hey, thanks for the link! You should have dropped me a line and told me to reciprocate. 😀 Either WordPress is really bad at tracking those things or *I* am really bad at it (maybe both).

    As for hordes of opponents… yeah, but maybe not. I’m old enough to remeber AD&D’s “Dragon Mountain” expansion box, that introduced rules for mass combat where you could do things like mow down a number of goblins equal to your level each round, or something like. It sounded good, but in practice it led to a kind of “monster quantity arms race” and often ended up seeming either silly (I slew 5,000 goblins in 5 minutes!) or somewhat contrived.

    I agree that it would be great, though, if the levelling mechanic (fight stuff, fight harder stuff to do better so you can fight more harder stuff) were a little more imaginative, but I’m not sure we’ve reached that kind of flexibility yet. Right now, mechanics are linear — the mob you’re fighting will be the same whether you’re alone or with 6 friends, and for the most part fighting a group of mobs is identical to fighting one of them x the number of mobs in the group. Group tactics are starting to creep into MMOs on the mob side though, as AIs get smarter (or are made better use of), so maybe the reverse can end up being true too and we can have more engrossing encounters that aren’t just paint-by-numbers.

  2. September 4, 2009 at 3:57 pm

    Hey Ysharros! Sorry,I just got the blog roll up and running last night. 🙂

    hehe, was that the one were you would cleave through 1000’s of goblins until someone ran into the frost giant cursed to look like one of the goblins? It’s been a while for me but i seem to remember an encounter like that.

    In regards to the post, I know that combat, and the whole world, doesn’t need to be “realistic” but it would be nice to see someone at least try to rethink the basics.

    • September 4, 2009 at 7:08 pm

      Eh, realism schmealism. Whatever works I say. More to the point, whatever’s fun. (Internal consistency is another kettle of fish, and that I *do* require.)

      I’m finding that MMOs are taking sooooo loooooooong to adapt to new stuff and new options and what players want, compared to single player titles. Of course, MMOs are a different beast to put together (not to mention keep running), but still. Here’s hoping the MMO evolution cycle speeds up a bit.

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