Perfect Ten: Every MMORPG bestiary ever

I have played a lot of MMOs. It’s inevitable, given enough years in this job and hobby. And the sad thing is that I wind up seeing the same things over and over again. There’s always a class called the Warrior, for example, and if your game doesn’t have classes, you still have a “recommended path” that makes you a dude with a big two-handed weapon that smacks things. There’s always an opening questgiver. You always need to collect animal parts.

Yes, even in games where there’s no wildlife. Don’t ask me what street thugs in Champions Online are doing with bear hearts; I just need the experience.

Of course, there are always bears. In fact, there are always pretty predictable enemies roaming around. Every MMO has at least some of the same things from the same bestiary, so it’d be nice if we could just accept these features of the omnipresent lineup and term them as such.

1. The low-level thing that does nothing

Zombies, rabbits, low-level worms, who cares? These are the enemies who have exactly one attack (helpfully labeled “attack”) and even at the appropriate level could kill your character only as a result of some extreme advantage — like if you caught on fire and fell asleep at the same time. They’re there for you to show off how cool you are at low levels and also for the game to introduce the concept of “hit a button to do a thing” in case you’re unfamiliar with it.

Many of them are also cute, so you feel like a jerk for doing it. But not too cute, as that would interfere with…

All right, the Lopp have some chops here too.

2. The annoying, omnipresent cute mascot

Somewhere, there is a piece of wildlife that has evolved for one purpose and one purpose only: selling plush merchandise. And it works half of the time, too, as evidenced by the fact that I still have a Rowsdower plush from WildStar on my mantel. They’re not memorable in any other way, but they’re cute enough that you want to pick one up and cuddle it.

Special credit here goes to Final Fantasy XIV for making this the helpful Carbuncle. I love my radioactive fox-squirrel.

3. The slime

It’s always a slime. It’s a puddle of goop. It indicates that someone, somewhere, was out of ideas and didn’t feel like actually designing limbs and a face and stuff. Just move on.

4. The first enemy that’s actually dangerous

I remember when I was playing City of Heroes around launch that there were a few fights with Skulls that served this purpose for me. We’re not, as a rule, talking about hard fights here; we’re talking about fights that you can, in fact, lose. Below a certain level, the game doesn’t want to hurt you too badly so that you keep playing, but eventually it cracks its metaphorical knuckles and decides to actually fight back.

This is also usually the point when the game starts getting much more fun because the punching bags, well, aren’t. If you’re lucky, this is early. If you’re unlucky, you’ll be playing a game where everything is still a punching bag well into the max levels.

5. The wandering jerk near stuff you actually want to fight

World bosses, wandering high-level monsters, even just slightly higher enemies that path a bit too close to one another: There’s always that one dangerous thing that likes to prowl at just the right place to catch you in its jaws and make a light snack out of your organs. And it never looks that bad, you can probably pull around it, and whoops aggro there I go again.

Special credit here goes to World of Warcraft for downright weaponizing this with the Fel Reaver. That sucked, sure, but it was also pretty awesome.

So I'm going to die, but it's going to be a pretty metal death.

6. The horrible world boss of kill everything

Most MMO boss fights are scripted to some extent so that you can learn the pattern and engage smartly. You dodge certain mechanics, pay attention to what’s happening, and mitigate things. This is achieved, in part, by the fact that these boss fights have a hard cap on how many people can possibly participate. But there’s always one world boss out there who has no such caps, and compensates for “there could be four hundred people beating on me” with “I will fart pure death constantly.”

It’s not that these fights have no mechanics; it’s that between the huge numbers of people and the lack of clarity, even if you can avoid every single scrape in the fight, it’s going to feel like everyone gets murdered. And sometimes, such as with Final Fantasy XIV‘s Odin FATE, everyone will literally get murdered at some point.

7. The annoying status beast

Most enemies you fight try to defeat you by reducing your health to nothing. It’s a time-honored strategy. There is always something that defeats you by inflicting you with four million status ailments and then slowly plinking away at you for miniscule amounts of damage. Yes, you want to fight back, but you can barely move and you’re taking poison damage and darn it, just fight fair.

Unless, of course, you can remove its debuffs. Then it’s just obnoxious.

8. The low-level thing that still does nothing but is now high-level

Remember when all of the enemies were literally just bags of numbers that you beat up until they popped and gave you treasure and experience? Here they are again! Only now the numbers are scaled up. The problem isn’t that it’s a re-used enemy, the problem is that it’s a re-used enemy that doesn’t do anything worth caring about, so you wind up just mowing through it slightly slower than you did when you were low level.

At least it’s a chance to show off how cool you are again, though. Sure, the process has become more ornate, but I do appreciate that I’ve gone from setting a rabbit on fire to making the ground open up and douse a rabbit in lava. Of course, that raises further questions about how durable they’re making rabbits in these parts, but…

Oh, I'll ride that.

9. The cool enemy you want to actually play

I am fully convinced that half of all player theories about how one faction or another is secretly good is just about how players not-at-all-secretly want to sign up with the enemy faction. And it helps that half of the time, the enemy faction has cool uniforms and weapons and abilities and just looks neat. So it’s a slippery slope.

Of course, sometimes you go all-in like in Star Trek Online and then you have to retroactively justify why a Starfleet captain is using a captured Vaadwaur ship instead of, you know, an actual Federation ship. Life is hilarious sometimes.

10. Dragons

No matter when the game is set or how many hoops you have to jump through, sooner or later, there will be dragons. Accept this. Someone is going to need to slay them, and because video games are what they are, that someone is going to be you. Ask not why you must slay; ask whether or not you get a cool hat.

Everyone likes a good list, and we are no different! Perfect Ten takes an MMO topic and divvies it up into 10 delicious, entertaining, and often informative segments for your snacking pleasure. Got a good idea for a list? Email us at justin@massivelyop.com or eliot@massivelyop.com with the subject line “Perfect Ten.”
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21 Comments on "Perfect Ten: Every MMORPG bestiary ever"

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mysecretid

The fact that there are always “bears as monsters” in most MMORPGs is a constant pet peeve of mine, and a guaranteed eye-roll at any game which has them.

Look, I’ve lived in the genuine wilderness, and not that long ago. Unless you’re threatening their young (i.e. poking around when they have cubs with them), or the bears are really hungry that season and you’ve smeared yourself with honey, and stuffed your pockets with fish and lunch meats, most bears will run away from a human when they perceive them.

I’ve had bears run away from me in the woods, and I am not what you’d call a fierce-looking individual.

Bears just aren’t monsters, basically.

You want to what will attack and kill you straight-up in the wilds? A bull (i.e. male) moose during mating season. Mating season makes bull moose insanely territorial. They will charge you with their antlers down, and then trample you to death with their hooves, presuming that the charge impact doesn’t kill you immediately.

Where I used to live, bull moose used to charge (and completely wreck) compact cars on the roads, often killing themselves and the car passengers in the process.

If you should ever have the misfortune of meeting a bull moose in the wild, do not run — this will provoke them to chase and charge. Instead, throw up your arms and wave them around, while making as much and as loud a noise as you possibly can.

What you’re trying to do is “out macho” the moose, and basically convince them that this is your territory. Fortunately, horny male moose aren’t typically super-smart. :-) If you seem large and loud enough, the moose will leave.

But in games, I suppose moose will never be “wilderness monsters”, while bears will continue to get a bad rep, because moose look dorky, no matter how dangerous they can be, while bears look stereotypically bestial.

A 20HD Epic Bull Moose just doesn’t make adventurers nervous :-)

Cheers,

camren_rooke
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camren_rooke

In addition to bears, both black and white, ESO has Echaterre which are the Wrothgar version of moose. If you wander around the orc lands often enough you can find them head butting but they’ll break off that long enough to attack you if you get close enough.

Agree one hundred percent, don’t mess with bull moose or any moose for that matter.

mirricatwarrior
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mirricatwarrior

There is another great example of #5 in WoW – Devilsaurs in UnGoro Crater. In pre Cta WoW at least, because now everything just die in three hits anyway and is on the ‘below zero’ threat level.

Also i don’t know how GW2 Quaggans didn’t make into #2.

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Robert Mann

Outside a very few exceptions, yes.

Of particular note with #6, sometimes it isn’t the boss that farts death, but the playerbase. As in, back when I was part of a gathering of over 400 people who attacked Doom Lord Kazak back in BC, and it caused the server to lag out and crash. Good times! (Everyone expected to win easily, then it was all like ‘Can’t heal, lag!!’ ‘Gah, I’m dead!!’)

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McGuffn

The enemy I think is pointless is the shepard/lion tamer. These are the enemies that demonstrate how cool the AI is by buffing the herd of tiny enemies around it. But it actually does nothing, or what it does is usually so pathetic it might as well do nothing and you’re better off just having another one of the tiny enemies instead.

An iconic example is the Fallen enemy with the pennant/staff in Diablo.

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Melissa McDonald

This is one situation where LOTRO’s attempt to stick to canon hampers it a little bit. So you have a glut of actual wildlife to deal with, bears, boars, wolves, crows, stuff like that.
I sort of enjoyed the gloves-off AD&D weirdness of EverQuest1/2, where you don’t have just some bears. They’s OWLBEARS. And scary. Cuz owls.

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Golconde

I heard there are tiny owlbears that can crawl into your ears when you’re sleeping at night.

camren_rooke
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camren_rooke

But its ok, cause they scare out the spiders that are in there.

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Nordavind

Ingress bestiary

The frog/toad. Green, gullible and gruesome. Exterminate at all costs.

The Smurf. Blue, beautiful, brave. Assist and be free.

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Archebius

Everything in Guild Wars that pulled from the Mesmer skillset was an annoying status beast. Slowed, poisoned, mana drain… whenever you got hit with illusion of haste, you knew the fight was going to be way more trouble than it was worth.

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Veldan

It was great fun though, in my opinion. Guild Wars had a very nice system where you can counter everything, including the most annoying mesmer stuff.

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Archebius

Oh, I loved combat in Guild Wars. Still let out a sigh whenever I got hit with illusion of haste. Or pacifism…

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Dirty Ape

When I think of #5 I think of EQ. That game was brutal for putting high level stuff in low level areas. Griffons, roaming guards, low level forests that turned into high level death zones at night, Holly whatsherface in Qeynos Hills, sand giants in oasis, etc etc. I remember nearly soiling my pants when Terrorantula randomly spawned near me in southern ro (I think it was called).

styopa
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styopa

Katara: The king is having a party at his palace tonight for his pet bear.
Aang: You mean, platypus bear?
Katara: No, it just says bear.
Sokka: Certainly you mean his skunk bear.
Toph: Or his armadillo bear?
Aang: Gopher bear?
Katara: Just… bear.
Toph: This place is weird.

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Pandalulz

How does this not have more Likes? :]

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Tanek

That Fel Reaver was surprisingly stealthy.

Also, I think giant spiders are a must in all MMOs. I can probably find one without dragons long before I find one without giant spiders. :P

styopa
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styopa

Was going to say they really did it originally with King Mosh in Un’goro.
How can a 15 ton dinosaur that shakes the screen as he walks SNEAK UP ON ME? Twice?

semugh
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semugh

Nope. The original was Lost son of Arugal. But it was a very long time ago and even then noone really leveled in Silverpine forest to tell the tale.
Probably got nerfed like everything else in that game.
Anyways the original concept probably comes from UO where ogres roamed the starter woods near city of Britain.

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Bryan Correll

Son of Arugal was a real bastard, skulking around a low-level questing area.

camren_rooke
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camren_rooke

Yes to both of these! I’ve had the snot scared out of me by both fel reaver and the dino.

camren_rooke
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camren_rooke

ESO has a number five. There is a pirate world boss in Hews Bane. One of the tougher ones.

There is also a thieves guild quest to steal a pipe that just happens to be near one of her lackeys who will rouse her and her whole camp if you get to close. In order to get the pipe you have to get too close.

Grab pipe, pop Vanish stealth for 2.5 seconds and run like hell hoping they don’t all land their spell effects on you.

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