The Perfect Ten: A plague of MMO bears

I have long been of the opinion that there are few more terrifying animals on this planet than bears. Sure, there are sharks, the mighty kraken, and that little fish that may or may not swim up your urethra and summer home there, but as I live primarily on the land, I think that the odds are greater that a rampaging bear might ruin my day.

True story: When I lived in Colorado Springs, one morning I left home to drive to work and there was a black bear sitting in the middle of the road. I looked at it, nonplussed, and then sloooooowly backed up into my driveway and called in a sick day. Bear days should totally be a thing, however.

I have also been of the opinion that bears are consistently underestimated in MMORPGs. They’re low level trash mobs or pets that finger players as complete noobs for not picking something more exotic. More exotic? Son, if you have a bear on your side, you have won the game. Period. One swipe of its paw and any raid boss’ head should pop right off.

There is a plague of bears in MMOs. Today, let us delve into the ursine horror that curses our genre.

1. Warhammer Online

Yes, it’s the famous “bears, bears, bears!” video made popular by WAR’s Paul Barnett, who was speaking of the industry’s tendency to make you turn around and kill the same mobs you’ve already killed. WAR’s approach was to reward you for your retroactive actions for having killed bears previously. For fun, count the number of time that Barnett says the word “bear” in the video. Anyone up for that? Post it in the comments!


2. and 3. Lord of the Rings Online and World of Warcraft

If you can’t beat your enemy, become your enemy. Both LOTRO and WoW assumed (possibly rightly) that there was a niche audience out there who were perhaps too eager to drape on a bear suit and go roaring around the world as if that was a perfectly normal thing to do. The Beorning and Druid classes certainly delivered on this fantasy as well as the fantasy of “staring at a giant bear’s butt 24/7.” Nothing like having a furry rump obscuring 20% of your screen’s real estate!

4. Elder Scrolls Online

This summer’s new class, the Warden, comes equipped with a bear pet, and if you don’t think that the expansion won’t be wall-to-wall bears, you are seriously kidding yourself. Personally, I want to know the backstory of how this Warden found an abandoned bear pup as a child and then brought it home so that it could grow up to be his brother. Sure, they fought from time to time, and once the bear ate the babysitter for her insolence, but for the most part, they went on wacky adventures that mostly revolved around honey.

5. The Secret World

Like clowns, bears don’t really need anything else to be inherently scary, but that doesn’t stop some designers from trying. In TSW, bears aren’t quite as prevalent as they are in some MMOs, but when you do encounter one, they tend to be decaying zombie bears pooping green toxic waste in their wake. Yes, that’s my new top nightmare, above speaking in public in my underwear about the subject of death and divorce.

6. H1Z1

I throw a lot of shade at H1Z1 because it honestly kind of deserves it for so many reasons. But giving credit where it is due, it is one of the very few online RPGs where bears are treated with appropriate fear and reverence due to how badly they can mess you up. If I had to pick between fighting zombies or bears, it wouldn’t even be a contest. I could probably handle a zombie; a bear would use my skull as a chamber pot.

7. Crowfall

It’s good to see fantasy MMO designers trying to do something different with bears, but I have to admit that my reaction to seeing Crowfall’s Bog Bear wasn’t the awe that the team might have anticipated. Instead, it kind of looks like it’s wearing a long scarf, and that makes me think that it’s a wizard going off to Hogwarts, and how awesome of a Harry Potter novel would that be? Harry Potter and the Ursine Sorcerer. I’d read it.

8. Dungeons and Dragons Online

In the mad science labs at Wizards of the Coast, the makers of D&D’s bestiary probably have weird off days where iconic creations like beholders aren’t just coming. On those days, the team flips open old copies of Ranger Rick and starts cutting and pasting various animals together. Hence, I imagine, was the origin story of the owlbear, a nocturnal hibernating freak of nature that is also incredibly endearing. I just feel bad for it because it wants to fly so bad yet must live tethered to the harsh mistress of gravity.

9. Dark Age of Camelot

Of course, long before World of Warcraft’s Hunter population was enslaving an entire generation of bears, DAoC was already making it the trendy thing to do with the Druid. It makes a little more sense for a nature-attuned class to somehow have the magical ability to palaver with a bear and convince it to become a bodyguard. However, I’ve seen the videos, and I can’t say that these pint-sized animals really strike fear in the hearts of foes. More like, “Aww, that reminds me: I need to order more Snuggles fabric softener!”

10. Carebears

The most terrifying and insidious bear of them all, the carebear lurks and prowls through the night, infiltrating your MMORPG with an entitled attitude and a neverending supply of forum whines. They’ve never had to really game a day in their life, but subsist on welfare epics and casual-friendly nerfs. “Hardcore” and “PvP” and “gankbox” are curse words to their society, and they have obviously destroyed the entire genre from within like the Trojan Horse.

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 or with the subject line “Perfect Ten.”
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24 Comments on "The Perfect Ten: A plague of MMO bears"

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MJ Guthrie
MJ Guthrie

One of my all-time favorite stream game moments:

Escaping those three dudes shooting at me in H1Z1, being all excited I survived with just a limp. I lost those hooligans by going prone in some trees and bushes up a hill (I totally surveyed the spot to make sure it was safe first). And then… and then I hear the growl, try to stand and turn only to be devoured in less than a nanosecond by a hungry bear. Took a while for my heart to slow down.

Moral of story — bears are ninjas!

Also I have to add a plug for EQII owlbears — before they were shrunk down. Those things were the scary vicious beast of Nektulos Forest!


Heh. Bears… yup. I’ve run into them, in game I mean. Good gravy, not sure what I would do if I ran into one out in the wild.

But I think they get their due in MMOs. There is a WB in BnS that is a Bear. Doesn’t look that big but… bro, we call that bad boy “Oneshot”. If you face him at level and don’t know what you are doing, you become one with the grass.

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Bryan Correll

Yogi prepares to enjoy a boxed lunch.

Kickstarter Donor

Nothing wrong with bears. (my avatar agrees) Also, here’s something I put together from LotRO. The list mentions the Beornings, but not the pet bears, which were available at launch. (Apologies for the crappy video quality. I made this 8 years ago, and the software I had wouldn’t publish to the correct aspect ratio, and then youtube screwed up the quality when it processed it.)


There are too many bears in Lotro. From the core of Eriador out to the hills of Gondor they lumber around waiting to be one-shot. When I roll a Loremaster, I can’t wait until the next pet becomes available. The bears are slow and low damage, not even a good tank. They spend most of their time just running back and forth between me and the mobs.

I have a Beorning, but he spends most moments in human form. As you pointed out, it’s just too much furry butt in my screen.

Melissa McDonald

Well to be fair, there is an area on Tolkien’s map called the Bruinen, literally the valley or land of the Bears… so, yeah. The Ford of Bruinen is where the flood took the Nazgul chasing Frodo…


Plus one for the Tolkien knowledge!

Melissa McDonald

I recently started a Beorning and I do recommend it, if only to see the gorgeous starting farm with all the lovely flowers and bees buzzing about.

To me the issue with these ‘trash mobs’ or lower-level fauna is that they aren’t really as ‘interactive’ as they could be. Druids in EverQuest had the ability to charm animals and use them as pets. Pretty much anything that wasn’t insect-kind could be charmed and used in combat. Bears made very good pets for a level 20 something. Tough and decent tanks. Snakes could be useful too. Nasty, and also, poisonous.

Andrew Ross
Andrew Ross

I miss my Darkfall bear mount and being ambushed by bears in that game, but my inner bear spirit approves of this list.


The ever classic bear mount:

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Or bear pets:

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Robert Mann

Rofl. One of the cool things within Life is Feudal and the lack of a leveling system is that animals come with varying difficulties. Bears are at the top of that system, as the most dangerous of wild creatures.

A unarmored person, or one not with a ranged weapon, has no real choice but to run from boars, wolves, and bears… they will defeat such a player. Bears only need to stomp on your ribs a few times before all those broken bones kill ya!


The way you can tell that a bear really likes you is if it saves you for dessert.

And on a side note: CARE BEAR STARE!