The Daily Grind: When was the last time you played an MMO ‘wrong’?

Over the weekend, MMO blogger and Massively OP frequenter Wolfyseyes posted what I thought was a fantastic piece on playing MMOs “wrong.” Eschewing other people’s generic advice and cookie cutter builds, he found, was the best decision he could have made in the service of actually liking his game of choice.

“I elected to just play Guild Wars 2 ‘wrong,'” he wrote. “And it’s brought me more enjoyment than any of the previous attempts I’ve made.”

And before you freak out, by “wrong” he doesn’t mean “incompetently like a drunk hippo in tap shoes,” just skipping min-maxing in a game where it’s truly not necessary for the majority of the content, building out his character in a way that’s actually fun for him and still results in winning for him and his team. Sandbox fans and altoholics in particular are probably nodding along in understanding already.

When was the last time you played an MMO “wrong”? Did it generate joy for you in an MMO?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!
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107 Comments on "The Daily Grind: When was the last time you played an MMO ‘wrong’?"

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Rolan Storm

I did and it did. SWTOR and SWL have few reprecussions for not following min/max policy in PvE solo now. It is wicked fun.

Malcolm Swoboda

All the time.

Alex Malone

I played WAR wrong.

It was advertised as a healthy mix of PvE and PvP. As I enjoy both and love the lore, I did both whilst leveling up. Big mistake. Spending any time away from PvP was just gimping yourself. Your lower PvP rank meant worse gear and that whole game was built around massive gear gaps. It meant you either had to farm PvE to get gear equivalent to decent PvP gear, or deal with being gimped for a few months.

I opted for the PvE grind with my guild, hoping it would be relatively quick. Nope. No sort of token system in place, so just random loot drops. Many times we’d clear an instance but nobody would get any loot as everything that dropped would be for different classes.

So, eventually I ditched the PvE completely and only did PvP. After a few months of grinding I had mostly caught up on the gear gap and was having fun again, just wish I’d stuck with PvP only from the start and made my life easier.


WAR, I miss you so much…

Zen Dadaist

If you’re having fun and are able to complete the content you’re aiming at without being an absolute detriment to your team or carried, then you’re not doing it Wrong. You just might not be doing it Meta.

I play lots of stuff non-meta and I don’t consider it to be playing wrong. I’d have to deliberatly gimp a character like remove all it’s actions/abilities or cheat/exploit for that to happen.

(NB: I consider sploiting and cheating to be Doing It Wrong far more than any sub-optimal build.)

Arsin Halfmoon

Everyone prep your rotten tomatoes.

I prefer to keep up with and play in the flavor of the month/meta. That goes for farming, PVP, progression, and just plain exploration.

I’ll admit, in my younger years, I was super vocal of the people who take builds from gw1’s build wiki and stuff. I’d get annoyed at flavor of the month builds. I was suuuuper pissed and HATED ursanway in GW1, but that was because it was more for a thematic reason. But today I prefer to stick to the meta builds.

Why? Because I want to win, I want to be efficient, and I want to get better at my game. The meta is there to provide a baseline and a level of predictability. Considering your average player these days, they’ll be doing things with a pug. There’s so much randomness when it comes to a pug, but when there’s a baseline kit to work with, at least there’s a predictable piece in the puzzle.

They’ll also allow you to explore and learn about the deeper, underlying mechanics of the game, not just content. Sometimes these builds exploit systems in the game that’ll give you an edge. (Like how pointing the camera to the floor will actually make it easier for thieves to stack an extra stealth stack on them in GW2). But playing in the meta will help you understand how each piece works and how to exploit to get the most of it. I’m 100% sure nobody’s going to complain when my Fresh Air Tempest blurts out an essential heal at Fractal 99 or if my DD meets the DPS check. Yes, there are bad players who play the meta, but I’d take them over another player with an unpredictable build because I can at least know what to expect from them. Which brings me to my next point.

Those builds people make for their characters are fine and all, but here’s the thing. Chances are, if a person’s build is not compatible with the current builds people are running, the chances for success decreases in a pug situation, and from my experience, the people who tend to go against the grain only look at the context of their character, and not the whole group situation. And as a result, they won’t be able to explore the more challenging content, meaning they won’t learn more interesting nuances of their class and get better at the game. And they wont build the knowledge to make them even better buildcrafters.

Of course, if you go into a non-meta build with a group that all have the same mindset, that’s a completely different story. But that’s the big difference, those people that actually want to break the mold do so as a team (gasp). And chances are that those types of players are far more experienced than your typical “I’m going to make a build because I need to be different”

If it’s any consolation, the only wrong way to play an MMO is with a chair without lumbar support. It’s bad for your posture.


Rotten tomatoes are for people that disrespect the opinion of others, not for those that just have different opinion than the majority and present it without insulting the others!

Ian Wells

If that is what we are calling the wrong way, I have never played one right. Part of what I really disliked about FF XIV every time I have played it is that m character isn’t MY character. It is just another character grinding through the same ranks for the same skills as everyone else.

What I absolutely love about Tree of Savior, and why I repeatedly go back to it for weeks or months at a time a 2-3 times a year is because there is such a fantastic amount of variety for viable-if-situational-and/or-not-ideal builds. Want a classic “death knight” build? Go Str/spr cleric with levels in bokor and paladin. Want to be a ninja? You get 2 flavors to choose from: Swordsman w/ shinobi or archer w/ scout (toss some wagushi and sapper in or more fun).

Basically, if I can’t play my character the way I want to and at least be able to hold my own weight, then the game is done for me. If I happen to do a little less DPS or need to toss out a pot occasionally for tanking, I can live with that. If I am decimated by normal party content, am entirely outclassed by a very specific build in every situation, or simply don’t even have the option to play my way, then I just don’t see the point in playing.

Arsin Halfmoon

Yeah, at that point, thats were personal skill comes in. Trading off a particular skill, but making it up with how well you know your build is fair.

I love tanking in ffxiv, there are times where Shield Oath needs to be on, but if the other players are on point, and i can pop a cooldown instead, I’d just do it that way cuz at that point, its instinct.

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Last night when i hit Act 3 in Path of Exile and realized that the freeform passive skills were a trap. My Summoner/Lightning witch just wouldn’t work much longer as neither side was hitting as hard as it needed to. There’s something to be said for linear skill trees now and then.

Ian Wells

Psst… try applying summons to totems and focus on using your damage spells. Also, be sure you have a good set up of linked skills on your gear. At you level (anything below the highest difficulty level really), links are the most important thing to pay attention to on all gear outside of the odd unique weapon.

I ran an Necro/Ice witch as my first character and reached the same conclusion you did until I started playing around with totems and took the time to learn how to use my currencies (orbs, ect.) effectively for crafting gear the way I wanted it for my skill set up.

Kickstarter Donor

Whenever I play a new game, I try to play it without researching the game beforehand. I just want to feel it out and see whether it is fun. I normally run the game anywhere from 3 -9 months without a guild. If I am having fun and still progressing no problem. If progression is stilted but I still like the game then I will either research or try a guild, maybe both.
I had a rifle skill in TSW and everyone would ask why I used it instead of another one that was more powerful. My reply: I didn’t like the animation on the more powerful one so I stuck with what I had. I play the way I like to play. On the other end, if I am going to run end game content, I will switch up from the “just for me” build to something that will work for the group. Dungeon running, particularly at nightmare level, is time consuming. I will respect everyone’s time and try to do my DPS bit efficiently. When I don’t want to do that, I don’t play end game content.

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There’s never anything “wrong” in playing a game your way, rather than someone else’s way. It’s how I’ve played every MMO and other computer game since I bought my first computer 34 years ago!


Speaking from a GW2, WvW-perspective: playing a build that matches your style instead of a cookie-cutter is probably the best min-maxing you can do. Trying to play someone else’s build can make you less efficient.

I’m not knocking cookie-cutter builds (let’s not go overboard), but it’s important in competition to have a build that flows for you.