The Daily Grind: Have you tried out an MMO ironman challenge?

For players who feel as though they’re never being pushed very hard in the modern era of MMORPGs, one concept has bubbled up to provide the challenge that studios won’t. This is what’s colloquially called an ironman mode or ironman challenge.

The idea here is that players will create a character that will voluntarily submit to a stringent set of rules designed to make leveling and questing dangerous and difficult. The specific rules for ironman modes change from game to game and player to player, but typically there is no use of any external help, no talent points, and no good gear. Additionally, most ironman challenges will require a player to delete his or her character and restart upon that character’s sole death.

Is this something that sounds interesting to you? Have you ever tried an ironman challenge or something like it to give a new and more difficult twist on an MMO playthrough?

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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35 Comments on "The Daily Grind: Have you tried out an MMO ironman challenge?"

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Alex Malone

Sort of.

Leveling in MMOs is something I find mind-numbingly boring so I often try out different things when leveling alts. LotRO is the only game where I actually made it to endgame on more than one character!

So, on one alt, I tried making it to cap using only quest reward gear. Crafted gear was superior in every way, so this added a nice challenge but did make my toon look silly most of the time!

With every alt, I try to make it to cap without dying. I don’t often take this seriously but I made it to cap (65 at the time) on my burglar. Again, kept things interesting and tense, but there were some zones and dungeons where it was really tough so whilst tense, it was also kinda boring as I’d have to wait 5-10 minutes for various cooldowns to come off.

Melissa McDonald

Kinda/sorta. In original Diablo after the dupe cheat and using a “trainer” program became common, i pledged to only use game loot.

Recently started a LOTRO character who will only use crafted gear and not loot, presents, chest, or quest reward gear.

Brown Jenkin

I have some solid memories of the IronMan mode in LotRO. Of course that only went up to like level 20 or so but it was a fun little bit of a challenge that kept early gameplay engaging.

Zen Dadaist

Not in games with very long progression, like MMOs. Never was much of a fan of hardcore in Diablo II. If I’ve slogged for weeks then losing my character entirely is extremely off putting and utterly kills my interest.


No way. I play games for fun. That does not sound like fun.

Oleg Chebeneev

Yep, in WoW. It was too easy before but after level scaling patch its now really fun. Gotta be careful or mobs shrek you to pieces. There is site that provides rules for such chalenge:

But I used my own. Pretty much the same except you can wear items you loot from rare mobs (and only rare mobs) and you can use talents

Roger Edwards

Nope. Not interested in this ego driven form of gaming self-flagellation.


I would say it’s neither ego driven or self-flagellation. It’s a way of making one’s own challenge and is quite fun for a lot of people.

A lot of people find games to be far too easy, and indeed a good many of them are. Not all of us enjoy a million easy fights like we were taking a walk in the park and every great once and a while having the slightest of difficulty.

To many people a lot of the current games feel to them like they are playing a game made for toddlers because of how easy they are. This gives them something to do that brings a challenge into it for them.

To a lot it’s bringing the difficulty up to something bearable for them because MMORPGs with a single difficulty are generally set for the masses and too easy. This gives them difficult content that works on their schedule and lets them compete in challenges that are enjoyable to them.

Is it ego driven if a game is so easy that it’s boring? If I gave you a game made for a 2 year old (which would mimic the difficulty many find in current day MMORPGs) and you found it far too easy, would we call that your ego, or you stating a fact?

Not everybody is of the same skill level or enjoys these easy breeze through type of games you can basically play with your feet and never be in danger.

And of course there are the other people who are healthy enough to sit around playing games all day long, and yet don’t work for whatever reason and just do this as something to fill that long void after doing everything else available. Yet who are we to tell them they can’t make their own challenges or to get a job :P

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I’ve done it. I still do it on occasion. But often, it’s a sign that I’m getting bored with the game in question, having run out of interesting things to do, and upon my character’s death, I’ll usually move on to a different game.

Rolan Storm

I did in SWTOR when things started to get easy.


My first time to level 60 in WoW was one of the warriors I took the Ironman Challenge with during Cataclysm.

It took a long time to get there and it was often as nerve wracking as it was exciting… but that run, culminating in the eight hours I spent questing in Hellfire Peninsula, for the first time, was one of the best experiences I have ever had in any MMO.