The Daily Grind: Should MMOs offer open-world challenge modes?

This question is not about World of Warcraft’s upcoming PvP mode switch. Don’t get me wrong, that’s a cool option; you either explore the world safely, or you open up the possibility of danger. That’s a cool trick. But that got me thinking about what other tricks you could use to create a similar environment.

For example, imagine if you had a mode in which you didn’t actually receive loot or other rewards until you successfully returned to a certain point on the map. Sure, you might get more rewards, but if you died on your way back somewhere that would be it. Or imagine if you had a higher chance of gathering rare resources but less chance of successfully gathering in a game like Final Fantasy XIV.

Of course, some people would argue that these start stretching the definition of “challenge modes” and mostly would provide the possibility of intense frustration. What do you think, readers? Should MMOs offer open-world challenge modes? And if so, what should they consist of?

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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20 Comments on "The Daily Grind: Should MMOs offer open-world challenge modes?"

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Alex Malone

I’m gonna go with no.

Having different players be in different modes out in the world is an immersion killer. It just doesn’t make any sense to me! We should all be part of the same world, operating under the same rules and having the same opportunities, so I’m against anything that splits up the playerbase like this.

That said, MMOs are far too easy so I’m all for adding more challenging content to the open world, or changing up quest design so that they are more risky. Just try to ensure that throughout the entire game there is a solid mixture of easy to very hard content, solo to raid content, with enough options to not block progress, and I’ll be happy.

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Bryan Gregory

A mode on WoW that makes every single mob outside of towns elite, or at least hard enough that you need a full group to kill. Quest EXP and rewards would need to be scaled upwards. Pretty much the entire world outside of town is a “dungeon.”

Quest grind… in a party!

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Bryan Turner

How about Vanilla WoW, where 5 mans used to kick your ass. That said we need better balance then Tank as Warrior or go home.

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Bryan Gregory

Yeah, I recently played on a TBC era and WOTLK era server, and they are like two completely different games. It’s no wonder I haven’t been able to get into WoW too much since WOTLK launched, because from then on everything is just AoE fest. Even solo questing on WOTLK, you just pull a bunch of crap and AOE. On TBC if I get more than 1 mob, I might die lol. I really want to go back to Vanilla/TBC era of dungeons. Post WOTLK players have no idea what CCing in PVE is or how dangerous it is getting aggro when you’re not the tank. Oh and I really hope Blizzard takes the opportunity to fix broken things in WoW Classic like Warrior being the only viable tank. I think they will.

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Bryan Turner

GW2 is way ahead of that Curve between Tequatl, Triple Trouble, Heart of Thorns, some of the Legendary Bounties (which can be quite challenging if you do them with small groups, I’d even argue revamped Shatterer, that Meta Event in Vabbi that no one ever does, those Blood Crazed Beasts from a Current Event update that not a lot of people do any more can be punishing as well.

Minimalistway
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Minimalistway

I’m all for it if it works like the new PVP system in WoW, optional, i would love to see more PVE challenge for solo players.

hurbster
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hurbster

So, some sort of ultra-hard world boss, like those dragons in vanilla WoW ?

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rafael12104

Open world challenge modes? Sure. Why not. BUT there needs to be a 100 percent Opt Out. And no, I don’t mean don’t play. Lol.

Easy to do (from a players perspective). BnS did something like this not too long ago as an event. The key were two special outfits you acquired at the beginning of the event. Wearing these outfits created and affected your objectives in an open world. It did include PvP, in this case, but it doesn’t have too. And best of all, it didn’t impact anyone not wearing said outfits in anyway in the open world.

So, have an event outfit as the key lynchpin for those that want to participate. Set the new or improved objectives in the world, and have at thee!

Line
Reader
Line

Guild Wars 1 hard mode was kind of the best thing ever.
It’s by far the best way to keep old content relevant, and to add much replay value.

Of course, it needs to be an option and not just another part of the linear progression forcing you to grind the same thing again and again. Like everything it’s all about rewards, GW1 was more horizontal than vertical, so money, tokens and a higher chance to get local skins was great.
Otherwise you just end up with a dungeon grinder… except it’s larger zones, grind them until you can grind the copy paste level 2, and onward to infinity… until the expansion that nukes everything, anyway.

I’m not entirely sure how that would work group wise however, if it’s much more difficult, maybe it should be less for the solo casual and more for larger groups like guilds?
I loooved elite zones and vanquishing in Guild Wars 1, it was a ton of fun with friends. Much more than the linear, puzzle based dungeons added later.

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Schmidt.Capela

For the most part I prefer when games offer different ways to play, but there’s a caveat: IMHO they should avoid making the rewards of any such alternate mode too enticing, otherwise it becomes the dev-sanctioned one way to play. If that happens, and the most rewarding way to play isn’t the one I enjoy best, there’s a good chance I will leave the game.

It’s at the root of why I left Diablo 3 (where playing in a group is like easy mode but with something like double the rewards of the harder solo mode), and the reason I nowadays tend to not even give a chance to any MMO that promotes raiding.

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Lethality

WildStar offered these opportunities in spades when it launched… open world, in dungeons, in raids, even crafting.

What did players do, of course? Complain.

“Too hard” “Unfair” “Shouldn’t have to” “Required” blah blah blah

This is why we can’t have cool things.

Line
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Line

Wildstar was pretty much the opposite of the idea, actually.
The open world was brain dead easy, and certainly did not prepare the players for the much harder dungeons and raids.
It was literally pointless filler that may as well be skipped.

… and it totally was, for only $50 you can “remove” it from the game to focus on their end game instances.

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TheDonDude

I’d be all for this. Difficulty modes, too. Give folks the option to do less damage against mobs in exchange for +20% XP or something.

It’d solve the issue of WoW and ESO questing becoming a snooze fest after a while. Worked great in CoX.

Line
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Line

A higher time to kill in exchange for worthless endgame “currency” like XP seems like the worst idea ever to me, at this point.