The Daily Grind: Are you a fan of character-obscuring morphs and modes in MMOs?

When ArenaNet went through Guild Wars 2’s upcoming Path of Fire specs on Tuesday, I was super bummed about the Ranger, the class I’d been toying with switching to as my main this time around. During the stream, ANet made it sound as if the Ranger’s Soulbeast spec would literally be a polymorph. Fortunately, as details came out this week, it became clear that the player will retain his or her own look and weaponry while joined with a pet, so I heaved a sigh of relief.

See, being transformed into something else is one of my huge pet peeves in MMORPGs, pun intended. I don’t want to be a bear and fight as a bear with bear moves. I don’t want to be a dragon, or a turret, or a vehicle, or a glowy blur, or anything other than the character I’ve spent gazillions of hours leveling, building, and designing exactly as I want her. Trying to keep me interested? Great! Give me more customization options for my appearance and my skills’ appearance, City of Heroes-style. Do no negate all the work or time or money I put into my chosen spec, my collected gear, or — especially! — the cosmetic stuff I’ve spent my cash on.

Am I alone here? Are you a fan of character-obscuring morphs and modes in MMOs, or does it drive you as mad as it does me?

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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Anthony Clark

Since the Ranger already has morphs as ultimate moves, additional shapeshifting should not come as a surprise with this class to anyone. No reason to not allow the class to become a true shapeshifter.

Sad that this is a pet peeve of the author. This class can already shapeshift, what would be wrong with having more? Would not that be adding additional powers to the class that already can do it?

Brian McBride

It would be great if you could customize your transformed self. Like the WoW Druid… come on. They should have had ways to unlock customizations for each one of those forms. But that would mean making artwork for all that armor & stuff. I don’t think Blizzard makes enough money to pay for that or something?

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I personally love classes in MMOs that let you transform. It’s almost never, ever done anymore, which sucks. I really wish it would come back to MMOs, but there should always be an option to hide the transformation (a la EQ2) for those that want to.


I personally don’t care for it. One game it bothered me in was Devilian. I didn’t enjoy having to turn into a winged guy that looked like most others.

I suppose in some games it might be the proper thing, but I haven’t come across that game yet. *edit – the Polymorph and Disguise skills in UO made sense obviously.


Three words: Storm Breaker Protocol.

That’s hardly the only example, though. While Rift’s pretty bad about it, I seem to recall a lot of this nonsense in GW2 as well.

It’s not potential appearance or size changes that bugs me so much, it’s forcing a completely different set of abilities onto me. If you think about it, every boss fight where there’s some kind of stupid extra mechanic (click all the orbs! throw the rock! salivate on command!) that has no existence beyond that particular scenario, even if it’s not taking over your normal abilities, is another example of this. It’s world-breaking videogameyness, and I don’t like it.

(TSW was actually not bad about this… a lot of those random gewgaws that you first suspect to be another example, turn out to actually be usable and useful later!)


One of my favorite things ever in an MMO was whenever I’d get a new Necromancer skin In EQ/EQ2/Vanguard as I leveled up or when I’d turn into a bear or wolf on my shaman.

Morphs don’t bother me in the slightest, in fact they add to these games IMO. The thing that I absolutely detest is when I can’t use my own skills anymore. Like in The Oculus in WoW, where instead of playing my character I had to play this dumb dragon with three or four skills.

John Mynard

It makes perfect sense to “morph” your character if they are jumping into a turret or vehicle to defend against waves of many enemies or charge into hostile territory.

The same holds true for “shapeshifts”. I separate the two because one is a mission requirement and one is a class mechanic. Sadly, the only game I’ve ever played that did this even half right is World of Warcraft and my beloved Druid class. And even then, it’s not some great thing, it’s just a variety of stances that allow you to do things.

What it boils down to, for me anyway, is can you justify the form change in game lore and make it fun. Using the Druid as an example, they literally become a bear or a big cat or an owlkin(though there is a way to appear as yourself with a light blue transparency and I wish it wasn’t transparent)

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Paragon Lost

I was glad my main in GW2 the Ranger wasn’t going to critter morph. That said I actually have no beef with the concept and actually the WoW Druid tends to usually be my main, he and my Hunter.

Castagere Shaikura

Never liked those quest that make me operate a mech or some device to complete it. I always thing it will suck and sometimes it doesn’t.


I prefer to retain some customization of my own character. If I can customize the poly, then that helps too.