The Daily Grind: Which style of MMO combat do you enjoy the most?

MMOs are nothing if not deeply invested in combat as a core system, and as such, developers have come up with every fighting style under the sun to keep players engaged. It always fascinates me how many different styles there are in online games and how they appeal to various players.

Me? I generally enjoy ranged combat with faster rather than slower attacks (instant is always preferred). If I have a pet or pets under my command, so much the better, and I don’t mind being given the ability to mess with enemy AI with stuns, confusion, and other crowd control techniques.

Which style of MMO combat do you enjoy the most? Are you a brute force melee fighter? A sneaky thief? A sparkly mage? A dual pistol marksman? A shapeshifting slasher?

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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Alex Malone

Vanilla LotRO remains my favourite:

* Tab targetting
* Slowish (1.5s GCD)
* Loads of skills (complex)
* Loads of possibilities (depth)
* Tough Resource management
* Great class interdependance

The most important aspects from vanilla LotRO are the complexity and class interdependence, which combined led to great combat depth. It was the sort of game where it was easy to learn but hard to master. In vanilla lotro, gear made very little difference, the outcome was down to player skill. Only a combat system with depth can achieve this.

WAR was close, but it didn’t have much class interdependence and the depth only came out during group-based pvp. SW:TOR sucked, as whilst it had the complexity, again it had to class interdependence, lacked any meaningful resource management and thus lacked depth. You could master it in about 2 hours.

I’ve tried action combat games, but they’re so easy (mentally) that I just can’t get engaged. I mean, when your choice of next move comes down to attack, dodge, or use one of a few skills, you really don’t need to devote much brainpower to it.

So, whilst you say that developers are deeply invested in their combat systems, I would actually disagree. I find the majority of combat systems used in MMOs to be pretty basic and not very engaging. All they tend to invest in is the animations and special effects. The underlying combat mechanics really haven’t had much investment / innovation. I mean, how many MMOs even use collision detection?!

Our choices these days really seem to boil down to spammy action combat (with your choice of visuals) or executing the same rotation in a tab-target system. Very few have any sort of depth. Even fewer are innovative.

Malcolm Swoboda

Turn based or action, or at least something that leans heavily to either. I’ve never been a big fan of tab target and its never been something that drew me to the genre, though I guess I’m good at it. I can like one bar of abilities, but I cap out the appeal at two, and probably quit the game if it gets to 3-4.

I’m okay with melee and ranged, but my ranged tends to be damage and my melee tends to be solo (aka mix of damage and heal, if if at least passively tank depending on class/game). Like, my usual classes are something like Mage or Paladin, but I can mess around with weirder stuff like whatever Chaos is in SWL, or Mesmer in GW2. I just tend to not care about outright ‘Warrior’ (tanky melee damage) and ‘Priest’ (expected to heal). Then again, I’m going Blood Magic in SWL alt character for variety.


Give me action combat with a hybrid style character (e.g. Red Mage) or a character with a high amount of utility (e.g. Druid). My favorite damage type is DoT (Damage over Time). I don’t need to be bursty, I’ll just slowly watch you die from poisons and enfeeblements.


Slow paced but where timed (and fast) tactical decisions matters, and where coop mechanics are versatile and dynamic (encounter specific and situational) BUT not necessaryly holy trinity but a more dynamic setup of roles.

Within that, all types of styles/roles are fun for more simplistic or fast paced combat systems I tend to pick ranged magic users.

But kjempff, no mmos have such a system, only small traces of it. I know, but one can always dream and the future is not written yet, so despite trends and whatever it is still possible it could happen one day.

Dragon Whimsy

I prefer ranged with a lot of AoE attacks, as flashy and magical looking as possible.



I am a fun of the old school, slow, strategic, resource managing combat with lot of auto-attack (that gives time of think the next move, have a look at surroundings, support a party member with a long cd skill, etc).

Generally, I much prefer to care about positioning, avoiding stuff, follow strategy, mechanics, enjoy the scenery, than execute a “guitar hero” rotation ..

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In small scale combat, I love melee healing à la Age of Conan Bear Shaman more than anything else in this world. When I have to do triage for dozens of players on screen, I prefer being able to cast long ranged heals, and I don’t mind long casting times if it means more powerful spells and less clicking like a madman. I hate rushing and enjoy long and hard fights as we used to have on EverQuest. McDonald’s gameplay is not my style…

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I’m not a connoisseur of combat. I just want trash fights to be over with as quickly as possible, so I gravitate towards fast, long-ranged, high-damage classes. Having said that, there is something particularly gratifying about shotguns. And hammers. Also fire and lighting and attacks from stealth. And I could never resist the opportunity to fling a rock or cowpat in GW2.


I usually love busy, fast moving classes, especially if they’re a hybrid. This is definitely best when it’s an action combat game, or if I can make it play a bit like it. I used to like pet classes, and I still do, but I’ve gotten more interested in magic classes these days. Of course, magic and fast moving dont usually match up together. I loved my witch in BDO after awakening, it was very mobile. Right now I’m loving dagger/dagger elementalist in GW2. I had a lot of fun with Demon Hunter in WoW with all it’s dashes and backflips.

Traditional tab target, just stand there and press your skills bores me to death.

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I love playing melee in oldschool tab target systems. I don’t care much for it in action combat though. Then again, I don’t care much for anything in action combat.