The Daily Grind: How much of an MMO do you have to play before you feel you’ve got a handle on it?

Oh, great.

MMOs are big. Really big. You wouldn’t believe just how mind-bogglingly big they really are. Although you probably would, since you’re here reading about them. And the sheer facet of scale means that it can be really difficult to establish a point when you’ve seen enough to have a good sense of the game.

Obviously, five minutes logged into an official World of Warcraft server won’t give you any idea about the game as a whole; pretty much anyone could agree on that. And at the other extreme, it’s unlikely anyone would expect you to play every piece of content in Star Wars: The Old Republic before you can decide on whether or not the game delivers on what you’re looking for.

Realistically, every game offers you a different amount of things in different combinations and in such arrangements that every game will require different amounts of time to evaluate. You could argue that a few matches in World of Tanks tell the whole story about the game’s mechanics, after all. But then, just playing and leaving means you miss out on the meta and the overall sense of what the game is like over the longer term, which can often be a pretty important element. So what do you think, readers? How much of an MMO do you have to play before you feel you’ve got a handle on it?

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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Jack Kerras

The real question is ‘how much of an MMO’s bullshit can I tolerate before I leave?’.

Really, the issue is that I’ve played so many MMOs that being led by the nose through newbie areas and forced story quests that are really just FedExes, each of which shows an excruciatingly obvious basic mechanic and explains it in detail while requiring you to do it five times over just to demonstrate that your reading comprehension is pu to snuff… that I just instantly get turned off by most tutorials, full stop.

If leveling is a grind, I’m out. There’s no journey here. This is a shit-ton of chores between ‘me’ and ‘the content I actually care about’, which is dungeons with mechanics and player requirements. Kicking over easy-mode instanced dungeons while leveling is just as much a chore as anything else in MMOs these days.

I mean, Hell, if they started us out with most of our powerset, took a few hours to introduce new powers and help us figure out what our class is meant to do, and then cut us loose on a storyline which functionally BEGINS as endgame does, EARLY, I’d be in like crazy. The whole ‘kill 10 rats’ then ‘kill 10 purple rats’ then ‘kill 10 hellrats’ then ‘kill 10 boars’ then ‘kill 10 thornboars’ thing just gets fucking old at Mach V. If you’re going to subject me to that, you’d best be introducing new skillsets and showing me new shit my character can do every ten minutes, ‘cuz I really don’t -need- the fucking practice.

99% of the time I’d rather just start a game at max level, pick a class, pass a test that says ‘you can probably do a normal-mode dungeon with pubs’, and rumble the fuck on from there. The whole leveling process was meant to be a tutorial and is now such a fucking chore (and so completely irrelevant) that it drives me crazy to participate.

Which sucks, ‘cuz running dungeons is my FAVORITE.


These days it’s a starter area, a dungeon, and a PvP match. Because we are just talking about getting a handle on things, right?

But even now, to really know a game as in truly know your class, it takes about a year give or take a few months. I find that modern games are much more nuanced but only at end game. So, once you arrive, picking up all the important nits takes time.

However, I should qualify my statement by pointing out that that seems to apply to the games I stick around and play for long periods of time.


I would love a list of those games. I could use some games with more complexity.

Castagere Shaikura

For me modern mmo’s are like baby games. But back early in genre you did have to research a game yourself to get good at it. Anarchy Online back in 2001 was a complex game to figure out. If you didn’t you end up with a crappy character.

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Depends on the game. Some are a lot deeper than others. A game like WoW, not long. A game like BDO can take awhile.

Toy Clown

In the last 2-3 years I’ve barely touched new MMOs because I didn’t even like the way they read on paper and have been cycling through old ones. The newest MMO I bought was Conan Exiles. I thought I could like it and probably would have if there were normal servers. As it stood, I didn’t have it in me to go interview server owners to see if they were a fit for me. I was largely turned off by server owners trying to sell their servers behind tactics that lied about their numbers and content. I don’t have the time or patience to deal with that.

Prior to that I bought BDO and played the heck out of it for a few years, but now its moved to my MMO cycling list.

Oddly I’m playing the heck out of FFXIV right now. The graphics aren’t exactly to my preferences, nor is the gameplay, but without a doubt it has one of the best communities in an MMO for both roleplay and the all-around community. I’ve gotten so used to griefing and anti-RPers in BDO that it was a sheer joy to RP openly in FFXIV again.

I’ll admit I’ve tried to get into FFXIV about 5 times now since it released. Each time I play I stay a little longer and this is the first time I’ve felt like buckling in and sticking around.


Nowadays, i dunno maybe an hour if that? Sure I’m joking a bit, but most games require not allot tbh.

That’s why games like Warframe intrigue me and keep me playing, i didn’t play for about 3 years and when i came back there was so much more added. Took me a good couple weeks to get a handle on it all, that’s the sign of a good game for me.

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I play long enough to find out what the mechanics of the combat are like. I’m OK with tab target or not, but I’ve seen some that I don’t like at all. As long as I can change the key assignments to be what I want, I can usually get the hang of it.

I don’t like first person, or top down, so I don’t even try those.


It’s actually the opposite for me; I only start playing a MMO after I’ve researched it enough to feel like I have a good grasp on it. In particular, I’ll never start playing a MMO before I know how it handles PvP, how progression works, the extent to which it uses RNG-based rewards, if it has any group-exclusive content and what the rewards for it are, and the methods and costs of respeccing.


About the first month. Once I decide I’m interested in playing the game, I spend that time deep-diving into wikis (particularly for info about systems that aren’t available until later levels) and experimenting with throwaway characters. I make a big mess and learn, then wipe the slate and start playing for real.


I always try to play a couple hours before making my initial judgement.