The Daily Grind: Do you prefer target locks or free aiming in MMO action combat?

    
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In the world of active combat, the mechanics are split between two separate yet equally important combat styles. The first is the open free-aiming sort of combat, wherein you can just swing your attacks wherever you want and let the impact land where it may, allowing you freedom of movement as you wish and sometimes letting you hit multiple things at once. The other is a more constrained format in which you’re expected to lock on to something and beat it down, even if you’re ducking attacks from other enemies at the same time.

The former obviously has lots of pedigree, and no shortage of MMOs with action combat from WildStar to Destiny 2 have leaned in hard on the idea of letting you aim without guidance. This is totally fine. At the same time, more active games can also wind up with fun combat while requiring targets; The Elder Scrolls Online keeps its combat brisk despite feeling like you do, in fact, need to lock on to things. So what do you prefer in MMO action combat? And if you don’t prefer action combat in the first place, which one do you at least dislike less?

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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rafael12104

Hmm. After TERA, BnS, and BDO, I’m not going back to tab targeting. Action/free aim, for me, is more immersive, strategic, and satisfying. It is intellectually engaging as your knowledge and split-second decisions can make or break you.

Having said that, I think it is possible to make this a player choice. Revelation Online has it as an option I believe. A simple toggle between 3 modes is available, Action, Tab, and Point and Click.

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Paul

I loathe action combat in MMOs – I prefer my fights to be about fast thinking not fast twitching

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Utakata

Why can’t we have both? O.o

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Fair Mores

Open free aiming for me. I’ve read the complaint that it takes more concentration but for me that is the appeal. I like being involved. More than that I like breaking free from the RNG that controls everything else in my MMOs.

Who likes fighting a wolf of equal level, seeing your character repeatedly swinging like a robot while the floating text states: Miss, Miss, Dodge, Miss, Dodge, Parried…what?? the wolf PARRIED my sword?

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Skor

Tab targeting. I don’t play MMORPGs for the fps shooter action. It’s too much stress to do for long periods of time. Also, I find it hard to multi-task other things within the game or with my character when I have to constantly worry about some crosshairs.

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Celestia

Action combat stresses me out when I just want to relax and have fun. Perhaps I’m a relic of an earlier age, but I love tab targeting.

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Castagere Shaikura

Action combat is whats killing MMO’s to me. So sick and tired of it to a point if an MMO has it I won’t play it.

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Skor

Ditto.

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Paul

Agree 100%

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Random MMO fan

Depends. In fantasy MMORPGs I prefer target lock. In FPS games like Destiny 2, Division, Planetside 2 and TF2 I prefer free aiming.

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Toy Clown

I’ve played both styles of combat and have a couple of perspectives:

I prefer targeting locks when I play strategically with others. It’s part of the parcel when it comes to the holy trinity gameplay style and with running dungeons and raids, I think, as you need that precision to make sure heals, attacks and crowd control hits where it’s supposed to avoid wipes and other nasty things.

Where I prefer free aiming is when the combat is designed around that. BDO, GW2 and ESO can all be played like that. I know I love it for those games and couldn’t imagine targeting locks with the type of combat. In those games you don’t need a holy trinity in the sense of like you do with WoW, FFXIV and both EQs.

The answer is it depends on how combat is created as to which I prefer.

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Anton Mochalin

I like GW2’s system most – you can miss but it’s in fact locked target or I’d say more like an auto aim. It feels fluid enough but doesn’t make you pay much attention to aiming. I also like games with free aim. Tab target feels too clunky for me, I’d prefer not to have tab target in games I play. Still, GW2’s combat has tab target… Maybe it really depends on the actual implementation including how fast player character can move, if he can dodge or not, how fast the enemies move, do they telegraph etc etc.

I liked WildStar’s combat but telegraphing my own skills on the ground looked a bit too busy, especially in group content.

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Tobasco da Gama

If it’s action combat, then free aiming or soft-locking feels the most intuitive.