Global Chat: How fast should combat be in MMOs?

Not so close.

The speed of combat engagements in MMORPGs — as rare as they may be — was the topic du jour on a couple of blogs recently. Roger over at Contains Moderate Peril said that getting combat just right is imperative for games to be successful.

“There is a sweet spot somewhere between both the technical facets of combat and the more enigmatic matter of how it feels,” he said. “When a game gets it right, it often something you discern subconsciously first, rather than by number crunching your combat log.”

Telwyn at GamingSF used the new and older versions of World of Warcraft as an example of this: “In WoW Classic I find the combat is too slow paced when compared to more modern MMOs, hardly a surprise as it is a ‘preserved in aspic’ experiment in nostalgic gaming. Some aspects of the older game are good, others not so enjoyable to me.”

Read on for more MMO blog essays, including a look back at 2019’s games, a cooking guide for Black Desert, an impressions of a very old MMORPG, and more!

That's something like a relief.

Tales of the Aggronaut: Games of the decade — 2019

“Why I am conflicted is that I loved the game that was there. I loved jetting around in an Iron Man suit and firing down heavy ordinance while bopping things in the head with my electrified mace and then detonating bombs as I jetted away. I want this game to find its feet and turn into what I hope it could be.”

Altar of Gaming: Black Desert complete cooking guide

“Cooking is one of the most AFK and profitable lifeskills in Black Desert Online, so whether you’re looking to advance your Cooking Mastery – or make a nice amount of extra silver while you’re not grinding for gear – this BDO cooking guide aims to provide you with all the information, buffs, and gear you will need to make the most out of your cooking sessions!”

Everwake’s Internet Adventures: First impressions of Mirage Online

“I do love the aesthetic and simplicity though. I reminds me of the simple flash and downloadable games I would gravitate to in my teenage years because of our tepid 28k modem connection. The game makes me want to give Realm of the Mad God a spin again. I’m not sure I’ll give this one too much more play for the moment. But it’s free to play and takes up virtually no hard drive space. No reason not to keep an eye on it.”

Lightsabers! Swishy-swishy-zork!

A Mug’s Game: Five SWTOR predictions for 2020

“Yes, for the third year in a row, Porgs are on this list, and, no, I will not give up on my fine feathered and tasty friends! Truthfully, I accept that Porgs are now fated to do nothing more than hold Baby Yoda’s beer, but I still cling to the foolish hope they will follow along and squawk at my characters’ adventures at some point in the year to come.”

Kaylriene: My games of the decade — Final Fantasy XIV

Final Fantasy XIV is an interesting tale of failure out of even one of the most prestigious AAA developers. It is a story of a business decision that went awry, but was salvaged in a way that wasn’t predictable when the game failed in 2010. It was hard, if not impossible, to imagine that the game would be worth discussing at the end of the decade. Yet, here we are, the first day of 2020, and the game has been a light in the genre for a while – benefitting from the relative lack of success of the expansions WoW had in the decade – particularly growing in the twilight of Warlords of Draenor, and Shadowbringers capitalizing on the flawed execution of the current Battle for Azeroth.”

Nerdy Bookahs: 2020 and upcoming MMOs

Pantheon seems to be the complete opposite of what New World is going to be: It looks old-school, it doesn’t have action combat and you choose a class for your character. Also, the official website has almost too many details and information about the game. At least, if you just want to get a glimpse of the game, you’ll soon feel overwhelmed by the amount you can get!”

Every day there are tons of terrific, insightful, and unusual articles posted across the MMO gaming blogosphere — and every day, Justin reads as many as he can. Global Chat is a sampling of noteworthy essays, rants, and guides from the past few weeks of MMO discourse.

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Joe Seabreeze

For the 2020s:

– Fast like action jrpg is way too fast.
– Slow like WoW is way too slow for the progression.
– Slow with a skill-based system and beautiful animations wouldn’t be bad.

My preference would be a little faster than realistic physics, but the progressions system shouldn’t feel like a grind. Skill-based battles that set off emotions when you win, lose, or barely survive.


Classic WoW’s fights seemed a bit slow but the videos of Pantheon’s fights make CWoW’s fights look almost exhilarating in comparison. (I’m hoping something changes for Pantheon prior to launch but at this point, I’m not even sure it’s going to launch well)


Sadly there is no one combat sweet spot in terms of speed or difficulty that works for everybody. So that sweet spot they’re talking about is the general one that sits directly in the middle for the majority of gamers and doesn’t work for us outliners.
Those of us who like it either faster or more difficult or others who like it slower are left out in the cold for the single choice of difficulty in an MMORPG.

Sometimes that “sweet spot” ends up being too dumbed down, they go too low in trying to let everybody get access to the game and make it too boring for even the mid-level people they’re going for.

I like it to be difficult but doable by a solo player who can play well. Not forced grouping type difficulty, but combat that has blocks and dodges or the right combination of skills so that someone learning to use them right and memorizing enemy patterns can solo stuff with quick use of the available tools. Stuff you can learn and is doable that will make most people complain that it’s too hard.

When you have to pick a single difficulty for everybody, most of them go too low for the main world and then they allow it to be ramped up in instanced dungeons. That’s the compromise they normally use in a great many modern MMORPGs that I see. While that’s great for the group players, it doesn’t really help the solo players who are looking for a more difficult solo reaction time and pattern learning based experience. We have to settle for more niche titles to play and don’t get to have our more advanced difficulty in most MMORPGs in the end.

The more difficult dungeon design they normally put in instances is based on group fighting rather than the quick reaction skills of a solo player. So while that helps ramp it up and be more fun for a lot of people and helps the group players, it doesn’t really help the solo player looking for an overall more difficult experience for themselves.

I don’t care for it to be artificially drawn out by huge HP numbers, especially when they do it for even the smaller monsters along the way like in games like Skyforge. They do that same type of artificial difficulty in ESO’s group dungeons, it’s about higher HP amounts and huge add ranges rather than the clever use of skills and such. I’d rather it be about learnable enemy moves and your own quick ability to dodge and block and use the right skills at the right time.

A compromise would have to be a game built with entirely different difficulty instances to be able to enter for the entire main world, which I don’t really see many companies thinking would be a good idea. They could even let people jump back and forth between the instanced versions depending on the mood they were in that day. They’d have to have a really nice reaction-based combat system built for the game too, to begin with.


In my experience, finding the correct pacing to combat is directly proportional to depth.

For clarity: depth is a measure of how hard it is to decide what to do next.

When a game’s combat mechanics have genuine depth, it means that it is hard to know what to do next. So, with depth, you want the general speed of combat to be slower so that you are not overwhelmed with the decision making.

When a game’s combat mechanics are shallow, like in all action-combat games, then deciding what to do next is easy. If the pace is too slow, then the player has too much spare time on their hands inbetween skills and so they get bored. It is therefore important to speed up the combat to mitigate the shallowness. That’s why ARPGs are usually ridiculously fast-paced and manic: it’s because the combat is so shallow that speed is required to keep it interesting.

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I always saw TERA as having one of the best combat paces out there. TERA had a fast paced combat, a decent TTK and a very high skill ceiling to grow into as you learned the game.

BDO before awakenings came out also had a very nice pace to combat, similar to TERA it had a great TTK and skill ceiling to grow into.

For a tab target game I would say that SWTOR has a great combat pace. All the abilities seem to flow really well together. SWTOR definitely has a very cinematic flow to its combat.

FFXIV on the other hand has a horrible combat pace imo. The only classes that felt “okay” to me to play were casters, specifically Black Mage – Ninja was okay as well because of the mudras.

Anton Mochalin

Faster combat is just more fun and I really hope we’ll see MMORPGs with hordes of enemies and superfluid superfast combat like in Warframe or ARPGs. But it should still be deep, I wouldn’t trade my 14 active skills in GW2 just for speed.

Robert Mann

Combat speed should be varied. There are good and bad elements to any particular type or speed of combat.

I’ll gladly take Mount and Blade, or I’ll gladly take Thea. That is to say, combat for me can be anywhere from a real time setup to a highly thought out strategic game. The important part, as with the rest of gaming, is that it is done well. Bonus points for having far more to the game, as with both examples I noted.

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Faster combat is good for mindless grinding. Players can get into a rotation and just keep going which is good for relaxation.
Slower combat needs something to fill the gaps to prevent it feeling dull. Adding meaningful interrupts, debuffs and dances makes the fight less about relaxation and more about challenge.

Now balance the combat intensity with whatever form of fun you most prefer.


When your main communication tool is the keyboard the game’s pacing needs to be slow enough to allow said keyboard to be used

Random MMO fan
Random MMO fan

Speed of combat is the least important aspect for me. Since you give example of WoW – I never completed the current retail version or the Classic release because of many other reasons, from graphics style to boring story to the type of people this game attracts. So I do not care if the combat will be fast or slow. Combat has absolutely 0 impact on my willingness to socialize with people or spend money on cosmetic items or do crafting, especially in a game with no meaningful PvP (no large areas which can be permanently captured and where you can build large structures, something like EVE Online’s nullsec space).