The Daily Grind: Which MMO has the messiest combat?


I don’t like messes. They freak me out. The chaos, the uncertainty, it gets to me. And it’s as true in real life as in MMOs. Sure, I’ve joked before about loving the wild chaos of, say, City of Heroes’ particle-effects spew before. And I do. But what I don’t like is when combat actually feels messy – when you have no idea how a given fight will go, every single time, and every encounter is a bit of a clusterfudge.

I can think of a few games where this was a problem, and a lot of them are in games that tried a little bit to get rid of one form or other of the trinity but didn’t go the whole way to making the rest of the game to suit. Classic Star Wars Galaxies, Classic Guild Wars, and early Guild Wars 2, for example, both had this thing for making sure nobody was a designated tank and that taunting was a nebulous affair. But mobs and combat encounters were designed as in any other MMO, so fights often turned into low-armor people running around in circles kiting for their lives; every sustained battle is akin to, say, the rare five-man in World of Warcraft actually going off the rails because somebody broke sheep, sap, and trap with an AOE. The lack of control and containment in content like this drives me bonkers. I want there to be a predictable pattern to combat, a right way to win, rather than chaos every time.

Which MMO would you say has the messiest combat?

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!

No posts to display

newest oldest most liked
Subscribe to:

As of recent I can only really think of ESO because it’s a bit of a mess with its more gimmicky combat bits best suited for 1v1 combat, not to mention targeting individual mobs with single-target abilities can be a pain. It’s like it tries to be faster paced and frantic but a lot of the “tells” used are poorly communicated or don’t follow the rules they initially had you believe (i.e. “block any wind-up attack” or “interrupt any red charging attack”).

In general most of the actiony oriented combat systems felt messy in that sense of creating too much visual clutter and not giving clear communication as to what’s happening. Which is a bit strange considering most of those games give you less abilities to work with VS something like FFXIV or WoW.

Bruno Brito

GW2 is messy for another reasons.

I find that the messiest combat in MMOs is EQ2. Too many abilities, several of them overlap with eachother ( my Mystic had 4 barriers with the same cooldown, that were supposed to be used in sequence. That’s completely dumb design ). The autoattack speed is too long and inconsequential, in a game where you basically spam almost 20 abilities in a rotation, and the game shows signs of being gutted to be more accessible to f2players, with it’s stat changes and such.

Not just the combat, a lot of the game itself is messy.

I really want a Classic EQ2 server…

Oleg Chebeneev


Kickstarter Donor

I want to say ESO, because that games combat is the primary thing that makes a beautiful game less than perfect.


i played a minstrel in lotro for many years, which i really liked, but i thought the the group play was messy in terms of having 30+ skills and many not having very clear effect. i had to depend my intuition to feel i was helping in some ways.


GW2 without a doubt. From the 1990’s UI (GW1’s was actually so much better and more user-definable) with its fixed slots, via the limited overview due to having 3 or more “skillbars” which deny you insight into what you have on cooldown and what you have available to the inconsistent skills m,ost of which aren’t even properly documented (and I won’t even go into the complete lack of ingame class mechanic documentation) … and that’s before you hae to deal with cryptic ring outlines which may or may not instantly kill you, to the poor combat feedback in even pve (whoever gave large bosses multiple small hitboxes that are hard to target, hard to track damage floaters on and make it even harder to figure out telegraphs on while surrounded by the confetti fireworks of graphical effects should be made to suffer it until they break down and redesign it)

And yet, … despite all this I can see there’s actually a pretty good system underneath this; some of the newer strike missions actually have a lot of these problems mitigated; I can only hope that somewhere they’ll finally see that the UI and its lack of informantion and user configuration has to change ….


Classic Guild Wars is flawless. I understand that it may appear messy at first. But it is the most strategic implementation of MMO-like combat in existence.


For me, Barbie Doll online is the messiest I played, actually not because of effects or speed, but more because it felt so detached, and the “ui” urgh, everything about the combat just rubbed me the wrong way.


Wildstar is the worst offender that I’ve played.

Lots of over-the-top ability effects that made most of your screen a mess, then all the telegraphs on the floor so you couldnt see the ground any more. Combine that all with a lot of player movement, resulting in even more change on the screen. It was OK solo, but as soon as I entered a group it was just too much chaos.

I’m surprised about Bree’s SWG vote. Sure, the lack of specific aggro building skills meant that controlling mobs was harder, but that’s not what I’d call messy. Maybe primative?

maydrock .

Careful what you say about the Hindenburg of gaming around these parts…even if it is true.

Bruno Brito

Wildstar telegraphs really were bad, but the animations were tamer than GW2. The problem was that both, together ( telegraphs and animations ) were a recipe for disaster. Couldn’t see anything.

GW2 animations tho. Jesus christ, wtf is that game.


Early Age of Conan.

I remember on PVP servers, if you had a stealth class all you had to do was break line of sight and could stealth right away, and drop a trap if you were a ranger.

As a necromancer, you could hide around a building and target a player from a good long way away and just continuously spawn minions and fling them at him. Good times, kind of ridiculous, but fun