The Daily Grind: What systems do you avoid learning properly in MMOs?

The Daily Grind: What systems do you avoid learning properly in MMOs?

Enhancement Diversification in City of Heroes was meant to break some degenerate enhancement effects, but it also meant that you had to think a little more about how your Enhancements worked on your powers. This was a problem for some people whom I know just slotted “Damage Up” into all of the slots of their powers that dealt damage and then forgot about it. They knew that had never been an optimal build, but the process of doing the math and figuring out how to properly slot and build seemed like way more work than just accepting “hit harder, but slower and less accurately” as a comprehensible alternative.

And you know what? I can’t blame them, exactly. I know people who have been playing Star Trek Online since launch (or near enough to it) and still haven’t really parsed out how the skill system works, even with its various revisions. Heck, I know the math and how to slot materia in Final Fantasy XIV, but I can be lazy in picking out the best stats to focus upon. So what about you? What systems do you not try to understand properly in MMOs, knowing that you’re kind of bashing your head against them but figuring you can at least muddle through well enough?

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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The more complex systems are, the less i am interested in learning them. 27 secondary stats? Talents tied to specific min-maxing scheme? Currency that leads to a currency that leads into a currency? Nah i’m good. I just wanna click buttons, kill monsters and learn the story.


Can’t say systems in general but a few examples:

Kuva Liches in Warframe.
Tried to read about em on the wiki a few times, and basically said fu.k it, whatever the rewards do it am never going to bother with it. That is so convoluted, my head hurts before I am halfway through the wiki read.

In Path of Exile, I basically stay away from any build that require movement skills.
I am not saying movement skills ruined PoE for me, but it kinda ruined PoE for me. I hate movement skills, not so much because it is a movement skill and yet another thing to bind to a mouse button, but because of how it changed the entire gameplay and feel of PoE (obviously in a direction I don’t enjoy). You know the rush-rush-bam(clear screen) .. rush-rush-bam(clear screen) play style.

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“economy”. Whenever I want something in a game, I aim to get it by playing the game instead of “playing the market”.

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Brazen Bondar

The min/max math stuff. I just can’t be bothered. When some one is trying to explain the math on a build after about two minutes I start hearing the teacher in the Charlie Brown cartoons..”Woah woah woah…..” Just tell me what skills to slot for the dungeon and be done with it. I don’t care why it works as long as it works. Since I stopped running dungeons now all I need is a build that keeps me alive and I can figure that out by myself, no teachers needed.


I always make sure to learn all the game systems well enough that I could theoricraft them. After all, I find learning the game systems to be just about as fun as actually playing the game.

Now, applying those systems is a different matter entirely. I tend to never bother with systems that require coordinating with other players/characters (as they usually require faster communication than can be done through written chat, and I flat out refuse to use voice chat in games), and when a system can be circumvented I tend to only pay attention to it if I legitimately find the system fun and engaging.

Dug From The Earth

Here is why it wasnt an issue in CoH

Enhancement diminishing returns (as most players refer to it) didnt start to affect the average player until later in the game. Especially on a first character. The diminishing return soft caps were high enough that you could STILL slot all damage enhancements of the lowest tier enhancements (training enhancements) and still be no where near the soft cap.

So why does this matter? Simple. If you play long enough in a game, then you will have most likely taken the time to read, talk, learn, communicate about the systems and mechanics so that you have a general understanding of things like this.

Its like how +hit was in WoW vanilla. Most players didnt quite understand WHY they needed exactly the 7% to hit (or whatever the number was). They didnt do the math, or care much about the equations the elitest jerk website came up with. They only did enough inquiry to find out the number they needed to worry about, because it with much quicker and simpler to do. Same goes for many players and talent builds. Many never learned how to build decent ones on their own, but rather just copied builds of the “pros” to use instead.

Doing the above doesnt really cause an issue. Having a “borrowed” build doesnt mean you will be an awful player. Knowing the math behind the numbers doesnt mean that you are good at getting out of the fire, or working as a team and listening to callouts .

Not learning systems properly only poses an issue in games that require you to actually KNOW how and why those systems work. EvE online suffers greatly from this. Path of Exile does as well (mostly the crafting system, and a bit with the way many passives and skills work)

Robert Andle

A lot of stats in WoW seem too much hassle to bother figuring out. I don’t just mean the abomination that is Azerite armour but things like versatility, mastery, etc. What do they do? What do they mean? I don’t know. Things like strength, agility, intellect I get but not those.


Any math based gear and skill building I glaze right over and google the meta. I like when skills have a nice flow. “This skill applies this debuff, and if I grab this other skill it does something if that debuff is active. And this piece of gear boosts my evasion chance and I have a skill that triggers on evasion.” That kind of stuff feels satisfying to me when putting together a build, like I’m being rewarded for understanding the game mechanics.

It’s when we start getting to the point of soft caps and diminishing returns that my brain shuts off. I’ll let someone with more time and interest figure out whether I should want 6.1% more critical damage or 3.2% more critical hit chance.

Giskard Daneel

It’s a bit sad. I’ve played so many MMOs over the years where I was just getting steamrolled by NPCs I knew I should be able to defeat, but couldn’t work out what I was doing wrong. So I’d eventually have to go online and read up on different builds to realise I had horribly gimped myself at some point, either through making the wrong progression choices or just not understanding when certain powers should be used.

For example, in the early 2000s when I was first playing, I didn’t understand the importance of stacking and keeping up dots. Obvious now to anyone who’s played for any amount of time, but for newbies?

I think it’s a huge issue that the games just don’t make any effort to explain these types of mechanics in a way that’s actually useful to players. They really give you the bare bones. I think devs should provide much more help around these things in game.

With the CoH example in the article in mind – I remember when the game was changed to actually show you in-game how the enhancements would affect the various stats. A lot of gate keepers were upset, but I think it was one of the most important changes they made to make the game more accessible.

Axetwin .


80% of the time, it’s just a zerg/DPS race, 10% it’s mechanics unique to the raid that will kill you if you stop to see what it actually is and the last 10% is visual clutter that punishes you if you can’t distinguish the primary objective from everything else.