Massively Overthinking: What one MMO mechanic or system would you like to banish to the ends of the earth?

Holy arts.

Back in September, one of our dear readers Aldristavan sent in a fun question for the Massively OP Podcast: What’s one outdated MMO mechanic that just needs to go? Justin and I cracked each other up because we had exactly the same answer: raid-only endgames.

The way we see it, the problem isn’t raiding itself; MMOs are enhanced by raiding. And there are lots of ways to implement raiding that serve both the super casual market all the way up to the super competitive. But when the endgame is raiding-only or even raiding-centric, the design of the rest of the game – the leveling game, questing game, crafting game, dungeoning game, PvPing game, roleplaying game, the cosmetics game – naturally breaks down. This is not a new argument from either of us, but it’s still true all these years later.

So for Massively Overthinking this week, let’s come up with some different answers. What one MMO mechanic or system would you like to banish to the ends of the earth?

Andrew Ross (@dengarsw): High-level restrictions. Over the past 10 years, I’d say one big thing that really makes or breaks MMOs is accessibility. While I may have loved old school MMOs with few travel systems, gating mechanisms, and full-drop PvP, I also know how that can limit an audience. That’s OK to an extent, but there’s only so much room for that niche. If my friends are always behind because they don’t play enough to get a mount, didn’t get a high enough level to enter a dungeon, or needs to grind three more levels to unlock the next part of the story that lets them onto the continent I’m on, we’re not gonna have a good time. Even worse is if there’s an “endgame” that barely resembles the game people leveled up with.

Second place would be no-trade economies. Trade was one of the main staples of MMOs in my opinion. I know virtual economies are hard to manage, but giving up on them is just awful. I can’t speak for everyone, but I got into MMOs because they’re virtual worlds, not just multiplayer games. Giving someone a piece of armor or a horse is natural. To have the game say “nope!” is jarring, especially because it’s one of the oldest features in the genre.

Carlo Lacsina (@UltraMudkipEX), YouTube): Get rid of leveling for themepark MMOs. What’s the point anymore? It’s just something in the way, and with WoW players able to level up in a few hours what’s the point of keeping it? At this point is pretty much a formality. Most of the stat points come from gearscore anyway and all it does is increase the gap between players in endgame and approaching endgame. Instead of linear progression, a matrix style would be better. Imagine spawning into a game and there are different narrative paths that lead players to their content of choice. They can choose to join some special force that deals with the most brutal dangers (raids), choose a faction to battle it out with another faction (PvP) or sign up with the adventurer’s guild (small scale PvE/story quests). That would be so much nicer.

Speaking of lore, do we always have to be the big hero in our MMOs? I don’t like being the chosen one anymore; it’s sooooo played out. Again, taking on the role of a demon hunter in an MMO makes more sense than the demon hunter in an MMO. It opens up much more narrative freedom too, making it easier for players to get all the more freedom to do what they want with who they want.

Also, glamour systems and PvP shouldn’t be gated behind story.

Chris Neal (@wolfyseyes, blog): Loot rolling. We have the technology now where players can have their own loot rewards based on their chosen class and character level. There really isn’t any reason why the loot roll system can’t be launched in to the sun.

Justin Olivetti (@Sypster, blog): I really want to see MMO developers put to death super-obscure gearing systems. Practically every MMO I know seems to have these weird and non-intuitive ways to gear up, systems that are typically added post-launch. I get headaches trying to figure them out and grow angry at studios that don’t seem to realize that they’ve made something that the devs might understand well but the average player will find incomprehensible. Gear progression doesn’t need to be an IKEA instruction manual!

Sam Kash (@thesamkash): I’ll go with the obvious: forced group content. I just don’t like other people enough to enjoy being forced into grouping. And it isn’t that I want to play only singleplayer games; I want to be able to play and have fun without there being a carrot dangled out on a stick that can only be reached with nine other players. It’s the same out of game too. I enjoy living in a world populated by all kinds of people, but that doesn’t mean I want to talk to any of you. I’ll let you do your thing and I’ll do mine.

This doesn’t just apply to raids either. I am also turned off by PvP systems that force you into being in a large guild to succeed. It’s just lame. I should be able to play with a small group or solo and feel like my time spent was productive and successful. Looking back at Warhammer Online, I was never in a huge guild, but I could run out to the contested zones and find players to fight. And while I was out there solo, I could end up running into other players doing similar things and suddenly we’d have a nice PUG taking over a keep. In those cases, I didn’t feel like I was being forced into grouping. It was just a natural and fun experience.

Every week, join the Massively OP staff for Massively Overthinking column, a multi-writer roundtable in which we discuss the MMO industry topics du jour – and then invite you to join the fray in the comments. Overthinking it is literally the whole point. Your turn!

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Potions and other temporary buff consumables.

Tyler Johnson

One big one for me recently on WoW would be ungrindable grinds. I dont mind rep gating, I don’t mind having to work for something. But making it so rep can only be achieved through repetitive daily quests sucks. It’s a good OPTION but sometimes I’d rather just kill stuff.

Lackluster crafting is another big one, crafting of armor/weapons feels very pointless as random drops are better. I would love to see the progressive crafting we had on BC brought back, where new raid/dungeon tiers brought new mats that could be used to upscale crafted items to match the content.

More controversially, on-use trinkets. The general premise has always felt clunky, especially when you may have to bounce between including the trinket or not, but they also always tend to feel either completely lackluster or totally OP. I’d personally like to see trinkets turned into ways to specialize your class/role further rather than a very boring stat spoke or DOES A BIG WOOSH


You’re right, I want to lose all sense of accomplishment what the hell! When I walk up to people I want them to fall over and get the best loot in the game! I don’t want to work for anything and by work I mean experience the game! I don’t want that feeling of I earned something in this game… I’m sorry but I mean that’s kind of how this entire opinion piece sounded to me I get some of the things you want taken out like the leveling I get that however that ensures you play the game because if what most of you want is done you’ll be bored with the game and there will be no reason to play it because you’ll have everything and everyone else will too! So it’s literally going to be like hitting each other with rubber noodles. While giggling to each other saying “I’m awesome.” And I noticed a lot of this is probably directed at blizzard because of the tags I don’t think I’ve gotten Credit in story for killing a boss since I did C’Thun in AQ40 over a decade-and-a-half ago so we’re not really the heroes were just really reliable grunt


Mandatory platforming-style or jumping puzzles in the main story of a game where the engine wasn’t designed for that style of gameplay.

I don’t mind having them as optional or side quests if the designers want to exercise their creativity that way.

Fighting against insufficiently responsive controls or the limitations of an engine doing a job it isn’t meant for is not my idea of fun, though… I want it to be optional, not required to progress the main plotline, no matter how cool the devs are convinced it is.

Kickstarter Donor
Brazen Bondar

I don’t like restricting areas based on level. TSW was great that way. If you explored and found the portal you could go anywhere. You couldn’t fight anything or you would be instakilled but you could explore if you laid a careful path. I don’t like being forced to use a particular weapon that is assigned to a class. I would say forced grouping but I no longer play content that requires forced grouping.

Sarah Cushaway

Vertical Progression and leveling in general.


Vertical Progression

Works fine in single player games, works fine in co-op games, and is obviously very familiar to us which is why we have it in MMOs. However, it causes sooooooo many problems in a massively multiplayer game that it’s just not worth having. There are better ways of designing progression systems for a multiplayer game.

Other suggestions:

* Enrage timers
* Shallow combat mechanics (e.g. action combat)
* XP attached to quests
* Story focus
* Loot better than crafting
* Gear as a goal / end, rather than a means-to-an-end.

Kickstarter Donor

Oh another springs to mind… namely being dismounted or slowed by every damnable mob on a map, just trying to get from A to B… SO irritating.


Yeah, ESO had things all over it’s map that would cause your mount to ‘stumble’/cause that animation, which would break you out of gallops. It was ridiculous.

Seen many other games do similar stuff. That little spider or something you didn’t see/path around wide enough, knocks you off your mount, then you’re forced into an encounter you don’t want to be in. LOTRO had some issues with this kind of thing back then. Used to have to give every mob a wide berth, but in doing so, you’d end up walking into another being’s patrol path, and avoidance lead to another encounter you didn’t want.

This is why lots of people ask for flying mounts, so they can just go over the various things that would attack them/are purposely put in their way to slow them down. But that’s another whole ball of drama. Then people literally just avoid any content you put in the way and do the one fight for a quest item, then fly to turn-in and get loot/exp.

I mean, I normally play stealthers, so I can’t really bad-mouth them, because I usually can just sneak past everything anyway…it’s one reason I tend to prefer them, less annoyances thrown in your path, you pick what you want to engage.

Bruno Brito

Titanforging/ Weight / “only endgame matters”/ Gender-Race-Lock/ Regrading/ Randomized crafting/ Limited Class Systems.


Limited storage. I can see limited carry but storage should be unlimited.