Leaderboard: What’s more important in an MMO – character visuals or world visuals?


When I first got to Massively-that-was, well over 10 years ago now, one of my tasks became front-page editing, meaning I had to keep the front page of the site, all the widgets and inserts and sliders and eye-grabbers in order (with hand-coded html because that infrastructure was a mess, wheee). At the time, I was told by the bosses at Joystiq that I should always try to use screenshots with faces because people are much more likely to click on faces and images with humans in them.

I don’t have much reason to doubt the stats, so I did what they asked. But personally, I gravitate toward landscape shots every single time. That’s what I want to take. That’s what I want to feature. That’s what I want to click on and see.

Am I the weirdo here? Or am I just an MMORPG player born and bred, somebody who’s used to being sold on how the world looks and feels, more than the character, in a genre where characters are often goofy-looking and are so often hidden behind helmets anyway?

Let’s put it to a poll. What’s more important to you in an MMO: character visuals or world visuals?

Leaderboard: What's more important in an MMO - character visuals or world visuals?

  • Character visuals (9%, 7 Votes)
  • World visuals (49%, 39 Votes)
  • Both equally (39%, 31 Votes)
  • No reply / view tally / landscape butts (3%, 2 Votes)

Total Voters: 79

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It has to be both. I’ve played plenty of games where world design is top notch and the character animations just ruin it (LOTRO for example), and also plenty of games where character design and animations are almost life-like, and yet the world is uninteresting and low fidelity.

Characters are part of the world.. they are intertwined within the same game. One cannot be higher fidelity than the other. It’s either all or none.

Toy Clown

My game avatars are a lot like playing with dolls, thus character visuals and their immediate area are more appealing. Blurring the background in screenshots is easy to deal with not-so-nice graphics. I still prefer both to look good, but like in the case of when BDO went remastered and the game looked worse until everyone figured out the settings, I did the above for screenshots.


Lots of f2p games have nice art and style but the game just sucks. The world and character could just be ascii characters with a tileset attached and it wouldn’t even matter. So, both equally meaning it doesn’t matter at all.


That’s like asking what’s more important, the cake or its toppings. Well if the cake’s good enough on its own then the toppings aren’t going to be the end of the world, but you still want good enough toppings to match the cake or else the whole thing just doesn’t work. So I’d say both equally.


My character could legit be a cube and I would not care so long as running around the world is fun and full of sights to see.

EDIT: Brain fried, had to re-write thought.

Kickstarter Donor

Definitely world for me. If the world is boring to look at, why should I be there instead of somewhere else?


I’d say world visuals. I usually play games with a first person view, so what my own character looks like doesn’t matter much. (But, I do spend at least 30 minutes to an hour making that character look good…)

I like having worlds to explore, which are strange and new.

Bryan Cole

Both equally. However, after playing Lotro for years that game has shown me that I can really enjoy the immersion when the world is so well done and the characters not.


For me, the most important part is that neither of them is truly bad. As long as both are at least passable then I don’t care much about the graphics, and by extension about whether characters or world has better graphics.

In any case, I tend to pay more attention to style than to how good the visuals are, and I tend to prefer visuals that take less money and time to create than the realistic graphics that many players seem to be drawn towards anyway. Though that is kinda obvious when you take into account that, graphically, I like well-made cartoons (and anime) more than live-action movies; for example, I still consider Into the Spider-Verse to be, visually, the best movie ever made with Marvel characters, far ahead of things like Avengers Endgame.

2Ton Gamer

World visuals and you putting LOTRO as the pic was done on purpose because the one thing that have turned many people off from playing LOTRO is the dated character visuals, but the world can be pretty breathtaking, which is one of it’s strongpoints, but sadly, even those are really starting to get dated. I am not a fan of what they did to the mountain terrain between Esteldin and Angmar. The stretched blurry rock formations are atrocious.