Massively Overthinking: Do you care more about MMO stats or looks?

Strong or pretty?

    
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This week’s Massively Overthinking is fully inspired by the unicorn backpack meme, which Black Desert studio Pearl Abyss tweeted out last week with the caption “stats over looks any day.” You know we have to talk about this because… I’m betting a lot of us talk a big talk about wanting to look pretty in MMOs, but we’d 100% dress in mismatched clown armor to help our progression, and by progression, I mean while hunting prettier armor.

So let’s do this. If in an MMO without a cosmetic system you’re confronted with a choice between gear that looks great and gear that has the best stats, which are you more likely to go for? Does it depend on the game or the type of game? Or do you try to straddle the divide by keeping both in your bag and swapping when you’re in town?

Andrew Ross (@dengarsw): It’s often stats, no doubt, but particularly treasure hunting and power leveling stats. As I type this, my Orna character is equipped with a mismatch of gear to increase his xp, gold, luck, and orns (class currency). Yeah, I could probably min/max some better gear, but I’m fairly casual and don’t often have time to stand in the middle of a park by myself for 20 minutes to take down tough content.

One thing I will say, though, is that I’ll change into something more suitable if I’m bringing down the team – but it’ll be for the stats, not looks. Thank the devs that most games have wardrobe features that let us hide our clownsuits behind something cool! My Monster Hunter Rise character may look like an in-world Batman, but his stats are boosted to help him be more of a Bruce Wayne.

Andy McAdams: To me, it’s like asking “Would you go out onto the tundra in a tank top instead of a parka because you look better in a tank top?” Of course not. I’m not above taking marginally worse gear because of the looks, but there’s pretty rapid diminishing returns there. If I dogmatically stay in gear I like the look of, but its also low-level gear, I will be unable to progress in the game beyond a certain point. So if you ask “Stats or Sparkles” and make it a binary, I’m going to with the “Stats” because that’s a gate to me being able to play the game, full stop. But the second you give me the option to glamour or transmog or whatever we call it, you best believe that I’m making the tank top have the stats of the parka and venturing out into the tundra looking like a badass.

Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog): I would like to say “pretty” rather than “strong,” but my recent foray into Project Gorgon proves that I’d be lying. Gorgon’s cosmetic system is a distant dream for newbies, which meant that my character was wearing clown armor the whole time, and I needed the stats (that game is not easy!), so I just dealt with it. And I guess, thinking back to other MMOs without cosmetic gear, that’s a choice I’ve made over and over, however much I grumbled about it. (And did keep extra gear for roleplaying!)

Ideally, of course, we can be strong and pretty with cosmetics. But not every game gives us the option!

Carlo Lacsina (@UltraMudkipEX, YouTube, Twitch): I will 100% ignore better armor if it means I’m not going to match. I consider myself an above average tank, and part of the reason is because I’d literally go into dungeons and raids undergeared because the good gear is ugly AF. Like no. I’m not going to wear a silly hat when I am in fact a very serious, very edgy tank with a brooding backstory. And if that means my life and the lives of others are going to be at risk, then I am willing to make that sacrifice for fashion.

Chris Neal (@wolfyseyes, blog): If given the choice of having my cake and eating it too, I’ll obviously go for that, but over the course of normal progression to cap or if I’m looking to hit as near to the top flite as I can, I’m going to go for stats first and foremost every time.

Perhaps I’m able to mostly ignore clown outfits thanks to years of having to suffer the ignominy in multiple MMOs, but by and large it’s always going to be about having the right stats for my chosen class. After all, as stupid as my character might look while leveling, I’ll look and feel even worse if I’m an active detriment to my team because I don’t have the right kit.

That all said, the moment I’m able to, I will be dressing up my avatar in the prettiest clothes possible. Clown outfits are temporary.

Mia DeSanzo (@neschria): Stats. I don’t care if my character looks like a misshapen yam. Give me those sweet stats. Anything that improves my viability is getting equipped. If I can look good too, that’s a bonus. I’m definitely not going to spend actual money just too look good.

Sam Kash (@thesamkash): It’s a true statement. You simply have to go with the stats. I don’t remember the last time I really had to make the choice, but I’m going to go ahead and say it was in SWTOR. I think during the normal story progression at release, lightsaber colors were difficult to get. I feel like once I finally got that orange saber, I stuck with it until I absolutely had to upgrade because it was so weak.

At the same time, I remember getting to endgame and loathing that I had to change to PvP gear. It was required to be effective, and boy did that upset me.

Tyler Edwards (blog): It’s pretty rare to run into this kind of issue these days with cosmetic systems being as common as they are. When I did have to deal with it, I usually picked stats over looks (however begrudgingly), but if it was only a small upgrade or side-grade, I might stick with the prettier duds, especially if I wasn’t yet at endgame.

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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