Syl at MMO Gypsy has a list of “turn-offs” for the MMORPG genre: features that quickly drain her enthusiasm for a game.
Here’s my shortlist of MMO annoyances:
1. Lockbox spam
This is very common in the genre now, almost every game has lockboxes dropping like rain. In most the key is only available for real-money bought currency (Zen in Neverwinter, TP in LOTRO etc). They are particularly annoying when the type changes very frequently so your bags and bank can fill with a profusion of the things. I’m just not a fan of gambling for items in my gaming.
2. Forced PVP
Nothing will turn me off a game faster than force-flagging me for PVP or giving players the power to force-flag me regardless of server type. It simply isn’t my idea of fun. The Mists-era legendary quest in WoW committed this grave sin. I include a lack of clear PVP demarcations in this category as well. Neverwinter actually did this really well – with a coloured border on the ground surrounding PVP areas and a system message warning you were close. Other games would rather just surprise you if you stray to close to the border (e.g. WoW).
3. Excessive pathing/walling
I played Guild Wars 1 despite the awful ‘pathed’ nature of the game. Zones were barely explorable at all, just a patterns of paths you could walk on and lots of intervening spaces that were effectively window-dressing. World of Warcraft even today has plenty of annoying walls blocking areas and hillsides that cannot be scaled despite how easy it looks climb. This isn’t just an “old MMO problem” since Dungeons & Dragons Online had very open areas (including jump and fly spells!) and that MMO has a very old game engine.
4. Ability shoutfest
Asian MMOs like Tera and Aion like you to hear your characters use their abilities. Strangely Turbine went down a similar route with LOTRO if you play certain classes (e.g. Warden). Such games make group gameplay somewhat annoying over time. How many times do I need to hear “YAAAARRRRGGGH!” in one dungeon?
5. Stepped levelling curve
I’m not a fan of the tendency to make the last X levels (usually 10) ‘harder to earn’. It becomes worse when the game adds an expansion and new levels but doesn’t adjust the levelling curve to account for this. Gradual progress is fine with me, I don’t need to be levelling at hyper-speed. Conversely glacial progress as an attempt at dragging out the game’s longevity won’t keep me in-game longer – I’m more likely to just move on to pastures new (EQ2!).