Variety of opponents

One thought that came to me recently is whether having a variety of opponents matters in MMORPGs? Some of these games have very varied and mixed up monsters, animals or humanoid foes; some tend to recycle them a little too often.

Lord of the Rings Online

To be fair I should state that it’s not Turbine’s fault that we fight evil humans, orcs, goblins and wolves  in almost every zone of the game. I’ve read many times on the forums about the restrictions (rumoured or otherwise) that the Tolkien Estate puts on the license for the game. Adding new creature models to the game can be pretty contentious even for the players!


I don’t actually remember becoming that bored with fighting the same creatures in the game, but it certainly wouldn’t make my “top 5 MMOs for interesting opponents” list.


This game had some very good aspects, such as the combat and some very negative ones like the repetitive use of monster models. For me the lack of opponent variety in the leveling content eventually became quite a turnoff. The design of creatures maybe matters more when they all have quite distinctive tactics and regardless of any ‘reskinning’ or renaming of the monsters all creatures of the same basic model (e.g. wolves) fight alike. This may be true of many MMORPGs but in action combat games like Tera, where even simple fights can be more involved it becomes more of an issue I think.


Ovoliths .. again ..

The same models are re-used again and again but there is no restrictive-license to excuse this in Tera.


For the most part Star Wars the Old Republic has very good variety of opponents. Some of the instances can get repetitive but this post is really about open world opponent variety. The one aspect that I do often find a bit ‘samey’ is the use of factional opponents – naturally it is to be expected that a Republic character will fight endless waves of Imperial soldiers and Sith over the course of his or her levelling career but it can get a bit boring to see whole areas populated with a few “copy-pasted” models.


That doesn’t matter as much with imperial soldiers in heavy uniform, you can imagine they are different individuals under the helmet; but when you see the 5th or 10th Sith with the same face, dual wielding the same yellow & gold lightsabers it bothers me more.

World of Warcraft

In the latest expansion there might be more of a case for complaining about opponent variety as we fought a *lot of orcs*, but that said, they were of different clans and therefore had some different clothing and armour styles.


Overall the game does have plenty of very varied opponents to face so I can’t complain too much.

Does opponent variety matter to you? Are some games better than others at addressing this issue?

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4 Responses to Variety of opponents

  1. Honestly I think gamers are far too fixated on the “need” to constantly have new art assets. I think interesting stories and game mechanics are more important. TSW is a great example. They’re constantly reusing art and environmental assets, but thanks to the quality of the content, I never really feel like I’m doing the same old, same old.

    I’ll even go so far as to say that in some cases I wish MMOs had less variety in monster types. I’d prefer a consistent fantasy universe to one that’s constantly coming up with increasingly strange variants of Orcs and Dragons just for the sake of saying they have something new.

    That said, it is something that should be considered on a somewhat case by case basis. I can see how your Sith clones issue could be frustrating, and I will admit I was disappointed Blizzard didn’t create more variety of undead types in Wrath of the Lich King. I kind of expected to start seeing undead variants of all the playable races: Night Elves, Dwarves, Tauren, Orcs etc.. Instead it was mostly still just standard human zombies with the occasional banshee or San’layn.

  2. Jeromai says:

    Reskinning opponents with new colors and skins doesn’t do it for me. I’m more concerned with how the combat feels, whether I have to use a variety of tactics/skills and switch it up in order to defeat them or survive, versus everything can be killed by simply pressing one button over and over again and doesn’t feel visceral enough.

    As such, I prefer monsters that use different skills and have different mechanics to beat them, for variety, but it is also possible to offer gameplay variety by using the same monsters, paired up or combined into a team that synergizes (GW1 was quite eye-opening for this latter tactic, nothing like Eye of the North charr or PvP-teamesque mobs that were plainly working as a team together.)

    In contrast, try as I might, Marvel Heroes didn’t hold me because nearly all their mooks could be defeated using the “spam left mouse button” technique and I never felt any sense of threat or difficulty. (Granted, was playing a tank and then a melee scrapper-y character.)

    • I think that’s just standard for Marvel Heroes. I played a ranged caster (Storm) and found the optimal strategy was just to turn on a passive damage aura and run around hoovering up loot. I didn’t even need to use any abilities. Things just died by being near me.

      Also agree with your other points.

    • Telwyn says:

      I’m less forgiving of reskinning in action combat MMOs, games where I would expect the focus to be on the quality of combat as content. In Tera as I mentioned the variety of opponents is lacking and I felt bored before starting fights as the “dance” was always the same. I agree with your comment on GW1, that game had some pretty challenging AI in some zones.

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