Gear complexity

Syp had a post last week about the “Jenga tower of MMO gear complexity“, pointing out the common problem of aging MMOs – that the complexity of managing our characters’ gear increases as new stats, enhancements and tiers of equipment are added. It’s certainly a problem I can identify with.

For instance I have a capped character in Everquest 2 but have no real clue about the bewildering array of stats on his gear. It’s a game that I’ve played for quite a long time but I’ve never played at end-game, when gear selection and optimisation generally really matters in any MMO. As Syp mentions in his post, the Legendary Item system in LOTRO is a clear example of out-of-control gear complexity. I am happy enough to spend the accumulated talent-like points on a given weapon to customise it for my character chosen playstyle; but the deep system of relics, item deconstruction and recycling that sits behind this is way beyond my understanding.

Developers don’t just add new stats to gear, they often seem to have a back-and-forth attitude to stat complexity. WoW has gone through many revamps of itemisation and the stat system. Primary stats have changed a fair amount over the years but the secondary stats have changed even more. Older stats like MP5 or spirit have been trimmed in the name of stat simplification, yet new stats always seem to be added (e.g. secondary stats like mastery or versatility, or even minor stats like speed) to keep us players on our toes.

I have no problem with some rpg-style ‘crunch’ in the MMOs that I play – I like to put some thought into my characters through their gear and optimisation. However, I do think it can be taken way too far by developers who, perhaps, are so close to these systems that they forget just how byzantine they can appear to players. It’s rather telling that most of the WoW players I know always use Mr Robot, or a similar add-on, to tell them whether a gear drop is actually better or not to what their character is currently wearing…

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2 Responses to Gear complexity

  1. I think there’s a lot wrong with how MMOs handle gear, and complexity is just one aspect of that. That’s a bit too long of a rant for here, though.

    What I will say, though, is I’m still trying to wrap my head around Blizzard removing armour penetration because it was “too hard to understand” and then replacing it with mastery, which has to be the most absurdly arcane and convoluted gear stat in gaming history.

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