Recovery time in MMOs

Playing a few different games had me thinking of recovery time as a concept: I mean here time in-between fights where your character needs to rest or do something to recover health, mana or similar resources. The point being that in some games you do not leave a fight necessarily ready to start the next one straight away. A couple of examples will illustrate different approaches to this aspect of gameplay:

World of Warcraft: reduced downtime

These days in WoW your character generally has 100% ‘up-time’ unless you take on something bigger and badder than you, or a group of somethings. There are still differences between classes here, but the days of eating and drinking after every fight are long gone. There used to be quite a balance to downtime and uptime for some classes, even warriors without mana had to sit and eat food since they had no ability to heal themselves (and health came back slowly). Spellcasters usually had to regen mana out of combat and mana mattered for the most part much more than it does nowadays (outside of difficult raids). Other games have automatic and fast recovery out of the box: Elder Scrolls Online and Guild Wars 2 are two examples.

Food is for buffs in modern WoW

Food is mostly for buffs in modern WoW

Archeage: stop-go-stop-go

My early experiences of Archeage have felt a lot like old-school WoW with regards to recovery time. My Ranger character has some self-healing but he often needs to drink and/or play his flute to regen mana after fights. I can usually keep going for two or three before either my health is below 50% or my mana is even lower but recovery time is a thing in Archeage. Other games can be like this, Rift is to some extent although that might be a combination of my build and the expansion I’m playing through (Nightmare Tide).

Playing music regens either health or mana in Archeage

Playing music regens either health or mana in Archeage

Star Wars the Old Republic: class featureA variant on the first type, SWTOR takes the view that recovery is easy and available to all classes (via a flavoured but functionally identical ability) but that it isn’t automatic – rather it’s a deliberate channeled ability. This doesn’t make recovery time that big an issue but if you push your character in fighting tough or numerous opponents then some recovery time is likely to be needed. I suppose this has become less of a necessity over time as any companion can be swapped to be a pocket healer nowadays, earlier in the game’s history this wasn’t the case.

Class recovery abilities have some flavour in SWTOR

Class recovery abilities have some flavour in SWTOR

I haven’t made up my mind on which approach to recovery I prefer, although I’m quite the fan of cooking in MMORPGs so having to make or obtain food for recovery does add an extra layer to the game. Should recovery time and mechanisms matter? Should they be part of our active gameplay or rather an automatic thing in the background?

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2 Responses to Recovery time in MMOs

  1. Shintar says:

    I think I like the pacing of combat not being non-stop, but I’ve come to not like needing consumables to regain health (whether it’s food, health potions or whatever). SWTOR’s built-in regen abilities have me spoilt. 🙂

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