MMORPG Abilities

MMORPG’s  are notorious for the amount of abilities a character can gain below is an example (my hunter was worse) from World of Warcraft.

In this article I look at different ways some games handle giving abilities to characters and my personal feelings of the experience.

The standard way to gain abilities are to see your trainer every x levels, this gives you a bunch of new abilities dumped on your hotbar for the player to sort out and use. As players start from low levels with relatively small amount of abilities and gain them fairly slowly at your trainer this seems to work out.

Problems can arise when you decide to re-specialise your character and are presented with a ton of new abilities all at once, of which you have no experience using and have to spend a long time figuring out what each ability does, and where it can fit on your bar.

Blizzard handled this nicely when adding the Death Knight class to World of Warcraft, the character started at level 56 with only a handful of abilities, and talent points were unlocked during questing which allowed them to purchase new abilities gradually.

Allods Online also had a nice feature that I discovered recently whilst playing, the ability to grant game features not just abilities by quest. It was the ability to inspect other players and involved killing tons of npcs and getting a drop. Although I would have preferred the quest was a little more relevant than a standard grind quest, the idea is pretty good.

It is my opinion that abilities should be handed to the player slowly so they can figure out how to use them before they gain the next one, and I would prefer the figuring out not to be on the players own imitative, we should be directed, for example an interactive quest where you get to use the ability in the proper context.


Sadly no game has really shown any innovation or change to the standard trainer purchase method apart from Guild Wars 2 which I am pretty excited about. In a video the GW2 team announced skills will be unlocked the more you use a weapon without seeing a trainer, which is a fantastic idea.

Wrath of Heroes also has an interesting concept, they have taken 5 core skills per character and have already set up your bar for you, you don’t have to worry about them.

Do I like having fewer abilities? Yes. It’s far more enjoyable to play a game when the UI isn’t cluttered and you aren’t floundering around trying to figure out which ability handles a particular task.

Wish List

  • Fewer abilities
  • Gained by use
  • Interactive lessons on how to use them
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