Still Fixing What Isn’t Broken

Whew! I’m back after an extended and unexpected blogging hiatus. The New Year and a New Job really kicked my ass.

I had always been fond of FreeRealms. Even though the game’s combat was never particularly complex, it was varied enough to keep it entertaining. Your character would obtain a new combat skill every 5 levels. Upon reaching level 20, you’d have 5 abilities from which to choose, each serving the usual melee, AOE or ranged functions. When I wanted a break from WoW (or whatever the current MMO de jour may be), I’d log into FreeRealms for a few minutes of easy fun.

Sadly, SOE must have been cribbing notes from Mythic, because they took the whole fixing-what-wasn’t-broken concept to a whole new level of… brokenness.

Now the combat in FreeRealms consists of 3 buttons that you mash repeatedly as you attack wave after wave of monsters. It’s boring. It’s repetitive. And unless they were shooting for the Under-the-Age-of-Five demographic, I can’t begin to fathom SOE’s reasoning for this change. Hell, most 10 year olds have better video game combat skills than I do!

And FreeRealms is not alone in this recent ‘dumbing-down’ trend. In World of Warcraft I recently created an Orc Shaman named Urgulanilla (I pride myself in naming all of my characters after real people, even if they lived over a 1,000 years ago). I wanted to experience the Barrens area of the game before it gets revamped in the upcoming expansion. I was dismayed to discover that the aggro of the mobs in the starter area has been reduced to nothing, causing the first five levels of the game to be so simple that my character could sleep-walk through it. Booooooring.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not an MMO fangrrl that stomps her feet and whines the moment a combat skill is nerfed, or a game mechanic is simplified. I prefer that the starter area of any game be relatively easy, so I can learn the interface and explore my surroundings before being dumped into the deep end of the combat pool. But when you simplify the game so much that I can play it with with one hand while solving a Rubik’s Cube with the other, you’ve just sucked all the fun right out of it for me.

I really hope that the folks at FreeRealms rethink the changes they’ve made to the combat. I miss my Swiffer Mop-wielding Medic.

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4 Responses to “Still Fixing What Isn’t Broken”

  1. J Greely says:

    Well, there wasn’t very much aggro in the starter areas to begin with (in the human area, it was just the Defias), so eliminating it doesn’t make a huge difference. It just moves your first dozen deaths out about an hour.


  2. Amarsir says:

    Nice to see you blogging again. 🙂

    Never having played I have only one your word t go on, but it seems to me that repeated button mashing, even from a limited selection of 3, is better than picking an attack toggle and letting it work. Or is that not what you’re relating? Are you saying they completely removed the new-abilities-by-level system for a non-growing one?

  3. Leslee says:


    FreeRealms has 3 buttons for combat. One is your regular attack that you mash repeatedly. One is an AOE attack that uses all of your power, so unless your guzzling potions constantly, the second attack can only be used every minute or so. And the third button is a “special” attack that gets triggered randomly under special circumstances.

    It’s not as bad as using an attack toggle, but the opportunity to use any type of strategy during combat has been completely eliminated.


  4. Heron says:

    They reduced the aggro in the starting areas of LotRO too. It made me sad. No longer is it a training ground for combat against multiple monsters; now you have to coax things to attack you. Ah well. Level 30 is still fun.

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