In a word, simplicity. There’s something to be said about a game where the characters have only five abilities, one being passive, yet still provide layers of complexity and strategy.
The reason League of Legends is able to accomplish this is through their skill trees, rune system and item store, which allow players to completely customize each character without adding additional abilities. While players can spend hours tweaking their stats, when they get into the actual game it becomes very simple.
When comparing it to my character in Star Wars: The Old Republic, I have two hot bars filled with 24 abilities, then an additional two side bars with another 18 or so abilities, buffs, items and skills. I can’t remember the last time I played a MMORPG where I had so many abilities as SWTOR. Full disclosure the only other two MMORPGs I played to the level cap were LoTRO and Warhammer Online, neither of which, from what I remember, came anywhere near SWTOR.
However I have played dozens of other MMO games to mid level and I can’t recall filling up my hotbars by mid game in any of them. In comparison I had filled my two bottom bars and nearly another full side bar before I hit level 25. Then let’s not forget a fifth hotbar for companions.
However there’s a certain complexity that is expected when playing a MMORPG, much more than a MOBA game like League of Legends, but when is enough enough? Do we really need 40 abilities and items to select from while in combat? Seems like overkill to me and while I don’t expect or even want a MMORPG with only 5 abilities, it wouldn’t hurt for MMO developers to take a look at what RiotGames is doing with League of Legends and perhaps simplify some things.
What do you think? Are MMO games going to far with the amount of skills and abilities players have access to or do you enjoy the complexity of it?