10 Most Pointless MMO Abilities

by Tyler Edwards, November 30 2011

Grow in power, become a mighty hero, and defeat terrifying enemies with your awesome powers - this is the promise made by all MMOs. Any online game will see your character equipped with feats of magic and might to astound and amaze. But then there are those other abilities. The ones that make you wonder what the developers were thinking, that sit in your spellbook until that uncertain future date when you find out what the heck they're actually good for.

10: Five-minute paladin blessings (World of Warcraft):

wow paladin

One of the important things brought to a group by World of Warcraft's paladin class is its blessings, powerful buffs to enhance friendly players. Nowadays, blessings are simple and easy to use, but when the game was released, it was a different story.

It's not that blessings weren't useful in those days, though paladins probably wished that they were to spare themselves the trouble. It's that they each lasted only five minutes and had to be individually applied to every player.

Every player. Every five minutes. In the days of 40-person raid groups. Couple that with the baffling diversity of blessings that once existed and the need to coordinate them with other paladins, and you have yourself a nightmare that likely still has paladin players waking up in cold sweats every night.

9: Second wind (Guild Wars):

Exhaustion is an effect triggered by certain spells in Guild Wars. It lowers your available energy, inhibiting your ability to cast spells. Second wind provides partial relief from this by restoring energy based on your level of exhaustion.

But it also increases your exhaustion, effectively exacerbating the problem it's meant to help solve.

Furthermore, it is an elite skill, something that each player can only have one of, so choosing this rather mediocre spell prevents you from accessing other powerful abilities. In the end, it just seems much more trouble than it's worth.

8: Back from the brink (Lord of the Rings Online):

lotro lore master

Back from the brink is a resurrection spell available to the lore-master class of Lord of the Rings Online. You're probably thinking, “an extra rez is always nice to have, right?”

You'd think so, wouldn't you? But back from the brink is just about enough to make you want to stay dead. Aside from being heavily restricted by being only useable outside of combat, requiring pipeweed grown by player farmers to function, and only restoring the target 5% of its health, it also slaps crippling debuffs onto the target.

Back from the brink is a case of the cure being worse than the disease, and when the “disease” is death, that says a lot.

7: Underwater breathing (World of Warcraft):

wow underwater breathing

Racial abilities are rarely spectacular, and with good cause. Developers don't want people to feel forced into a single race to compete. But sometimes it goes too far, and racial abilities wind up completely worthless.

Take, for example, the Undead racial ability underwater breathing from World of Warcraft. It increases the duration of a player's breath underwater by a whopping 233%. Sounds cool, until you consider that the other races' breath lasts for quite a long time as well, and no one in the game is ever at significant risk of drowning.

Then there's the fact that there's almost no reason to ever be underwater in WoW, and the fact that the vast majority of underwater quests will provide the player some item or buff to prevent drowning.

Those poor zombies.

6: Otyugh's cry (Guild Wars):

A skill available to the ranger class, Otyugh's cry in its original incarnation was an ability to call upon the fury of the wilds, turning all nearby beasts hostile to one's opponent.

Like most of the skills on this list, it sounds impressive until you actually think about it. Most times, the beasts it summoned were low level and fairly harmless, and to add insult to injury, it had a significant chance to fail, causing the beasts to attack your party instead of the enemy. Nothing will inspire a group's love faster than getting them buried by an invasion of ravenous squirrels.

Also, it's a monstrous ability to try to pronounce.

5: Unnatural signet (Guild Wars):

guild wars unnatural signet

In its modern incarnation in Guild Wars, unnatural signet is a useful damage ability, but that wasn't always the case. In its old version, it was used to dispel a nature ritual, a type of spell used by the ranger class.

Sounds okay so far, if a little overly specialized. But then there was its massive fifteen second cast time, and even more massive seventy-five second cool down. And the fact that it prevented you from using any other skills for up to sixty seconds.

It's difficult to imagine there ever being a time when shutting down all of your skills for a full minute is worth negating one spell by another class.

4: Crafting bonuses (World of Warcraft):

Another example of lame racial abilities in WoW are crafting bonuses. These give members of a certain race several free skill points in a particular profession - +15 to herbalism for Tauren, for instance.

This really serves no purpose, though, as 15 skill points at the beginning means very little, and over the long haul, such bonuses can actually be detrimental. They push back the levels at which you can train your profession, and because realm first profession achievements are based on reaching the maximum level - whatever that may be for your race - they can cost you the coveted achievements.

Nothing like a “bonus” ability that costs you achievements. And yet, Blizzard just keeps adding them with nearly every new race.

3: Forensic evaluation (Ultima Online):

uo forensic evaluation

Have you ever encountered a corpse while traveling in an MMO world and sorely wished there was some way to identify who it was and what had happened to them?

Neither have we, but apparently the makers of Ultima Online are a nosy bunch, as they implemented forensic evaluation to allow players to learn all about those festering corpses by the side of the road.

Why you would want to do this is at best unclear. We suppose if your dream is to be the star of CSI: Middle Ages, Ultima Online might be the game for you, but otherwise, there doesn't seem to be much point - especially considering many players have the option to resurrect a corpse and simply ask them what happened.

2: Treeform (EverQuest):

everquest treeform

If you've played World of Warcraft, you're probably familiar with the tree of life form used by its druids, which provides a major boost to their healing powers, and you'd probably expect the EverQuest equivalent to be equally impressive.

Not so much. In EverQuest, treeform was just that - it turned you into a tree. And aside from boosting a house's curb appeal or providing ripe fodder for adolescent “wood” jokes, we're afraid we don't see much of a point.

1: Beg (Ultima Online):

uo begging

Any MMO player will be familiar with gold beggars - lazy or inexperienced players who randomly ask for money. It's an irritant we all have to deal with.

Ultima Online gave a unique spin on the issue by letting players beg from NPCs. But it wasn't a very useful ability, as the NPCs often refused or gave pitifully small amounts of money.

It also rather clashes with the idea of playing a heroic adventurer. “Behold, I am the mighty warrior Rathgar, slayer of monsters and savior of the realm. Also, I beg guards for money.”

Not only is begging utterly pointless and impractical, it also sucks the heroic feel from a character, and for those reasons, it earns the top spot on our list.