Crowd Control — the marmite of MMOs?

Playing a class with crowd control in an MMO has always involved tension with other players. No one likes having CC used on them in PvP — players really do dislike losing control of their character, however briefly. But there is also a resistance among the playerbase to CC in PvE, a hostility that I don’t really see towards any other role in the game.

This is partly because using crowd control to kill a group of monsters is probably slower than just about any other way you could think up. Players look at the ‘kill them one at a time’ option and then eye up the ‘could we just kill them all at once instead’ side of things. If a game has effective area effect attacks and tanks who can hold threat on multiple mobs, it’s clear which the faster kill method must be.

Even where designers nudge players towards the ‘one at a time with crowd control’ plan, players gripe at feeling forced to have that CC in the group. It’s bad enough to be forced to need a tank and a healer but limiting one of the other spots to a crowd controller seems to really ramp up the difficulty of sorting out groups. Even in a game like WoW where most of the dps classes have some kind of crowd control, players (aside from the CC classes) really didn’t like the added complexity in group forming.

What it boils down to is that tanking tends to become the preferred method of crowd control in PvE except when people are soloing. WoW exacerbates this with the small group sizes. In a group of 5, it’s a struggle to form groups when three of those five roles are fixed. Also some versions of CC are trickier to apply than others,  so players prefer the more reliable types and Blizzard never seemed to feel the need to equalise CC spells in the same way that they did with tanking.

I know this is one of the reasons that I enjoy tanking in game. I always loved playing crowd control classes, especially when they had multiple different types available. One must move with the times.

Do you like playing crowd control classes? Do you hate crowd control in games? Is crowd control really only fun for the person who has that ability?

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26 thoughts on “Crowd Control — the marmite of MMOs?

  1. CC in WoW has gone the way of the dodo. Back in classic it was all but required to have one form of CC (Normally humanoid-affecting recastable, like Sheep, or in the case of end-game dungeons, Undead/Humanoid like Shackle)
    Now we have tanks that can take the punishment of 3 or 4 elites pounding on them, all the while keeping aggro off of 3k dps High-aggro Nukers or AoEers. Crowd Control is all but moot in WoW now, used for specific special encounters (like the Elemental in the trash before Kologarn in Ulduar) and is just another ‘interesting thing’ to throw into the mix, like poison cleansing or “Stop casting, he’s going to AoE interrupt”

  2. I miss CC a lot. I remember being able to take care of 2 or 3 mobs on my own as a Warlock, and how much fun it was to be able to do so. Sure, some CC was challenging (seducing ranged, anyone?), but it added something new to the game.

    I guess people can’t whinge now ‘awww, my DPS will go down since I have to CC!’ That’s something… but it certainly isn’t as fun.

  3. Hunter trapping/kiting was a artform and I loved it.

    Do I miss it now? Sorta. It was great fun to do it right but it did slow the pace down. I dont miss taking an entire day to clear a raid. (Well okay I do but not twice)

    • Agreed. It’s a layer of tactical thinking that I appreciate. Yes, it’s slower, but I’m a soloer (me and my Bear) and in no rush to get to the endgame group-only content.

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  5. What WoW did to CC in WotLK was a travesty, and made raid game trash a boring experience that degraded people’s skills instead of forcing them to play smart.

    I think CC is a vital component of PvE goup play, and transforming it into a tanking exercise is a failure of game design.

      • No, I don’t believe that’s true. In a large group it’s about the organization and working as a team. It’s about deciding what to CC, doing it, and then not breaking that CC. It’s about adapting on the fly when a CCer dies, and trying to control the mob in a different way.

        The CC game is definitely NOT just fun for the CC classes. (Case in point: I played a feral druid w/ not much CC, and I HATED the destruction of the CC game in wow)

  6. LotRO makes CC near essential in raids by having mobs that will put massive buffs on others unless immobilised, or pulls where your tanks can’t reasonably be expected to tank everything.

    They also do some clever stuff to prevent too much CC from trivialising content. Mobs that put up powerful stacking buffs each time they are dazed, or mobs that have the ability to ‘wake up’ other dazed mobs.

    It adds much depth to LotRO’s PvE, and I’d argue that CC should be part of any DikuMUD-alike wanting a serious PvE component. If that game also includes PvP, then CC on players should have severe penalties and diminishing returns.

  7. I like the idea of CC. In practice though, it ends up just being a time-sink. Rather than pulling, we’re marking and waiting. If CC was part of a fight, rather than just a slow on pulling, then it might be fun and desirable.

  8. I used to really enjoy the TBC instances that required Crowd Control and I didn’t do any of it. I only ended up doign any in Kara when Shackle was useful against the adds for the second boss. So, despite never really being a CCer I thought it brough more strategy to the fight and enjoyed those mechanics. Now though, if anyone needed to CC all that would happen would be complaints that “Wahhh my DPS is going down because I have to CC”.

  9. I do like CC, combined with situational awareness: Fail pull turnded into win by CC. Its also a chance for undergeared groups to pull their weight. 5 mobs to strong for that tank/healer? Lets sleep one!

  10. I’m of mixed feelings.

    On the one hand, I appreciated doing CC. I remember how useless I always felt in vanilla 5-mans. Then I got ot MC and we had Ragers and Garr and suddenly Banish became VITAL to the group moving forward.

    On the other hand, I remember being turned down for heroics in the earliest days of TBC because none of the mobs could be seduced and fear was considered “dangerous”. I also remember watching Ret Pally after Ret Pally being turned down for Heroic MgT because they had no CC, no interrupts, and low damage.

    When WotLK details started coming out, I thought Blizzard was going to fix the problem by giving EVERY CLASS a viable CC. Shaman were given Hex, Druids could root indoors, Paladins could “sap” (Warriors remain the only class without a CC, btw). Then we got into the actual instances only to find that the 5-mans were tuned poorly and groups just steamrolled through them.

    We do use lots of CC in the last pulls before Vezax now, and there is some CC during Faction Champions, but I’m hoping we will see at least a FEW pulls in the new 5-man that have a light CC requirement.

    Oh, and that feeling of usefulness I got from doing CC on my Warlock? That feeling is why my Paladin has been my main for 2+ years – there’s no denying that I’m useful as a tank or healer. :)

  11. Hmm, in FFXI the crowd control classes really aren’t that fun to play because most of the time its a matter of sleeping or binding mobs to remove them from play. FFXI tanks are single target and have none of the multi-mob aggro abilities that other games tanks usually do, so the CC classes are dedicated to it and winding up watching or kiting mobs.

    I’m not really keen on the need for CC, because of that. I think throwing more mobs than players can usually handle is the easy way out for game design. It’s not all that fun when the strat is to spam horde lullaby and kill one mob at a time.

  12. If you’re in a group where you’re expected to pull your weight dps wise, you CC at your own peril. >_< No matter how much you help prevent wipes, there's always going to be someone wondering why you didn't do just a bit more damage. That's not fun. But that's largely a bad expectation on the part of certain other players, and if you're in a group that's understanding of the dps reducing nature of CC, and that you're still contributing, then I think it's a lot of fun.

    Also, I think CC does encourage marking and discussion before pulls, and honestly, that's a great way to learn an instance. I can tell you in order almost every pull in Blackfathom Deeps or Shadowfang Keep because I learned them in detail when I was CCing. Not so Nexus or Utgarde Pinnacle… in those instances I know the boss fights but I have no idea what the trash is. *shrug* I guess it doesn't matter, but I miss that in depth knowledge sometimes. I love going into BFD or SFK on an alt and being able to do it barely thinking because I know it so well.

    • “If you’re in a group where you’re expected to pull your weight dps wise, you CC at your own peril. ”

      You must run with morons. This is a counter-productive way of thinking from a group survival/success point of view.

      Any good group understands that CC is vital, and employing it removes some of the caster’s DPS potential.

      • I call it the DPS meter add-on addiction. You rank higher in the DPS meter if you give a damn about your damage ranking.

        So basically, being a useless, damage-only-obsessed idiot is a good thing. :>

        Yeah, sad, but true. This wiped raids at Magtheridon, as the PRO players had to dps Magtheridon and left clicking the cubes to the newbies.

        My first Magtheridon raid had my Warlock one of the the cube clickers, which is probably the only important thing to do during a Magtheridon raid. I am glad that it worked out.

        One could say the DPS was needed and a new player could not provide as much, true. Still, the truth was that a top-geared Hunter and another Warlock had to find out who did more DPS. *yawn*

      • typo, you rank higher in DPS if you just leave IMPORTANT, VITAL CC AND OTHER IMPORTANT THINGS to someone else, as your role is to top the DPS meters.

        Talk about Rogues not kicking at the right time in Ulduar, as they spent all their energy on their attack skills.

  13. The way CC is currently implemented in WoW makes it no fun due to lengthening the time it takes to clear trash, but I’ve been recently playing Champions Online, where pretty much every good build will include some kind of crowd control. The game really trains me to use CC when necessary because I’m often faced with large groups of weak mobs with one hard-hitting mob in the middle. I’m AoEing them down even while solo, but I often CC the big guy so that he doesn’t hurt me in the meantime.

    I wonder how different CC would be in WoW if sheep/shackle/sap/etc didn’t break on damage, and we could both AoE the mobs down AND CC them, and were practically required to do so in many cases? Of course, it makes PvP pretty annoying because you end up getting stunlocked quite frequently, but I really like what it does to PvE situations. I’m really looking forward to seeing where CO takes this concept at endgame.

  14. Warlock here! Banishing stuff in Molten Core was vital, as people already pointed out. But we do not have to look too far back to remember the nice pro-Warlock TBC instances:

    Every Warlock just loved the Mechanar or Magister’s Terrace. Warlock CC was also always a bit complicated, Fear rather unreliable and dangerous, Banish was unable to be cancelled at will, and Seduce was not easy to do. Even experience Warlocks could fail their CC at times.

    But nowadays, there is no CC in WoW anymore. I have not played LOTRO enough yet to comment on its CC, but I play a Champion and do not care for CC, I break CC with my AoE! xD

    Now imagine how I felt being reduced to casting Rain of Fire to keep up in damage with the tank in WOTLK’s small instances. :(

  15. I am currently levelling a Loremaster in Lotro, my first ever crowd control class. I love it. Soloing is a joy with the ability to tackle groups and even to solo bosses via the mezz/nuke/repeat method. Setting everything up takes time and thought but it is so rewarding when you solo kill mobs that dps focussed classes could never handle on their own.

    Grouping is a different issue. I have learned that mezzing in a pug almost never works. Pugs just aren’t prepared to wait around while you set things up which is an absolute prerequisite of good crowd control. The few times I do get to use cc in a group though it is a good feeling like the other night when we did a fellowship quest which required three separate points to be defended. Because of the make-up of the group I ended up defending one point on my own against several elite attackers while the other points had multiple defenders. No other class could have handled that I think.

    • Are you talking about the grave robber attacks on this island in Evendim? Two people are enough to kill the spawns fast enough to run back and forth.

      You are right, CC rarely works in PUGs. I do not want to bash the value of CC or your role, just wonder if we are talking about the same quest here, which I would consider to be a rather unlucky example about the value of CC. :)

  16. Well spotted Longasc that was the quest alright. I never thought of running back and forth, I just assumed that all three camps were attacked at the same time :) Mind you trying to co-ordinate that in a pug could have been tricky.

    Nevertheless I still feel a little proud – I did hold one camp all on my ownio!

    Obviously CC would be far more useful in a kinship group with voice chat for co-ordination. I am hearing distressing news that CC is not a feature of end game raiding in Lotro any more however. I amn’t high enough to have tested this yet but apparently a huge number of mobs are immune.

  17. @mbp

    CC is alive and well in LotRO. There was initially quite a lot of needless CC immunity in the regular Moria instances, but most of it was removed in subsequent updates. Bosses are still immune, as you’d expect.

    In the current top-end raid, a couple of chain mezzers is almost a necessity for dealing with the trash pulls, though even then, mob resist rates are just high enough to keep everyone on their toes.

  18. In EQ2, the CC classes (coercer and illusionist) are highly sought after, thought not really for their CC, but rather their other buffs, debuffs, aggro management, etc. There are *some* instances where the CC is also highly sought after too, but that’s still kinda rare.

    For raiding, generally speaking, 1 coercer and 3 illusionists are wanted on each raid.

    For grouping, coercers tend to be a little more in demand, since they buff the healer and melee dps, which works out great in short fights, plus coercers can stunlock a bit better than illusionists can, so this also bumps up their “wanted-ness.”

    For soloing, if you can stun or mez it you can kill it. As a result, most named mobs in the last 2 expansions have been made completely CC-immune to prevent solo-chanter-farming.

    My main in EQ2 is a coercer. Love her to death. Rarely use mez, but am constantly using stuns, stifles, & dazes. Except on certain cc-immune mobs, a healer isn’t really needed — I can hold a mob to less than 7 attacks every 90 seconds (assuming perfect timing on my part and no resisted spells). Of course, finding a mob where the fight actually lasts that long is another challenge. . . .

    Anyway… CC classes are in high demand in EQ2, just not really for their actual CC.. more for stuns on the “actively beat upon mob” and for their buffs, power regen, aggro control, and dps.

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