Friday, August 8, 2014

Mobs you Respect

So I've been playing some Final Fantasy XIV a bit lately, and overall having a great time.  One of the things I enjoy is a return to zones that have some genuinely rough monsters, mixed in with the fodder.  And it got me to thinking, over the course of all the MMO's I've played - what are some of the mobs that have really earned my respect!  And it seemed like a fun topic for a blog, so there you are.

Now the completely arbitrary rules I've set up for my completely arbitrary list are as follows: no bosses, no elites, and no named mobs.  I mean, boss fights are intended to be hard  - so duh. And elites can certainly be hard (remember all the Dragonkin back in the vanilla WoW days?), but they're mostly just hard by virtual of having an unusually high number of hitpoints.  And while we all have awesome stories of running away in terror when Mor'Ladim snuck up on us yet again, those really aren't the types of mobs I'm talking about.  No, what I'm after are those run-of-the-mill, mixed in with everything else garden variety mobs, but when you encountered them you put down your sandwich, sat up, put both hands on the keyboard and mouse, and paid attention!  Okay, without further ado then, here we go.

#10 Tsoo Sorcerer - City of Heroes, Talos Island
A lot of these mobs are going to come from older MMO's, because let's face it, they were just harder back then. I'm not here to debate whether that's a good thing or bad thing, but back in the days even ordinary mobs would rub your face in the dirt and take all your stuff if you weren't paying attention.
About level 17 to 18, when you first got to Talos Island, you'd start encountering this group of Asian themed thugs roaming the streets.  These were the Tsoo, and they were not to be trifled with.  And the worst of the lot were the Sorcerers.  You could handle a group of Green Ink Men with little difficulty, but if the group had even one, and heaven help you two Sorcerors, things could get dicey in a hurry.  The Sorcerors were healers, and were more than happy to cross heal each other, as well as doing a great job of keeping their buddies alive. And if that weren't enough, they had a nice propensity for teleporting halfway across the zone just as you were about to give 'em a dirt nap.  Yeah the Sorcerer's weren't unstoppable by any means, but if they were in the group, they were primo target #1.

#9 Silithid - Vanilla WoW, Silithus
Like many mobs in WoW, the silithid of today lack the punch their forebearers did. But in their original incarnation, descending into a silithid hive alone was not something to be taken lightly.  True to their hive-like nature, navigating around these mobs was a tricky business, and if you weren't careful you could quickly become, well, swarmed. There were two particular nasty variations of these bugs I remember with hatred fondness. Sadly, I can't find the actual mob names of either of them. One was the giant beetle-like creatures that would roam the hive, and when you attacked them, swarms of broodlings would come pouring off of them. Tackling one of those could get really ugly quickly. And the other were wasp-like creatures in Silithus proper. Back when the zone first opened, these creatures always traveled in packs of three. Just the fact that they were always together made them formidable opponents.

#8 Skeleton Wizard - Guild Wars, Shards of Orr
An innocuous enough sounding name, but these guys were downright deadly.  Heck all the undead in Shards of Orr were. And they weren't elite, they just had a combination of skills and powers that would rip your party to shreds.  What's worse, was that one particular story quest in Guild Wars required you to pass through this zone to get from one zone to another. These guys and their kin were the first time in Guild Wars that I pretty much had to abandon and rebuild my entire skill set, as well as rebuild my party of heroes and henchmen, and change up all of their skills, just to make it through. Maddeningly frustrating, and immensely satisfying when I beat them.

#7 Destroyers - Guild Wars 1, Eye of the North & Guild Wars 2
These mobs actually span two games, but they earn your respect in both of them.  In Guild Wars 1, they become the primary staple for Eye of the North, and in all cases they are tough nuts to crack. Whether the Destroyer of Thoughts, with their assault of domination magic hex and debuffs, or the nasty Destroyer of Flesh, with their rapid strike Warrior skills, every variation of these mobs was something to pay attention to and destroy as rapidly as possible.  While I never really thought the Guild Wars 2 variations felt quite as deadly, those pesky Destroyer Trolls and Destroyer Crabs could wreck your day if you got ganged up on by them. And let's face it.. you never encounter just one destroyer!

#6 Cray Paragon Protectors - City of Heroes, Peregrine Island
The Crey were a great villain class, with a huge variety of mobs types, powers, and abilities you had to deal with. But of them all, the Paragon Protectors would instill the most fear. Granted, these were usually Boss class monsters, so I may be breaking my own rule here of no elites. But these guys weren't just big hitpoint guys. Nope, equipped with the exact same powersets that Heroes had, and not afraid to use them, any single variation of these guys meant almost certain death if you encountered them alone.  Of course, with mob level scaling and instance scaling, you could encounter versions of these that were actually soloable, to versions that were unstoppable juggernauts when you were in a group of 8.  But in every instance, they hit hard, they self healed, and if damaged would fly away, reheal, and then come back.  I'll always have a firm measure of respect for these villains.

#5 The Karka - Guild Wars 2, Southsun Cove
When ArenaNet revisited Southsun Cove, they wanted players to feel like it was a place of imminent danger. And in that respect, they were extremely successful. I haven't been back in well, since it was introduced, but those first forays back to the island left you wondering what the hell happened, and how did I end up dead! This class of mobs were so formidable that I even felt compelled to write a survival guide just on how to deal with the various denizens of the isle.  Even the smallest of these mobs were worthy adversaries, and the larger ones always took several folks to bring down.  Yap, though some of these are in fact elites, every variation of the Karka was a mob I gave my full attention to.

#4 Raptors - Guild Wars 1, Sparkfly Swamp
I remember the first time I went through Sparkfly Swamp.. ugh.. man it was just rough. And it may be a toss up between these guys and the Angoradons as to who were the most annoying, but I think these guys have to take the cake. They roamed in extremely fast moving, fluid packs of eight. And you either carefully planned your route so as to try to avoid them altogether, or you just made sure to intercept them and tackle them head on. Because if a pack of these guys slammed into you while your group was in the middle of fighting something else, it was all over but the crying.  Sparkfly Swamp was another Guild Wars 1 zone where I ended up retooling my hot bar and hero skills specifically to deal with the mobs found within.

#3 Gulp Frog - WoW Mists of Pandaria, Timeless Isle
So yeah, most of the Timeless Isle is about bringing back respect for the mob. And yes, I supposed this also breaks my rule about no elites, as pretty much all of the mobs on the Timeless Isle are elites. But these fellas in particular - they deserve special mention. Now I know once you get geared up folks love to farm these fellas and a lot of people lose respect for them. But how many times did you initially find yourself running out to that stupid pirate ship, get aggroed by a half dozen of these, start attacking, and suddenly BAM, you're dead. No? Not at all? Cause it happened to me all the time. Then I started noticing the nasty little debuff they put on you that kills you instantly at 10 stacks. Well played Blizzard, well played. I don't have any difficulty soloing these guys now, but I still mostly avoid them. Ugh. I'd rather go do turtles.

#2 Murlocs, Vanilla WoW, Elwynn Forest
Ahh, the Murloc. I could write an entire blog on this almost legendary mob of reknown, and still not say everything there is to say about these little fellas.  But if you're like me, the actual first time you encountered these guys was around level 10, over by the Eastgate Logging Camp, in Elwynn Forest. Remember, you had to try to find those two dwarves that went missing? And these guys, they aggro from miles away, come running at you at breakneck speeds, or throwing spears at you from distance, and suddenly you're crumpling to your knees in a cacaphony of MRRGLGRMURRGLEMURR! Yes sir, I learned quickly to work that camp from the edges, pull one at a time, and if you had to make the run into the middle of it, you quickly ran away! And goodness, remember those underwater quests in Auberdine with scores of the nasty little creatures? Yap, though much maligned, and now much weakened, the original Murloc was a mob I respected!

#1 Malta Sappers - City of Heroes, Founders Falls
It's hard to pick an actual #1 from this list -- all these mobs were villains that I learned to sit up and take down. But certainly these guys I have some of the strongest memories of.  Mostly I guess, because they surprised me so many times.  Deceptively easy looking minion. Dressed just like the Engineers and other Malta Operatives that you would cut through like a hot knife through butter. But these guys had this incredibly nasty, endurance sapping gun. And in two shots, they would drain your entire endurance bar, leaving your hero as helpless and weak as the simplest Paragon City sidewalk walking civilian.  Time and time again I would misjudge or miss these guys, go wading into a group of enemy operatives, to suddenly find all my endurance gone, and down my hero would go for the count. And back in those days, City of  Heroes death penalty was nothing to sneeze at! You did not want to die.  Ever!  So for their sheer deviousness, and straight up jaw dropping ability to stop you cold, unless you absolutely targeted them first, these guys get my #1 vote.

Okay, so that's my list! I hope you enjoyed my little trip down nostalgia lane! What about you? Most of my mobs come from the MMO's I played the most, of course. But I know there were some particular nasties from Everquest I and II, and maybe Conan, or SWTOR - maybe even Dark Age of Camelot that you recall with a mixture of fondness and hatred.  What mobs in your play experiences earned your respect?

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