Race Abilities


I’ve started a topic on this because @Heurazio asked a question about whether races have specific skills or abilities, and I answered like this:

“The choice of race doesn’t effect the gameplay, it is a visual / customisation choice, and also a choice around lore and back-story.”

After a couple of extra comments I thought I’d explain the reasoning behind that.
There are two factors that have gone into that choice:

  • Firstly the main reason for having different races and different customisation options on those races is to allow players to express themselves in the game, and we don’t want to push people in one direction or other because of what they want to do in the game. For example if you want to be a hunter and one of the races has improved damage then you would feel compelled to choose that race for that reason, rather than the one you think looks coolest or best represents you in the game.
  • Secondly there are quite a few people on this forum who have said they want to be able to unlock all the stats and abilities with a single character. Whilst I don’t think that’s a good idea, what I don’t want to do is put certain stats and abilities linked to a race choice which can never be changed. At least with a respec you can change a character from one thing into another and experiment with different aspects of the game without needing to create a new character, whereas you could only have racial abilities by having a character of that race.

Art: Character Races Concepts (males)
Community input needed: system design goals
Weekly Dev Update: 2016 May 13th - World Regeneration, Emotes, Extra GUI and more
Weekly Dev Update: 2016 May 20th - Mega threads, Mac OS X issues and more
Community input needed: system design goals

While racial abilities were very cool to think about and conceptualize a few months ago, I agree that they would definitely drive people to choose certain races to accomplish different things. As we’ve seen, I think there will be a bit of disappointment but ultimately this is probably the best option.

I’m sure the profession specialization will likely provide the bonuses/abilities we were seeking in races (Note: this is based on my trust in the dev team, not on any released information. It is complete speculation).


Completely agree! Racial stats/skills/etc always felt like a weirdly constrained character customization path (I’d much rather have to make that choice independent of the visual appearance of a character)


That´s all well and good but I think going against what 3/4 of the backer wish for is never a good idea

Well thought out bonuses could prevent pushing certain races into certain roles
E.g. Improved nightsight for the cat-race. This doesn´t benefit a certain playstyle since Miner would benefit from it as well as Hunter or Explorer

So because a few people in the forum were very vocal about certain gameplay elements you decided to ignore what 3/4 voted for in the backer survey (which reaches all your backer not only the few that are active in the forum)?


It’s more “a” backer survey than “the” backer survey. It /may/ be outdated. It /may/ be accurate. But I think it’s hard to base a conversation solely on those results given how dated it is.

Not trying to start something here. Just saying is all.

Can you come up with three other globally beneficial effects? Doing so might help change his mind more than anything.


Improved movement through survivability, durability, speed ; benefits nomad traders, scouts, explorers

The benefits could be more dark souls like where the stats are specialised at the start to give you a jump start but you are able to re-specialise later on.


Thanks for answering. for me it was very much a case of “fine if you do, fine if you don’t”
The cool part about having racial abilities were the differences on them but i know its always a fine balance between having boring racials and then forcing people to play certain races for certain playstyles. (Though i was so hyped when @Ben mused about a race that could climb blocks. we need climbing gear to compensate!)

the neat part about NOT having it is the fact that you can use races alot more visually without having to think about ways to do min-maxing


Good argument.

But this?

Not quite. Definitely not good enough to use it twice.

Now while there is some truth to it there are two main problems

  1. the survey result was from 1 year and 3 months ago (i checked) which was waaaay before we knew how progression, titans, crafting etc would work.

  2. “75% of people asked said they wanted different abilities in races” yet at the same time this was also part of the survey results

which is parculiar isn’t it? Because if racial abilities were the thing people cared about THE MOST which it seems to suggest with the one example you picked then these numbers should be switched shouldnt they? after all more races = more abilities. But people favored potentially less ability differences for the sake of more customization. So its a spectrum. the one thing you linked isnt “the universal” truth and at the same time i’m not going to use this part and say “Ha! good they changed it because 2/3 of the community found customization more important than the races themself”. There are people on both sides

My suggestion? If you don’t like the choice. Convince them to change it. use proper arguments for why you believe that racials would be a good idea. after all you did make a really great point. keep going that way. You should know how long i spent getting crafting to be a playstyle. Like 6 months? with several +1k word posts (biggest being a 3.6k word long rant on why crafting would be beneficial followed with a long private discussion trying to convince Ben). It’s not easy. but its possible.


I dare to assume that the prevalent opinion of the community didn´t change much since the target audience stayed pretty much the same.

We really don´t know enough about the gameplay of B< to make suggestions about racial abilities but basic perks like: reduced fall damage, increased food “efficiency” or elemental resistances work in almost every game.

I don´t think that we know how this works now either :smile:

I really don´t see how wanting less races but more variety within them excludes the wish to have racial abilities. IMO these are two completely independent questions.

Besides of that, I assume that (almost) everyone here has played one or the other MMORPG and all of them (atleast all I´ve played so far) have racial bonuses. Yet I never felt forced to play a certain race just for the sake of its bonus.


Food efficiency is nice, but reduced fall damage and elemental resistances do almost nothing for Builder/Crafter/Trader. We have to find something that works for all combinations of professions.

Still 2/4 isn’t bad!

As @Zouls mentioned, that survey was done far enough in the past that opinions could have changed. I’ve also seen a number of new faces on the forums which means probably some other new folks not on the forums. These factors may or may not be enough to change the overall opinion but at the very least I think they could warrant a fresh dev-lead poll.

Boundless isn’t pure MMORPG though. Choosing a class in most MMORPGs means you can’t do what other classes can (i.e. Warriors can’t cast fireballs). As @olliepurkiss said, they’re trying to cater to @KuroKuma (this is 90% an attempt at a joke).


So you admit them to not making much of an effect anyway nor matter enough to make you pick a certain race? Then why bother having them? See the problem with them? as i mentioned

so right now you are trying to argue for minor different abilities? I think it has to be one or the other, i dont care which. Either there should be no difference or they should be major enough to be a legit thing to consider. Most MMORPG’s as you mention have them as nothing but “lore” and “fluff” they are nearly useless. The reason is that there is that fine balance of them potentially becoming too strong (Which is FINE as long as racials are supposed to make a major difference). So while it does add SOMETHING. i think it can easily be argued that what it adds isnt worth the amount of work you have to put into it to add that (Though that is just my opinion)

that is another thing. Some people do use min/maxing in games and i agree racials has a good place in MMORPG’s where you say "Okay im a mage so i want a “mage race” of which its a bit easier to have those slightly strong but not overly strong passives. while if the same were to apply in B< you would eventually have picked a “less” effective race if you switch from mage to warrior. Which means that they have to be very all covering to fit the system which again often tips it over to the point of “racials matter”


Ooops! Sorry, I was running a tad late to a fairly important meeting so I didn’t fully polish my final thought there.

In MMORPGs, classes are exclusive. We’ll use WoW as an example. If I make a warlock, I cannot renounce the darkness within me and become a priest (lol Hearthstone jokes). If I make a rogue, I can’t burgle the abilities from a Shaman (ok, I’m done now).

In Boundless, professions are not exclusive. As of the current design, which may or may not be implemented as described, we can choose three different professions to have at once, with the possibility of choosing different ones later on. My point here is that MMORPGs have inherent exclusion in their character customization with classes. Racial abilities, as long as they’re “balanced”, fit fine in a design where exclusion is accepted and expected. But if they’re trying to hold off on exclusion as much as possible here and use races as a form of player expression while allowing different races to do different things, then it seems fitting to forgo racials.

Note: The above is not aimed at Zouls, but rather at Vastar.
Note 2: The above is not saying that the design is not flawed, but rather explaining that the design of the “typical” MMORPG and the design of Boundless (currently) are different enough to warrant caution.


I just want to add: I was once also one of the guys who voted for racial abilities, but now I think different cuz the game concept and idea has evolved over the time and now I am a strong supporter of NO racial skills at all … Dont think I’m the only one who changed over the year(s) :wink:


I built a lot in Minecraft and I can ensure you that reduced fall damage would definitely be handy for builder (as well as for Miner) :smile:

I´m sure that the designer of Boundless could come up with racials on their own.

I´d say I´m arguing for clever racial abilities that have a considerable impact on the game but are beneficial regardless of your chosen playstyle/profession.


I can go either way in this.

  • On one hand, I agree that racial abilities shouldn’t be a ‘need’ to be the best at a class.
  • On the other hand, I would definitely enjoy having slight racial abilities, as they would add more diversity between characters.

Possible ideas for racial abilities could be:

  • night vision
  • faster sprinting
  • less fall damage
  • hold breath longer underwater
  • climb blocks
  • jump higher

All of these abilities would be replicatable with equipment, but would be a nice bonus early on.


Periodic hovering would be neat for builders. Like the bunny boots in ocarina of time?


I don’t remember having a grappling hook in Minecraft ;).

They could, if they wanted them. Seems they don’t. Seems you do. As @Zouls said, sometimes you have to take the work on yourself if you want to see concepts you’re passionate about make it to the game :wink:

Also, James said there are two designers… :stuck_out_tongue:


i don’t like this approach because: (all my answers are based on the assumtion that your are able to create more than one character)

  • different races make the game more interesting then “always the same”
  • the force players to make decisions
  • the give an affiliation emotion to their race
  • interesting look and feel in the game (this is still possible with current planed system)

There were answers / thoughts on my points and i like to answer to them in regards

I don’t think this is bad - in difference i think this is extrem good because every decisions you make will increase your feelings and your bound for your character and make it harder to “drop” it. You choose your race for a purpose and you need to stick with it. therefore i’d suggest to make “strong” racial diffrence and not weak like suggested by others. Make the racial differences that strong that you need to pick the correct race for a task (eg. pick the “dwarf race” for you miner and pick the “cat race” for your hunter)

I think it would be Ok if you’d be able to compensate the racial benefit with items but i think the race should be a major benefit in the game. This is something i liked at the old TES games where you picked your races and got extrem specialized benefits (eg. some races are poison immun, others need to take healing elixirs)

I think this is because in the most “new” games the devs tried to “overcompensate” racial abilitiess and therefore the race was “useless”. that’s why i suggest to make the race more worthy and add benefits that are extrem hard (or not) to compensate.

let me make an example for that:
if you pick the avian “bird” race you have 50% less fall damage by default but you have also -50% payload as disadvantage. All races are able to skill “less fall damage” in their explorer path but the increase is the strongest for the avian race (eg. +8% per level for avian and +5% for all others). the avian also has a “special” skill if the fall damage is maxed out that it’s able to fly for a short duration (eg. 2 seconds). therefore the avian race would be a major benefit for explorers and builders but not good for eg. traders because the disadvantage of the avians is the small payload they can carry (light but weak). Other races might have an advantage on the payload and be therefore extrem good traders but they need to be extremly careful when they travel because they take a lot of fall damage.

Agree with that. I think you (@olliepurkiss) should create a new survey on this. I think races are still important if you do it right and i think a lot of people like to stick to a race and identify with it or faction (eg. WoW, GW1).

This is a tricky one … i don’t think that the devs should do this only because the survey is long past. If things (that players voted for) need to change there should be new survey. Especially when there was a clear majority for racial skills. I can accept that we don’t get “special backer level races” (thanks @Zouls, NOT) but i’d find it extrem disadvantageous for a MMO if the race would not matter at all (than i don’t need and don’t like different races TBH, just dump the concept and spend the time with more customizability for the character and skins)

Good point +1 :thumbsup:

See my suggestion

I can’t imagine a game where you never need make a sustainable/final descision because you can always change everything on any time. At the moment everything (especially the skill concept) looks extremly “generic” to me and i can’t see where B< get’s it’s unique selling point regarding to RPG aspect. For me RPG means “immersion” and i like to feel bound to my race and my faction (more than a visual preference).

So far that’s my opinion …


In eso there are races that have their own passives that aligns to a specific weapon or a ability use eg redguards are great with shields and swords and dark elves are great with fire type weaponry. The problem with the race choice is that it affected what play style is “better” for a character so my redguard can do fire type weapons but not as great as the dark elf and if we had the same gear, the dark elf would win almost all the time due to the race passive. If I wanted to fight with the dark elf evenly than I had to make another character eg dark elf. In my opinion I think races should only affect visually not gameplay(race traits). It was annoying to see that the most picked race in ESO was everywhere I go.


Not at all - I find any sort of gameplay-influencing racial ability to be weirdly constrained. Why do I have to make a choice that convolutes the appearance of my character with something that influences how I play that character? (especially when the appearance of a character is something that’s extremely personal for many players)

The only answer that’s made any sense to me is “because that’s how previous games have done it, and that’s what we come to expect” - and it’s pretty weak, IMO.

I’d much rather be able to choose a particular appearance, and then choose between whatever bonuses racials would have added.


I think it’s logical that appearance influence abilities. i can’t imagine how a cow will fly and i can’t imagine a cat swimming. There are reasons why things evolved as they did and i like to see what my team-mates or guild-mates are. visual diversity and the possibilty to see what’s going on (what they are capable of) is something i like a lot in games (that’s why i’m agains the current armor concept and for a more classical approach but that’s another point and off topic here).

This would be Ok if it’s a “final decision” that can’t be changed later. eg. change your look and change your “faction” but you can’t change your body appearance or your faction later.