All these new guys keep necro'ing threads, front page is full of topics from 4 months ago. I can't remember if i've replied to this already and i'm not about to read 21 pages to find out, so nevermind: You design engaging gameplay by having the player make interesting choices, but choices are not measured in terms of how many different keys there are to press, or how many different icons with tooltips you can see on your bar. A single well designed button can provide the player with many more interesting choices than a whole bar full of situational WoW hotkeys. Choice only exists when the player has to make a decision, and a decision has to involve some degree of thought. Executing a 'rotation' of abilities in the strictest sense with a fixed optimal order, involves no decisions at all. The player has no choices to make, it's a mechanical action that becomes muscle memory. If executing that mechanical action is difficult and requires practice then it can still be enjoyable for the same reasons that improving at and mastering anything can be enjoyable, but you certainly don't want that to be the extent of your combat system. In WoW, most of the decisions made by the player are in the form of "which button do I press on the next GCD?". The game ensures that this is a decision instead of a mechanical action by throwing in variables like procs, stacks and cooldown resets that require the player to respond to what is happening in the game. They have a lot of buttons, and they do their best to make sure that the player has to regularly think about which button they should press next, which keeps the game interesting. However, this is a very simple and fairly one-dimensional way of looking at player choice. In WoW the decision is "which button next", but there are so many other variables you can bring into the equation if you design around them. Instead of just the which, how about playing with the when, if, for how long, In which precise direction, while doing X, Y or Z. If you get the player to make choices about all of these other things instead of simply which key, you can make the decision far more interesting, and you don't need nearly as many different buttons, as you are playing with options that extend beyond hotkey bindings. This is the reason why character vs character combat in WoW, with its 40 different hotkeys, is never considered to be even in the same league as character vs character combat in Street Fighter, with 6 buttons and a joystick. To use a fairly extreme example from a game much closer to the genre: Vindictus has 2 attack buttons. 2 attack buttons. Then a dodge button, a pickup button, a jump key, and a few seperate hotkeys for things like consumables. With its whopping 2 attack buttons, Vindictus offers solo fights which have far more combat depth and gameplay to them than any individual player challenge that you might find in WoW. It does this by leveraging all of the variables in the last paragraph, it forces the player to make decisions about not only which button to press next, but exactly when, in which direction, for how long, and even if they should press any button at all (where deciding not to attack right now is frequently your best option to maximise your damage output). The game forces you to make a large number of real decisions at a rapid pace, and it does so without even requiring the number of keys available on a gamepad. We know Wildstar does not take things that far, however they do introduce more variables to combat than you would typically find in WoW gameplay: By making aiming and positioning relevant on a greater number of skills, by giving you the option to dodge or jump instead of attacking, by supporting different ways of pressing buttons such as their charged abilities, and abilities that tigger different effects with successive presses of the key. How well this will all work out comes down to how well they can make use of those extra variables, and how clever they can be in their design of the buttons they do have, by giving them multiple purposes and having them interact with the fight in ways that allow players to get inventive. I can't say it will be great, but I can say there's nothing fundamentally wrong or shallow about making a game with fewer buttons. It's the choices that matter, not the amount of keyboard space covered.