People don’t tend to notice things until they don’t have them any more. You don’t realise how much you miss someone or something until it’s gone. Alternatively, you don’t notice how annoying something can be until it suddenly hits you.
Like cooldowns in video games.
You know what I mean. You’ve got this awesome power, you want to use it. You save it up for the perfect moment. You use it. Now you’ve got to wait until you use it again. How long that is depends on the ability and the game.
For example, the cooldown on Unrelenting Force, everyone’s beloved Fus Ro Dah, is 45 seconds if you use all three words, or 15 seconds if you just use one. Alternatively, if you just want to stagger enemies, you can use Clear Skies, Lok Vah Koor, which has a cooldown of 15 seconds when all three words are used.
But then there’s the Dragon Aspect shout. Dragon Aspect increases your armour, can summon a ghostly ally if you drop to low health and reduces the cooldown on other shouts when all three words are used, while at the same time covering you in cool, ghostly dragon armour. By default, it has a five second recharge and lasts 300 seconds, five minutes. Except you can only use it once a ‘Skyrim Day’, which is at least a couple of hours. Abilities like Fire Breath and Call Dragon have the same problem. Great abilities on stupidly long cooldowns, cooldowns that all use the same timer. If you use Call Dragon, you can’t use any other shout for 5 minutes.
Luckily, there are plenty of mods that allow you to shout more often, or even just remove cooldowns completely.
But most games aren’t as mod-able as Skyrim.
Most of the time though, cooldowns are there for game balance. Imagine if a Sniper could throw insane amounts of Jarate instantly, or Scout had infinite Mad Milk. Or what if Medics could use Ubers whenever they wanted? Technically, ammo works as a cooldown as well. That’s why Soldier has to reload after four rockets, it’s his version of a cooldown. What if he didn’t though? That would be horrible.
That being said, sometimes you can have whole game modes with cooldowns removed. League of Legends has Ultra Rapid Fire (URF) Mode (named after a silly joke character called Urf), where cooldowns are decreased by 80%. These super chaotic games are fun at first, but quickly you end up getting tired. When URF first came out, after a few days, a meta had formed, abusing characters with healing abilities and nigh instant cooldowns. Supports like Sona and Soraka and characters with easily spammable abilities like Skarner utterly destroyed everything. Carefully placed checks and balances, cooldowns in particular, had always stopped things from being overpowered, but with all that gone, balance went out of the window.
Overwatch’s version of URF has the exact same thing. Windows of opportunity and weakness disappear when there are no cooldowns around.
But not every game has cooldowns. Warframe doesn’t. I actually didn’t properly realise this until the other day when I tried to use Discharge, Volt’s fourth ability, twice in a row. There’s a one second cooldown before you can use Discharge a second time. The rest of his abilities though, the only thing that stops you casting them is how much energy you have. Heck, most Warframes are like this. Some abilities can’t be cast again until they expire (like Loki’s invisibility or Rhino’s Iron Skin) but the second they do expire, you can cast them straight away.
You could argue that Warframe is built around a PvE power fantasy, that’s why there’s hardly any cooldowns, but technically so is Skyrim. In Skyrim it’s a steadier build in power, but frankly it’s not hard to create a super powerful piece of equipment or a potion. That being said, there are cooldowns on other things, like Air Support Charges or the Space Kid powers you get in the Second Dream (which now completely disappear after the War Within), but they’re not that common while playing.
The funny thing is, even in PvP in Warframe, there’s still no cooldowns. The main limiter of what abilities you use is energy, but energy is somewhat sparse in the PvP arenas. Then again, everyone’s got a super powerful gun in their hands, so abilities don’t really matter.