March 22, 2012

Do you play the role, or is the role playing you?

When I'm anticipating a new game release and drooling over the scraps of info that trickle out, the most fun part is figuring our what type of character I'm going to play. Since I prefer RPGs, the options are often vast and varying. And now, with personal story arcs becoming an important factor in MMOs, it makes me question even more what kind of character I want to play and if character creation choices are going to impinge on that. But first, lets look at why we choose certain character types and if it's a reflection of our own personalities.

I was talking to a close friend of mine a while back about which class we want to start out with in GW2. He told me he was very interested in the Necromancer, but he typically enjoys playing melee characters more, as the experience of hacking away at something is very appealing to him. It got me thinking why I choose certain classes.. even the choices of race & gender I make. Is it just a cosmetic thing, or is there more to it?

When I was younger, I was all about casters. I grew up a nerd, wishing I was a wizard rather than a football player or something more realistic. Perhaps it was because of games like Final Fantasy IV, where the animations were limited, spells just looked cooler than the simple run up and slash of melee characters. It wasn't till games got more advanced that I began to enjoy melee characters. The style was more fleshed out, it's usually fast paced and demands a lot of coordination. Just the challenge I wanted!

Digging deeper, I've found it's more about the game play mechanics of the class rather than if they use spells or swords to disperse or their enemies. Personally, I like a class that is versatile. Something that has a bag full of goodies for all sorts of situations. In WoW, my favorite class is Hunter (with druid close behind). The hunter, which is limited to only DPS, has so much utility. You can direct mobs onto the tank, pull mobs off the healer, trap, slow, stun, play a tug of war with mobs by pulling/dropping aggro, plus you have the many pet abilities to choose from.  Basically, allowing you to master the class through utility.

You see, I'm a fairly adaptable person in life. My living situations have changed often, and I've worked at a handful of very different jobs. It's no wonder this translates to my gaming preference. But with SWToR and GW2 having personal story lines, there's more to it than the play style you enjoy. I find myself asking will I like the personality that's given to my character by developers?

Ree Soesbee, ArenaNet's lore and continuity designer, recently sat down with VG24/7 in an interview discussing these personal story lines. She mentioned that you'll be given in-game biography questions to further flesh out your character and allowing for many paths to go on. While in SWToR, I wasn't very happy with the linear storyline of my character, it felt very limited to light or dark, I do have faith in what ArenaNet is offering in GW2.  Hopefully we'll be given choices that change our character, adapting to the situation at hand.  After all, life is most exciting filled with experiences that have an impact on your very character.


  1. In the 6 years I played WoW, I was always dedicated to my druid. Most of all I loved tanking, taking on that protective role embodied by a bear, but I also enjoyed the complete versatility - and the connection with nature was a big draw. There isn't really a parallel in GW2. Guardian is probably my top pick, by a very narrow margin, because I love protecting and guarding my companions. But both Engineer and Elementalist look like a lot of fun. I think Engineer would be the most fun as far as story line - they feel plucky and morally ambiguous.

    1. Currently, my top choice is elementalist. The sheer volume of abilities they have is staggering. I can just imagine hot swapping specs to get the upper hand on the situation.

      My second choice is warrior.. I know it sounds typical, but melee, with a lot of dodging out of the way, sounds like a blast. Plus, it'll be a great change of pace from Ele.