29 Mar 2010

Hitting the Reset Button

Videogames seem to be full of choice these days. It could be the moral choices presented by games like Mass Effect 2, or the theoretical choices of gear selection in World of Warcraft, Heck, it can even be something as straightforward as choosing a driver in Mario Kart. But if you lost your saved game or started a new account, would you make the same choices? Would you choose the same character and take the same path, or would you try your hand at something new?

I’m trying to tackle this question for the BlogAzeroth Shared Topic this week. For me it breaks down into three chunks – would I still play a mage, would I still do the same things at endgame and would the character be roleplayed differently? I’m only going to try tackling the first one this time round – I’ve already covered how my playstyle has changed, while my roleplay histories would be another post entirely!

I’ve tried three other MMO’s while I’ve been playing Warcraft, and with each of them I tried something different. My mage was sitting unloved and unplayed while I saw healers and tanks become the heroes and stars. I decided that when I started a new game that I’d play one of these roles – that I would be the one that everyone would be wanting in their party or raid. As a result, with Lord of the Rings Online and Age of Conan I thought I’d try and be clever.

With LOTRO I tried playing a healing Minstrel, while with AoC I rolled a tanking Dark Templar. Both ended up as dismal failures – my minstrel felt unwieldy under my fingers, while the Dark Templar didn’t have many opportunities to actually tank leaving me with a boring solo grind.

After three months of play in both games I ended up cancelling my accounts. To this day I don’t feel that I gave the games a fair chance. I’ve since tried to go back and give LOTRO another go since but keep on getting stuck on a known issue between Windows Vista and the client software.

Aion was a different story. I rolled a mage and had a great time. I levelled up, specialised for even more damage and killed things even quicker. I felt like I was in my element, and general game engine clunkyness aside it kept me entertained for a while. The problem emerged when I started looking outside of magecraft and towards other areas like professions, crafting, dungeoneering and so on. It’s strange, but although the “mage” aspect was solid, the other aspects of the game weren’t sufficient to hold me. As with the others, I eventually unsubscribed.

So if I had to start over, would I stick with what I have or would I try something new? To me it’s pretty clear that when playing MMOs I have an affinity for a particular role. I’ve even played all the other classes in Warcraft to some degree and still keep coming back to my mage. That’s not to say that the other classes aren’t as good, but it’s because I know who I am as a player. I’ve tried to prioritise other roles in other games and it’s harmed my enjoyment of that game as a result. I’ve come to learn that being honest about what I prefer to play is better than trying to be tactical about what role I select.

I think that there are other players who feel the same –who have a core role or class that they’re happiest playing, but might occasionally dabble in other roles in order to try something different. Even though we might be playing a priest or a paladin, we always know that there’s a class that we’ll go back to.

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