It’s like déjà vu all over again.

The finest thing about Rift for me, so far, is the fact that I can get bored or frustrated with my character’s build and simply tuck it away and try a new role without having to start the character again from scratch. For an altoholic (I’ve decided to start a support group and call it Altoholics Unanimous) like myself it’s an invaluable aid to avoiding burnout in an MMO.

Dragon Age 2, which I’m also currently playing, has a piece of DLC called the Black Emporium which, amongst other things, allows you to completely change the appearance of your character, akin to the ‘barber shop’ functionality in World of Warcraft and Lord of the Rings Online. In combination with this are potions which can be bought very cheaply from many merchants, and which allow the player to reset their character’s ability points, essentially allowing them to change the way the character plays within the chosen class.

I like this increasing trend in RPG games at the moment: there seems to be an understanding on the part of developers that players get bored or frustrated with options in RPGs, that choices made in the early stages of a game can become weights which prevent a player from continuing, and that it’s better to give the player some freedom of choice in these things, rather than obstinately force them to continue for reasons that from a player’s perspective are hard to perceive as being reasonable.

It’s these simple things that have kept me playing two games that I might otherwise have given up on, having otherwise found myself burnt-out while trying to find a character with which I was comfortable playing for fifty hours or more.

Reinvent, not re-roll. Re-specialise, not rebuild.

2 thoughts on “It’s like déjà vu all over again.

  1. John

    I’m afraid I’m completely the opposite … ok “afraid” is a bit strong, I’m not actually afraid.

    I loved all the ascii-based roguelikes back in the day because you made choices and couldn’t go back. And one mistake meant starting all over again.

    I loved playing Diablo2 in hardcore mode and I especially loved the fact that you couldn’t change your mind about how you spent points. If you wanted to create some insane build, like say putting all your points into the amazon passive tree, you couldn’t just pick an easy leveling build and then switch to crazysauce at the end.

    The fact that fewer and fewer of our choices matter in these games any longer really tends to kill my interest and destroy the replayability. Sure its easier to rapidly consume all game content and cover all build permutations in a short amount of time, but then there’s no reason to stay. Rather than play a game for years and years, I now play for a few months and then move on. I find it all very sad.

  2. Melmoth Post author

    Interesting thoughts. I wonder if the pseudo-randomness of games like Diablo2, or the randomness of Rogue and company, made it easier for them to have such a system. I’d find it hard to go back through the same story points in Dragon Age for the umpteenth time because my character had become utterly gimped yet again.

    I suppose it also depends on how you approach the game. For me, Bioware RPGs are about the story and very much about the RP: I generally set the difficulty to casual, so most fights are just small interludes between plot points. I also like to create a character that is unusual, rather than a cookie-cutter munchkin uber-build. There are plenty of decent Diablo/Rogue-a-likes out there if I want a more G orientated RPG, not to mention that most MMOs currently fall into this categorty too; for me Bioware games are more like PC-based interactive ‘choose your own adventure’ story books.

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