Flex Builds Ruining Immersion?

I am starting to feel that flexibility on my characters is hurting immersion. I am very flip-floppy on this subject so please help!

In movies and high fantasy typically a hero is “good at one thing”. Legolas has short swords/daggers but really, he uses his bow. And he is famous for it.

Luke Skywalker has a lightsaber, and uses that primarily.

There are many examples of this. Characters are identified by the way they look and the weapons they use almost as much as their personality and grander quest they are on.

I loved sword/torch in GW2 for Guardian – but I had to swap out another weapon mid rotation to maximize my DPS rotation. This just felt silly. My Guardian looked awesome with a torch and sword, press 6 buttons, swap to 2 handed sword, swap back. You don’t see that very often in movies. At least, not at the level of repetition required to get from level 6 to level 8 in a MMO.

WildStar, I fear, has the exact opposite problem. Everyone in the same class has the same weapon (essentially). It may look a little different, but Stalkers use claws, Warriors use 2H swords, Spellslingers dual wield pistols (and on). There is no room for customization except the look of the weapon. You can’t be a Warrior that uses claws.

I feel these things challenges role playing and makes other issues harder. I am assuming these are built in to solve animation and other technical issues.

I still like multiple spec options in gaming, but complete changes is just too much in my opinion (right down to skills in between pulls). There is no commitment to any sort of build or play style. My character is master of fire! and ice! and lightning! and earth! and swords and shields and staves and… and.. and.. (you get the picture.) If you are truly the proficient in all, aren’t you also the master of none? Don’t we want to feel heroic? Why can’t I fill a “role” using whatever weapons and/or look that I want? I feel as though the lack of this ruins the story potential. If I want to make myself a tank that has huge armor and a giant shield, I should be able to do that – regardless of if I want to dps or tank.

Specialization was more consistent for character building. I don’t want to go back to the old days where a healer just healed, and a tank just tanked. What I would like to see is the flexibility for us to create our own character and build them the way we want them to look (appearance wise), with the functionality of what we need them to perform. I know both WildStar and GW2 (among others) do this well with costume features, but that typically doesn’t work with weapons (the most defining feature). This does work in World of Warcraft (cross weapon transmog) if the attack animation is the same.

As I say this, I am reminded that perhaps roles are the issue. There are no tanks, healers, or DPS in Lord of The Rings. They just fight.

Then again, perhaps this thought line is just a portion of the lack of fluff that is missing in the engagement of the new MMO crop.


2 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Flexble builds are my favorite builds in MMOs. In WoW, I had a Feral Druid in TBC that could do cat DPS and offtank as a bear when needed. I wasn’t the top DPS nor could I main tank most stuff, but I was flexible and capable in multiple roles. I loved that character, and I was disappointed as WoW worked to separate out the two roles more and more.

    That aside, I don’t think it’s flex builds causing your problem. It sounds like your complaint is more about doing things that make no sense. A Guardian should be able to use a sword/torch or a 2H sword, but feeling like you need to swap to maximize your DPS rotation, especially just for a single attack, makes little sense in terms of genre tropes. I think the problem here is that since GW2 gives you so few abilities for your weapons, you end up waiting for cooldowns. I prefer systems where you have to make a choice about what abilities you should use at that point. Then again, I’ve never been one to have a strict rotation of abilities, either.

    My thoughts.

  2. Psychochild to the rescue! Was definitely having a hard time putting my finger on it and you definitely helped explain part of it. Its tough to argue for ‘realism’ in a fantasy setting to begin with, but you are right – when it goes outside of the norms of fantasy even, that gets tough on the believability.

    I still think there is more to it and I am still sorting through it. I think part of it has to do with the iconic nature of fantasy heroes. If Legolas stopped using a bow and only used an axe it would feel wrong. Perhaps it isn’t just that, but being “forced” to do that to be effective that is iresome. Or, because of the huge nature of the current flexibility that you don’t get the opportunity to become known for that one thing!

    Again, I am not sure why I am struggling with what it is exactly – which is why I wrote it down and threw it out there in the first place – I think I am overcomplicating things but your comment is helping me figure it out =)

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