Monday, January 3, 2011

Do Flexible Classes Hurt Replay Value?

I've been rolling a bunch of low level WoW alts since the old world revamp, and I'm currently waffling on whether my Goblin should be my third hunter, my second shaman, or my second rogue.  WoW has twelve races, each of which has at least some new content in the 1-20 range.  It has only nine classes which start in that level range (since Death Knights still get a free pass to level 55), and I already had alts of most classes up to at least the 20's.  

In principle, each class has three talent trees that could broaden the options a bit.  Then again, do I really need to roll an Elemental (spell-casting) Shaman when I could instead respec my existing Enhancement (melee DPS) Shaman instead?  Do I need any new Warriors or Mages when my high level characters of both classes already get access to two of their three talent trees through dual specs?  

(Meanwhile, how will this affect Rift, which has only four base archetypes?  The game's soul system adds a lot of options to each individual character, but your fifth character will not be able to do anything that isn't already available to one of your existing soul-swaps.)

The philosophy behind this type of system is that increased access to group roles (especially while leveling) is worth any decrease in replay value.  For most players, that's probably a safe bet.  I just wonder if there is any way to mitigate this drawback to flexibility.

4 comments:

manifestpixel said...

I've been wondering the same thing lately, especially after playing Rift. Of course, with Rift, you've only got one starting zone per faction, so replay value is pretty limited anyway. That may be why they felt ok with allowing you to respec so easily.

Natalie said...

This year, with the revamp of the old world, there's an entirely new questing experience available. Plus, if you wear heirloom gear, you can skip a few zones, and come back on a different alt and pick those zones up instead. If that's not what you want to do, then you can forgo the heirlooms and consider waiting on your gathering professions also.

But, WHO you play with also changes the game too. If you're tired of one role, grab a friend and swap roles with your characters. Of course, you'll need gear for that but you get my drift. :-)

As far as multiple classes...don't sweat it. I have two shaman and two druids on the same server. Two priests also (night elf and gnome). One shammy is my main, the other is for transmutes/enhancement fun. The baby druid is for transmutes also. Of course I could always respec my main, but, I could always just keep a dedicated enhancement shaman instead. If you favor and relate to a class as "your" class, there is nothing wrong with repeating the experience again! :-)

Brian 'Psychochild' Green said...

I don't think so. In DDO, my first to main characters were both Clerics. One's a Cleric with a one level Paladin "splash" and another is a level 6 Cleric that is now focusing entirely on getting Sorcerer levels (currently 6/6). The two characters play very differently, even though they're primarily Clerics.

As I posted on my recent Cataclysm "review", I think forcing the player to stick with one tree until higher levels is a mistake. It makes characters less unique and allows for less exploration and experimentation for experienced players. Then again, the DDO system tends to be very rough for newbies, whereas the new WoW system seems to be much more newbie-friendly. So, trade-offs, I guess.

Ultimately, I think more flexibility makes things more replayable for me. At least it has on DDO, where I have more mostly active alts than in any other game I've played. (As opposed to my 1 sorta-alt in WoW during TBC.)

Klepsacovic said...

Even without dual-spec, was it all that common for a player to make a new character just to try a different spec? With the way early points were, low levels weren't much different. It really wasn't until 30 or 40 that the secs got defining talents. My recollection was that spec often didn't mean much anyway; we'd just throw together whatever we could find, possibly with no 'real' tank or healer, so players would end up seeing a varied experience anyway.

If I cared about high-level play, then I'd sooner respec than reroll.