Thought of the Day: I want HIS armour!

Aside from being quest givers (or kill targets), loot holders, canned comment makers and general world furniture, mobs and NPCs also sometimes act as role models for players.

“I want what he’s got”/ “I want to be able to do what he does” is one of the most powerful motivators in gaming. And in MMOs, we aren’t just modelling ourselves on more hardcore players – no, that’s an old MMO model which encouraged hardcore guys with their amazing flaming swords and sparkly mounts to hang out in capital cities, that has largely been discarded in favour of letting everyone have shinies (possibly at a price). We’re also getting our ideas about what we want for our characters from the NPCs.

Does anyone else think, “I wish I could do that!” when they see an NPC use a particularly cool ability (why can’t MY shield breathe cones of fire??). Or “I wish I could have that armour (why can’t I have a cool set of deathguard plate?).

Various games have experimented with letting mobs drop copies of gear they are wearing or using. Players, I think, have always enjoyed being able to visually link some loot to the boss which dropped it. In pen and paper games, it’s pretty much de rigeur and players would be shocked if a) the NPC declined to use some useful item in its possession during a fight and b) if said useful item was not lootable afterwards.

But we’ve been moving away from these sorts of virtual world/ immersion arrangements with loot, where mobs drop something which would be logical for them to own. I think it’s a shame. I always liked the idea of looting a characteristic weapon or armour piece from a particularly tough enemy. And as for the dream of being able to spew fire from my shield like the second boss in Grim Batol … who knows, maybe next expansion …

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11 thoughts on “Thought of the Day: I want HIS armour!

  1. I know this is gonna sound weird…oh well
    I regularly check what new NPCs in WoW are wearing (what is that human female inside the guild vault in SW wearing? I still need to find out!) and I’ve even played “copycat” with some of them in the past. =D
    last time with the portal NPC in Dalaran, I took a screenie with us both standing next to each other, looking like twins lol. Wonder if anyone mistook us for 2 NPCs! x)

    Yeah, that’s how silly and bored I can get.

    As for abilities – I’d like to have the healing power of the adepts I get to MC on vortex pinnacle runs.

    p.s. I want all the Gilneas wardrobe. where are those items??

  2. The dwarf leaders in Ironforge are not only equipped better than my character and look cooler, but are actually about 1.5x bigger too.

    It seems strange that there’s a berserker dwarf with arms the size of my character’s torso, and weapons that could cleave mountains, who chooses to stand around Ironforge looking gormless all day.

    You’re right though, I do look at his tattoos and cool outfit and think “I want my character to look more like him. Like a hero, if you will.”

    Without wanting to sound like a complete WoW-hater today, this doesn’t seem to be such a problem in other games.

    • I love cosmetic armour ;) And in games like WAR you’re going to end up looking like the NPCs whether you like it or not (I actually kind of like that though, seeing NPCs wearing similar armour to me makes me feel as though I fit into the world.)

      But still, I’m not seeing the elves in Lorien wearing the bizarro cosmetic stuff they sell to adventurers …

      • But still, I’m not seeing the elves in Lorien wearing the bizarro cosmetic stuff they sell to adventurers …

        I wonder if it’s a bit like the staff at an Anne Summers not openly wearing the items on sale…

        What I like about LotRO is that there are few NPC characters that I’ve seen, even from the main story, who wear outfits of which I’m envious. Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, the hobbits, all have subtle outfits that suit them and their surroundings, but don’t elicit much desire. Generally, in that game, it’s another player that generates the “I want what they’ve got” emotion. Thankfully there’s an option to inspect, rather than having to PvP each other for our cosmetic hat options, otherwise m’colleague would probably rival Sauron for the top Free Peoples kill count at the end of the Third Age.

  3. My approach is that if a mob has a particuarly distincitive or impressive looking piece of gear, then they should drop that item. That’s one of the respects in which the new uniformity of wow loot has suffered a touch. While the older loot was hardly unique in a lot of cases, I think Ulduar in particular suffered for it’s generic gear sets.

    • Ulduar and in particular TotC, I agree.

      One thing I also wanted to highlight is that WoW really did used to be the sort of game where this was common. I think Scarlet Monastery was typical, with Doan dropping his robe and staff, Whitemane and her chapeau, and Herod’s shoulders.

      They were iconic drops, and when you saw someone wearing one, you knew which boss it had come from.

      • Ulduar I thought was particuarly bad because of all the palate swaps. TotC I’m kinda willing to forgive because the gear looked good. At least hordeside it did. The Alliance gear mostly reminded us that yellow and blue wasn’t the most…intimidating colour combination.

        But yeah, I agree. You had stuff like Arguals Robes and Whitemanes Chapeau, The Headmasters staff and Kalimdor’s Revenge. These were things the boss wore and tried to lay into you with and now you had them and it was badass. But by that token, we should avoid overstating it because for example, there really was a lot of iterations of that bucket helmet that Herod wore, which even managed to make it into Naxx.

        On the other hand, Twilight’s Hammer is a drop now.

  4. In Icecrown Citadel both Marrowgar and Deathbringer Saurfang dropped the axes they were using. I agree, it was really nice to be “Wow, that’s a nice axe! Hope you don’t mind if I pick this up from you.” I still have both in my bank =)

  5. Titan Quest played with this a bit by showing gear on mobs and in most cases, they would drop the gear they were using. If you saw some random goatman with a glowing blue staff, he’d hit you harder, but when he died, you’d get the staff. It was a subtle thing, perhaps, but it made the world feel more plausible, and you could go hunting for cool loot just by looking for it rather than perusing loot table data dumps. (Also, squirrels didn’t carry claymores or crossbows; if you wanted those, you’d have to buy them or take them from enemies that used them.)

    By the same token, though, you couldn’t wield the two-story warhammer that some superboss tried to kill you with, or maybe you could, but it would shrink so you could do so. Kinda weird, but still more satisfying than just getting random, useless or previously invisible loot drops.

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