Thought of the Day: Is your judgement of a game based on how powerful your favourite class is?

I noticed during a recent beta that my initial judgement on a game is  affected by how good/ strong/ overpowered my first class turns out to be in the early game.

I’m not saying that it’s right. I’m just saying that if my character is struggling with basic quests where others aren’t and I’m fairly sure it isn’t down to my lack of player skill, there’s a chance I’ll think, “OK, my preferred class isn’t good in this game, maybe I’ll pass.”

Similarly, my judgement on Cataclysm is going to be affected by how well my Arms warrior plays out. Sure, I could switch to an alt if I don’t think it is working out. But the first reaction stays with you.

I think this is part of what Tipa is discussing where she says that she prefers to play MMOs with people who are committed to their game of choice. One of the tests of commitment is what you do if your favourite class seems underpowered. Do you go find a different game, or stick with it and either try a different class or build, or make the best of what you have? (In the vast majority of the MMOs I have played, switching to a different class is a better solution than trying to make the best of a bad thing, incidentally. Don’t bet on devs rebalancing things unless you know they have a track record of doing so.)

This was also brought to mind by a comment in a Cataclysm thread on rpg.net where one poster loves the new WoW expansion, citing as the main factor that his character is top on the damage meters by a significant amount. (*coff* overpowered class *coff* ).

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18 thoughts on “Thought of the Day: Is your judgement of a game based on how powerful your favourite class is?

  1. Not sure whether being overpowered makes me provide a more positive judgement but enjoying playing the class certainly does. The first ever character I got to 40 was a Tauren Shaman before the original talent revamp in vanilla, unfortunately STV killed me and I never finished that character. While I did eventually get a Priest to 70 I never really enjoyed the class but did enjoy playing with others. I went back to a Shaman and levelled as Elemental, this is now my first (and currently only) level 85. I love the spec, it’s a lot of fun to play. The fact that I can put out a lot of damage helps but everytime I fire off a LB and see that crit number pop up I almost giggle with glee. The fact I enjoy playing my class is more important than topping a meter. Although I dual specced my DK to Unholy recently and will be taking her through to 85 too.

  2. Personally, I don’t generally have a favorite class. However, I DO have a pathological need to advance. I agree that if you don’t feel that your favorite class isn’t cutting it, moving you ahead at the speed that you feel it should/want it to, then it can be a real let down.

  3. This question is completely academic, as a new player has no idea how other classes perform or how much he is “supposed” to perform.

    I remember leveling to 20 in WoW over a month with my first character. It did not feel slow back then.

    The only new player who has any idea about what “fast” or “expected” is, is someone’s buddy who was just lured to the game to play with his friend. But hey, he has recruit-a-friend and blatant boosting by his friend.

    • You can compare it with other games you have played.

      But in general I have noticed that when people reminisce about their favourite MMOs, it’s very common that they remember playing an overpowered class (or will comment on how powerful the class was.) And if two people play the same beta and one likes it and the other doesn’t, there’s a good chance the person who liked it will have picked a stronger class.

    • Let’s think about this a bit more. Let’s say level 60 is the level cap, the ‘win’, since a new player might not be thinking a lot about raiding. Let’s imagine that it takes all your mana to kill a boar and you need to kill ten. That gets you a third of the way to the level. Great. But the next level is slower. And slower. And slower. If it keeps requiring a full mana bar and ten seconds of drinking to kill a boar, that player will get frustrated.

      Even new players have some idea of fast and expected: the previous level was faster. If any given level gets too much slower, they will likely give up. Or if the original speed was too slow and gets even slower, they will likely give up.

      So no, it’s not purely academic. Players always have expectations, even new ones.

      • @ Kleps I think you might be amazed at how low those expectations can be if you’re starting fresh. Back in the early days of SWG fighting even a simple low level monster was a struggle where you could easily die. After you beat it you might have to spend 2 minutes sitting to recover health and mana or even have to go back to town to heal otherwise unhealable damage that slowly built up.

      • Afterthought: oh and if you think that sounds bad, back in the early days of AD&D a first level wizard would have one spell per 4 hour session. On paper they had less than an even chance against a house cat in combat.

      • Stabs, I know this isn’t the most greatest argument, but I have to ask, how popular were those games? Everyone has some sort of expectation. Falling under that might mean “challenge” or it might mean “frustration”, depending on the person and how weak the class is.

  4. Personally I tend to pick the game, not the class, but if a favorite class is nerfed, underpowered, nor no longer fun I have no problem moving on. That said I am a committed altoholic so it may be more natural for me to flip flop classes.

  5. What that tendency reveals about the underlying psychology of some people makes me want to cry…

    …says the Unholy Death Knight!!! WOOOOOOOOOOO IN YOUR FACE!!!!

    :D

  6. Well, classes usually play quite differently. And since I feel most comfortable with a certain style of play (or something close to it), certain classes feel more natural.

    If that class is (objectively) balanced with other classes, it would certainly FEEL more powerful. Why? Because I don’t have to twist myself to bring out it’s full potential.

    Likewise, if a class is so completely different to HOW I’d like to play, it will always feel underpowered. There’s just no way I could ever be as good with that class as someone else.

    So the only measurement that’s fair (for me, as a player) is that of my favourite class. That’s not fair in regard to the game itself, and I might even admit that, but if you ask for my personal judgement, it will always be about comparing the part I liked most in other games (e.g. mage in UO) to the corresponding part in this game (e.g. mage / warlock in WoW).

    It’s like a book. Yes, I can read French with some difficulties. But can I judge how good a French book is compared with any other book? No, because my French isn’t good enough.
    I can, however, compare German and English books. So any subjective judgement of an author would be based on his DE / EN works or translations.
    Not fair for the author, but what good is the ‘perfect’ FR book for me if I only get crappy translations?

    Or, back to games:
    What good (for me) is the ‘perfect’ rogue in a game, if my style only matches that of a mage?

  7. How powerful my favorite class is has *almost* nothing to do with me liking to play the class. If they change the class so I really don’t like how it plays? I switch. My favorite power level is ‘balanced.’

    In fact, call me kinda selfish here but I LIKE when my chosen class is more ‘reasonable’ and not OP since it doesn’t attract huge masses(plus, the more OP you are, the bigger a banhammer is waiting most likely. :p)

    I said *almost* above because as a progression raider, if your chosen class is SO far down you become a liability/mascot, yeah, then there are problems(particularly when it comes to Heroic modes). But as long as the class can A. Perform to a point that is at least acceptable for the raid content at hand(maybe not as much raw numbers, but also things they bring to the table-BM hunters come to mind in a 10 man), and B. Stay engaging and fun enough to play, I’m happy with it.

    I don’t expect to be top of the charts. In fact, even though I play a hybrid, I think pures should be on the top(given equal gear and skill). Another fun thing is if you have an ‘acceptable’ class and you push them to beyond that through sheer minmaxing and grit, that feels a lot better than, say, smashing my face into Arcane Blast in WotLK(when mana didn’t matter. :p) Kinda like how back in the day when we played Oregon Trail, my friend loved the Farmer tons more than the Doctor. ;) (That was single-player, though.)

    In Aion, I played a Gladiator. Yeah, just because I wanted a big dude with a huge weapon. But in PvP, Sorcs and Rangers ruled the roost by a longshot. ‘Sins were good in rifting, more disadvantaged in the Abyss(on a downcycle though, dunno how things changed as I hadn’t done much Aion seriously in awhile.) I’m eyeing Blade and Soul right now(maybe in 2012 we’ll see it-maybe). In that, I get to play a ginormous Fist of the North Star guy who is a kung fu master. I am SO not caring how powerful that class is, as that’s like my dream dude in an MMO.

  8. I think it’s human nature to remember and retell the successes more than the failures.

    Talk to any golfer and you’re much likely to hear a story about the birdie he made on the 8th hole than the story about the quadruple bogey he made on the 12th hole.

    I believe he enjoys the game because he enjoys some degree of success (however he defines it) and the right anount of challenge (however he defines it).

  9. personally, I prefer specific game styles to levels of power. As long as I can kill stuff without dying every 5 seconds? I’m good to go. To me, success of the game depends on whether I want to keep playing it regardless of the class I’m playing.

    so despite the fact that my preferred class in WoW actually got a lot more powerful (elemental shaman) and got some very shiny new toys to play with, I couldn’t enjoy it anymore because the game play itself was no longer working for me (and yeah, people suck too :P )

  10. I like alting and I like min-maxing. To me a large part of the fun is understanding the class mechanics of each class. I’m the person who ends up with a max level character of every class.

    In a new game if I felt my class was poor I’d just swap classes.

    • Seconded. Of course, I have to like the underlying mechanics and game design, too, but if those are good, I won’t mind a class being an underdog or powerhouse.

  11. Undoubtedly. My first class in a multiplayer online game was a cleric in StrangeMUD, who later remorted to Paladin and specced Crusader.

    At max level I had access to all the hexes, buffs, alignment-depended nukes, 5 elemental pets I could send in to tank for me, and I could create food and water as well as heal myself and others.

    I’ve been looking for that class in every game I’ve played since. No wonder I’m excited about Rift!

  12. I play what I enjoy, and for some reason that has always been Frost… So i went from the Diablo Sorceress with Ice lance to a BE Frost Mage. I obviously don’t feel OP. :D

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