And … let’s talk about choosing characters in Rift!


How time flies when you’re having fun in betas. Before you know it, tomorrow is head start day for Rift and even though I’m run off my feet at the moment with flu (which sucks, don’t get it!) and various other games such as the Darkspore beta and Tuesday night Spreadsheet-Pirates I have been getting increasingly excited to play Rift over the various betas.

I respect bloggers like Tipa’s decision to avoid beta so that everything is new at release, but at the same time it has helped me to decide which souls I love and to get to know some of the people in my Rift guild, mostly made up of friends from LOTRO and twitter. (Incidentally, I disagree wholeheartedly with Ravious on the faction coolness factor on the grounds that … Defiants get to ride robo-mechanical-horses. It doesn’t get cooler than that!)

I was getting very confused over classes and souls until I decided to just try and remake a class I’d enjoyed from a different game. In DaoC, my sorceress was a master of AE Crowd Control, used lots of dots and lifetaps, could charm pets and had a run speed buff.

I ditched the pet idea instantly because I never really liked being stuck with a pet and started a new character as a Dominator/ Warlock. Suddenly it clicked. What I’m finding now is that I love the Warlock so I’ll use that as primary/ secondary in some kind of dps build and then maybe add Chloromancer/ Warlock as a main healer build. That still leaves the possibility of a heavy CC build for PvP.

In many ways, ‘choosing’ a character is wrong word for Rift character generation. Designing a character would be closer to how it works in practice.

I’m not sure why I am so hooked on casters in this game, but I have been enjoying it in beta immensely. Arb has been through far worse torment on deciding on a class and soul combo and I know she’s not the only one.

One thing I have noticed is that Trion has actually put a fair amount of content in the game for explorers. There are artifacts to collect and puzzles to solve in each zone. But you have to wonder what the point is when Rift Junkies has guides up to all the puzzles already …

Do you prefer to know this sort of information in advance to make sure that you don’t accidentally miss anything, or do you prefer to find it out (possibly alongside your guild)?

Another day, another wallpaper

Yesterday saw two upcoming MMO teams with announcements about classes and races, complete with trailers and fun stuff to download like wallpaper for your PC.

Guild Wars 2 presented a video showing their races. This is fantastically atmospheric stuff with great voice acting (Dragon Age players may recognise Oghren, and fans of The Guild will recognise Felicia Day), and the stunning art direction we’ve come to associate with Guild Wars.

There’s a website also, which is where you can check out what a female Charr looks like and download wallpapers for each race. It certainly did the job of making them all look fun to play, I think I’m torn between the Charr and the viking shapeshifter dudes. I can’t decide also whether people who come from the frozen north should be wearing more clothes — I remember seeing girls walking around in mini-skirts in Newcastle in Midwinter when I lived there, so maybe they just get acclimatised.

The Star Wars team ‘announced’ the Jedi Consular (well, announced in the sense of making official what everyone already knew), a class that looks to be taking silly hats to a new height.

They also offer a wide selection of wallpapers on their site — a couple for each announced class and some pretty landscapes from different planets as well. Although their style is not as high art as Guild Wars, the Star Wars team make up for it with some amazing flash animations of the different classes in action on their class pages – the Jedi Knight is a particular favourite.

So, game themed wallpapers, do you like them or hate them? I am one of the people who rushes to download these things when I find them, and I love having cool game related art on my PC.

But despite the artier Guild Wars pictures, it’s the smuggler who sits in pride of place on my wallpaper at the moment. I admit this is mostly because I find it easier to locate my icons on a dark background.

How many classes do you like to see in a game?

After reading the announcements about the final two classes in Bioware’s Star Wars MMO (for more info, read Moon over Endor’s excellent summary of the Total PC Gaming article), I’m still stuck on the notion of only having four classes on each faction. Even allowing for subclasses, it’s hard to gauge how differently they all will play.

There are some great advantages to having lots of different class choices. It’s more likely that a player who strongly favours one style of MMO play will be able to find a class that suits them. Love bow users but hate pets? Like melee healing but want to be able to shape shift too?  Only play healers but want something a bit different, yet still familiar? Dual wield rapiers? Want a class that’s exactly like some other class in a completely different game or genre? And if your favourite class gets altered via patches and stops being fun (for whatever reason), is there another class you might want to try?

Players will also get to mix with a wide range of classes and class abilities when they group. So grouping might be deeper and more complex, with more emphasis on having to adapt because you can’t assume all classes will be present. And because some classes will be rarer than others, people who like to be different should be able to do it. It also means that designers can allow for some classes being more complex than others; so for example the stereotype hardcore gamer with the more casual partner can both find fun classes, even if one of them doesn’t want the same level of challenge.

Not only that but if the classes play very differently (different mechanics, different lore and class quests, etc) then the game adds some extra replay-ability. It is also easier to manage group invites when a class  represents a role, as any hybrid will tell you who is tired of being asked if they’re specced to heal.

A lot of those factors could work with  fewer but more customisable classes. More flexibility within a class means that people can adapt better if their tastes change. It means more flexibility in forming groups too, and a higher skill cap if people want to really master their class.

For me, more flexibility in a class is also more fun, and means more time spent learning to play the different roles without having to reroll. But it’s also nice to have a strong class identity, and to have the widely different replayability options.

With Star Wars, I keep coming back to the thought that I have a lot of friends who like to play support classes, and there’s one option for that on each side. I wonder how that will work out.

Do you like games with a lot of classes to choose from? Or do you prefer fewer classes with more flexibility?



SWTOR: Jedi, Jedi Everywhere (and all the stars did sink)

Hurrah for Europe and for publishers who don’t realise that in these internet-enabled days, even a magazine article in *gasp* a foreign language will be translated and spread all over the net in a matter of hours. Thanks to german magazine “PC Games” (PC Spielen?), the final two classes have been revealed for Bioware’s upcoming Star Wars MMO.

As Massively report in the previous link, Bioware did confirm that the Jedi Consular and Sith Inquisitor will complete the lineup. They have chosen to keep the numbers of classes small, and have stated that each class will have its own personal epic storyline.

So, what do we have on offer? I’m going to run down the list and make some assumptions about the styles of the storylines and what sort of role each class might play in combat. I am assuming a holy trinity based game, I love Dragon Age as if it was my own child, but Bioware’s strength is in storytelling and producing awesome gaming experiences, not in reinventing the rule book.



“The fate of the galaxy rests upon ordinary men becoming extraordinary heroes. This is the path of the Republic Trooper.”

The Knights of the Jedi Order have defended the Republic for generations, but they have not fought alone. A host of unsung heroes have marched at the Jedi’s side—common men courageous enough to enlist and face the same risks as their Jedi comrades despite not having access to the Jedi powers of protection.”

It sounds as though this storyline is all about how ordinary guys and gals in the Republic special forces become extraordinary heroes and end up fighting alongside Jedi and … err.. smugglers. The gear has a strong military flavour.

As far as their role in combat goes, the official site has this to say:

“A Trooper’s rifle is his best friend, and the military is constantly challenged to design faster, more powerful and more reliable blaster rifles every year. Wielding such rifles and wearing protective battle armor designed by the Republic’s top engineers, the Trooper will not hesitate to step right into the crossfire.”

Sounds like a mostly ranged class to me.


“Stacking up enemies as fast as they stack up credits, Smugglers only survive in this galaxy by being slick, sneaky and street-smart.”

“Experienced in flying under the radar, Smugglers are amazingly elusive. Yet when backed into a corner, they quickly become cunning and often deadly combatants.”

OK, so the smuggler is Han Solo. Since he was the coolest character in Star Wars, that’s not a bad thing, and it  gives a good indication of the sort of storylines to expect.

For the role in combat:

“Smugglers often rely on the element of surprise, using stealth and trickery to catch opponents off guard. Despite the sly tactics, they are more than capable of holding their own in a fair fight.”

So it’ll be roguish, probably with some tricks and traps, but the flavour text sounds as though they prefer pistols to melee.

Jedi Knight

“A source of inspiration to allies and intimidation to adversaries, the Jedi Knight’s presence is welcome in any confrontation.”

“With unwavering allegiance to the Republic and the light side of the Force, the Jedi Knight fights with valiant determination, wading into the thick of any battle to protect freedom and democracy and hold fast against those who oppose it.”

Wading into the thick of battle to protect X  and Y, and hold fast against Z screams tank to me.

The combat tactics section reads:

“Whether defending allies by deflecting a barrage of blaster-fire or charging in to challenge a Sith Lord, the Knight’s role is crucial in any conflict.”

Defending, charging in to challenge nasty Sith Lords … it’s a tank. I have no idea where the storyline might unfold for this one, but I’m thinking Knight at King Arthur’s Court for the style of story and moral dilemma.

Jedi Consular

Not one but TWO Jedi classes on each side. We don’t have much information about this class yet, but it is known to be a ranged heal/ CC type of support class.


The Sith classes  sound stronger than their Republic counterparts — maybe to encourage players to pick the side they haven’t seen so much about in the films.

Bounty Hunter

“In the bounty business, one’s name is everything, and with each mark a Bounty Hunter takes down, his reputation grows, as does his price.”

Well that pretty much sums up what I’d expect in the storyline.

Tracking elusive targets across multiple star systems requires expertise, especially when the targets can be prominent, powerful, and often prepared for confrontation.”

“Bounty Hunters are renowned for their versatility on the battlefield and their ability to go toe-to-toe with force-users.”

“Whoever they must face, however, the Bounty Hunter comes armed with the most-advanced weaponry on the black market, packing heavy firepower but always keeping a variety of tricks and gadgets ready to go.”

It certainly sounds more flexible than the poor Trooper who only has her rifle to fall back on. The Bounty Hunter here sounds like a strong dps class with lots of tricks and gadgets up her sleeve.

Imperial Agent

“Agents of Imperial Intelligence track down and eliminate the Empire’s enemies—from intractable Republic senators to traitorous Imperial Moffs to bloodthirsty rebels with Republic ties.”

Though there are few idealists in Imperial Intelligence, the art of professional perfection is held in deep reverence, and the Agent embodies the Imperial ideal in this respect.”

So you’re going to be Evil James Bond if you play one of these chaps.

“Though striking from a distance or from the shadows plays to the Agent’s strengths, a well-equipped operative is more than capable of evading his enemies when necessary or moving in close to quietly slide a blade between an opponent’s ribs.”

Again, the Agent sounds like a more flexible class than her Republic counterpart. They will be stealthers, with some ability for assassination, and also have ranged capabilities.

Sith Warrior

“Sith Warriors crush their opponents and stride toward their goals with dreadful determination, leaving ruin and annihilation in their wake.”

A natural leader in any context, a Sith Warrior inspires both fear and undying loyalty into his followers and allies.”

It’s a tank.

“Protected by heavy armor and his powers of intimidation, the Warrior wades into the thick of the fight and unleashes pure hatred and fury to eliminate all who would stand against him.”

Huh, the Sith Warrior actually gets heavy armour. Well that screws up the plans for total world domination via robe.

Sith Inquisitor

The other newly revealed class, as with the Consular we don’t know a lot about this one yet. But it’s likely to fill a similar role.

Keeping down the Jedi numbers

So I think that all the Jedi are actually going to be support classes in this game. The Knight and Warrior will be tanking classes, and the Consular and Inquisitor will be support. The non-jedi will make up the bulk of dps and stealthers.

You have to admit, that’s quite a smart way to keep the numbers of Jedi limited …