Deciding what to play in Cataclysm

Anyone else still weighing up options for what to play in Cataclysm? (“Everything!” doesn’t count as a choice.) How about figuring out what class to pick in a new game?

Well, I’ve found some inspiration on that front from a couple of other bloggers recently, and they both give very different approaches to the basic problem of knowing your own preferences before you’ve even had a chance to play the new class/ expansion.

I find that it’s very easy to feel pigeon holed. “Oh I always play a bow using class,” or “I always pick a healer with HoTs” which may blind you to alternatives that you’d also find fun. And also, even if you do always play a tank, that won’t help choose if the game offers several different options in that role.

It’s also easy to get very pragmatic. “I’ll pick the hybrid with the most role options,” is fine on paper, but might mean you’ll miss the class/ spec that would be the most sheer fun for you to play.

Play lots of other games — what do the games/ classes you enjoy have in common?

Zubon posted about how playing offline games helped him to work out that he prefers cooperative games (PvE) to competitive ones.

The great thing about this type of comparison is that you don’t need to know WHY you prefer one form of game mechanic over another. Just to recognise that there’s a common element in games you have most enjoyed. And that common element might not be what you think.

For example, classes I have enjoyed playing most were my minstrel and sorceress in DaoC, burglar in LOTRO and the warrior/ resto druid/ affliction lock in WoW. Not all that much in common, but a lot of those classes have crowd control. Also I have a soft spot for melee classes with good utility, possibly including stealth, and for classes with high mobility (affliction used to when I first liked it). Interestingly, although I do identify with my tank, I’m not that tied in to the role and I’ve mostly preferred utility classes.

To really learn and refine your tastes in any media, you will need to consume a lot of it. It took a lot of  geeky books and games to make me the fan I am today! And sometimes trying completely new or different types of game will lead you to new preferences that you didn’t even know you had.

So this angle says try as many games or classes as you can. Then think about what you most enjoyed, and see if you can draw any parallels. Maybe your preferences are nudging you to try a new class or spec that you hadn’t considered before. It could become your new favourite.

Stick with your core

Big Bear Butt Blogger has another take on classes. He notes that he has a lot of alts in WoW, something he has in common with many other players.

Ignoring my placeholders, I have 8 characters, and of those characters I’ve got 11 spec playstyles to know.

Where am I going with this?

Of those 11 specs, there is only one that, when I log in no matter how long it’s been, I don’t have to ask myself, “How the hell do you play this character again?”

He makes a good point. It’s very easy to make a stable of alts, and rush from one enthusiasm to the next without ever playing any of them for large amounts of time.

In Warcraft at the moment, you can level a character and kit it out at max level in a few months (less if you are hardcore about it). That can hardly compare with the several years in which I’ve played my warrior.

Add in the fact that class changes can totally change the playing style every other patch and you have to put a fair amount of time and effort into the game just to keep current with your main, never mind the alts.

For a player who puts a lot of time into the game and raids with several alts, it’s perfectly possible to do this. But some things won’t happen unless the time and work is sunk first. And however well I play my resto druid, the fact that it hasn’t been played at progression  raid levels for months will mean I’m not really up to scratch compared to people who have done that.

But aside from that, there are a lot of class changes going into Cataclsym. Don’t assume that you will be able to master all of your alts at once. Likewise, even if you pick a hybrid, don’t assume that you can master all the specs at the same time. It will be faster and easier if you pick just one and focus on that first.

Maybe that character will be a current and well beloved main. Maybe like BBB you already have one character into whom you are sunk so deep that playing it comes naturally, and adjusting to any changes will come naturally also. Or maybe it will be a new character or alt who was sidelined in this expansion.

I still am not finally decided which way I’ll jump. I find that tanking has gotten less fun for me over the course of this expansion; I’m just not sure yet whether that is down to game design issues or me burning out on it. But a goblin warrior chick would be adorable …