Monday, May 14, 2012

The Perfect Character

I like to take my time when I play RPGs, especially MMOs. I’m always looking for the perfect character. I’m not a big Math geek so for me it’s not the min/maxing that some people love so much, rather it’s trying to find that perfect fit, that makes everything right. When I played Final Fantasy XIII I loved the character of Lightning. She had such strength in the simplicity of her fight. Save her sister that was all she cared about, if she brought down the whole world that was fine as long as she saved Serah. When I was playing the Tera Online closed and then open beta I found it in the Warrior class. The Warrior class in Tera is a dual sword wielding avoidance tank/damage dealer; basically he throws down a fair amount damage all the while trying to not get hit. I tried every class when I played it the open beta, trying to see if I could find something that pleased me more than the warrior. Tera online is really good about giving you a choice to play the prologue with a mid-level character of whatever class you chose. In this you can get an idea of how your character will play endgame. Tera’s combat is fluid and intense; I haven’t had so much fun playing combat since WoW Burning Crusade dungeons. But Tera only has eight classes, and when you come right down to it, it’s all rather the same when played, but Secret World changes all of the old things. In the Secret World every skill is a chance to tweak your character a little that way or a little this way. It’s like your character is constantly evolving even going so far as to change the way they play from ground zero at a moment’s notice. Because you’re not locked down you can quickly jump from a high level area all the way back down to a low level area simply to experience a build to see if you like it. There are no set pieces, no skill builds that are unassailably the best and thus what everyone follows; it is freedom to make the choices that fit you as if you were a vacuum absent from the certainty of the internet.

As I played the Secret World beta, I kept making new characters to see what fit me. Swords or Hammers, Chaos or Elemental, Rifles or Pistols; each category is measured versus how it feels to play that style and what I envision my character would choose. Because of the modern world atmosphere there is even more to work with to find a character that plays like that nebulous picture in my head. I’m looking at what the future holds for my avatar, how they’ll dress, what skills I want to pick up in the far future as opposed to now. Eventually Funcom realizes that you’ll get every skill and every weapon will be maxed which is when the real fun begins. Like some great Martial Artist you’ll take out builds you have pondered over for hours just to use that one bright shining boss fight or pvp match; like Bruce Lee you will have no style, no class, and each moment being played as you see fit. ‘My style, you can call it the art of fighting without fighting’.

As I keep playing video games, decade by decade, I keep learning things about myself and about the world. In many ways the perfect character, the perfect fit, is a reflection of what I seek to aspire to in my own life. I suppose it is fitting, the more I understand what I enjoy in games the more I understand what makes me tick in life. It’s only fair after all, every other hobby makes you smarter, or in better shape, or keeps your brain working better as you age; in video games the perfect character gets me closer to the perfect me.

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