Remember when we had this amount of customisation when levelling up? What happened?

Remember when we had this amount of customisation when levelling up? What happened?

OK, here’s the next area that I think needs to be drastically overhauled in the next generation of MMOs: character customisation. Sorry to go on about it, but we would never accept the type of customisation we are offered in MMOs in a single player game. In MMOs, the customisation of your character is mostly limited to: armour/items and some form of the talent tree that we have in World of Warcraft. Bring back the stats, for goodness sake.

In good old RPGs, we used to be able to spend a few points every level on our character’s stats, deciding whether to improve Strength or Intelligence, and each decision had a consequence for the abilities of a character. Then we would, as a spellcaster, be able to choose which spell we were going to take, or improve. We’d then have all the gear and weapon options that exist in current MMOs.

In MMOs today, you’re told what ability you will get at what level and it will be the same as everyone else. Worse, in some MMOs, that ability won’t even scale as you level up.

The loss of all those customisable elements from RPGs in MMOs means that if you stripped my Elf naked and another one, well aside from possible police questioning and at the very least a need for a good therapist, you’d have two identical characters. Now, I’ve been told by other gamers that this is the point, in order for raids to work, you need to know that a Warlock has a certain ability, but I say *******s to that. You can always say “Looking for Warlock with X for raid”.

I cannot see any justifiable reason why we cannot have the ability to create and mould our own characters, and actually it would be a good thing for developers because we’d feel far more attached to our personalised avatar that we’ve grown from a level 1 stripling.

In fairness the Talent tree in World of Wacraft does allow for some of this, but not as much, and also, it’s not just MMOs that are simplifying. Console RPGs are losing, or hiding, some of the options, presumably to “widen their appeal”. Quite what is appealing about a game with less gameplay than years before is beyond me. Fable and Fable 2, for example, while being my favourite console RPGs annoy the hell out of me with a complete lack of armour stats and a single button combat system that defies spell stacking.

Would you prefer a character levelling system more like traditional RPGs, or am I bleating after a stat-heavy history that’s best left in the past?

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