The Quest for Glory games are a quirky series of adventure/RPG hybrids offered by Sierra. Part King’s Quest, part class-based RPG, they provided me and my friend with plenty of hours of gaming goodness.
Looking back at those games, the part I wish I would see more in modern games is the differences between classes. A Thief and Fighter would play very differently as would a Mage and Paladin, almost creating four different games. The strong class identity wasn’t just in the title and different DPS rotation, each class had their own animations and skills. Each hero type would play through the same game, but a mission where you were trying to retrieve a Tchotski of Greed from the local fantasy mob boss would play very differently if you were a Thief instead of a Mage. You could literally sneak in and just swipe the widget and get full credit for the “quest” as a thief, as a Mage, you could use a “fetch” spell. On the other hand, as a Fighter, you’d have to just go kill everything and take the spoils. Paladins might be able to talk their way through, or bluff the bad guys.
The thing is, any of those solutions would work and give you full credit for the quest. You didn’t have to kill everything to gain XP to level up and progress. You just had to complete tasks, and many tasks could be completed in different ways. I loved that flexibility, and I believe the game was stronger for it, and the class identity was stronger.
So, when I see something like this little postlet from Ghostcrawler
I naturally compare and contrast that with the stymied desire from the player base to have class-specific questlines. Also, there’s the unfortunate tendency to make every problem a nail, solved by liberal application of the Kill-Stuff-and-Loot-It Hammer.
I tend to agree that classes should feel different. Yes, I’d prefer a classless system where I could mix and match to my heart’s delight, but if you’re going to use classes, do it right and make them feel different and have different playstyles. I want to play as a Rogue in WoW and gain XP from stealing stuff. I want my Mage to gain XP by using their unique talents to escort a friendly to a succession of friendly cities (and keeping them OUT of combat), or to get to places only a Slowfall could help access. I want to gain XP for healing if I’m playing a Priest. I want to gain XP for helping nature as a Druid, rather than always being asked to kill reskinned rabid rats. I want to gain XP as a Paladin for making peace or for setting an example. I want raids and dungeons to have class-specific solutions and alternates to “find and kill the boss”.
I want there to be a reason to play a class beyond finding the best way to kill stuff or tank stuff or heal stuff. If I’m stuck in a class (or subclass thanks to the new WoW talent tree locks), I want it to be something other than just combat, to offer unique gameplay options.
It might even make me like the class-based system.
Oh, and bonus reading: An article from the 1-Up RPG blog…
It looks like Etrian Odysseys 3 has some wacky class mechanics going on. It’s a different take on the idea of expanding the point of classes.
Incidentally, I happened across this article from Jason last night, but I’ve had this written for almost a month. Bloggish hivemind at work?