Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Revisiting WoW's MMORPG misnomer

My continued angst over who should be my main has had me thinking more about WoW, and whether the RPG label might fit after all.

In a way it's a dilemma because WoW does at least partially fit the RPG bill. It's great strength compared to say WAR is the generic nature of the classes. With WAR I dismissed the idea of playing a human because the characters of each of the options - ranged and melee damage, tanking and healing - are very specific professions which held no appeal. WoW on the other hand offers genre stereotypes which are open to a varying degree of interpretation. This, along with things like transmogrification and RP servers, means it can be an RPG, not just an MMO.

The RPG credentials - whatever there limitations - do for me make the character choice harder though. I never worried when selecting a class in Team Fortress what his motivation might be!

The MMO part also effects how I approach the game, which is probably somewhere between a proper RPGer and a pure gamer. Stereotypically the former care only about the character they're playing and the opportunity to roleplay, many of the latter I'm sure chose whatever class they perceive as being the best for their needs, the race which gives desirable bonuses, and so on.

And this halfway house is the crux of my problem - am I chosing an avatar with utility, or the character I want to play? And the choice is made more complex by the fact that half a dozen different characters appeal to me!

On the utility side of the equation the range of PvE content available in the game further complicates my choice - raiding favours some classes, instance grinding others and soloing old content a different group again. But all these are all activities I want to take part in at some level. And while some part of me wants to choose my "favourite" class and damn the consequences, in reality I don't for example want to be a pure DPS class, where often when instance grinding you just end up following the tank around and trying to output decent DPS. On the other hand, if I decide to be a tank, instance grinding is involving and (often) enjoyable, but real life doesn't allow the commitment needed to be a raid tank.

On the RPG side, some classes seem to me inappropriate for some aspects of the game. For example, a hunter to me doesn't seem to "belong" in an indoor instance, only in the open country of the levelling game (or Battlegrounds). Equally my view of instance grinding is that the character is there for reasons of righteousness or ambition, which doesn't sit well with my view of a shaman's or druid's motivation. Although a lot of this is my prejudice, equally the story element of WoW is too shallow to fully support all characters. But that's a topic for another day.

So where does this leave me? Grulnak will still be my Horde main, but my main main will probably be Alliance, and a class that both in utility and character suits the range of PvE content.