One of my favorite aspects of MMOs is the ability to customize your character. I am not talking about your character’s looks, I am referring to the ability to spec your character and make him your own. I can spend hours on forums reading about possible character specs and gear choices. A game with great customization options is, as far as I am concerned, ahead of the game when it comes to grabbing my attention.
WoW, to this day, still has one of the best customization systems in the MMO world. Most games will allow the tank class to do a bit more DPS, or the healer class to do a bit more DPS. WoW takes this a step further and allows you to completely change your character depending on how you spec and gear him.
Look at the druid for instance, he can be mêlée DPS, ranged DPS, a healer or a tank. All in one character. That is pretty extreme, especially since he can do all of those things pretty effectively. Very few games offer options as drastic all in one class.
Of course, most players will read the forums and grab the most popular “cookie-cutter” build for what they want to do and go with that. I am not one of those players. I like to experiment and sometimes my spec is completely off the wall.
I played a hunter through all of Vanilla WoW and most of Burning Crusades. Throughout vanilla WoW I was a “raider” and was in a raiding guild that had everything up to Naxxramas on “farm”. Every other hunter in the guild, indeed every hunter I knew, went with a spec of either 5/31/15 (Beastmastery/Marksman/Survival) or 0/21/30. Those were the “cookie-cutter” builds that raiding hunters tended to go with. Not me. I was 31/20/0 (BM/MM/SV).
In those days, Beastmastery was not only frowned upon by raiding hunters but even laughed at. The pet died too often, he caused wipes. Or so said the experts. I made it work. Through Molten Core, Blackwing Lair, AQ40 and Naxx, I proudly raided as a BM hunter. Not only did I raid, I raided well. I was always near the top of the DPS charts. I kept a close eye on my pet. I pulled him back when the boss AoE’d. I treated him like my own little “mini-rogue”. And it worked. Despite all the naysayers, it worked.
My off-the-wall specs continued in Burning Crusades. By this time, I had evolved from a raiding hunter to a PvP hunter but my love for beastmastery continued. Beastmastery had become a “sexy” spec in the Burning Crusades and though I continued to be a BM hunter, I still had a strange spec.
My main spec in TBC was 41/5/15 (BM/MM/SV). This gave me the higher stamina, intimidation and Beast Within from the BM tree, the crit skill from the MM tree and the increased stamina and better traps from the SV tree. As a result, I had a ton of health and access to a lot of CC with my traps. I never met another hunter (nor saw one on the Armory) that used this spec but it was fantastic for small group PvP. I could tear through people one versus one and, coupled with my nephew’s Holy Paladin, could destroy the Horde in small group PvP.
Allods Online has, perhaps, an even higher amount of character customization than WoW. A skill tree that you pick up at level four, combined with three more ruby trees at level 10, insure a high amount of customization.
My obsession with customization options continues in Allods and I am in hog heaven with the available options. Right now, I am running two characters; my Psionicist and a healer. The psionicist is going to be a bit different than what I am seeing most Psion players going with. Most are going with a DPS-centric build because, you know, DPS is sexy. I, however, am going with a pure control build.
I will be that guy that stands in the back of a group during PvP battles and annoys the holy hell out of the opposing group. Hypnotizing the healer, hypnotizing the summoner and shockwaving the mage over and over. To hell with DPS, that is what I call fun!
My second character is a healer. The healer class in Allods reminds me of the WoW druid. No, they do not shapeshift but they have a high degree of customization options. They can spec to be a healer, of course, but they also can spec for ranged DPS. Even more, they can spec to be a mêlée healer (which has some of the highest burst DPS in the game) or, because they can wear plate at level cap, can spec to be an effective off-tank.
My healer is going to be a melee healer. After a lot of research, I came across this great post by Taugrim explaining his mêlée healer spec. That sounds like a whole lot of fun to me and after reading it, I was sold. I can not wait to see what this class can do with this spec.
So, how about you? Do you prefer games with a lot of spec options? Do you tend to go “cookie-cutter”? Or do you go with a strange spec that is all your own? Even more, are you one of those people who think healers should be healers and tanks should be tanks?