Usually I know within about 30 minutes or so when I’m going to like a class, or at least like it enough to explore further. Typically I’m drawn to the more tanky classes or the ones who win through attrition, but now and again I’ll find some classes that I like enough that I’ll want to keep around as an alt. So it is with Blade and Soul and the recently released Warlock class. However, this also got me considering how this game does alts and whether I can have more than just one love…and I am finding it hard to decide.
That New Class Smell
As far as the Warlock goes, I have to say that I am quite impressed. It’s a ranged caster that has a lot more neat lockdown tricks and damage avoidance tools than the Force Master, and it deploys its damage with the flourishes of a stage magician. The Warlock’s sense of style, damage output and new sensation of being at range instead of up close like with my Assassin main meant that I was fully experiencing the game like it was brand new. In fact, I was enjoying the class so much I even bought him some spiffy new duds!
Thing is, though, even though I was experiencing the game from a literal new perspective, I still don’t think that alt’ing was a good idea. I admit that I alt because I can be wildly indecisive. Combine that indecision with an eagerness to bat at the new shiny string and an already very relaxed leveling pace, and you have the makings of an MMO gamer that collects classes like plushies regardless of whether the game is welcoming of that or not. Blade and Soul, I have to contend, is not a fan of my plushie collection. A new class and its neat new tricks will only take my interest so far. At the foundational level, Blade and Soul’s gameplay is not really different, and the plodding early story parts are making me regret my decision as I mercilessly smoosh the F key to push through the dialogue.
Same ‘Ol Song and Dance
Now I mentioned before that the classes of this game all have some pretty unique playstyles and mechanics to suit a variety of MMO player tastes, and combat is the sauce in this game, but it’s hard to feel motivated to find out what other neat stuff my characters can do when I already have experienced some of the story. It’s like you’re basically spooning a chicken stir fry or a beef stir fry or a veggie stir fry on top of the same bed of unseasoned, steamed rice. It’s still a similar dish at its core. Even the other stuff around it is the same despite the meat changing. My Assassin plays completely differently than my Destroyer than my Warlock, but the story cues I’m suffering through are not any different.
This problem has been tackled in a couple of ways by other MMO’s. World of Warcraft had enough divergence in its starting areas to make the parallel segments worth getting through. Star Wars: The Old Republic has the same planetary stories, but each of its classes experiences unique storylines. Final Fantasy XIV lets you pick up any class in the game on the same character simply by equipping a different weapon. There were a myriad of different ways that Blade and Soul could have approached the idea of alts and none of them were ever really done. It feels a bit on the lazy side to me.
So what do I do when I find myself between the rock of unflinching storylines and the hard place of loving my small alt army?
Accepting My Shifting Tastes
The first and current solution I’ve used is just simply blasting by the quest dialogue, following the map markers and embroiling myself fully in to the gameplay. It’s hardly an ideal sort of arrangement, as a compelling narrative is one of the things I enjoy in MMO’ing, but it has served its purpose. Without having to make myself slog through Blade and Soul’s story, I can put all of my focus where it deserves to be – on the fighting. The three alts I have currently all provide vastly different ways of beating up on enemies that the joys of Blade and Soul combat can shine through.
I also tend to fully embrace my indecision instead of overthinking it. Some days I’ll wanna ninja things. Others I’ll wanna axe-smash. Others, lock down and drain away. Understanding what sort of experience I want to have and following through makes me more comfortable with my altoholism as well as ignore the fact that my characters aren’t even halfway through the content yet.
Lastly, I also put my blinders on regarding the endgame. Right now, I know of more than a few people who are doing the high-level stuff that’s been out with Rising Waters and Unchained, and I’m just shrugging my shoulders, wishing them well and moving on with my life in the Earthen Realm. None of the endgame stuff that I’m looking to do is really going to go anywhere, and the way dungeon parties form means I won’t be having to sit in a queue longer on a DPS-centric alt than a tank-centric one.
With all those strategies, I will still have to contend that I get a teensy bit jealous of seeing folks I follow sharing their endgame adventures. It makes me want to knuckle down and get to cap, but then that goes against a fundamental policy I have for myself when it comes to MMO’s – ignore the destination and enjoy the journey. As much as I’d like to be at or near the curve of progression, my other obligations and my penchant for alt’ing makes it hard to fixate on any one character. And that’s okay, really. The story progress I’ve made on my Assassin is getting interesting enough to hold my interest, and the new ways my alts let me walk the same path are reason enough to keep them on my character select screen.
It would be a lot nicer if Blade and Soul allowed for some divergence in story experiences or made alt’ing less of an exercise in repetition. Still, if I played the same thing in City of Heroes dozens of times with nearly as many alts, then I think I can do the same in Blade and Soul. After all, it’s a comfortable problem to have, wondering whether you want to ninja-trick, bodyslam or sashay your enemies to death.
Whatever it is you choose to do, here’s hoping to see you in the fields or soaring through the air!Related: Blade & Soul, Column, Tower of Mushin