What drives people towards a specific faction and class?

“What drives people towards a specific faction and class?” That’s a question we received this morning in an email from one of our readers.  It’s a very good question and one that is extremely topical right now with the results of WHA’s class poll.  I talked yesterday about why the Destruction faction (realm) sounds more appealing, but how about classes?  Several factors can influence a decision on which class to play: Looks, story/lore,  mechanics that influence playstyle, perceived playstyle, popularity, capabilities of the class to perform solo or in groups, etc.  While story/lore, looks and popularity can be factors, I think the big ones are the factors that directly influence how a character is played.

No one wants to play a class that is weak or one that even sounds weak.  There are people out there who enjoy playing the underdog but that is entirely different.  People are most driven towards a specific class because of their playstyle and the character’s solo/group and pve/pvp abilities.   If I only play for short periods of time I might want a class that solos well and on the flip side if I have lots of friends that I play with I may want to pick a class that brings something to the table in groups.  If my main goal is to pvp then I’m not going to pick a class that sucks in PvP.  These things are fairly common sense and I would be surprised if anyone out there disagreed with them.  So let’s go a little deeper; what drives you toward a specific class or faction?  What factors influence your decision?

I really like well-rounded characters.  For as long as I can remember I have never picked a class that is only good in PvE or only good in PvP (on purpose, heh).  I thrive on the ability to choose how I want to play my character however I wish each and every time I log in.  One trick ponies are only fun the first few rides.  Next on my list is the character’s capability of performing a defined role.  I probably choose supporting roles more often because I’m very much a social gamer.  I love grouping and contributing on wider scale.  I retake the Bartle Test every time I switch games and it really helps me to understand where where my mindset is at.  Here are my most recent results:

SKAE players enjoy teamwork and cooperation, but feel that the main challenges of a virtual world come from the other players rather than the environment. They enjoy forming groups and alliances that will pit themselves against other players–and they gain the most satisfaction when they defeat organized groups of other players. When they aren’t playing against other players, they enjoy all of the social aspects of the game.

Breakdown: Achiever 33.33%, Explorer 33.33%, Killer 66.67%, Socializer 66.67%

If I’m going to be a healer I don’t want to be the second or third best healer (regardless of how well I play) that will get passed up for another class that performs the role better.  I will of course factor in other abilities that the character brings to the table, but if the devs have botched class balancing and made characters that are simply inferior to others then I will not play them.  And lastly I look for a class that sounds fun; I know, vague right?  I want to have “cool” abilities that will make gameplay more dynamic than simply swinging a sword or throwing a fireball.  What ELSE can the class do?

I’m really looking forward to playing the Shaman class in Warhammer Online.  Shamans personify practically every quality that I seek in a class.  They are given choices in specializing which allow them to focus on offensive magic, healing magic, or debuffing magic.  Their spells are a mixture of heals, dot’s, nukes, and other creative spells.  From “hands-on” reports the class can solo well and obviously it’s going to be an ideal grouping character.  Shaman and all healers in WAR for that matter are given great means of being offensive characters and not just healbots.  I won’t have to slide into one role as a Shaman; I can perform many functions and still be useful.  And lastly, without a doubt, Goblin are the coolest looking race out there with a strong sense of lore.

How about you?  Why do you play a particular class or race?

Special thanks to Tyk for the reader mail. 🙂

  • I try all the classes until I find two that are fun then I level them up until I hit the level cap and play them there and then level a bunch of alts so I can “explore” all the classes and how they play but also so I can be a better leader in a group/raid situation. As far as races and factions go I side with as many as I’m allowed to but the coolest ones are usually first (meaning dwarfs and trolls/orcs in most games) I’ll admit I did play a night elf but that was because I wanted to play a druid and had no other option since my friends wanted to play alliance way back when. My other main was a gnomish warlock. Friends play a large factor in which faction I pick. In lotro my first chars were all dwarfs. In warhammer I’ll prolly do two servers and do dwarfs on one and greenskins on another.

  • Achiever 33.33%, Explorer 93.33%, Killer 20.00%, Socializer 53.33%

    I’m definitely an explorer, and I’m drawn to any dark and evil classes/races immediately. I like things that are different and widely varied.

    I think your personality is what draws you to classes and races. Not that I’m evil in RL, it’s just fun playing something as different from normal as possible for me.

  • I’ve also thought it would be fun to have an MMO just for explorers.

    Like Fury (May it rest in peace) was exclusively for killers.

    What if you had classes like ‘demolitionist’ and ‘cryptographer’, where combat was present, but not the focus. This would require consumable content, much like I talked about in “Design your own MMO III”.

  • Squig Herder or Magus. I hope the Magus is the opposite to the Dwarf Engineer, else I may have to play a Dwarf. Massively’s coverage of the engineer made me really interested, since they compared it to the engineers of Team Fortress 2. TF2 is one of my all time favorite games, so that class interests me too. I do admit that the gobby shaman ranks pretty high up there for me too though.

  • Playstyle. I’d mention the character’s image and lore too, but those are usually synonymous with playstyle (you don’t normally see a gnome or pansy elf with a giant bloody maul).

    I usually play brutes… never rounded characters. I prefer unbalanced characters that do one or two things very well.

    That said, I’m still undecided whether I’ll start with a Chosen or Marauder.

  • Thanks for posting this Keen. I’ve always thought this was an interesting topic and wanted to see why others chose the toon they did.

    In any event, I figure I’ll throw in my two cents on how I decide on a character.

    I honestly start by identifying things that I don’t enjoy with certain playstyles such as pet classes and melee and eliminate them as choices. For me, playstyle holds the most weight. So this usually leaves me with ranged damage and healers. I tend to like to do a mixed bag of things and usually end up with some hybrid healer/damage. From there I pick the coolest looking race I can and bam: Tyk Gobo Shammy.

  • I prefer classes that have the ability to solo since I’m frequently short on game time, and can’t stand one-trick ponies. I like classes with versatility, so I tend to end up playing hybrids – Wardens, Paladins, Druids, etc. This frequently gets me burned when it comes to groups though, as hybrids are almost always worse at a given role than a pure class. That’s one area I have to give WoW credit for – you could specialize a hybrid with gear and talents thoroughly enough that they were almost as good as a pure class in a given role. Yeah, I was one of those Druids with 4 sets of gear and a permanent 50g respec cost.

  • To clear a thing up here. All of the healing classes in WAR have mechanics that make it so they can heal/do damage and be an overall help except two.

    Those are the Zealot and Runepriest. Out of the healers they are the only ones without mechanics that make it so they need to do damage to heal more effectively. So they are truly the only “healbot” classes in WAR at the moment.

  • I just wrote this amazing comment, but somehow it didn’t get posted. Damn internets! I’ll try again. If what I write sucks, then rest assured that what I wrote before, but lost, was pure Shakespeare.

    I don’t want to tank. I don’t want to heal. I don’t want to “support” you.

    Simply put, I want to be the one who lays the smack down. I want to be able to take out a nest of mobs – solo. I want to, at a minimum, hold my own in pvp. I want to be the one who you want to get away from when you see me coming. (This is why I loved having a level 70 warlock in WOW until I cancelled my subscription.)

    I don’t want to be dependent on others all the time. I want to be a very solid solo class. I don’t want to main tank (too much pressure and those repair bills – oy!). I find healing to be kind of boring and often dependent on other classes because they often have a hard time soloing.

    So I want to be, usually, a pure dps beast. The big brother you always wished you had.

    I know I probably sound like a grade school kid, but I’m not. An MMO is a fantasy world. And in that fantasy world. . . I want to be the badass.

  • @Thor123: Except they still have offensive capabilities. They may not have to deal damage to heal better, but they certainly have more to bring to a group than their heals. That’s basically what I was getting at.

    @Dave: Sounds like my oldschool DAoC Savage. 😛

  • In whatever MMO I play, the characters I always gravitate to are the ones that play support roles and that have a good deal of versatility, because I enjoy improving the efficiency and power of my group while also being able to mix things up. I get bored very easily with “pure” classes, because it feels like no matter what kind of content I am doing, it’s always the same playstyle. Most MMOs have taken the path of coupling support roles with healing classes, which I think is a shame. There are some exceptions (EQ2’s Dirge/Troubador, a couple off-specs in WoW), but for the most part, having strong support abilities also means that you heal. There’s a lot of good design space there for a developer to exploit.

    It looks like this may not be the case for WAR, as the tanking classes seem to be getting a good deal of support abilities. Although I’m not sure how all this will pan out, I am currently looking forward to playing an Archmage, Runepriest, or Ironbreaker. It’ll probably be one of those situations where I level half the classes to level 10 and then decide from there :/

  • I’m looking forward to playing a Magus because it looks like they can seize and control areas with is always useful in a pvp environment. They also have a demon hover disk which is totally sweet.

  • This is a good topic. I have always had issues with picking a class to play. Faction has never been to much of a issue in games before WAR because the classes were the same across faction lines. Yeah there’s a few out there with different classes but you know what I mean.

    I have always seen a issue with support classes not being able to solo good. WOW priest for example is a great example. To really support/heal good you better believe killing mobs on your free time just will not happen.

    So I roll a class that can roll most mobs in game to get the exploring done. Then comes to PVP, it all changes again. Shammy in WOW fits this example. Melee shammys are easy mode for mobs, but a pain in the *** pvping.

    IN WAR there is a lot of classes that interest me. Rune priest, and Zealot. Then again Engineer looks good also.

    As for a faction, I will have one on both side to see all the content. I just hope the “support” class CAN support and kill well enough to solo and explore if needed.

  • Looks, lore, playstyle and role all come together for me. EASK, by the way. Since most of WAR’s classes have the same four functions (with tweaks), picking faction is going to boil down to looks and lore.

    The only things that look fun for me on the side of Order are the White Lion and Dwarf Engineer, so I’m probably going to be a Destruction junkie for the most part. Orcs and Chaos, yeah!

    More attracted to melee than ranged, with equal parts liking for damage and support – so it’s probably going to be a tank character or a melee DPS one. Ability to solo is an important criteria for me, so we’ll see which class type can do so too.

    Black Orc (tanky) and Chaos Marauder (dps-y) seem to fit and are flavorful too. Chaos Chosen comes in a close third with some sweet armor and a twohander.

    Orc Choppas look somewhat scrawny around the legs. 🙁

    And the Dark Elf Black Guard armor looks wild too. Guess that’ll round up my stable of alts, and the main will be the one that plays best in my hands.

  • I love healing and I love support, so I usually read through all the class descriptions until I find one that jumps out of me.

    For WAR it’s been a bit trickier. I am planning on starting with a group of friends, one of them was fairly keen on Order. So I’ve mostly limited myself to exploring Order options (can always make a Chaos gal sometime on another server if I feel the urge). I generally play healer-melee hybrids (druid, capt, friar.. to name just a few I’ve played) so I started out thinking Warrior Priest, but reading more about the classes has kind of moved me more towards Rune Priest.

    I’ll now test them in beta (when I get in due to CE purchase) and decide. I’m fairly open-minded at the moment.. but the Archmage isn’t grabbing me for some reason. I might try it though to be completist.

    Other classes I’ll try purely as alts. But I’m usually fairly focused on my main.

    (and in some games I have two healers, one main/one alt, so I might play both priest-types ;p)

  • I go for classes that can solo well. Usually if it has a pet, I’m there. And, I’m human all day, why play it in a game? So I have a tendency to go for beasts/monsters in games if they can be played. So that pretty much leaves me with the Greenskins. I also like being able to help others though and ever since it was a pain to get a group with my hunter in WoW, I’ve pretty much went with support classes that could solo. In AoC, that was a PoM. Therefore, here I’ll most likely go with a shaman. I thought about a tank but enh, not sure I could stand someone not healing me when they should, too frustrating lol.

  • Character selection is generally a process for me. I start out at one that has interesting looking mechanics but will eventually try most of the others (that are different enough). First choice usually comes down to what looks fun to play.

  • 1) I almost always choose the Dark side
    2) My playstyle skews heavily toward PK (PvP)
    3) I love Greenskins (played one for 6 years in a MUD)
    4) My favorite MMORPG class to date was my Shadow Priest in WoW and I think the Goblin Shaman will offer the same kind of flavour.

    That’s how I came to my decision!

  • Well today I am:

    Achiever 46.67%, Explorer 80.00%, Killer 26.67%, Socializer 46.67%

    I think the questions were skewed a bit since I usually get higher on the achiever. In general I like to pick characters that have some level of versatility and travel ability. I really enjoyed the EQ bard and was one of the early “songweavers” way back when.

    The one thing I hate doing in games is waiting. As much as enjoyed my EQ rogue, after a while, I could not really go off on my own anymore. So a class has to be able to have a good amount of offense. Tank classes get too slow for me since they take a long time to kill things. Same with support and healer classes.

    In the end I tend towards Melee DPS classes since killing things fast means less damage to you. And I like to get up close and personal. The Vanguard Bard was most likely the best mix of things I wanted in a class.

  • I think it really depends upon the game. When I played EVE, mining and combat didn’t really interest me and I was more of a Han Solo type merchant buying and selling small highly priced cargo and running it high speed through really dangerous areas to make a profit.

    In WoW, I initially played an Alliance Human Warrior but then my friends and I moved to the dark side and I became a Horde Undead Warrior specializing in being a tank in our guild which I thoroughly enjoyed.

    As for Warhammer, I still really haven’t analyzed all of the classes so not 100% sure yet. But I’m leaning to either playing a really fast moving high damage melee class or a slow moving damage absorbing melee tank. I mean the heavy armor wielding Chosen just look so sweet to me as a tank.

  • Hmm it told me I’m a SEKA players are usually very interested in the the ‘total experience’ of a virtual world–meeting other people and finding the unique places within it. They don’t care much for PVP or levelling, but meeting up with online friends to see new parts of the world is usually fun and exciting.

    Breakdown: Achiever 20.00%, Explorer 46.67%, Killer 46.67%, Socializer 86.67%

    (yes I finally broke down and tried it)

  • I’d imagine for many, _new_, MMORPG players the choice is based on visual appeal rather than game-play style. Seems also that many stick to these decisions and learn to enjoy, or quite, the style of player from the class which was chosen.

  • Damn, dota? Interesting…

    By the by, I don’t think you guys have mentioned it, but have you tried Exteel? It’s actually p. fun and though it does use the microtransaction thing, you can do okay without it, and from what I can tell the items you buy at least last the full game, it’s a free Dl from NC Soft, I’m just curious on your guy’s thoughts on it.