… And sometimes you don’t.
While contemplating a series of posts called “My Many Faces” (or something to that effect), I made a list of mindsets, emotions, and attitudes alongside my laundry list of RPG characters in WoW and other games. Lists are nice and neat. They bring a semblance of order to the chaos that is my brain.
I wrote that caption as a comment to my friend on Facebook. But it got me thinking…
While the character herself can embody a certain aspect of me or my personality, it’s the class, class mechanics, and role that suit my current mood. There are some days where I feel perfectly fine tanking, and other days where I really want to turn that pile of pixels into a virtual pincushion. On my most OCD days, I like filling up green bars and making sure they stay full (unless a certain green bar has a mouth like a butt-pucker). Just like you can be “in the mood” for Italian food one week but Tex-Mex the following week, my choice in roles and play-style can vary.
“Well, I guess I’m just gonna have to punch him.”
— Me, upon discovering I had no ammo
– Saluxis, protection paladin (WoW)
– Bellatorias, arms warrior (WoW)
– Charsi, human vanguard (ME3 MP)
– Terran, factory-heavy approach (SC2)
– Atreia, human Jedi sentinel (SWTOR)
I used to think more distance between myself and the enemy equated to good. It’s the typical hunter/sniper mentality. I’m not entirely sure when I relished getting my virtual hands dirty and shoving my presence in the faces of my foes, but, once I got a taste of it, I couldn’t let it go.
Playing my “smashy” characters help me get the more volatile, Neanderthal-like aggression out— you know, those days when you feel like everything’s going to crap and, in turn, you’re antagonizing everything. Oh, that’s just me? Okay then: those days when I’m antagonizing everything and everyone around me. My husband knows which way to run when I start yelling, “She-Hulk SMASH!!” at the monitor, and is content to let me take it out on the pixels. Poor guy.
Whenever Saluxis taunts her enemies, she literally hurls insults at them and mocks their ancestry while glowing with holy power and smashing in their faces with her shield. Bellatorias hacks things to pieces with a giant sword (well, an axe now). Charsi flies into the fray and then smashes the ground with a powerful kinetic pulse. And if that doesn’t kill things, she blasts enemies with her shotgun or decapitates with her omni-blade. For all her Jedi discipline, Atreia loves leaping into battle with her twin lightsabers. Then there’s my army of siege tanks and mechanical walkers who are ready to “drop the hammer and dispense some indiscriminate justice.”
These all have in-your-face play styles, often involving melee combat, where you can hear every second of your foes’ death rattle.
“I’m just curious: Why am I so good? I… am… invincible. That’s right.”
— Terran Wraith unit, Starcraft
– Toriah, survival hunter (WoW)
– Glados, human engineer (ME3 MP)
– Metandra, human infiltrator (ME3 MP); cyborg gunslinger (SWTOR)
– Ariadwyn, feral druid (WoW)
– Kirana, human wizard (D3)
Yeah, I named my human engineer after the AI in the Portal series. Real original, I know, but there’s a reason for that. I’ll get to it in a second.
Anyway… There are the days where I actually feel really good about myself and my confidence has skyrocketed. It’s usually caused by one constant factor: feeling smart. Whether I unearthed a book that couldn’t be found in the shelves, saved a bunch of money at the store, concocted a new recipe, or successfully taught my daughter to say “Hello” in three languages, there’s a lot of day-to-day reasons to give myself a gold star.
My brain’s on fire. Neurons are clicking along at a million miles a minute. I can hear Freddie Mercury singing, “Don’t stop me now! No stoppin’, no stoppin’, no stoppin’ me!” in the background, cheering me along.
Toriah, my main on WoW, was the first character who ever gave me that same feeling in a video game. It was in Burning Crusade, kiting and trapping that blasted warrior whose name I can’t be bothered to remember during the Moroes fight. When we finally pulled it all off— and I didn’t die in the process!— the feeling was exhilarating.
Leading enemies into well-laid traps and tactics is something I pride myself in, and, incidentally, exactly how I play my infiltrator and engineer in multiplayer of ME3. I may not get many killing blows, but I know how to whittle down my enemies until they’re hardly a threat anymore. When I do fire my weapon, it’s a perfect headshot. My druid can hold her own, shifting from one form to another, until reinforcements arrive. The gunslinger knows when to stand her ground and when to run, when to dive for cover and when evade her enemies. And my wizard? She may be a glass cannon, but she can kite like no one’s business.
There’s a certain satisfaction in seeing a plan come together, standing at a distance and watching the battlefield before striking with surgical precision. It’s the same satisfaction I get from solving a complex room in Portal, watching all the pieces of the puzzle fit. So, don’t mind me if I say, “I am so good, I astound myself!”
“You call down the thunder, and I’ll reap the whirlwind.”
— Terran Ghost unit, Starcraft
– Mortenebra, holy/discipline priest (WoW)
– Atarias, asari Justicar (ME3 MP)
– Tacitus, turian sentinel (ME3 MP)
I don’t find myself in the do-or-die role very often. Most, if not all, of my characters have a clutch ability of some sort. So what sets these three apart from everyone else? They can turn the tide of battle with one button. They also have the tendency to take center stage by coming to the defense of their teammates. This is for the days when I feel heroic but shy. It’s like another version of The Tactician, but more “one trick pony” than “jack of all trades.”
Mortenebra is probably my only PvPer in WoW, and I only heal. A wise person once told me that if I truly wanted to learn how to heal, I should go heal battlegrounds. Healers in BGs are like gold to their teammates, even if it means buying a little extra time to capture an objective or kill the enemy. Add the recently acquired Leap of Faith ability, and you’re the new favorite person to the flag carrier! One of my favorite things to do in BGs was come to the aid of an objective by running in, casting psychic scream, then PW: Barrier over my teammates. In her prime, Mortenebra was a slippery, devious, bubble-casting machine, and the bane of Alliance players everywhere.
Speaking of bubbles, Atarias has a unique ability as an asari Justicar. It’s called biotic sphere, where she literally creates a force field around her and her teammates. When spec’d a certain way, it recharges shields and reduces damage taken, much in the way that PW: Barrier works. It definitely comes in handy when trying to disable devices around the map or holding a key location from waves of enemy forces. Another thing she does is telekinetically pull enemies into the air. If a foe threatens to overwhelm a teammate in close quarters, hoisting them away can save someone’s life.
Similarly, Tacitus uses overload like a defensive power. He incapacitates enemies by shocking them with an electric pulse. Your teammate is getting swarmed by a wave of enemy forces? ZAP! Let’s see the enemy try to use their guns while electrocuted.
I think that covers all of them: tanking, healing, melee, ranged, and then some. It’s pretty obvious that I prefer “tactician” roles, as the majority of my characters and mains are in that group. But variety is the spice of life! Stepping out of that comfort zone is difficult at first, yet so rewarding in the end.