I recently was playing Champions Online with a Supernatural/Might character I’ve been slowly building since launch, when it dawned on me that I didn’t particularly enjoy playing with the combination of skills I’d chosen. I was a powerhouse when it came to survivability, but my fights consisted of me simply spamming one attack most of the time and occasionally using an AOE stun. I know it would have gotten better as I leveled and gained more powers, but really I couldn’t wait. I wanted to progress this character more than any alts, and that meant I needed to redo my powerset.
Luckily I had a free re-spec still sitting and waiting on this character and with the sweeping changes to several powersets coming in the game’s next patch I knew that I’d be given another one soon. And since you can only ever have one free re-spec at a time, I took my disillusionment with my current build as a reason to spend the one I’d been holding onto for months. What’s beautiful about re-speccing in CO is that you don’t just get to tinker with a few choices within your class. Since the game essentially lets you design your own class through the choice of powers, a re-spec is like reimagining your character altogether.
I’ve been playing Wolfenstein, my werewolf-looking hero since before launch on and off, and in that time I’d only ever had him with the Supernatural/Might mix. Yes, I’m a Robert Kirkman fan. Mind you, I’m the world’s slowest leveler ever, and with a penchant for alts, Wolfenstein is only level 20. I decided to ditch the thematic Supernatural choice and instead made him into a mostly Fire build (with some Supernatural utility… namely, Regen). Of course I made some wrong choices and because I left the Powerhouse, I ended up spending a fortune to re-spec again a few days later, but the core of Wolfenstein being now a whirling dervish of flame and explosions is the same.
The re-spec basically reignited my love for the game’s combat and for the first time in a while I’m not using a slew of alts with the majority of my playtime. It’s like playing a whole new character, and one that’s enormously more fun.
Essentially I’m writing a love letter to re-specs in our MMOs. I remember when Torchlight released to eager gamers it shipped without a re-spec option. There was significant debate as to whether a game like Torchlight should have one, and the developers’ official viewpoint seemed to be that it shouldn’t… but a mod was quickly released by the studio which allowed interested players to put a re-spec potion into the game allowing such a feature.
I know the old days of having to learn from your mistakes the hard way by rerolling are fond to some, but not to me. I like that in most of today’s games I can count on some feature being in place that allows me to retool how I play my character. I think that as long as some form of cost is in place such a feature is not only welcome but necessary in games with a multitude of options. Now I don’t know about charging real money for the ability, but if people want to pay the cost of two foot-long subs to change their characters skills, more power to them. Paying real cash for a re-spec is a much better form of RMT than paying real cash for unfair advantages like weapons and armor.
Simply put, every game with a modicum of choice in terms of character development needs to have some form of re-spec in place from day one.