I don't much care for large or seemingly robust character creation tools. Don't get me wrong, I understand why they exist and I'm very glad they do for my friends who love to while the hours away tinkering with just the right angle of eyebrow tilt, but for me I'm not usually someone who does.
I tinker, I create a character I'm happy with, but I don't go to the extremes.
However, this past week I checked out the new CRPG Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous and I'm pretty sure I've never spent that much time in a character creation tool in all my years gaming.
Customizing my look
I don't particuarly care one way or another how my character looks in game, as the vast majority of time I'm going to be looking at them from behind. Sure, do I want them to look like Igor from Frankenstein? No, of course not. But going through and adjusting the minute details of a hair curl like Black Desert's creator can do really isn't my jam. Instead I like to show off my individuality and character using in-game costuming systems, as I've written before.
That's not to say I don't appreciate a good character creator. I like options, and I do find it mildly interesting when I make a new capsuleer in EVE Online, a game where I will literally never see my character except on a character sheet, and the creation tool is more robust than even some of the leading MMOs on the market like Final Fantasy XIV and World of Warcraft. But I don't go crazy with it.
However, with Pathfinder, I'm pretty sure I spent about an hour or so in there making sure my character was just right. But the clear difference is that it wasn't down to customizing my cheek bones or adjusting how tall my character was, but rather what made up the backstory and skills of that character that kept me enthralled.
Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!
Pick a class, any class!
I'm a CRPG fan, full stop. It's one of my favorite genres of gaming and one of the earlier PC genres I got into when I was teenager. I remember for my 14th birthday going to the Base Exchange with my father and picking out Baldur's Gate 2: Shadows of Amn from the PC section and brimming with excitement to load it onto my brother's PC when I got home.
Funnily enough, it would be two years before I finally got the chance to play it as that was the day we found out my brother's power supply failed after I restarted the PC in order to "complete the installation." It simply never turned back on. My brother was furious and wouldn't let me reinstall it when he finally got his rig back up and running, blaming the game for its demise. True story.
Over the years I've played a ton of CRPGs, from Baldur's Gate 2 (finally!) to one of my favorites in the last 5 years, Tyranny. But in each game I wouldn't say I spent a ton of time in the character creators, mainly because I was familiar with the game itself or the mechanics of the game it was based on. For example, I knew from the get go I wanted to play a Bard in BG2, so I flew through the creation screens using my pre-existing Advanced 2.5E Dungeons & Dragons character sheet from old high school games (THAC0 FTW).
But with Pathfinder, I'm completely unfamiliar with the setting and RPG to begin with, as the last table top RPG game I played with anyone was back in high school 16 years ago. So I went into Wrath of the Righteous pretty much set on trying to find something as close to what I was familiar with as possible.
Yet, when I was presented with literally all of the options ever, I was paralyzed with choice. I buckled down to try to figure out what I wanted to be in my playthrough.
Interestingly enough, one of the first things Pathfinder has you choose is a character protrait. I chose what looked like a rogue in a pretty flamboyant hat and I knew I wanted that to represent my character. Turns out there is a class that starts with the flamboyant hat, the Inquisitor.
My girlfriend's response upon seeing my decision to play Inquisitor was something of a mix of exasperation and amusement. Little did they know I simply chose the class because of the hat.
Now the hat is what made me stop there, but after reading up on the Inquisitor, as well as checking out a few other classes, I decided upon a Half-Elf Noble Inquisitor as my class in Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous. However, the journey to get through the class, race and background selections was quite the sojourn. I read more, learned more and planned more than I had in ages, and it reminded me a bit of when I was prepping for an in-person table top session in high school. So much rode on the choices I made even before the DM first started their tale, and it felt the same here, except in digital form.
Pathfinder's character creation emulated quite well what I appreciate about creating characters, something that other CRPGs do well too, though I find myself flying through those as well. And it's created an appreciation for more traditional MMO character creators as well.
We'll be spending 80 hours in Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous's character creator. ?? What are you playing this weekend? ?? pic.twitter.com/x8hCdv5Nfm— MMORPG.com (@MMORPGcom) September 3, 2021
It's somewhat hilarious behind the scenes here too, as Mike Bitton, our Community and Social Media manager (you all know Mike), made the joke that we would be spending 80 hours in this very same creation tool over the long weekend. And while I didn't spent that much time in it, I did come away surprised at how long I spent pouring over the details instead of simply flying through it as quickly as possible to play the game. And I think the major reason why, as I stated before, is simply down to the fact that these choices really weren't cosmetic (though they started that way). Rather, it's because I was building the bones of my character and defining how they would act before I even stepped foot in the adventure.
My name is Joseph and I spent an hour in Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous' character creation tool over the weekend. And I regret nothing.Oh - and Pathfinder is pretty fun to actually play too - we'll have more solidified impressions next week.