Because honestly, who would want to mess with a masterpiece like this?
I've recently had a RIFT in my game time- a friend of ours, Cyto, got in a good deal for RIFT and was looking for some friends to try it out with him. We went on ahead and splurged on the game, and have been playing it for about a week now. It's an interesting game, with it's own pros and cons, but seeing as this is a WoW blog, I won't be discussing much of the gameplay; if anyone is interested in my thoughts of the game coming from a WoW players perspective I'd be happy to share.
What I WILL be discussing is one of the most requested additions to World of Warcraft: A feature to allow us to equip gear for a visual basis only, as well as a way to dye or tint gear to suit out wants. I cannot count how many times I've seen this requested on the forums, or talked about in game.
It never fails in game that someone will win an item drop from a boss, that fairly often there's a sigh from everyone in vent over how crappy the gear looks. Or that it clashes horribly with the rest of their armor. Or that it just doesn't suit how they envision their character to look.
One of Blizzards biggest claims is that their game offers a lot of variety in designing your character. But does it really? You can chose from a vareity of facial features, hair styles, a couple different colors of hair.... and that's about it. Every MMO I've ever played allows for this, plus being able to tint hair and/or eyes any color you can choose from, as well as being able to alter the characters facial structure, choose the size and shape of the eyes, nose, mouth, eyebrows, often times different types and locations for tattoos, and the overall height of the character. When you take all of that into account, WoW doesn't seem very customizable at all. It seems rather behind the times in fact.
Another basic feature of MMO's is gear upgrades. Most days you play, especially while leveling, you'll get new pieces of gear; you need to equip them in order to continue with game play; a character in out of date gear will have a far harder time actually completing game content than one with the best gear. So it doesn't matter if the previous helm you had was the most awesome helm you've ever worn because you're just going to replace it.
Or does it?
This is my character Shalkan, a level 20 Bahmi Mage (Elementalist/Stormcaller/Pyromancer if your curious). Overall, that gear he's wearing is pretty god-awful looking. It's very plain, unflashy, and mismatched. The nice blue quality staff he's got looks fantastic yet he's stuck with a helmet that make his head look like a purple dew drop. Fail.
But notice that nifty little "Wardrobe" tab in his character panel? The wardrobe panel allows me to equip a piece of gear over what he's wearing, simply for the visual effect. Combining the wardrobe feature with the ability to make a purchase dyes to tint your armor, and I ended up with this:
They see me rollin', they hatin'.
Now that is seriously an improvement. I applied dye to several pieces of armor to change them to my favorite color, and equipped several of those pieces to my wardrobe as I've replaced them. This lets me keep use the upgrades, but still be able to look how -I- want to look.
And that's not even the end of the awesomeness that is RIFT's gear customization. Here's a screencap of my level 23 Warrior Stagsun.
As you can see, I've also taken the time to dye his gear and equip it to his wardrobe. But notice the super badass helm? That's an epic quality rare costume drop I got from a rift I helped close during an invasion. Costume pieces have no purpose but to look cool- they have no stats and add nothing to your character, but for the look.
This is a BRILLIANT idea. Costume pieces are either rare drops from things like rifts, or you can buy them with currencies you get during your adventures in the game. They're just fun pieces you can equip that you like the look of.
Now World of Warcraft also has costume pieces, although they're usually silly items like bunny ears you can get at Easter, or a Santa Clause outfit you can get at Christmas time. But the nice thing about RIFT's wardrobe feature is that since your still equipping it, it's not in your bag. There's no gear to change out, your wearing the costume pieces, and your regular gear as well. When was the last time you ever saw anyone very seriously enjoying the costume pieces in game? They're such a hassle to carry around with you, especially if you have two separate specs worth of gear to keep with you. It takes all the fun out objects in game that SHOULD be fun.
Now you might be thinking "But Brunnstag! What about the pvp'ers? Or the hardcore raiders? How will they be able to see what gear people are actually wearing so they can judge skill/gear level?". Well, this can be looked at several ways.
- Disable the feature in PVP. I myself have never had time to analyze the armor that a warrior is wearing while he's charging at my face, but I suppose hardcore pvp'ers might be skilled and quick enough to see that sort of thing. But even then, if it's attacking you, it's attacking you, the gear that it's wearing isn't honestly going to be that big of a decided factor.
- Have a "Disable Wardrobe" toggle box. If the gear that you see around you is really that important, just turn off the feature entirely. Everyone's gear would appear as only what they have equipped to their character, and not what's in their wardrobe panel.
What would this solve and why is this feature so important?
- This would increase playtime and enjoyment. Just as people spend time collecting pets, mounts, and achievements, why not spend time collecting a gear set you like? Do you really like those tier shoulders that drop out of an older dungeon? Go back, and not only see the older content you've likely never returned too since that level, but get a nice looking pair of pauldrons, or a helm! And the longer someone is paying to play WoW, the longer Blizzard makes money.
- This is would aid roleplayers greatly. Not only would this please the majority of the player base (One of the most asked for features after all!) but it's something very easy that Blizzard could do to make the RPers happy. I know a few RPers, and their bags and banks are full of pieces of old gear, weapons and random things like fish you can hold in your hands. Being able to look the way you want (And how you need your toon to look for whatever your currently roleplaying) would be a godsend to a lot of people on RP realms.
- It could greatly improve holidays. Costume pieces could be a great improvement to the game, and giving them out or selling them at Holidays, or other special occasions would be a great improvement. Special things and events in game could be commemorated by having rare costume pieces that can drop; something your toon could buy or win to say "Hey, remember the Zombie invasion just before Wrath came out? That's where I got this awesome cloak!" Not only that, but it'd be nice to raid in those bunny ears too, not just idling in town. (And that's IF I want to carry them with me and remember to trade them out for my helm!)
- It can act as a gold sink. Blizzard is all over things that make you spend exorbitant amounts of money for things that look neat but are ultimately useless. There are still some mammoth mounts for 10,000 gold I haven;t bought yet cause they just aren't worth that. RIFT gives you one wardrobe slot, and 3 others you can purchase for a somewhat high cost. Have one set of awesome battle gear, another for idling in town, and another one for holidays... the possibilities are endless.
- No more looking like ALL toons shop at 'Gear'4'Us'. That's one of the worst things about WoW. Brunnstag looks like every other hunter. All druids look the same. All warlocks. All priests. Every class that's managed the end game content, pretty much looks the same. The same with the dungeon sets. I don't really like looking like every other hunter on the block. That's not fun or interesting at all. I want Brunn to look like how -I- want him to look.
- Despise a look? Don't use it! Have you ever gotten a pair of shoulders and they are just horrible? Oh well, put some you actually like in your wardrobe and you won't have to look at them. Does that new belt clash horribly with your older gear? Put one in your wardrobe that fits better till you upgrade all your stuff!
- It could fix a lot of graphical problems. As a player of a male dwarf toon, I never get to wear a helm. The dwarves beards and their helms just do not mix, and it ends up either clipping badly, or simply cutting the beard off the character ending up with toons with no chins. It looks HORRIBLE, therefore Brunn's helm is almost always turned off, whether I like the helm or not. The older crafted belt I've had for several months clipped badly with the long braids on his beard as well, forcing me to have to spend gold to change it to a cut I like a lot less, just so the graphics wouldn't look messed up. I'm sure there are issues like this with all the races.
I realize that Blizzard's art staff work very, very hard on the designs they put out in game. And all of it does look great. I know they want everything to look well put together, but when you're actually playing, it gets very wearing seeing everyone in the same gear, all the time. It sounds good in principal, like having everyone wear fire based gear because of the Firelands, but when its actually implemented it becomes visually unimpressive. There's a reason why everyone in game doesn't ride the same horse. That would be really boring.
And of course, it's not like we'd NEVER see the newer gear. There will always be someone in game who likes the new sets enough to use them. Hardcore raiders and PVPers will probably want to idle in game in their latest full hard mode tier set on so everyone can see the awesomeness. A wardrobe feature and the ability to change colors would simply make the game even more eye catching.
And quite frankly, for all the pretty graphics the artists put in game, if it's a detriment to force players to use them, then overall it's just hurting the game. Player's like customization- and if they can get it somewhere else, they will. And for just how many games there are out there, free or subscription based, that include this feature, it's becoming apparent that it's wanted AND used.
Would I quit WoW over this alone? Most likely no, I still enjoy playing World of Warcraft. Would I be more likely to pick a game over WoW if it included this feature? Yes, I would. I don't think RIFT is that game- I enjoy it, but it's not the same. But one of these days, a very, very good MMO will come out that has everything else I like about WoW in it, and will let Brunn wear what I want him to wear. And I can't guarantee I'd stick with WoW out loyalty.