We’ve been thinking a lot about World of Warcraft lately – more on that to come – but that had me looking back for related posts. I found this incredibly long essay about where games have gone with specialization of roles in role-playing games. Interesting to consider now a couple of years on – with D&D 5th Edition out and as a return to the older style of the game, and with Final Fantasy XV coming out and seemingly action-styled like Lightning Returns. Or to consider a game series like Dark Souls, which I have been playing a bit again lately, where with only one character to control – and the odds stacked heavily against you – you need to be ready for anything! If this all sounds interesting to you, I think my discussion holds up so give it a read! And just to warn again, it’s a long one!
This is a post idea I’ve had for a long time. My initial thought is this: lately I feel like there has been an increasing move towards specialization in characters in role playing games (RPGs). Meaning that before you often had characters who needed to be able to handle a multitude of situations, need to be able to heal and do damage and take a hit – all in one character, or all in each character.
However, that has been decreasing of late. Instead, we see the rise of roles like Tanking, Healer, and DPS. You see it in party-based online situations especially, and with the rise of MMORPGs, there’s a lot of this going on online and in big-name games people are putting a lot of time into. However, a further place you see this happening was in Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition, which was built to in many ways play like an MMO.
So I will look a bit at both of those – MMOs and D&D 4th Edition – but what really has me thinking about this is that I now have an even better case study. the Final Fantasy games. In Final Fantasy XIII, they hit the most specialized that they ever have; however, in breaking away from that in Lightning Returns, they are moving back to a place where you have far more control over customizing your character. So have we hit the far extent of the trend? Are we moving back away from specialization? That’s the question I will close with!