Over the weekend, I decided to create a new character in Wildstar. Not because I needed another crafter to complement my first character or act as a mule. No, because my first character, and Exile engineer, just didn't feel right. I'd hit level 15 and about to do the quests in Thayd when I realized I didn't want to be a tank and the Exile story was getting pretty stale. So I created a Dominion medic and began the game again from level 1. Last night I hit level 5 and the story, for now, is much better.
Rerolling a new character because I don't like my original class isn't something new for me. In EverQuest 2, I originally created a paladin before switching my main to a ranger. Guild Wars 2 saw me create a thief before rerolling as a ranger. Alright, I like ranged DPS. What can I say?
Rerolling isn't so bad when the original characters are below level 20. But in Star Wars: The Old Republic, I wound up rerolling after my smuggler reached level 37 because the story turned so bad. That, more than any bugs or lag, killed the game for me.
Of course, EVE Online doesn't have levels. In EVE, a character is defined by its skills, not its class. So if I want to do something else, like fly Gallente ships instead of Minmatar, I don't have to create a Gallente character; I just start learning the skills to fly Gallente ships. The same holds true for crafting. My industrial character can theoretically make anything once she learns the skills, although some things are better, and more easily, made with friends. No armorer or weaponsmith crafting classes in EVE. And I only have an industrial character because EVE allows me to train characters on multiple accounts at the same time, even when I'm not logged into the game on any of the accounts. But that's a discussion for another post.
The skill-based system does have some benefits over the level-based one found in most MMOs. For instance, because learning new skills on an existing character or new character is basically the same, players will create fewer characters. Fewer characters created not only means fewer characters for the game to track, but less names used. Anyone remember the uproar when Wildstar's name reservation system didn't work quite right? Names are important to many players and the fewer good names on characters who never play the game, the better.
But for me, the biggest benefit is that some of the core skills I learned, like Engineering, Navigation, and Mechanics, are good for anything I wish to do. Even Accounting comes in handy for players changing from a trading style of play to PvP. Paying less in taxes when selling items is always a good thing. So if I want to change the type of ship I fly, or even my style of play, I don't have to start from scratch, which I have to do in a level-based system.
Don't misunderstand, a skill-based system doesn't automatically mean a game is so good I'll play for 5 years like I have EVE. While I enjoyed my time in The Secret World, another skill-based game, I never reached Egypt. And the fact that I'm playing Wildstar shows that level-based systems won't deter me from playing a game if the game looks interesting. But I do wish that I had more skill-based games to look at and possibly play.