Today’s blog post has to do with character customization or the creative ways in which you can customize your playable experience in recent gaming. I’ve seen numerous games cater to character customization heavily over the years and do it quite well- from Tony Hawk games to Bioware space epics. However, today’s thoughts will be sectioned off into three separate categories- covering four games in total and also character creation, experience shaping, as well as depth of customization. The games in question vary in terms of everything from success to base quality and rating, however the one recurring theme they all share is a depth of custom content. Without further ado, allow me to usher in Dragon Age: Inquisition, Fallout 4, The Crew, and Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning.
Character Customization- Fallout 4 / Dragon Age: Inquisition
The reason I’ve listed two games and not one in this particular category is largely due to the fact that both have a very similar amount of attention to detail in their equally similar character creators. You can literally shape and mold character faces as you please and assuming you’re talented enough you can recreate your favorite celebrity’s face or even go so far as to craft a thrilling rendering of Michael Jackson. You can thank me for that pun later.
Although Dragon Age of course allows you to craft your character in four differing races in addition to customizing their visage and voice work, Fallout 4 has a slightly deeper custom setting- allowing for many of the same changes but also giving the player the ability to more easily mold the character face appropriately as they see fit. Of course you can also feel free to horrifically mutilate it like some of the video runthroughs I’ve seen of Mass Effect with some less than…lovable…looking Commander Shepard builds as well. See below:
Although Fallout 4’s character builder often has little to no impact on gameplay itself no matter how terrifying you may look or however ugly your poor guy might be, Dragon Age actually factors many of the racial and customized elements into both the narrative and gameplay which is thoroughly fascinating at times when it comes to progress or relationships. It’s truly the little things…
Depth of Design- The Crew
I think there’s perhaps one reason I still dabble in Ubisoft’s flawed racing MMO and that’s more than likely because of the content customization and the smart loot system that keeps the gears rolling. I’ve never taken the time to purchase the pricey and inevitably not worthwhile expansion content however the base experience still remains fresh enough thanks in large part to the sheer level of custom opportunities and options within each car class and with any of the unique vehicles present in the game.
There are already plenty of different builds you can craft with one specific car but when you add in five separate base game class builds and then the additional ones present in extra content, you’re literally lengthening the lifespan of the game as well. I enjoy messing around in the tuning shops and the car dealerships a lot of times solely to look at unique new designs on cars and really the only thing that could make it better would be to throw in something along the lines of Tony Hawk or Forza custom graphics a la American Wasteland or Forza 4 to present. I’m sure that’ll probably be something further addressed in the budding The Crew sequel which is set to potentially see the light of day sometime in the next year.
Seeing an even deeper exploration of content and creativity and perhaps even going so far as other games have (such as Madden) in letting players share that content and upload it and download other users’ designs would be a positive development as well. Honestly, creativity and customization will always reign supreme.
Shaping the Experience- Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning
I’m not here to talk about Kingdom of Amalur’s character creation tool, which though alright and slightly familiar if you’ve played the Fable series, is not a highlight of the undervalued gem. Rather, I’d like to guide your thoughts to the fate-weaving dynamic of Amalur, which is wildly underappreciated and could definitely be used in a similar manner in the future in role-playing adventures. Instead of operating much like any traditional RPG skill tree respec of points does, the tarot card-like aspect of Amalur’s class/classless system allows you to change your character build literally on the fly.
Depending on how leveled up you are, specific tiers of cards will be available to you- typically two for each of the three major classes per tier (of which there are six tiers if memory severs correctly). This means you could have more points in sorcery for a magic based class, or perhaps in either dagger or bow builds for ranged or dexterity, or perhaps a tank-like warrior build with a hammer or maul. It may sound similar to other RPG games and elements but the system is versatile in its points allocation and much easier to use than completely redistributing points after using an amulet or charm like in other games.
It’s quite an interesting design feature and although in some ways it could be similar to Skyrim’s open-ended allocation of leveled up points per ability and essentially granting the player the ability to switch builds on a whim, it does offer a little bit more of a bonus than that freedom would. All things considered, it’s one of the most memorable aspects of a game that otherwise was only underappreciated due to legal issues and the fact that it was similar to many other RPGs despite its unique portions as well. Regardless of what you may think of any of these games, I don’t think their creative elements can be as easily contested as their successes may be. Feel free to leave your comments as always. Cheers.