Death by a thousand skills…

Back when I still played LOTRO I tried out all but one of the classes and enjoyed them all to a lesser or greater degree. They were fun and vital but really, really complicated. You have to remember I had never played an MMO before this time last year – my gaming had been restricted to a few FPSers of the Quake, Max Payne & Left 4 Dead variety and then several years in Second Life, I simply had no idea what an MMO was or how one worked and when I began with LOTRO I was overwhelmed with things to learn. Still, slowly but surely I got to grips with it yet one aspect always made my head spin: the sheer number of skills you had to gather and remember was staggering!

Each level (at least at first, they do tend to taper off towards cap) you get a new skill – sometime more than one – and your skill bars begin to fill up. This means to have to reorganise them, making decisions on which one you would use and in what order. This quickly became a blur to me and I opted for the 1-5 keys for my main attacks and hoped to hell the rest of the skills weren’t needed as much. This was usually enough for something simple like the Guardian or Champion, but when it came to the Minstrel and Warden it simply wasn’t enough and I found I had to seriously up my game just to recall all the skills and organise my bars so they ‘worked’ for me.

And then Orion happened to them.

Orion is the super busy dev at LOTRO and when he overhauls a class, her *really* overhauls it and in the case of the Minstrel & the Warden he did such a job on the skills that I simply couldn’t face re-learning them. I have never touched either since their re-vamps. Too many skills, just too many. I have enough crapola to remember in real life, it was just another example of LOTRO becoming more of a chore and less of an escape.

So imagine my delight when I saw how Guild Wars 2 was going to handle their skills system. Do they offer five skill bars each with twelve slots for you to fill up and agonise over? Do they bugger! You have ten slots and that’s it. Ten. That’s all and ten I can deal with.

Now you might be thinking that ten seems a little restrictive, a little limited, and you’d be right *if* ten slots meant ten skills full stop. In fact GW2 does something very clever and very obvious. Everytime you change a weapon, your skills change. Zing! What a scorcher! Of course they do – weapons *should* change your skills! Not only that but you should be able to use lots of different weapons regardless of your profession, it makes sense for gawd’s sake! I mean, why can my Champ in LOTRO use a bow but not a crossbow? That’s crazy and I’m not the only one who thinks so.

In GW2 my magic-using Elementalist can, of course, fight with a wand and a staff, but he can also pick up and fight with swords (great and small), daggers, axes, lumps of wood, rocks, hell! pint glasses & baseball bats for all I know! And the beauty is I no longer have to remember a bajillion skills anymore, just that the 1-5 slots do more or less the same type of thing (AoE, de-buff, etc.), albeit in an amazing variety of ways no matter what weapon I use. From there on in I just have to decide which weapons to equip & swap between to best suit the type of fight I find myself in. E voilà! Simple, flexible and fun!

This is just another example of GW2 stripping the grind out of MMOs, and another reason I’ll not be coming back to LOTRO any time soon. Roll on Tyria!

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