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To Swap Or Not To Swap

To Swap Or Not To Swap

Should we be allowed to change our character’s Advanced Class or not? This has been a hot topic on the official forums and our own forums as well. As it stands now, the developers still seem to be on the fence about whether to allow this or not (possibly leaning more towards “yes”). In an attempt to settle the debate, let’s examine some of the pros and cons of Advanced Class swapping.

First, to really make an informed decision on this issue we all need to understand what exactly an Advanced Class is and what it is not. Because the Advanced Classes branch off from your base class, too many people seem to view this as analogous to the different talent trees for a class in other MMO games such as World of Warcraft. However, this is not the case; each Advanced Class is a separate class in its own right. The Scoundrel and the Gunslinger are not merely two minor variations on the Smuggler, they are two completely different classes who happen to share the same origins. Take a look at the Sith Sorcerer and the Sith Assassin: the Sorcerer is based off Darth Sidious and the Assassin off Darth Maul. I don’t think anyone would argue that those two characters are anything like each other.

Another thing that confuses the issue is the fact that each pair of Advanced Classes will share a talent tree. Looking at the Scoundrel and Gunslinger again, the Scoundrel gets the Scrapper and Sawbones (what a weird name) trees and the Gunslinger has the Sharpshooter and Dirty Fighting trees. Both Advanced Classes share the Luck talent tree. While it would seem that this points to each set of Advanced Classes being just two sides of the same coin, the developers have stated the shared trees will act very differently depending on your choice of Advanced Class. Does this mean that only certain talents in the tree are open to each Advanced Class or will it mean that the order of the talents is jumbled up depending on your choice? I don’t really know, but I do know that either option will greatly affect your gameplay.

To Swap Or Not To Swap

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, lets take a look at our pros and cons.

Why AC swapping is a Good Thing:

It offers more versatility. Does your group need a tank and none are to be found? Well then change your Commando into a Vanguard.
Changing your gameplay style can help keep your character fresh and interesting.
Well…that’s about it…

Why AC swapping is a Bad Thing:

It’s immersion breaking. As I stated above, your two Advanced Classes differ quite a bit from each other. From a lore standpoint, it doesn’t make much sense to make such a huge change in your character’s abilities.

It may cause certain Advanced Classes to be sparse. I can easily envision a situation where every Sith Warrior becomes a Marauder for the pure DPS pwnage and only pulls out the Juggernaut Advanced Class when someone needs a tank.

You’d have to carry around way too much gear. There’s a lot of gear that is tied to which Advanced Class you choose. So in the example from number two, our player would have to have his Marauder DPS gear, his Juggernaut DPS gear and a set of Juggernaut tanking gear. And you’d probably want a set of PvP gear for each Advanced Class, just in case. Better get your guildmates started on crafting those 20 slot bags.

Until you swap, you’ve had no experience with the other Advanced Class. Lets just pretend for a moment that I play my Sniper up to level 50 and then decide that I’d like to try my hand at healing and swap out to become an Operative. Then I go find myself a flashpoint group in need of a healer and prepare to drop some mad heals only to discover that I have no idea what in the hell I’m doing. This is one of the reasons we have to level up our characters rather than starting at max level; it gives us an opportunity to learn the class.

The game already has hybrid Advanced Classes. Go play one of those if you want to switch up your gameplay style every now and then. Advanced Class swapping would make hybrids kind of pointless except in a few situations.

To Swap Or Not To Swap

There you have it. The cons outweigh the pros. You may have gathered that I am pretty strongly against Advanced Class swapping. While this is true, I’m not entirely opposed to the idea. I would be willing to accept swapping if it was very restricted. For example, you can only swap at certain levels such 20, 30 or 40. This lets you change if you dislike your choice of Advanced Class without having to play the lower levels all over again, but still gives you time to learn the class’s mechanics before hitting level 50. Or maybe giving a player three chances to swap at any time, but once those three times are used up, you’re done swapping.

The above solutions are okay compromises, but if swapping was to be in the game I would prefer it to be a lore based solution involving a (loooong) quest line. Let’s say a Sith Assassin decides that sneaking around just isn’t his style anymore and thinks it’s time to start just blasting everything in sight with lightning. Well he’d have to first find himself a Sorcerer willing to share their knowledge with someone as skilled as our player. Training an apprentice is one thing, they can always be smacked down if they start to rise above their station, but handing all your secrets over to a fellow master of the Dark Side is tantamount to suicide. After that you would have to spend some time unlearning what you have learned (you become a Sorcerer of your current level but have no skills or talents beyond what you got from your ten levels as an Inquisitor) and then you would start learning your new skills. A chain of quests would unlock your new class’s skills and talents in groups of, say, 5 levels worth of skills and talents per quest. Yeah. That would be awesome. Make it happen BioWare.

-Leo Andrie

23 replies on “To Swap Or Not To Swap”

” As it stands now, the developers still seem to be on the fence about whether to allow this or not (possibly leaning more towards “yes”).”

Not sure where you are getting this information, but they have made no inclinations of allowing people to swap Advanced Classes. The only thing they have hinted at allowing people to change is their spec’s WITHIN a given advanced class (i.e. Switching a Sith Inquisitor Assassin from a “tank” to a “healer”).

I for one do not think there should be ANY reason to swap Advanced Classes. BioWare has always wanted your decisions to matter and this should be one of your largest ones. If you screw up, start over.

I really like your compromise idea. If story really is more valuable to the experience as BW says, than I would definitely make it so that there is a story-esque way of accomplishing it. As well, I like the idea that you have to learn you new skills, via quests/storyline.

I am intrigued as to the possibilities that BW will give us. I hope that they do not cave. I want the immersive experience. Stick to your guns, Bioware. You’ll have plenty of fan support.

@Steve – There was a video interview with one of the devs during the fan summit (I think it was from TOROCast) where he said the they were strongly considering AC swapping.

I am quite the video/podcast junkie myself and I cannot recall ever hearing any Developer speak with Advanced Class swapping – only “spec” swapping for a “cost”. I just finished watching (the only from the Fan Summit) with Georg Zoeller over at TOROCast and nothing was mentioned about Advanced Class swapping.

I mean no disrespect, but that is pretty bold statement to say “possibly leaning more towards yes” without a good source. I know this topic has also been discussed at lengths in Darthhater podcast as well with all indications leading to no Advanced Class swapping, but allowing you to change your spec from within your Advanced Class.

I think we’re talking about the same video, and it’s entirely possible that I misunderstood him when he was speaking. At any rate, it doesn’t change the fact that it’s being considered on some level and is a hot topic of discussionn among fans.

As a Trooper, if I go Vanguard to play as a tank with my 3 friends while we are leveling, and then we get into a raiding guild that already has enough tanks I have severely gimped myself. I cannot do as much DPS as the Commando, and I cannot heal. My choice at level 10 shouldn’t gimp me months later when my role will need to change.

Why do you care about how other people play their characters? You are never forced to switch your ac. Why limit other people from doing if it? Do you want to tell people where to shop and what car to choose as well? If it’s immersion breaking, don’t do it. You will have no insight into if I’ve ever changed my class.

I think the point here is not whether or not the author deems swapping specs to be good or bad, but really how BioWare perceives the efficacy of changing AC’s in a game so driven by story. Being that the AC path you choose will determine the direction of your personal story, being able to randomly change your AC would disrupt the ebb and flow of the story telling that BW-Austin is trying to impart to the players. The idea about having a quest chain that would enable you to diverge from your path (or destiny, as SW tends to present it) is the most appealing to me. Even with that, though, they would have to make adjustments to present your story in, maybe, chapters, so that you have points at which you have choices to make. Don’t forget: BW-A has said since the initial announcement that you will, in the course of your story, make choices that you cannot load an old save on and retry, as RPG veterans do all the time.

The AC does not in any way determine the direction of the story, based on what developers have said. At most, you may hear a couple subtle references to your AC in conversations with NPCs. That is one point against restricting AC re-spec, since it has no story impact whatsoever, based on developer statements.

The extreme bias of your article does not give the “pros” of this argument any justice. The idea of not swapping advanced classes is fine in its own right, but falls apart quickly in an endgame and hardcore player aspect. The desire to have any spec be a permanent choice also doesn’t really entice the casual player either because that player doesn’t have hours to spend leveling and gearing up a new character.

The focus on operations will highlight the huge flaw of not being able to switch as desired. Most progressive raiders will focus on min-maxing and that would be completely shut down by not being able to switch. Not being able to switch would also DRAMATICALLY reduce the class diversity at any given point in time. Tanks would be almost nonexistent as they are in almost every MMO and healers sparse.

This also really destroys the entire experimentation aspect of playing a new game and learning what is the best for you, your group, your raid, your playstyle. Imagine levelling to 50 and realizing you made a complete mistake with half of your AC points, then what? Also think “why are tanks and healers so rare before max level?” Because it’s inherently more difficult, and thus often perceived as less fun, to level a character focused on healing and tanking.

You say to have it is immersion breaking yet people change what they do in life all the time. Maybe not every week, but it’s an option. You know what is extremely immersion breaking? Being so fearful that your point allocation is “wrong” that you have to look things up on websites and make sure you have the best possible build. There is absolutely no immersion there because your thoughts are on what the community deemed as best for flashpoints or ops or tradeskills.

I believe there should be some cost to it, but it should not be a deterrent to hardcore players nor inaccessible to casual players.

I feel like as a fansite main page article these things should be significantly less biased or titled differently. This article felt like a big stab at WoW and hardly touched on the multitude (I.e. More than the whopping two you stated) pros and cons of spec changing.

Your character’s spec is VERY different from its Advanced Class. I don’t care if someone wants to reallocate talent points WITHIN their AC, e.g. the Vanguard’s tanking vs. DPS specs. Speaking as a former warrior from my WoW days, I wouldn’t want anyone to be forced to be stuck as a tank 24/7. However, I don’t think I should’ve been allowed to become a rogue whenever I don’t feel like tanking. And that’s essentially what AC swapping is equivalent to.

But that’s just like, my opinion, man.

Thank you, Leo, for pointing that out. I think there is mass confusion as to what the AC’s represent. They are NOT analogous to WoW talent trees! They are sub-classes! And whether or not AC’s determine your story path, they (the devs) intend for multiple playthroughs which will be different each time. If you play a Shaman through 85 three times with a different spec each, it’s still a Shaman! Gunslinger and Scoundrel might as well be two different classes. If you play a Warlock to 20 and you really don’t like it, are you gonna request that Blizzard let you change your class to Mage, or will you just start over?

I’ve spoken about this heavily on our forums already but the option to respec should be there, whether a cost or not. Do people HAVE to do it? No they don’t. They do not have to talk to the NPC or go to a trainer if they don’t want to do it. Why not give the option to people who want to?

What if you get to level 30 and you realize you hate the way your AC plays? You’re essentially stuck with that character and then have to reroll a brand new one just to experience the other side. Judging by comments around, you invest dozens of hours just to get to near max, it takes about seven to ten hours alone just from 1-10.

In my opinion the Advanced Classes is equivalent in other MMO’s to going from a base class such as rogue, warrior, mage, acolyte, to a specialized class such as Assassin, Hunter, Paladin, Berserker, Wizard, Magician, Cleric, Druid.

Also because this happens so early in your leveling process, it’s the equivalent of studying to become an engineer over several years and then switching in an instant and becoming a doctor without having to go back to school. It doesn’t make any sense.

I think the purpose of Advanced Classes is like Bioware’s story arcs, your making a decision of how your character chooses to progress. A choice that will impact the future development of your character.

Does he decide to study X or Y, because you studied X you don’t know anything about Y. There is no way you could know what Y is all about without having to go back to that choice.

Since character progression is a forward momentum , you can never go backward in level you can never redo that choice.

Because of this fact, they need to introduce more diversity to AC’s, different story arcs for them would also make sense. Like the article spoke of above, Darth Maul and Darth Sidious are two entirely different AC’s. They think differently and fight differently. I can’t picture Darth Maul waking up one day and becoming a master at manipulation and a sorcerer of the force. Likewise Darth Sidious won’t be making an entrance into any room with flips, handstands, and acrobatic feats. That’s something that take years of training, not something one can learn over night.

Anyways that’s my opinion.

i can see what your saying about it not being in anyway realistic for someone to just change from an Assassin to a Sorcerer it would not make any real since as to why it happened or how they learned those skills………………….. but this is a game where we are talking about useing lazer swords and lazer guns to kill things so excuse me if not making since does not mater that much to me

as i see it i do think there should be the ablity to change really i would rather it be something that was easy and fast to do but if not that atleast they should put something on a timer or something so we can change after all even if i was a trooper/Vanguard and was experenced in tanking that does not mean i could not learn to do the Commando, job after all every one in the military now medic or not is trained to use a gun and just because you ware heavy armor does not mean you could not of at some point learned to ware lighter armor and care the large gun the Commando does

for that mater the same goes for most of the jedi classes while it would not make since for the melee dps Assassin to just change in to a ranged dps Sorcerer it would make since that a jedi knight or sith could learn to use 1 or 2 sabers

Changing your AC has it’s pros and cons, but more so to an MMO community than to, say, a console game. If you’re familiar with WoW (most are) every time something new happens the best DPS options switches around a little and people scramble to switch into it. It leaves the board very sparse for side “specs”. Now in TOR the actual game play could suffer from not allowing AC swaps, which is sort of not mentioned. The reason people optimize their talents is to do more damage, mitigate more damage or heal more. Without that option Operations will have to be slightly easier than desired because if you can’t correct a couple talents of error from level 34 then they can’t penalize you’re end-game for it.

Either way it’s just going to be an issue, however I think it may be best to allow you to “respec” within your same tree, so to speak. So if you’re a Guardian you can tank or 2 hander DPS, but you couldn’t go around swinging two sabers. I think that option would be best, though I have my personal doubts that they wouldn’t simply allow you to do whatever you wanted in terms of switching. Just because of character investment time being barred from accessing certain parts of your class. But it’ll come out in the wash, right?

Thanks so much for clearing this subject up! I WAS looking at it in the ways of WoW’s talent trees. I’d be fine with not being able to switch my AC, but would hope that I could switch up my talent/skill trees. Thanks again for the clearing up of this issue!

People who keep talking about AC changing and how it fudmental, keep forgetting that WOW did not have any of what they talking about when they launch. Hhmmm it was very successful, Vanilla Wow. You all asking for SWTOR to give you Catystlism and all it expansion at launch. Bioware decisions to not allow AC change at Launch is a wise and good decision. It playing by ears seeing how and what the community grows into. AC switching is a complicated change and truthfully you need at least year out from launch to see if implementing AC switching will help or hurt Gamplay and Community. Happiness. A very Good article Leo.

well i think changing the AC is a bad idea. I always hated the fact that mid instance someone would drop out and any guy and his mate can just switch spec and drop either great or rubbish heals i think it total takes back from knowing your spec. I generally believe that you should have to stick to your spec you take all the best games out there don’t let you switch or didn’t in the beginning and wrecked it because it became to easy and also diminished the classes

The pros you list for being able to swap AC are very significant. If I log on and want to have fun with whatever of my friends happen to be on and I can’t because we don’t happen to have a tank logged on I’m going to be very let down. (Granted I’m implying the ability to quick swap specs even between ACs).

Further, I think NOT being able to swap ACs breaks immersion significantly. My vision of what kind of Jedi Knight I want to play should not be limited to one AC. I think of my character as being able to do ANYTHING a Jedi Knight can do since he’s a hero. Yes he may usually fill one particular role, but he could fill any role a JK can. If your concept of your character is more focused that’s fine…nobody is forcing you to switch AC. Here’s the scene: Anakin is facing off against Dooku, Obi-wan throws him his lightsaber, Anakin replies “sorry master, I may be one of the greatest Jedi ever, but I’m Vigilance spec’d and I don’t know how to dual-wield.” …immersion breaking.

Finally, I don’t buy the argument that ACs are really different classes. The story is the same. The basic resource mechanic (focus building/consumption for a JK for example) is the same. One of the talent trees and many abilities are the same. Sorry, but I don’t want to be forced to replay 200 hours of a story I’ve already done just so I can get some practice with a few new abilities I’ve never seen.

Dual spec is one of the most popular WoW features ever added for a reason. Rift gives you 5 souls for a reason. It’s a great feature, we should have it as an option.

How is switching AC’s not immersion breaking? For example, If you were a Jedi Sage and you decide to be a Shadow, It wouldn’t make much sense lore wise to switch ,how would that work? Your connection to the force has changed?

And yes AC’s are DIFFERENT CLASSES, they play totally different from each other. Bioware hasn’t given us the skills for the classes yet all of that is subject to change and if they weren’t different why do they have different names?

I think whether switching AC’s is immersion breaking or not depends on the particular ACs involved. Which is why I personally might not choose to take advantage of the feature in some circumstances. But let’s take Yoda. We’d probably bucket him as a Sage most of the time. But sometimes, on rare occasion he chooses to break out his lightsaber and he’s GOOD with the darn thing…much better in game terms than a Sage can be. If you wanted your toon to be like Yoda, you could implement that vision if you had two specs to quickly alternate between. The main spec would be a Sage spec, and the rarely used alt spec would be a Shadow spec. It wouldn’t be a perfect implementation of the vision. But it would be FUN. Most times I’d perhaps heal in my Sage spec, but every once in a while if my buddies and I had too many healers I’d swap to Shadow for a Flashpoint run and have blast getting a change of pace while enjoying the evening with my friends. From a lore perspective it fits quite nicely. My heroic Jedi is great with a lightsaber, he simply chooses the more peaceful path of healing except for rare occasions. Without being able to switch specs I’m very limited in the kind of character concept I’m capable of realizing.

If you feel you can’t get your head around the lore justifications I think that’s perfectly fine as well. This would be optional of course.

As to AC’s being different classes I would stipulate the real test of how different a class is would be how different it feels when playing the class. And depending on what particular build of what particular ACs you’re talking about you could probably get a very different feel or a not so different feel. Take a Vigilance JK vs. Combat JK. Different, but not that different. Same resource mechanic, both melee dps w/light sabers. You’d probably feel a much more different experience tanking as a Defense JK vs. dps as a Vigilance JK, but those are both within the same AC. On the other hand I’ll grant that dps as a Telekinetics would feel quite different than dps as a Infiltration even though they’re both Consular builds since one is ranged dps w/force abilities and the other more focused on melee dps. But even there it’s the same story, the same resource mechanic, same companions, and some shared abillities and talents. Yah, it’s different, but not different enough to consider it a separate class. Think of it this way. If BioWare broke out the ACs into actual different classes with different names but the same story/companions. And I took the time to play the Sentinel and Guardian both as dps, I’d be pretty angry at BioWare. For giving me two separate classes with so little different between them.