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.
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.
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.