Ask Massively: Always on the wrong weekends edition

Hopefully I'll get some time to play, but I'm not expecting any miracles.
So for those of you wondering, the move went quite well. The expected problems occurred at times of minimal inconvenience, and we almost completely finished unpacking at the new place in one weekend. But we still have to finish up at the old apartment, so of course the first beta for The Secret World is scheduled to be this weekend when we're slotted to head down there. Just like how Guild Wars 2 scheduled a beta weekend for our last pre-move weekend. So that's awesome.

This week's Ask Massively does not discuss this particular state of awesome. Instead, it discusses the deferred awesomeness of switching combat styles on the fly and what games feature something similar. If you've got a question you'd like to see answered in a future installment of the column, leave it in the comments below or send it to ask@massively.com. Questions may be edited slightly for brevity and/or clarity.

Sharvis asked: Have we seen any MMO introduce swappable fighting styles for your character a la Jade Empire? I'm liking how Guild Wars 2 allows you to switch weapons and how comparisons can be drawn between the two, though it's not quite the same thing.
I'm not entirely sure, mostly because I haven't ever actually played Jade Empire. (I know -- a BioWare game I actually haven't played. Oh, look, it's on Steam. But that's another topic.) However, to my understanding, we've never seen a directly comparable system. There may be one in one of the free-to-play wuxia titles available, but I'm not wholly aware of it.

That being said, there are a lot of games that allow something at least comparable if not exactly similar. In classic World of Warcraft, for instance, Druid forms were clearly meant to offer a similar range of versatility by allowing you to shift in and out as conditions warranted. (More stringent spec requirements have kind of killed that.) The Warden in Lord of the Rings Online can also play similarly via the combo system, with a handful of opening abilities launching into a variety of different finishers.

If we go farther afield, there's not a great deal of delay on switching weapons in Final Fantasy XIV, which does allow you to use two different classes in quick succession (albeit not in direct succession). Guild Wars 2 features its weapon-swapping system (as you mentioned), and Star Trek Online also allows you to swap weapons on the fly with similar results. Your weapons make up a smaller portion of your active abilities, but they're still relevant.

Combo systems in general are often used to similar effect; the Dual Blades powerset in City of Heroes and Assassins in Guild Wars both make heavy use of chained attacks with different conclusions. Last but not least, choosing a different configuration of souls in RIFT can produce a very different play experience, though the process is anything but swift.

Being able to switch styles on the fly sounds like fun, though. Perhaps some wise developer will heed this statement and internalize its deep wisdom.
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This article was originally published on Massively.