Over the years, we've had a lot of small things introduced that allowed us a little more flexibility with the characters we love to play. You can change realms, factions, hair, gender, race -- you can completely change who your character is at the drop of a hat. Mists of Pandaria is introducing a host of new features intended to give the game some added flexibility by allowing characters to share achievements, mounts and pets across an entire account. This means that players are no longer limited to what character they play. You can switch between characters and still have the same benefits.
There's just one thing that Blizzard has never, ever wavered on, one last point of rigid inflexibility when it comes to the characters we play: class.
One of his characters defeated Icecrown Citadel on 25-man heroic mode. One has vaulted through Firelands with us; one was present in Blackwing Descent. I can't keep track of which of his characters has done what -- and I don't know if he can either, at this point. Some have achievement drakes; others do not. He is a flexible player, however, and he will happily start playing yet another alt as his main if the guild needs him to do so. But each of his alts have spotty records as far as accomplishments go. Some have heroic kills of current tier; some only have kills of older raids.
In Mists of Pandaria, no matter what character my guildmate is on, he'll finally have a combined total of all accomplishments he's garnered in his raiding career. His achievements -- all of them -- will finally be viewable. The mounts he's gathered over years of play will finally be accessible. Frankly, the only thing he's mourning at the moment is that his TCG loot items are still tied solely to one character -- but otherwise, he's thrilled that he'll be able to use everything he's obtained over the years.
The easiest and simplest way for players to change classes would be to simply allow class change as a paid service. Pay $25, $30, $50 and you could go from a max-level rogue to a max-level mage. Poof, zip, done. Why then, Cynwise asks, hasn't this been done? What would be the harm in allowing it? If Blizzard wants players to have the flexibility, why not remove the one thing keeping a character from being completely flexible?
It's an interesting change to consider, but there are several factors against this, some of which Cynwise touches on -- gear for example, particularly tier sets. If a character is draped in the best tier gear, what would happen to it when they swapped to another class? How would the database handle class-specific mounts like the felsteed and paladin's charger?
In the end, while the question of paid class changes is an intriguing one, I think perhaps it's the one thing that shouldn't be allowed to change. Flexibility is all well and good, but too much of it leads to instability and frustration. There needs to be a solid base, and flexibility can be built around that base as long as that base is still intact. In World of Warcraft at least, a chosen class forms the base of what a character really is, not their race, gender, or physical attributes.
What do you think? Do you think class changes should be a paid service? Do you think it would be good for the game? Or do you think the account-wide achievements, pets and mounts on top of everything else is enough as far as character flexibility goes? If you had an option to pay and change your class, would you take it?
It's open warfare between Alliance and Horde in Mists of Pandaria, World of Warcraft's next expansion. Jump into five new levels with new talents and class mechanics, try the new monk class, and create a pandaren character to ally with either Horde or Alliance. Look for expansion basics in our Mists FAQ, or dig into our spring press event coverage for more details!