One feature that often gets overlooked in Everquest 2 is the betrayal system. “Back in the day,” when being good or being evil actually had some semblance of importance, you could choose to betray sides early on in your toon’s existence (I think it was level 17). So, if you played an evil class, you would become the good aligned equivalent, and vice versa.
Above: Shard of Fear. Why the heck am I running *toward* the wall of fire?!
The whole “good vs evil” thing in EQ2 has been watered down a lot in the years that followed, but the betrayal system not only remains in place, but has been revamped to allow you to betray at basically any level. So if you played a templar (the good aligned cleric class), you could switch over and play an inquisitor. If you got tired of playing an evil dirge, you would betray and become a troubador, or good bard. You still might be playing the same basic class (bard, cleric, enchanter, warrior), but there are some noticeable differences between each good and evil pairing. The betrayal system is great, because it offers a chance for someone to freshen up their gaming without having to reroll. It also offers flexibility for those that might be looking to raid with a particular guild that has closed recruiting to their particular class. Maybe the guild of your dreams is no longer seeking mystics (the good aligned shaman), but wants defilers. Betray and you are in!
There is a penalty, of course. When you betray, all your spells and abilities are gone, and you no longer can live in your original city. You are exiled to Haven until you do enough faction work to earn the right to live in your new city of choice. Also, if you have class specific armor, you’ll need to replace it. Honestly, it’s the perfect penalty – not too timesinky, but severe enough to prevent people from making betrayal a nightly ritual.
So why stop there? Why can’t I switch classes within my archetype, so if I am a monk, I could betray and become a guardian? If I’m a fury, I can betray and become a templar. Heck, why stop at archetypes, why can’t someone retrain as an entirely new class? (Lemme interject here and toss out the disclaimer that I’m only thinking about this for a PvE environment. This idea might create huge problems in a PvP game) Obviously, the first argument against it is that the bigger the jump in class, the harder it would be to properly learn that class. True enough, so why not make the process of betrayal contain a series of challenges that force someone to study their class, and only allow them to “graduate” if they have passed the challenges? Much better than slaughtering newbmobs for faction, I’d say.
Above: RnH on a recent Harla Dar kill in Temple of Scale.
You might argue that it would lead to rampant betrayals, and the population would always be lopsided in favor of a certain small number of classes. First, the current betrayal system in EQ2 proves that it would not be rampant. Some do betray, but of the 100 different individuals in my guild, to use a small example, only one has betrayed. As for it leading to population imbalance, the law of supply and demand will always smooth it out. Even if, suddenly, every single healer decides to betray and become a fury, some will settle back into the other classes, simply because it’s no fun to be druid #400 that’s sitting lfg, or fury #15 that’s waiting to get on a raid.
I’ll admit, I have a bit of a bias here, because I believe that leveling is archaic. So the standard argument of “don’t like your class? Reroll and play an alt!” doesn’t fly with me. There is no good reason that someone should have to redo every level, and re-grind all the content, to play another class. If there was one, WoW and all the other MMOGs wouldn’t be making it faster to reach the level cap as their respective games grow long in the tooth, and larger in levels. I’m also on my soapbox because I’m so totally done with the concept of raid limits, especially in EQ2. 24 classes, and 6 are tanks. The math doesn’t work, and it never will.
The only drawbacks I suppose are that A) low level areas would be a lot more sparsely populated, since there might be fewer twinks running around and B) there might be less of a demand for lower level items on the broker. The broker issue could be easily solved, if you reset a newly betrayed player’s skills to zero, and then went with a skill based requirement on items, rather than level based. As for the low level areas possibly losing population, it’s not ideal, but let’s face it, the longer a game is out, the lower the population in low level zones anyway. And more often than not, most are soloing through the low level content anyway, simply because it’s faster and easier.
If I want to switch my class and turn my level capped whatever into a new class, and I pay a fairly steep penalty for it, along with a rigorous retraining and challenging tests (Trainer NPCs actually acting like trainers?! Get out!), how does that affect someone else’s game experience? And I’m asking out of all honesty, because I don’t see any serious issue other than the fact that “that’s not the way it’s done” in MMOGs.