Classes Shouldn’t Be Restricted By Race
Five years ago, Everquest 2 decided to buck the trend and be one of the first and only MMORPGs to allow any race to be any class. It was a decision that was I all in favour of and one I don’t understand why it hasn’t been adopted by more games, especially considering the focus now seems to be more on the MMO and less on the RPG.
Although I’ve dabbled in real roleplaying, I’ve never done it seriously and know very little about the background and reasoning behind restricting class choice by race. Presumably it’s all about keeping the choices of the player limited to the confines of the world they play in in an attempt to maintain some sort of logic and keep it “real”. Barbarians couldn’t possibly be Wizards, for instance, because they aren’t smart enough and Erudites couldn’t be Warriors because they aren’t strong enough.
Apart from basing these decisions on assumption (there’s no reason why a Barbarian couldn’t go off to Wizard school due to some explainable reason), it seems to have very little practical implications on modern MMORPGs. I can understand it being more important in traditional table-top RPG games but, if you look at a game like World of Warcraft, the RPG element is merely an afterthought that no one really cares about. So why does the game even bother to restrict class by race? It seems to be more out of habit than anything else.
It’s not like class/race restrictions are cast in stone and carry any sort of weight anyway. We only need to look at the forthcoming Cataclysm expansion and the new combinations it offers to see that these decisions are arbitrary to say the least. WoW isn’t the first game to open up new class/race combinations either, Everquest did it a few years after it’s release. Adding new class combinations seems to be an easy trick to offer some new variation to the player without having to put much work into it and cheapens the whole argument of preserving the integrity of the game lore. Looking at the new class/race combinations in WoW, it appears that each race can go almost every class apart from one or two, a kinda meaningless remnant.
The reason I don’t want classes to be restricted by race is because I feel that I should be given the flexibility to make the character that I want. If I want to make a Draenei Rogue or a Dark Elf Paladin or a Stygian Dark Templar (why that combination doesn’t already exist boggles my mind – but that’s another post), then that should be my choice entirely.
Plus, how I roleplay my character should be up to me and I shouldn’t confined just because of some throwback to the original Dungeons & Dragons. Besides, wouldn’t be a lot more interesting to see some strange race/class combinations walking about and be able to read/hear about their individual back stories?