Perfect Ten: Understanding MMORPG Warriors
There is always a Warrior. Every game has a Warrior. No matter what other class options it has, a Warrior is in that list. Star Wars: The Old Republic takes place in a galaxy far, far away (and thousands of years before the more well-established long time ago) where you have force adepts instead of mages or healers, operatives and Force assassins instead of rogues, and… Sith Warriors. And Sith Warriors still manage to tick off every single box on the Warrior Bingo card, which is why this is a list as opposed to just a bingo card.
I feel I have a reasonable and healthy relationship with Warriors. There are some games with Warriors I love, some with Warriors I don’t like, but in every single one I can make immediate assumptions just because it’s called a Warrior. From Guild Wars 2 to World of Warcraft, from Final Fantasy XI to Final Fantasy XIV, if you see something called a Warrior, you know what you’re getting into.
1. Warriors love swords and axes
If there’s one thing human beings are remarkably good at, it’s devising lots of big hurty weapons with sharp bits of metal or blunt trauma. But when it comes to the Warrior, the only big hurty weapons worth considering are axes and swords. If a Warrior doesn’t get a sword, it’s only because that Warrior already has an axe.
Of course, I don’t want to undersell this because it’s not just an axe. It’s the axe. The ideal weapon is always an axe, and said axe is always large enough that swinging it horizontally places the blade in a different time zone from the wielder. The more huge weapons available, the better. Sure, sometimes you have other options, but it’s clear that you are supposed to get a big sword and/or a big axe, and that’s what you should want more than anything else.
2. Warriors love running at things
A sword or an axe is a reasonable weapon, although one would think that a Warrior might diversify into some other ouchy things, like hammers or flails or high-caliber assault weapons. But then you realize why no self-respecting Warrior would carry a ranged weapon: because that would interfere with the time-honored Warrior tradition of running at something.
Students of history might remember the Battle of Agincourt, wherein a small number of longbow users held off a large number of armored warriors. Physics subsequently nerfed projectile damage, and the ideal military strategy has returned to being about running directly at something dangerous with a weapon drawn rather than trying to take some long-range potshots at a target or whatever.
3. Warriors also love throwing things
Sometimes, of course, you simply don’t have the luxury of running at something. There might be a gap, for example. And so now you have to reach down and pull out your trusty… thrown weapon. Which is not infrequently the same weapon you will be using in melee, as well.
Seriously, I don’t know how this got to be a thing. At least WildStar’s Warriors carry a ranged weapon of some kind. Meanwhile, Sith Warriors in SWTOR just cannot throw their precisely calibrated one-of-a-kind highly vulnerable lightsaber quickly enough, despite the fact that throwing it both deprives the Warrior of an actual melee weapon and ignores the fact that you can find blasters in cereal boxes in Star Wars.
And since when did any of these weapons make sense for throwing anyway? Weapons balanced for melee combat are not balanced to be thrown. Here, test it out; go out with your buddy and throw a battleaxe at…
Wait, no, don’t do that. That’s a terrible idea. You’d miss, but it’s still a terrible idea. Do not throw battleaxes at your friends.
4. Warriors are all very, very angry, and that’s magic
The whole Sith schtick is being mad and using that to fuel one’s use of the Force. Being mad in order to work magic makes sense there. But it’s not just Sith Warriors who use the ancient magical art of being angry. World of Warcraft’s Warriors literally rely on rage as a resource, which makes a lot of sense, because nothing calms me down like punching someone in the face. That’s a healthy way to cope with anger, definitely.
Guild Wars 2 lets Warriors really double down on being angry, between building one kind of anger-based resource and then specializing as a Berserker for new kinds of rage. In summary, Warriors are mad all the time, they like to run at things, they throw things.
This increasingly sounds less like “Warrior” and more like “Convicted Spouse Abuser.” This is going in a bad direction.
5. Special Warrior abilities all involve yelling or breaking things
All right, that joke is getting far too on the nose.
Yes, Warriors have a long history with yelling at things. This was present with Final Fantasy XI’s Warcry, but my first real experience with it on the regular were the various shouts available in Guild Wars and WoW. Shouting was a big deal because nothing is more effective than shouting. Shout the right set of words and everyone starts hitting harder, for example. (I assume the words in question are something like, “Hit things harder, guys!” Thanks for the feedback, Warriors, we couldn’t get that otherwise.)
The other crowd of common Warrior abilities all seem to involve something you break. Just scroll down the list of GW2’s Warrior skills, and you’ll see things like Decapitate, Backbreaker, Skull Crack, Sever Artery, and my personal favorite, Shattering Blow. It doesn’t matter what you hit with that; you’re going to shatter the heck out of something. Other classes get stuff like magical attacks or special tricks or whatever, but not you. You break everything. Break things until there’s nothing left to break.
6. Warriors have a lot of health they can just spontaneously extend
Hit points, as a concept, do not make a whole lot of sense. They never have. We accept them as a measure of in-game life because, well, that’s what makes the game work. But every single Warrior can just decide at random points that hit points are dumb and it’s time for more of them. And it’s almost always given some name to the effect of Endure Pain or Ignore Pain or Hurt Me More or something like that because apparently getting jabbed in the chest by a spear won’t kill you due to removing vital organs and blood. Nah, if you could just work through the pain, you’d be fine.
Other times it’s called something like Last Stand, which makes it more funny when the ability gets used multiple times throughout the fight. Feel free to make your own Inigo Montoya joke here.
7. Every Warrior goes berserk
In the real world, pretty much every combat trainer you meet will tell you that the biggest determining factor in winning a fight is keeping calm. This is true no matter the context. Surviving a shootout is less about being a perfect shot and more about knowing to find cover and how to move out of it. Surviving a street brawl is about staying calm, moving with purpose, and getting out of the situation as soon as possible.
Every Warrior, however, will tell you that the best way to win a fight is to just go out of your mind crazy as hell while yelling and breaking things because every single one has some mechanic tied to going berserk and it is always a distinct advantage. Maybe you can specialize in being a Berserker, or maybe you have an ability called Berserk, but it always helps you out and makes you fight better. Although since you apparently are already just screaming at people and breaking things, maybe that’s just your fighting style.
Seriously, Warriors are a Lifetime original movie waiting to happen.
8. Warriors never make up most of the people you fight
For all that “warrior” as a descriptor gets attached to most of your enemies, you will never find yourself swarmed by Warriors as enemies. No, they’ll always be normal at most and downright rare much of the time. The subtle art of shouting a lot and smashing stuff with a huge axe is apparently something only a select few people get to do for some reason.
This one always seemed weird to me; you’d think that the big distinguishing characteristic of Warriors was the fact that there are a lot of them, but most of them manage to die pretty quickly. You’re getting mad and rushing headlong into danger, surviving until you can learn your next iteration of the Break Someone’s Stuff skill is going to be an uphill climb. But no, it’s rare to even find a Warrior in training. This makes it all the more astonishing that more of them don’t die, really; at least if there were a bunch you could see some of them coming up with more refined strategies aside from “throw my weapon at the monster.” But perhaps this ties into the next point.
9. Warriors have one interest, and it’s fighting
In Final Fantasy XI, there are six basic jobs you start with, but five of them receive some pretty solid grounding. Black Mages are tied directly into the history of Windurst and the understanding of magic itself, White Mages and Red Mages both tie back to San d’Oria, the Church, and Elvaan culture. Monks are using derivatives of Far Eastern fighting techniques. Even Thieves have a specific place in the context of the game’s various criminal syndicates. And Warriors are… well…
You fight things, see. With axes. You fight with an axe. That’s what you do.
At least Final Fantasy XIV put some additional effort into making Warriors something specific, but even then there’s a lot of effort made to make Warriors just people who really like to fight a lot. It’s like the designers are allergic to putting any solid grounding on what it means to be a Warrior beyond “you fight things.” Every other class gets more grounding, more of a role defined within the game world. Warriors are always the blank spaces, equal parts fighting for country and just fighting to fight. It winds up feeling downright lazy.
10. Warriors really like red things, spikes, and fire
Is that dude in red armor? Probably a Warrior. Burning spikes on that armor? Almost definitely a Warrior. It’s not enough to have a big weapon; you have to wear armor that was designed by a 13-year-old gladly writing “LORD MURDERHAND” underneath the design. Warrior armor concept art tends to be college ruled and have three punches along the side, that’s what I’m saying here.
Personally, I would think you don’t want to be highly visible and covered in sharp bits when fighting people, but then, I don’t yell and run at people who want to hurt me, so perhaps I am not the target audience here.