Perfect Ten: Unconventional MMORPG magic classes

    
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Earth. Fire. Air. Water. These elements are all well and good if you want to summon Captain Planet for some reason, but they make for very dull class design. So many MMORPGs have distilled the Mage class into a boring, tropish elemental user who is forever flinging out fireballs, making mini-earthquakes (of which Captain Planet does not approve), and summoning ice cubes for those toasty summer days.

I’m tired of the elemental Mage — and chances are, you are too. Fortunately, once in a while a developer slips the leash of his or her overseer and creates a magician that wields the supernatural in a fun and different way. Those unconventional Mages are what we’re going to explore in today’s Perfect Ten.

Warhammer Online’s Magus

Running is for chumps. That’s what I always thought whenever I played a Magus in Warhammer Online, because it was the only class that was floating around on a giant disc. That’s just the start of how unusual this Tzeentch follower is, but when you serve a dark Raven god, it’s going to be a weird trip. It always struck me as a D&D-ish Wild Mage in execution, but no matter what its influences, the Magus was always the epicenter of a whole lot of pain.

Guild Wars 2’s Mesmer

In a game that outright has an Elementalist class, it’s so gratifying that ArenaNet poured a lot of effort into making one of the best non-traditional MMO mages ever. The Mesmer is a master of illusions, summoning phantoms and clones while throwing down chaos storms and messing around with time. Fans of the class swear it’s one of the best they’ve ever played, and I tend to agree with that assessment.

Vanguard’s Blood Mage

While sometimes you see magic users in MMOs flirt with “stealing life force” and the like, Vanguard’s Blood Mage went all-in on a horror flick’s worth of gooey red stuff. From popping blisters to grafting blood and flesh on allies (to heal them, no less!), the Blood Mage was a thematic fright… and a fan favorite.

Final Fantasy XIV’s Red Mage

The Red Mage is for anyone who can’t make up their mind. Want to do damage? But you also want to heal? And you want to summon the spirit of a musketeer? Here you go, all in one crimson-slathered package! This class gets extra points for style, although some players prefer the Final Fantasy XI version of the Red Mage instead.

Dungeons and Dragons Online’s Alchemist

While Harry Potter didn’t forget potions class, it seems most MMOs did. Magic potions using, as a class, doesn’t exist in too many places, but DDO’s newest class is all about adding mystical power to tinctures and mixtures — then flinging them right in an enemy’s face. Professor Snape would be so proud.

EverQuest’s Enchanter

While classes primarily devoted to crowd control aren’t so much a thing with modern MMOs, don’t tell that to old school vets like EverQuest. EQ’s Enchanter had a creative toolbox full of tricks to handle mobs, including stunning them, charming them into fighting for the good guys, and pacifying them so parties could slip by them.

RIFT’s (and Trove’s) Chloromancer

Healers are a dime a dozen in MMOs, but usually such classes use mystical light or (less frequently) blood transfusions for the task. That isn’t the case with RIFT’s Chloromancer, who derives all attack and healing properties from manipulating plants. It was so popular that the same class made the jump over to Trove, albeit with a different skill line-up. If you have an aggressive green thumb, this is the class for you!

City of Heroes’ Illusion Controller

There are many great magic-type powersets in City of Heroes, but I’ve always been highly partial to the Illusion set for its unconventional nature. From using imaginary pets to throwing out phantom attacks that give the enemy part of its health back if left alone long enough, this is a class that can absolutely wreck packs of mobs.

Anarchy Online’s Meta-Physicist

We all know that nanotechnology is the scifi equivalent of magic, so I’m going to shoehorn Anarchy Online’s weirdly named Meta-Physicist on this list under that provision. The Meta-Physicist conjures up a weird assortment of pets but is also a pretty good mage-breaker (or whatever the scifi version of that is).

WildStar’s Esper

Portraying mental powers in a visual medium is always tricky, but WildStar’s Esper solved that by turning brain power into a giant kinetic psyblade that rips through the air and enemies alike. Plus, there’s this: “Humiliate generations of traditional physicians by restoring life and buffing armor using only the power of your mind! And if you ever dreamed of transforming into a health-restoring, rainbow-pooping spirit animal? BOOM.”

Everyone likes a good list, and we are no different! Perfect Ten takes an MMO topic and divvies it up into 10 delicious, entertaining, and often informative segments for your snacking pleasure. Got a good idea for a list? Email us at justin@massivelyop.com or eliot@massivelyop.com with the subject line “Perfect Ten.”

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Fenrir Wolf

The Mirage amps up what the Mesmer already is too by making it play even more weirdly and I’m extremely fond of it. I love how the upkeep of it all folds in on itself as well, where getting phantasms, clones, and mirage cloaks results in a madcap flurry of boons and conditions flying everywhere. It’s quite enjoyable.

It’s certainly the most enjoyable class I’ve played in anything since… I don’t know??? It’s so skill focused. I mean, so, so many of the professions in GW2 are but Mirage in particular feels like you live or die by your skill alone. It’s a thing of beauty.

This is especially funny because people complain about Mirages in PvP a lot (I don’t PvP but I get it) but there’s nothing really to nerf. It’s just a profession where you can really get good at it, you can exercise your skill at placement and really run circles around other, slower professions. Aside from an Object in Motion Scrapper, I’d say most other professions do feel slower by comparison.

There’s just nothing that really feels like GW2 does. It’s amazing. There was a little of this in beta pre-release Champions Online just before they screwed it all up. In certain concept builds you could have something that would prioritise skill over numbers, but then their balancing pushed numbers and grinding above all else with each and every patch. They sucked the life out of that game.

I don’t usually like MMOs because of this, I tend to bounce off of them.

Sadly, it’s tricky to find something that caters to me outside of MMOs. Try finding a single-player experience that has genuinely well made and interesting beast races. Find one released in the last ten years. Go on. Try. I’ve looked. Yeah, there were plenty of them back in the ’90s and some in the early ’00s, but that was then and this is now. The video games industry (triple-A especially) has forgotten the value of serving underserved demographics.

And GW2 is especially appealing lately because… well, reasons. Frosty reasons.

The point is though is that the kind of gameplay I want often doesn’t match with what I’d want out of a world or a story. I could find that a lot more in the ’90s and early ’00s but it’s all gone now. All of it. Just a few glimmers and glints of it remain. So to speak.

I really like things that feel like I’m contributing something with my ability to play rather than just relying on numbers to overcome numbers with bigger numbers. I mean, most MMOs… I can’t really tell the difference between them and Progress Quest. I don’t know if functionally there is actually a difference. With most, 90 per cent of the game experience is the game playing itself.

GW2 has something primal to it though that really feels like I’m contributing with far more than just numbers.

I mean, every time I fly over someoen with a skimmer or pound into a group of players with a jackal I feel that way.

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K8 D

Psionicist from Allods online
Mesmer from GW2
Ritualist from GW1
Vampire from Forsaken World
Harbinger from Rift

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Dobablo

3/8ths of the classes on SW:TOR are unconventional wizards.

heinelwong
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heinelwong

Can’t believe secret world isn’t on this list. Magic foci in that game ranges from masks for illusion tanks to assault rifles for lifesteal healers. They also have blood magic healers too, as shield healers, no less.

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Life_Isnt_Just_Dank_Memes

The Ritualist in GW1 did some very interesting things as well like holding Ashes of ancestors to gain benefits or do damage and then dropping them to do various things. Also, I loved their conjured weapons too.

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Oleg Chebeneev

Im sad WoW isnt on the list. Balanced druid, elemental shaman, demonology warlock – they all have some unique mechanics. More so than some of listed classes

jimthomasUS
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jimthomasUS

Omg how did lotros Loremaster not make this list? He was the most unconventional because it wasn’t even magic.

Easily my favorite mmorpg class.

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Matthew Yetter

I LOVED my illusion/radiation controller in CoH. He made our groups almost ungodly and there were also plenty of times where he would end up being the only man left standing after a tough battle. Plus he was just plain fun to play.

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styopa

IIRC the AOC Bear Shaman was a bit of a genre buster, a melee magical healer?

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Oleg Chebeneev

Disciple in Vanguard was melee magical healer also

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Tobasco da Gama

I don’t miss GW2, but I do miss my Mesmer.