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.
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).
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.”