I have always been somewhat bemused by the vaguaries of fashion. It’s something that happens to other people, and to be perfectly honest, if I walk down the street and people don’t point and laugh at what I’m wearing, I take that as a “win”.
So I’m constantly surprised at how much I care about how my online characters look. Lord of the Rings Online may have had (to my taste) some really duff clothing, but the cosmetic system was really, really well implemented. And I loved being able to go and get a shave and a haircut whenever I fancied. Similar to the amazing level of detail in Star Wars Galaxies, with cosmetic surgery added to the mix.
And yes, I do have a habit of continuing to wear something “out-grown” when the replacement looks rubbish. Even in World of Warcraft, where it’s *all* about the stats.
Now, I don’t really have a “look” that I prefer in my gaming. I tend to go with whatever I think makes the character look cool. Or, in Warhammer Online’s case, “Cool” and “Yellow”.
Which looks like this:
One thing I’ve been constantly impressed by is the look of Warhammer Online. I like the way that it references the models of the Games Workshop range, whilst making sure that each and every class has a distinctive, easily recognisable silhouette on the battlefield. Even Dark Elf spotting is easy (for this hobby, you will need a pad, a pencil, and a flask of weak lemon drink).
This fashion parade also serves a valuable function in that it shows the ideological differences between Order and Destruction. You dress for your class, not just for your role. So Ironbreakers, Black Orcs and Chosen won’t be seen at a jumble sale arguing over who put their hands on a suit of platemail first. But more than that, the Ironbreaker wears a suit of armour that is clean, well-formed, and designed to protect his chubby frame. The Black Orc wears a set of armour that looks cobbled together from bits of his victims, and the Chosen clanks about in a baroque, disturbing suit of metal. Looking like he doesn’t even take it off in the shower.
It’s echoed throughout the classes. Order might not be all sweetness and light (between a bunch of humans who are willing to murder their own to stop the encroaches of their enemies, a group of elves who have trained for war for generations, and a gang of dwarves who positively enjoy gaining fanatical hatreds, is there *any* sweetness and light?) but Destruction look far worse. No-one can complain that “they’re just like us, really”. There are no hippy-peaceniks around here, demanding that we all just get along, because we all have a right to live. No-one is “misunderstood”, and no-one looks “misunderstood”.
Oh, remember that clown suit I mentioned earlier? Well, nothing was worse than Warcraft’s ultimate example of fashion chic, the red hat, purple armour, and lime green trousers ensemble. Whilst the tiered armour sets could and did look fantastic, most people spent their time levelling (and possibly for some time later, dependant on how much raiding they did) wearing such outfits (I always worried that they would end up burning out my monitor, as I saw them jog past). I was even forced to wear similar crimes against colour myself, at times.
Imagine my joy, then, when I discovered that each class got its own wardrobe. Whilst the “special snowflake” players might rebel at having to dress like everyone else in their class, I’ve got no problem. I’m in the Warrior Priest gang, can’t you tell? I have my individuality packaged in little pots of dye, available at all good merchants. And the benefit is that, through the experience and good taste of generations of Warrior Priests, we have outfits that don’t make us look like idiots.
Unless we choose to.