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Unique Builds: When Playing A Game Becomes Playing The Game

I’m such a sucker for strange, unique builds in video games that I thought it’d be fun to chat about it. If you don’t know what I mean by making a unique build, or even what making a build is, then think of it like this: Each character has a preferential way to be played. A warrior wouldn’t spec in wisdom, in Dungeons & Dragons terms, not normally anyway. So when I get given the opportunity to go a little bit maverick, I really enjoy doing so. From creating completely custom classes, through to mix and matching armour sets to have strange effects, I love unique builds – And here’s why.

Defeating Complacency

So unique, I forgot the modifiers!

If you were to tell me that when you play a game, you don’t think about how your character will turn out, well I’d be impressed. When you choose a class or race in a game, there are so many variables that are open to you. For a class-based game, you’d typically see what skills your class has, then try and build armour sets, or put stats in the right positions to really emphasise those skills. It’s only fair that you may end up consulting other gamers to help give you an idea of what works and what doesn’t, because ultimately video games, especially online ones, are very social. You can also bring this to pen and paper with Dungeons & Dragons, when a new player will likely ask a veteran for advice.

This isn’t unusual – In fact, this is arguably the most common way to get into a game. You know someone, or you are happy to reach out to people, so you have a way to get the advice you need. Indeed, multiplayer games are the best for this type of character building, where the way you play directly influences how everyone in your team reacts to you. For instance, in an MMORPG, you may change your character to be a tank, as you feel confident leading the fight and keeping the damage on yourself. Perhaps you’ll be a healer, opting to watch for any dangerous scenarios and helping your allies out of bad spots.

But what if, just what if, you’ve played a game for long enough to where you want to try something new? How about you want to try something new, without going to a whole new game? What if building a character doesn’t have to be needlessly complex, but rather it just needs to be about how you can utilise your skills in the best way you can. What if you could make a character that was so strange, that it just works? This is when you start to think up unique builds.

Why Unique Builds Work Well in Player vs Player Scenarios

One of my favourite examples of how applying a unique touch can change games is Team Fortress 2. The Heavy weapons guy is a big brute of a man who loves to carry his gun, Natasha. He is what we would call a tank – He can take a lot of punishment and dish it out to those who get to close to whatever he’s defending. All in all, his purpose is to sit in the backline, keep his eye out for enemies coming too close to an objective and firing away…

… And yet, many people opt to play him as a ‘Roamer’. Sure he’s not super fast, but his weapon packs a punch – So some clever players will use Heavy to go behind the enemy lines and assault them – Not what he was intended to do. A few tweaks to his gear and he’s good to go!

Let’s apply this same logic to a player vs computer environment, or PvE. You play as a tank character, so your job is to take all of the punishment (This much applies). You want to do a lot of damage, so you run behind your enemies – and you rush in. So far, this is okay, as this is just tactics. So you start to do some damage… And wait, hold on, the boss has ran away from the tank and is now eating the face off the healer. Well, that didn’t end well – So what went wrong? Simply put, in a PvE environment, you typically have factors such as aggro, which need to be maintained. If you play something unique, you still need to draw upon the meta to keep it relevant in PvE.

The issue here is that you end up with a character that’s only a little bit different as opposed to actually unique. However, the next time you play a player vs player game, why don’t you do something differently? Why not consider taking your tanky character and going behind enemy lines? Why not take your fast character and have them taunt the opposition to your area of the field, instead of flanking them? When in a PvE game, why not throw a new skill onto your line – and see how far you can push that skill? Ultimately, it’s the boundary breakers who get to do the most experimentation in video games – And I aspire to be as good as them.

Tell us about a time you made a strange build. Share your weirdest characters in the comments below, or over on Facebook and Twitter.

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