Main Characters in Games

For main characters in games, is it better for a game to allow you to create your own character? Or is it better to have a default character that you cannot customise? Custom characters within stories seem to be coming the norm the past year, and many games of the future have a custom character as the main character, my question is, does it take some magic away from the story?

The main game that made me think of this was Destiny, I played the Beta, the campaign was good fun and the multiplayer was pretty hard to get used to for me! My issue with the campaign was I expected to get instantly invested in the basics of the story and I never really did, my main intent was based on levelling up my character quickly and having the best possible equipment. I can’t even explain what the story in the beta was… Something about old Russia, bacon supplies? Some pigs may have been flying and we had to stop them.
On the opposite though, I have played The Elder Scrolls Skyrim and Oblivion and I spent a large chunk of time heavily invested in my custom character that levelled up. So maybe the issue is that your character is directly compared to everyone else due to Destiny being pretty much all online based? I feel that because I want to have the best everything, I will most likely race through the game and not fully concentrate which I did, but that could have been for two other reasons:

1. I wanted to explore the Beta, not play the story of the game (half true)
2. I was playing on hard on my first time through and it was one of the hardest games ever.

To compare this topic there is Borderlands, Characters are levelled but aren’t fully customisable, yet I felt very invested in the game, even playing on co-op. Maybe it was because the EXP is shared so there is no point running as fast as possible to get kills (which is a flaw in Destiny’s free roam).

I think character ranking in any story based game is bad, particularly in multiplayer based games, it seems to ruin the whole point of playing, to get immersed. Yeah sure levelling up a character is fun, yet it is also frustrating and usually forces you to farm XP to rank up. Unfortunately the easy way to get around it is normally micro-transactions, and they suck the most. The other issue is the strange way that they get around an un-named character and then the complete lack of replies!

Its very rare that a custom character gets love in a game, no one really raves about the character you play in Skyrim or Oblivion, or WoW. Games with powerful main characters are remembered! Master Chief, Link, Mario the list goes on! No one ever argued too much about the characters being bad, normally they were so bad ass you would want to be them!

I will still buy most games that come out that are multiplayer stories, however I am sure whether I will end up being as invested in the game as I would hope! Oh well, as long as there are cool customisations and its got good gameplay I’m sure I can cope.
BUT! A really good main character can make a game immortal.

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Dan Booth

British gamer and technology addict.
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