There are certain fantasy stereotypes that can be observed, or challenged, by the games I play. One such trope is the “Sword and Board” tank character – the protector of the adventuring party with a sword and shield. We were pushing our way through Blackrock Depths again in World of Warcraft Classic when it was commented that our Warrior tank had been fighting for some levels with a dagger as her weapon.
Something automatic in my mind thought this was odd and that a more formidable weapon would be needed, in my imagination at least, to keep the attention of foes off of the rest of the group. Daggers are a rogue weapon first and foremost, a stealthy and concealable weapon, no?
Then thinking more about this I remembered the tank characters that I’ve played that didn’t fit to the stereotype, my Tauren Warrior for example. I last played him regularly in Cataclysm, so he’s been long abandoned, but back then he tanked his way through that expansion’s dungeons using a fist weapon of all things. It was a crafted item from jewelcrafting, and for many dungeons he didn’t manage to replace it.
Likewise my guardian in Lord of the Rings Online. Another long-abandoned alt character, he leveled through the mid-teens and early 20s using a crafted dagger. It never seemed to hold him back in any meaningful way.
I suppose I actually appreciate games that offer character classes flexibility of weapon choices. It’s good to challenge stereotypical depictions of character classes or roles. It makes random loot more exciting if there’s a chance an item might be useable by more than one character. Very rigid class-uses-one-weapon MMORPGs like Tera fall down here.
Some MMOs actually go much further in the weapon variety direction, in that the choice of weapon isn’t just down to whatever has the highest stats. Dungeons & Dragons Online is the stellar example here, since it pays to have different weapons with varied damage types or magical enhancements to cope with certain situational fights.
Options are always good. So I appreciate that tanks are not all classical knights with swords and shields in the MMORPGs that I play. Unusual weapons can offer at least the feeling of a change of gameplay to a character, even if only for a few levels.