Alright, today’s post is going to be a little different. Instead of looking at any one (or more) mechanics of a game, we’re going to be looking at the players themselves. Namely, their distinct play-styles. But, my dear readers, we are going much deeper than people usually go, analyzing my two distinct flavors for gaming, and hopefully getting a few of you to reflect on your own. We’ll be going beyond the position in the holy trinity of Tank/Damage/Healer, beyond the physiological classifications (Explorer, Killer, etc.) and into the specific of a single individual, just to see how similar and different we are even when fitting the same archetypes. So, without further ado, I present to you The Sadist and The Dualist.

The Sadist:

The more-or-less default behavior pattern I develop in open world games, and in any game dealing with a post-apocalyptic setting such as Fallout or Bioshock, but also in games with other players, given the character types sync up well enough. Pleasure comes from my enemies’ pain, and enjoyment from their suffering. To give a short example, think back to Bioshock 2. In a pre-established world where there are almost no detriments to your behavior in any way… I was quickly rampaging through the first level of the game, gleefully ramming the drill into targets and turning it on. A friend who was listening at the time told me to quit, demonic giggling + power drill was just creepy. Any time there is a power curve where I can gain the upper-hand, I will do so and near immediately inflict that power on those around me. Another perfect example of this: Warhammer 40k: Space Marine; you start the game way above your enemies in terms of power, and it is endless fun to pummel them into oblivion. So this means I really like big beefy monsters that maul everything to death, right? Well…

Not quite. My favorite classes are actually stealth based. I have a thing for rogues and the like. Now think back to my little enjoyment out of torturing those poor orks or whatever. Now it’s where my little fun with tormenting others comes in at. Poisons, venoms, curses, bleeding, those are the things I enjoy the absolute most. Slowly bleeding my enemies out one fight, harassing from the shadows. It’s the basic archetype I’ve played for years, from the Necromancers of Everquest to the Death Knights and Rogues of World of Warcraft, give me something that I can use to poison and wither an enemy away and I will be very happy. I was actually upset when halfway through New Vegas I found out you can poison melee weapons with a high enough survival skill. This is long after I had abandoned melee weapons for energy. It was a sad, sad day. Now, if they’d let me poison bullets, I’d probably never stop playing that game.

Imagine one of these. Invisible. With daggers.

So, in review then, the sadist is my absolute love of poisons and bloodletting, using stealth and power to toy with my victims until the venom at last overcomes them. Is it any surprise I usually play assassin types when given half a chance in rpgs? But, as I said before, that is only the half of it. There is still another ‘personality’ that manifests in games…

The Dualist:

No, not duelist. If you want to see what I do to people in a duel, scroll up a little ways. The Dualist is a every bit a philosophy as it is a play-style for me, utilizing two different, usually opposite, abilities in harmony.  Attack and defense, agility and immobility, fire and ice, these are the things I enjoy using, weaving entirely new play-styles when given half a chance. I’ll give two examples, one thematic and one of gameplay. Let’s start with the game-play one, the Switch Axe of Monster Hunter.

The Switch Axe is hands down one of my favorite weapons ever, not just in Monster Hunter, because of what it represents by have two differing modes. While in its default Axe mode, the weapon gives the user a fair amount of mobility and reach, at the cost of being able to guard. While in Sword mode, you trade some of that mobility for more damage, and much up the upper reach for the ability to do the so-called ‘burst charge.’ The weapon is a better tool because it allows for the precise application of force when needed. When using weapons like this, I discard the sadistic side and simply act, becoming an extension of the weapon itself, using the precise amount of force and mobility that a situation calls for. Done well, it feels like the weapon is miles ahead of its peers, even when it’s an equal or even worse. A lesser note goes to the Gunlance of the same game, trading almost all of your mobility for a massive defense and offensive boost. Both weapons give me what I crave in a setting where I want to more or less lose myself and just exist, the ability to adapt on a dime to the needed situation, sacrificing what I don’t need to bolster what I do.

Oh, the memories...

The second example is more thematic, and something few people really get down to (or at least, few devs let you do). In Rift, there is a Rogue soul called ‘Night Blade’, which is arguably my favorite rogue skill tree ever. It provided almost everything I wanted, searing the enemy while burning their flesh over time, quick, lethal attacks from the shadows, all the things the Sadist in me loves to do. But the important thing is, it felt thematically different from the Assassin who did the same thing with poison. How? Short answer: Magic. Night Blades are versed in elemental magic, adding new skills to their repertoire, new flavors to it. Something that was, before, almost unthinkable to me made perfect sense. A rogue, using the power of the earth with metal and poison, combined with the power of the mind and aether to create something new. You could say that the Night Blade tickled both my play-styles, of the Sadist and the Dualist in very fun ways… especially when combined with the Assassin’s bleeding and poisonings.

So there you have it, my two main play-styles in a nutshell. The sadistic tormentor and the living weapon dualist, each having their place in gaming and with many variations in between. Hopefully I’ve gotten a few of you to think about your distinct play styles and how they reflect in the games you play, and if you do, make sure to share.