I have six level 80s in GW2 now, all different classes. I'm currently leveling up a Mesmer who should ding 30 today and after that there's just guardian to go. Well, I say that - in fact since I have two accounts and ten character slots I 'll almost certainly make two more characters and level those up as well. A good deal of my time is spent duoing with Mrs Bhagpuss, who has a similar number of 80s, it being both our intentions to have the full set of all 8 classes at 80.
|Are you sure those things are, y'know, safe?|
I'd say that in most if not all of the MMOs I've played for any length of time the classes play very differently indeed. Playing a Disciple in Vanguard, for example, is a totally different experience to playing a druid - you could be playing a different game. Same with playing, say, a Necromancer and even a superficially similar class such as a Magician in Everquest. The mobs you kill to level up may be the same but almost everything else is completely different.
|Deep knowledge, I haz it.|
GW2, though, is an extreme example. Not only are all the classes really very significantly different to play, each differs widely within itself. Swapping weapons can be like swapping classes, as can slotting in different traits. I'm not sure I've ever played an MMO where such a range of playstyles can be accommodated on a single character without a respec.
Rift, with its multiple Soul system runs it close, but changing from one soul to another never felt as fluid or intuitive as swapping from Staff to Daggers on an Elementalist or swapping Kits on an Engineer. EQ2 has a ferocious number of classes, over two dozen at current count, but while some vary wildly from each other, the particular subtleties of, say, Dirge and Troubadour or Brigand and Swashbuckler are lost on me.
|Life was so simple back then. And we had hats.|
I stuck with Ranger all through beta, began with it again at launch and didn't make another character until the ranger hit 80. I was very happy with it, it was absolutely the right choice for learning the game and it's probably my favorite still. When I have all eight classes, my ninth character will be another ranger. An Asura this time, because I frequently find that even replaying a class I've played before as a different race makes a huge difference.
|Warrior. No, Warrior. Yes, "really"!|
Playing GW2, at least as a ranger, didn't turn out to be the paradigm shift many hoped, as I pointed out all the way back in beta.It turned out to be a lot of fun all the same, and in the end it did have its share of surprises. I certainly got one when I began to work through the rest of the classes. Engineer was utterly different. The tactics required were so much more complex but when they worked the pay-off was huge. My Engineer could do things my ranger never dreamed of doing. Then I played a Necromancer and discovered what power really means. And so on.
I'm someone who can play through the same content repeatedly and get something new out of it each time. I'm not easily bored and I am easily entertained. Even so, leveling six characters through 80 levels in one game over the course of as many months ought to tax anyone's ability to keep themselves amused. Last night I spent a wonderfully entertaining and enjoyable four hours achieving map completion in Snowden Drifts playing my Mesmer in a duo with Mrs Bhagpuss's new Necromancer. Drifts is a map I first explored in Beta and which I've explored extensively with several characters since.
That I was able to do so says volumes both for the loving care and attention to detail with which the maps have been designed, but especially for the immense replayabilty baked into the class structure of this game. And, of course, to the enormous pleasure to be gained from playing these games with someone you love.