6 Best MMOs for Character Customization
by Tyler Edwards, May 31, 2013
The first thing any player does when logging into a new MMO is design their character, and many players will agonize over every aspect of their character's appearance. Considering the countless hours a player will spend looking at their MMO character, it's crucial to get them looking exactly how you want. In some games, you have to settle for a character that's merely "good enough," but some truly let your imagination soar, allowing you to design any look for any character you could possibly want. For this article, we'll list off some of the MMOs with the deepest, most versatile, and most unique options for creating your perfect avatar.
6: Champions Online:
Every good superhero needs their iconic look. Where would Batman be without his cape? Who would recognize Superman without his red and blue tights or Spider-Man without his... red and blue tights?
Champions Online recognized this, and so they built a super powered character creator to allow you to make whatever kind of avatar you could desire. Whether you want to be a mighty hulk, a tech wielding super scientist, or an ordinary person with extraordinary powers, CO can accommodate your desires. You can even customize your character's facial expression and animations. Subscribers also have the option to customize the look of their powers.
Aside from an impressive array of sliders to adjust your character's physical features, CO also allows you to design your own superhero costume, with an impressive array of options for different pieces and colors. New costume pieces can be unlocked throughout the game or by throwing some money at the game's cash shop, and if you're unhappy with any of your selections, the option exists to alter your costume (or costumes) after character creation.
As if all that wasn't enough, CO also allows you to create and customize an NPC nemesis for your character, and these super villains have roughly the same level of customization options as player characters.
5: Perfect World International:
Perfect World International is one of the more venerable games on this list, so its graphics are a bit outdated. But that doesn't stop it from having a staggering potential for customization. There are so many different options for altering your character's appearance that you could easily recreate the looks of celebrities, your favorite fictional characters, or anyone else you want.
In fact, the developers realized this and included a feature that allows you to bring up a reference picture on the character creation screen. So if you always wanted to play an MMO as Lara Croft, or Stephen Colbert, or as a perfect duplicate of yourself, Perfect World International has the tools to let you do so.
And if you want to play as pallid clown with yellow hair, violet lips, and eyes that fill half of his face, you can do that, too. Though why you would want to is another matter...
Perfect World International is also one of the relatively few MMOs boasting both excellent character customization and a variety of playable races, though admittedly most of those races are just variations on humans.
4: Star Trek: Online:
Star Trek: Online features an impressive suite of customization options, with all the sliders and options you could hope for. There are numerous familiar Star Trek species available for play, including several new ones added in the recent Legacy of Romulus expansion. Some races are limited to paying customers, but free players still have a lot of good options.
Each species has the same excellent customization options. In addition to the standard physical attributes, ST:O takes a page from Cryptic's other game on the list, Champions Online, and allows players to choose their character's body language and animations. Whether you want your Klingon warrior to exude pride and honor or would prefer to play a twitchy, suspicious Romulan agent, you can pick the animation set that matches your character's personality.
But perhaps you want to play a Star Trek alien not supported by the game, or else you wish to create an entirely new species to call your own. ST:O can accommodate you there, as well, as the game has the option to create custom aliens. With this tool, you can recreate a species from the TV shows or movies, or you can boldly roll what no one has rolled before by creating a totally unique alien race.
3: APB: Reloaded:
APB: Reloaded, the improved and revamped relaunch of the Grand Theft Auto-inspired MMO shooter All Points Bulletin, almost has more customization options than it has gunfights. And it has a lot of gunfights.
APB: Reloaded features perhaps the most delightfully baffling array of body and face customization options to date. Just about every aspect of your character's appearance can be tweaked with a fine toothed comb. Let's put it this way: There are eight separate ways to customize your character's eyes. Just their eyes.
Once you have the perfect face, body, hair, tattoos, and scars, you're still not done. You can also customize your character's clothing to an absurd degree, from its color to its material to its stitching. There's even basic graphics creation software that allows you to create your own logos and symbols to put on your clothes.
And that's still not the limit of it. Cars, too, are open to fairly extensive customization of things like their colors, logos, accessories, and sounds.
With the perfect look and the perfect ride, you'll be ready to start cracking heads on the mean streets.
2: Guild Wars 2:
Usually, diversity in the appearances of MMO characters comes one of two ways. Either you have powerful customization options - as do the games on this list - or you have relatively weak options for customization but a variety of races with very different appearances, as in games like TERA or World of Warcraft.
Guild Wars 2 is unique in that it does both. The character creation screen has all the sliders and options you need to tweak your character pretty much any way you want, but you also have the option of several different races.
Aside from humans and the largely human-like Norn, you also have the option of playing as a Charr, a bestial cat monster; a Sylvari, a humanoid plant person; or one of the Asura, a tiny gremlin-like race. Each race has unique customization options. For example, the Charr have a dizzying variety of fur colors and patterns, while the Sylvari can be made to resemble most any kind of plant imaginable - from a cactus to a mushroom.
Even once character creation is completed, the options for creating a new unique appearance keep coming. Guild Wars 2 features an extensive armor dye system that allows players to tweak the appearance of their gear to an almost limitless degree. You can also use transmutation stones to alter the appearance of your gear to any piece of a similar type, even if you're not high enough level to use it yet.
Few games give you so many options to customize your character's appearance, and fewer still make them all available as early on in the game as does Guild Wars 2.
Aion is just about the gold standard for freeform character customization. Every imaginable aspect of your character's appearance can be tweaked to your exact specifications, and there are virtually no limits on what you can do.
Not even logic or the laws of anatomy constrain your character design in Aion. If you wish to make a character whose head is twice the size of the rest of their body, go right ahead and do so.
There are only two playable races in Aion - the Elyos and the Asmodians - and there's little to distinguish them visually, but you can still find more diversity of character appearances in Aion than in a games with a dozen races. If you want your character to be an eight foot demonic warrior with reddish skin, that's an option; if you want your character to be a diminutive pixie with pointed ears and violet eyes, you can do that, too. And both those characters could be from the same race.
Aion also has a customization option many games ignore: the ability to choose your character's voice. Each gender has a selection of different voices to choose from, allowing you to pick one that suits your character's personality. Because there's nothing worse than creating a character that exactly matches your vision, only to discover you despise the voice the game stuck them with.
There are also armor dyes, and you can swap the appearances of different pieces of gear. The dye system isn't nearly as powerful as Guild Wars 2's, but it's another layer of customization. Like Star Trek: Online and Champions Online, Aion also allows you to customize the animation set for your character, though these need to be unlocked after character creation.
No other game has Aion's limitless potential for creating exactly the character you want, and so it earns the top spot on our list of MMOs with the best character customization.