In the world of video games your character can grow and develop in a multitude of different ways: new weapons, life lessons, and so much more. In reality, it is mostly up to the developers, yes a character can make the choices you pick and you can view that in your own way, but the developers need to create a possibility to be explored. Detail and attention in this department can make all the difference, especially when direct growth of a character is at hand. What I am talking about are skill trees, because character development does not have to be boring, it can be creative, helpful, and easy to navigate. That being said, here are five excellent imaginative skill trees from video games.
Far Cry 3
Far Cry 3 does not have the most elaborate skill tree set up, however, it directly correlates to the growth of your character; Jason Brody. Three different trees are available that each focus on a different focal point. Certain skills need to be unlocked before they can be purchased, the system limits, but does not prohibit. Each new skill you reach on any of the three skill trees becomes a tattoo on your body. As Jason becomes more enamored with becoming a warrior of the jungle, his body transforms physically to represent this.
The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings
At first glance the Witcher 2 has a simple skill tree, which is excellent, because once you start looking at the details, you will find that a massive amount of time went in to making this skill tree very precise and balanced. Each tree has multiple paths which means certain skills will be easy to get, while others remain harder, the planning required here is quite extensive. With a set up like this, many different players will play very differently, especially because perks can be stacked.
In this newer IP from Ubisoft you play as Aiden Pearce, a vigilante and hacker. Aiden has a Skill Tree that not only pays attention to hacking, but also to Combat, Driving, and Crafting. The layout joins all sections into one united and color coded unit. In addition, each new perk comes with a video to highlight the benefits of the perk. The skills are not all exciting, yet they are still helpful, which is exactly what you want to get out of a skill tree.
Final Fantasy X
Technically this system is known as the Sphere Grid, but it simultaneously acts as a skill tree and a leveling system because you use the levels you get in battle to maneuver around the grid and upgrade your character. You can either play the normal way, where each character begins in a specific spot (that focuses on what is best for them) or you can have each character begin in a more neutral spot. Both options allow the player to decide where each character should go, which means looking ahead and planning. All characters share the same Sphere Grid but each character has their own go at it, meaning they don’t influence or overlap with other characters. Not only is the presentation of the Sphere Grid spectacular, it is easy and fun to explore.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
The moment you begin to play an Elder Scrolls game you will find tons of decisions for you to personalize your experience. Usually this begins with how your character looks, but as each game progresses you will eventually find how to personalize your characters skills and abilities. In Skyrim, a very unique system guides your strengths; the stars. You have 18 skills split into three different categories, (magic, combat, and stealth) these upgrade as you use them. For example, if you heal yourself a ton, the Restoration skill will increase in level, as it does, you will be given skill points to progress your constellation, each new star has a new perk for you if you decide to choose it. The system allows for an expansive character with lots of different skills decided by you and is shown in a very visually creative and pleasing manner.
Skill Trees can exist no matter the genre of game, which means this list could continue indefinitely. It is very possible for games to creatively enhance their characters while depicting their growth in a number of ways. Please join the conversation if you have a skill tree that needs to be represented. Honorable Mentions include Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Rogue Galaxy, Xenoblade Chronicles, Dead Island, Borderlands 2, Path of Exile, and Diablo II.