video game controllers with candles

Relationships are like a video game: Part 1

Think of your relationship as a video game. You and your partner run through the main quest together a few times, maybe even done some side quests, but you wake up one day and you realize, you don’t want to LFG anymore. You’ve found your clan, your guild-of-two, and you’re ready to hit the button and start a whole new adventure together.

Regardless of who’s been paying for dinner or how you split the bills, the first play-through still involves a lot of individual options and party ambiguity. Yeah, you’ve been playing together every day (and night) for months or sometimes even years, but the side quests can be a little limited, you’re in the same instances, and the option trees don’t change significantly. Even if you’ve installed the Add Party Members Mod with kids or pets, the game itself does not have the options for benefits that only come from taking the Big Reset.

New Game +

Getting married is a big deal, no matter how long you’ve been together, because you both start over with your New Game +. You both begin again at Level One, but you get to bring along all the skills and loot that you’ve collected so far. You have your experience and knowledge of each other, things you’ve purchased together, and any aforementioned party size buffs. But now the whole leveling dynamic is defined by a completely different range of challenges. You have to tweak your play style to prepare for this.

Now, the New Game +, it’s got expanded network capabilities, automatic perks, and all kinds of extra features, like the tax boosts, health insurance features, and preferential legal treatment. However, there are a lot of features that you won’t know about until after the reset, and usually, they’re not even in the documentation. No matter what your idea was of what New Game + is like, it’s probably just scraping the surface of how different the experience is going to be.

Sometimes, there are extra features that might be considered bugs to the untrained eye. Legacy software artifacts from the under-18 experience (observing your parents’ play-throughs) will have a massive hidden influence on your response trees in a given situation, as will your previous installations with other players – especially if you tried to New Game + with them. Those artifacts can affect things like how high your Compassion score is versus your Aggression score. Is your Confrontation default set to Fight, Flee, or Freeze? Do you have enough ranks in Diplomacy and Honesty to counter your partner’s weird Distrust status? Does your partner have a recurring seasonal extension that activates around a certain time every year?

See? Art imitates Life, and Life imitates Art.

Its Co-Op!

Here’s the most important thing about this analogy. Even if it seems completely obvious, you must always remember: this is a cooperative game. You’re on the same team, always. Even if it doesn’t seem like you’re going in the same direction, you have to know that you’re heading towards the same place. When you run into those legacy glitches, you have remind yourself that there’s a reason you reset to New Game + in the first place, and that you didn’t chose to reset with this partner through LFG or random pairings. You picked them on purpose to be your teammate, and that matters before anything else. It informs all of your choices from that point forward.

As part of your team, you are each going to operate as multiple roles for each other. You have to be able to switch between Tanking, DPS, Healing, and Support at a moment’s notice, and sometimes you even have to double- or triple-class at the same time, depending on the situation.

Party Roles are fluid

When you Tank, you’re taking the brunt of the unpleasantness or even the attacks so that the other can do the heavy-lifting DPS work. In real-life terms, that’s trading off between working a job or two to support the family while your partner is changing diapers and child-rearing – or vice versa. As an aside, this Tank and DPS working together counts even if you don’t have Offspring Mods installed: two people with no additional member add-ons is still a family, and I will fight you for suggesting otherwise. There are countless things that have to be managed to make a family work, like getting the oil changed, making sure someone has clean pants, and making doctor’s appointments.

But, think about when the Tank is drawing all that attention and taking the hits: they still do some Damage, even if it’s not as much as the heavy-hitters. That means, even if Support is making dinner, the Tank does their part by washing the dishes afterwards.

Other times, the roles reverse, like drawing snotty family members or friends away from unfairly focusing on your partner, or calling an audible about dinner or plans when your partner has had a particularly bad day, or week, or month. Support or Healer class has to activate by maybe drawing them a bubble bath with candles and soft music. Or, it might mean dragging them out of their funk and into a goofy movie…

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

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