Why Blizzard Are Going To Kill The Holy Trinity
For a long time people have pondered the idea of MMOs that didn’t utilise the traditional Holy Trinity model of playing (i.e. groups requiring a tank, healer and DPS classes… although interesting enough the original Holy Trinity included crowd control instead of DPS but I digress) and wondered if games could ever exist without it. While some MMORPGs skirted around this idea of trying something new, to my knowledge none of ever fully succeeded in breaking away from it. Yet. Indeed, I believe that Blizzard are going to be the first to do so and, just like the huge number of industry trends they set with WoW (love ‘em or hate ‘em), I have little doubt that they are ultimately going to be the ones responsible for killing the Holy Trinity off for good.
I think it’s been two recent occurrences that sparked this thought off in my head. Firstly, I was reading and viewing more and more about the playstyle of Diablo 3 and eventually came to realise that this is a game that seeks to epitomise the casual, online, micro-transaction fueled vision of Blizzard’s future. The second incident was the change they made to tanking in WoW last week, namely the almost complete and utter removal of Threat as a mechanic. Combined, both of these incidents really make me believe that Blizzard are situating themselves to make their games both incredibly easy aka fun rather than challenging, each played by people independently without the need to define rigid group roles and stick to them. And I think all of this is being done to appeal to broader mass market.
I’m coming to reckon that the MMORPG of tomorrow will be comprised completely of DPS classes with no concept, or at least very little of it, of the traditional roles of tanking or healing. They will all be like gigantic Diablo style games, every man out for themselves, every man an individual walking army without the need to interact, protect or heal their comrades. Grouping will becoming a social concept more than a game mechanic, everyone running around madly, fighting the fight without needing to rely on others. We will form parties just out of the sheer hell of it rather than due to any gameplay requirement.
And why will Blizzard be the ones to usher in this new era of MMORPGs? Because they have the moxie to make to it happen. I do admire their desire to make games simple and fun and I’m sure that they look at the state of grouping in WoW and are trying to figure out ways to make it funner and more accessible for everyone. Simply put, right now in their MMO, the Holy Trinity fails dramatically and I think they’re aware of it. I also think Blizzard are cunning and ambitious in that they’re looking to address and pull in new audiences. Whilst every other MMO out there is just trying to compete for the same player pool, Blizzard are eyeing up the teenagers of tomorrow and pondering what gameplay experience they want – and I don’t think getting insulted when tanking or healing or otherwise having to queue for 30 minutes as DPS to get a group is at all on their agenda.
A key question though is whether or not the MMO industry would benefit from this removal of the Holy Trinity (assuming it goes the way out I’ve outlined above) – ironically we’ve all yearned for something new and refreshing for years but none of us have probably every considered the repercussions of having it. I have no doubt that going down the Diablo model of classes and grouping for MMOs could be a lot of fun and will appeal to a very large audience, the next generation of MMOers if you will. Still, I’d be sad to see my tanking days come to an end. Ultimately though the future is unclear and I suppose I will need to be pragmatic and regard whatever happens as an evolution of the industry. Hopefully I’ll evolve with it.