DPS Only Classes Are Now Redundant
One of the reasons that I’m not a fan of the Advanced Class system in SW:TOR is because it fills you with hesitation and regret. Having invested four or five hours into your character, you’re suddenly forced to make a huge decision that’s going to impact your playstyle forever more based only upon a tiny Codex entry and a brief glance at skill trees. Furthermore, you sometimes have to pick between giving up any chance of tanking or healing and become a full on DPS only class. The Jedi Sentinel/Sith Marauder and Gunslinger/Sniper are the examples in question. Just why, oh why, would anyone gimp themselves to such a degree?
That was my thinking anyway with my Jedi Knight alt and, as much as I was enticed to try the Sentinel AC, I realised that I didn’t want to be one of those DPS nomads wandering around at level 40 looking for a tank for two hours to help complete a Flashpoint. No thanks. Being DPS only seemed completely redundant, in fact, considering that the Guardian has two very potent DPS tree skill lines as well as a proper tanking one. Simply put, the options for gameplay are far broader with the Guardian than the DPS only Sentinel and I’d much rather invest time in a character who has the choice of tanking at a later stage if so desired.
Many themepark MMOs suffer greatly from this issue, especially older ones like WoW and EQ2. RIFT, as much as the soul system isn’t perfect, handles the whole holy trinity concept beautifully and gives options for even traditional pure DPS archetypes to tank and/or heal. I just adore that flexibility. But classes like the Rogue, Mage and Warlock in World of Warcraft? With three solid DPS talent trees? Aren’t they completely redundant in this day and age?
Blizzard seems to have realised this too and it’s no coincidence that the last class they introduced was both a tank and DPS whilst the new Monk class coming up in Mists of Pandaria can perform all three major gameplay functions – tank, heal and DPS. It seems class hybrids are the future. Which, to be honest, makes perfect sense as giving players the flexibility to perform more than one role would help a lot with the constraints that the holy trinity style of play imposes.
And let’s face it, single role classes were always flawed right from day one. Rewind back seven plus years, before the dawn of multiple talent trees, and you have a pretty broken system comprised of healers who can only heal and tanks who only know how to tank making it pretty difficult to fill out a six man group or a 24+ player raid. Given the makeup of the grouping system in MMOs, it was simply inevitable that healers and tanks were going to be given the option to perform damage roles.
Of course, this creates the problem of function and desirability and, if tanks and healers can put out the same damage as a pure DPS class, suddenly those damage only dealers become less attractive in comparison. Why would I go a Rogue when my Warrior can output as much damage? And why go a Jedi Sentinel when the Jedi Guardian can do just as much damage as well as tank? Personal playstyle preferences aside, DPS only classes are becoming dated and restrictive, a throwback to an older style of MMO gaming.
I don’t have anything against DPS classes, I just dislike their inflexibility and the problems it causes putting together groups. Not that having the option to tank or heal would necessarily mean everyone picks it but at least the options are there and the metaphorical gene pool of class roles is bigger. Plus, how much fun would it be to tank with a Rogue or heal with a Mage in WoW? Adding a fourth talent tree could easily address this and make every class in WoW a ‘hybrid’.
I like DPSing, everyone does – it’s fun to put out damage and nice to not have to worry about other players lives. But I think the days of DPS only classes are numbered and that we’ll start to see more classes with the option of filling more roles in newer MMOs. Frankly, I think that can only be a good thing.