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Reader Comments (72)

Posted: Mar 13th 2011 11:21AM Malagarr said

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The old holy trinity was a bad idea that's grown into an abomination in many cases. On the other hand, having a specific role to play in a group can be a good thing at times, too. It brings structure and a sense of strategy to your playstyle. Without tanks, healers, etc, everything would just be one big zergfest.

I've seen two new additions to the MMO community that have given me hope at a reasonable compromise for this, however.

The first is Rift. The fact that pretty much every class can choose between being either a tank or healer, and the ability to change roles rather quickly, is a refreshing change of pace. Need a tank? A Warrior can do the job, sure. But so too can a cleric or a rogue. Need a healer? Either a cleric or a mage can fill that role. Certainly, changing specs isn't new to MMOs. But what's different in Rift is that there is actually a reason for your character being able to switch roles, and no class is a pure dps class. Every class has an equal potential for dps'ing or filling either the tank or healer role.

The other game is DCUO. There are only three classes: Controller, Tank and Healer. And of those three, all three can choose to DPS. The only improvement I can see that DCUO needs is the removal of roles. If each class kept all of its tank/healing/controlling powers as well as its full dps potential at all times, the game would be greatly improved, imho.

So while I see the reason we need a holy trinity of sorts, I think it can be done in a fashion that allows everyone to experience the maximum amount of enjoyment from a game. Because while some folks really do enjoy tanking or healing, no one wants to be forced to do it all of the time. And no one wants to be forced to create an alt just to experience the joys of dpsing.

Just my two coppers.

Posted: Mar 13th 2011 11:26AM Dumac said

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I think if you want to base your content around what we call dynamic or random content, you have to get rid of the trinity. Balancing for dungeon crawling and questing is easy, but when it comes to more public events, you can't foresee the ratio of healing, tanking and dps capabilities a spontaneously formed group will have, and you can't balance your encounter around something unknown. Getting rid of the trinity gets rid of the unknown.

Posted: Mar 13th 2011 11:32AM (Unverified) said

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YES, YES and YES.

nothing smacks more of the need to abolish this old out dated concept than the "shortages" you seem to find often in games of tanks or healers.

If not abolishing the roles entirely, at least make it so any class/skill spec can fill any role.

tanking, Healing and DPS should be a playstyle choice, not a character class choice.

Posted: Mar 13th 2011 11:59AM Antodan said

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I think that it would allow people to choose how to play each role. You would be able to choose the best skills for your play style.

Posted: Mar 13th 2011 12:11PM FrostPaw said

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There isn't a better system then pre determined role fullfillment. If there was somebody would be doing it......its how we live our lives even without games. Players need to know their role without discussing it because players are impatient and don't even want to bother looking for a group nevermind organising how to play together.

Posted: Mar 13th 2011 12:25PM toychristopher said

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Yes it should be, because it stops people from playing together.

I play a healer and I love being able to support my team. However people don't need three distinct roles of healer, tank, and damage dealer to feel like they are working together.

Combat could be more dynamic and realistic without these three roles. Some of the most interesting fights in wow are when the tank goes down and the party has to kite, taunt, and otherwise avoid mobs in order to end the fight still alive.

Posted: Mar 13th 2011 12:36PM Apakal said

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@toychristopher

"Some of the most interesting fights in wow are when the tank goes down and the party has to kite, taunt, and otherwise avoid mobs in order to end the fight still alive."

Which almost never happens because players are so dependent on the tank they don't have a clue that the fight isn't automatically over when the tank dies, which is another interesting problem of the trinity.

If the tank goes down, one of two things happen. Either a wipe is called, or everyone just tries to zerg the last few percent while the boss walks down the line one-shotting players as they pull threat. Yippee. You never, ever, ever see a player try to kite or a plate DPS attempt to use any tank abilities (assuming they have them, which most do).
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Posted: Mar 13th 2011 12:31PM Valdamar said

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My main problem with the holy trinity is that it makes some classes/players less important than others. We'll have to wait to see how GW2 fairs with not having tank or healer classes to see how it will work not having any trinity in a fantasy MMO.

That said I've already tasted it in City of Villains and you know what? Not having a trinity works great - anyone can join any group, everyone can contribute - ok, it lessens inter-class teamwork a bit, but in CoV that doesn't render cooperation useless because you still feel that camaraderie fighting alongside other players towards a shared goal. But MMO developers probably do need to find ways to re-introduce some kind of inter-class cooperation into a non-trinity situation and GW2's inter-class combos could be the answer (e.g. like when a GW2 Elementalist lays down a firewall, and a Thief/Warrior/Ranger can fire a ranged projectile through it to add burning damage to their shot). Of course in CoV anyone who wanted trinity gameplay could just flee to the other half of the game and play CoH, and true it was the more popular "half" of the game, so it could be that the majority of players prefer the trinity (or maybe they just prefer playing heroes rather than villains).

The other problem with the trinity is that it tends to make developers lazy and just provide basic "tank & spank" boss fights where everyone just wails on a big bag of hit points until it drops some loot.

Personally I think the answer is not getting rid of the trinity completely, but spreading the roles around so that everyone is a hybrid and can fill multiple roles - and RIFT does this nicely - my cleric can be a tank, healer or damage-dealer - my warrior can be tank or damage-dealer (and can self-heal and rez other players with his mainly paladin soul build) - my friend's rogue can be tank, damage-dealer and at a push can heal with his bard soul. So I think the answer is in letting every class/calling be able to fulfil any role in the trinity as necessary.

And lets not just have the trinity roles being present either - as well as tank, healer and damage-dealer I would love it if more games let buffing, debuffing and controlling be as effective as they are in City of Heroes/Villains - even in CoH with the trinity structure of its classes a group can get by without a tank and a healer if they have enough buffs/debuffs/control - I wish more games were like that because it opens up new tactics, emergent gameplay, and allows players to tackle a problem from several different angles according to what classes/abilities they have present in their group.

Posted: Mar 13th 2011 12:34PM MacDexter said

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I have to mention my past experiences in Ryzom here. It's classless, so you are what you are currently executing. This does not take away the roles of tank, healer, damage dealer (and maybe crowd control), but it removes the need to finally decide what you want to do when you roll your character. You can basically decide per fight. And if you are too weak to currently be the tank, you level your melee skills more and become a tank.

Having a task in an epic PvE-fight is something I think is essential to MMORPG gaming. It's part of the social aspect (and it is fun in a mature community). Being reduced to the consequences of a one-time decision at the start of your career though feels annoying.

Posted: Mar 13th 2011 12:36PM Integral said

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It would be nice to see more games try to innovate with different forms of team oriented gameplay (like what guild wars 2 is doing) I don't really want to see the holy trinity vanish all together. But when almost every MMORPG uses the same kind of team play mechanics it starts to get old. I do like the holy trinity though. I'd just like to see different kinds of gameplay.

Posted: Mar 13th 2011 1:11PM Rive said

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The trinity isn't really "the problem," though I can understand why some people don't like it. I believe there needs to be a degree of specialization, otherwise the classes become too homogeneous. Having defined roles helps with creating a basic template for behavior in groups (teamwork).

From my perspective, the problem, or at least part of it, is how rigid the trinity has become. Tuning content around rigid class specs and rigid spell/ability rotations is just too limiting and stifles player creativity and individuality. I think the challenge for developers is creating flexible trinities and content that allow people to fill a role and branch out into others.

Posted: Mar 13th 2011 1:36PM kgptzac said

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Just because anyone can switch to a build that can eitehr tank, dps, or heal does not mean it got rid of the Holy Trinity but rather made it easier for people to switch between. We are talking about specialization in combat here... and I believe specialization is important in coorporative games... so we may declare the Holy Trinity to be something of the past, but I haven't seen any revolutionary ideas for the specialization of of the next generation.

Posted: Mar 13th 2011 1:50PM J Brad Hicks said

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What, nobody has mentioned it yet? There already is an MMO that eliminated the "holy trinity:" City of Villains. And it works just fine. Because any team of any random 8 characters has at least one way to mitigate incoming damage or survive it, any team of any random 8 characters has some way to recover from that damage, any team of any random 8 characters does enough DPS to punch through the regeneration of any boss in the game.

The fundamental discovery behind most of the City of Heroes engine is that all of the following are fundamentally identical: having more hit points, having a higher regeneration rate, having a higher dodge percentage, decreasing the enemy's damage per second, decreasing the enemy's chance to hit, mezzing the enemy so that they can't attack some percentage of the time, slowing the enemy's attack rate, or just plain killing enemies faster so that they aren't attacking for as long.

Example: when Going Rogue came out and it became possible for villain character classes to run content that was designed around the assumption of the holy trinity, someone organized an event for all mastermind teams to run through that content. For those of you who don't know, a mastermind is a DPS class: pets that do high damage as the main powerset, and weak (60% of normal strength) buffs or debuffs as the secondary powerset. I was on those teams: we had no problems at all. Stack enough buffs, even weak buffs, on a single mastermind and he becomes a tanker; stack enough debuffs, even weak debuffs, on the enemies and EVERYBODY becomes a tanker. Most teams had at least one weak healer to heal people afterwards and rez the unlucky; the ones that didn't made do with Inspirations -- craftable-on-the-fly ubiquitous consumables available to all characters in City of Heroes. And we had enough AoE DPS, with 8 DPS classes on the team, that we didn't even have to coordinate pulls; there were almost no fights in those instances that we couldn't steamroll over so fast they didn't have time to hurt us.

Game designers need to stop thinking in terms of "you need one person who can survive any attack and control the enemies, you need one person who can heal that person, and you need 3 people who actually do damage." They need to start thinking in terms of "how many different kinds of tools can we offer players so that everybody has some unique way to survive attacks, control enemies, strengthen their team, weaken their enemies, and deal out damage?"

Posted: Mar 13th 2011 3:50PM Kalec said

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I like the holy trinity but only to an extent. I don't like a healer constantly casting heals on a tank that would die within 10 seconds if the healer just stopped. I would like a game that would be similar to let's say dragon age origins. Tank takes very litle damage, close to none, the healer can and will heal but not all the time. Heavy armor off-tank with large swords to take care of groups of mobs, etc. That might sound like the goings of your ordinary mmo, but it's not.

In an ordinary mmo, the healer spamms heals instead of conserving them or having 2-3 heals with huge cooldowns in witch he can attack, or something.

But then again I'd like this only as a stepping stone to a game similar to EVE where everyone is responsable for their own health and regen with the rare specialised ship that only " heals" but is more of a boost rather than a replacement.

Ehh while I digress, I must also state this: If I had all the time in the world, I'd finish dragon age 2 and jump into EvE and play it the rest of my life (not as in constantly, but as in the only mmo)

Posted: Mar 13th 2011 4:14PM Abriael said

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It's not "one day". The holy trinity has already been pretty much removed in FFXIV. And a lot of people are whining like kids about it.

Posted: Mar 13th 2011 4:38PM Graill440 said

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The trinity was old and outdated the second everquest came out. As was levels, another major waste of developer talent and time/money, though we can all argue it is also being lazy on the devs part to make content that only addresses groups and time based subscriptions.

Several games over the next two years and change will try to address this due to conversations from some voiceful folks. GUild wars had an idea that never dove deeper, trading out skills before a quest, but they were the first to offer some type of choice in the characters skill options.

Rift went way to far in the choice catagory, while i am enjoying the game, it has some major problems in balance and should be called Heal Rift, as that is what any cookie cutter class uses.

The problem with this is scaling combat powers to one another. Right now for example healers in Rift, any catagory can put out some very decent dps, some pretty brutal, making it mandatory to have a similar class to combat it. Theidea was utility, the result is a very small type of folks in pvp (larger in pve) with the same IWIN button builds.

The solution? I have stated before, no levels, no skills dependent on character class (rift is close, again, but went over the top) Choice is great, its what people want, but you also need consequence (yes theat word) Healers and dps and support etc all need boundries or we have what we do in Rift, a bad thing, If you heal great then your dps or cc needs to suffer a bit, but then the argument comes, what about choice?! If i want to heal and dps then i want to heal and dps...well, i agree, with some consequence, again if one skill is very high another should be low output, with any number of amusing or simple restrictions or failures, all based o the situation.

We come to the situaton...the developers, whether lazy or doing their jobs based on what the subscription model is will make or break a game when tied with character choices. one cannot survive without the other and the end result is both being tied together, and thus restricted as to what can be done, based on...developer choices, not yours, the consumer.

Levels are a waste, except for those that like making a dozen alternates the content will never be used again, Rift is already seeing this even on high pop servers, being the newest kid on the block.

Character skills and design will not change until developers change the way the money models are executed or they are given freedom to do what they want in their budget (grin, that will never happen). One is tied to the other and both need to change at the same time before a true classless, no level system can be developed, until then the developerswill go the least amount of work for the biggest payout model and hope that new car shine blinds subscribers.

Because of the way Trion has addressed the skills and having healing a primary aspect of their game i am looking forward to GW2, until then Rift is a nice past time because its new, I am just not into the World of Healcraft long term.

Posted: Mar 13th 2011 7:26PM Averice said

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@Graill440 You don't like levels. Do you still like the concept of progression?

Because that's all a level is. Games can be made without Levels, but there will still be "levels". That new piece of gear, that skill you practiced, that ability unlocked, that new title you just got even though it conveys absolutely nothing to your character except the title.

Even cosmetics upgrades is just another method of progression, i.e. leveling.
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Posted: Mar 13th 2011 5:31PM Liltawen said

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Yes!
Kill it!
Rolling 'Holy Trinity' characters is just playing games ( Raids in particular) on automatic pilot and exploiting Devs lack of imagination.
Learn to think for a change.

Posted: Mar 13th 2011 6:25PM JoeH42 said

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Maybe the real problem is having to always have a tank and a healer in a group any time you want to seriously get things done. Certainly WoW seems stuck in the rut of having bosses sitting there hammering on a tank for the majority of a fight with only a few moments of variety thrown in where the boss might *gasps in horror* dump his aggro table or attack someone that's *shriek* NOT THE TANK!

In any case I've spent many hours sitting around in a raid or party trying to find a good tank or healer to replace one who had to leave or couldn't make it and that's BS and shouldn't happen. There's many solutions to that problem and I'm sure in amongst the rest of these comments people have made some good suggestions. One simple solution might be to just allow players to pick a single character in the party to have a buff that multiplies their durability or just flat out gives them a certain pre-determined number of hps and armor sufficient to tank (and increased threat and blah blah). Sure some classes would still be better in that role but it would cut back on the problem and you'd still need a healer.

Posted: Mar 13th 2011 6:25PM DiscoJer said

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I think it has its place in games where raiding is the emphasis. But it pretty much destroys PvE in a game

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