The Excommunication of the Holy Trinity

So onto the topic of the day.  I think the most frequent comment I hear about GW2 is that they are revolutionizing the industry as far as MMOs go.  In all honesty, I cannot say they are revolutionizing anything.  SWTOR is in the form of cinematic quests which to me is a terrible idea.  But what exactly is GW2 accomplishing that makes it revolutionary?  Cross Class Combinations are definitely a step in the right direction.  Rather than a quest system they have dynamic events that shape the way you play as you explore Tyria.  Their dragons make the Blood Storm of RIFT look like pansies.  But how unique is all this?  Not really at all.  Everything they are doing has been done in some type of fashion.  The guild system originated in Final Fantasy XI, Cross Class combinations were seen in Chrono Trigger, Dynamic events work the same way as the invasion system in RIFT with a few minor nuances and badass dragons were seen since the first days of video games and even literature.  What I will say is what Arena Net is doing is taking old designs and reworking them into something better.

So what exactly am I talking about?  The Holy Trinity to be exact.  What is the Holy Trinity?  Well, it is a term used to describe the three primary roles in any current MMO of healer, tank and DPS.  Alexrediculous explains it perfectly here:

I cannot just rag on this system like he does.  But he does bring up so many good points.  Before I go on with the cons, I have to give it some props as to why this system is even still around.

The Holy Trinity provides roles which is perfect for people who like to know their role in a specific group.  I am one of those types who actually enjoy playing a healer or a tank.  Both of my experiences in WoW and RIFT have been both as tanks and healers.  I do sometimes play as DPS, but ultimately, I do not enjoy playing that role.  Personally, this system encourages people to play the way they want too.  If someone wants to be that miracle worker who heals the wounded and raises the dead, then they are allowed too.  If you want to be that guy who takes all the damage so that the rest of the party can get to safety, you can.  If you want to be a mass murderer hell bent on destroying all in your path, then you should probably see a therapist because you might have some problems.

In all honesty, that’s really the only pro to a system like this.  The first of the flaw is that there are imbalances in role amount.  As Alex stated, DPS is the most played type of role in any game.  No matter what game you play, DPS is always available to do content and they are also the easiest of all the roles to replace.  Why worry about losing a single DPS from your guild when you can just recruit a brand new one?  I have honestly never liked playing a DPS as it always feels stale.  There is no sense of urgency when all you do is focus your efforts on making sure you are in range of the target and doing your dps rotation to do maximum dps.  This means you never do anything for your group other than make sure the target dies.  Personally, I don’t like standing there pressing a single macro that does all the work for me.  So don’t use a macro?  That just means I press 12 buttons rather than 1 to do the same thing.  That and there is really no real requirements to playing a DPS.  If RIFT and WoW, so long as you meet the baseline requirements of Hit rating, you are fine.

Healer is my preferred role to play.  I like the sense that I hold the parties life in my own hands.  But I understand that this is by far the least played role in any game due to the many many drawbacks in has.  Playing a healer is a very thankless job.  You are never given credit for your job and are always the first to get blamed whenever something goes wrong.  It is definitely a job that people play if they like to be a pariah.  Gameplay is definitely simpler than DPS but far more urgency involved.  The analogy of Whack-a-Mole works perfectly here because its true.  However, I have to say that only bad healers actually play that way.  Healers is probably the most intensive role to play as far as skill goes.  It requires a lot of timing, knowing exactly what’s happening and most of all, always being on top of your game.  You require a ton of precise playing as one wrong move can wipe the entire raid.  You always have to maintain your HoTs, be preemptively casting and always in the right position lest you get interrupted.  Ultimately, if you enjoy the sheer skill gap in a good healer and a bad one, than by all means, play it.  I certainly do.  Gear makes moderate amount of difference as your heals get stronger, but if you skip over a few upgrades its not the end of the world.

Tanks is the absolute most required role in any raid.  Without them, all you do is get 1 shot by bosses who do more damage than most non tanks have health.  As Alex states, Tanks revolve around the most broken mechanic of threat/hate in which having that means the boss only attacks you.  You have the absolute harshest of gear requirements and rather than juggling one of two stats, you often have to juggle around 5 or 6 based on the game.  RIFT have Health Points, Toughness, Dodge, Parry, Block/Deflect, Hit/Focus (depends on which class), Dexterity, Strength or Wisdom (also, depends on your class).  As a healer, I only have to focus on Spell Crit and Spell Power.  As a DPS, I only have to focus on reaching the hit requirements.  And if you do not come to a raid, than the entire raid has to be cancelled because they decided not to show.  I actually agree with Alex entirely on this particular section as its really true.  If the tank does not meet the basic requirements to endure the damage being dealt, than the raid cannot go on.  As such, you are always the first to get gear, people are more willing to craft gear for you and always never to blame.  The only real skill required by the tanks is spatial awareness which means you have to know what is going on around you at all times.  Tanks have to have the most intimate knowledge about boss mechanics (especially ones that kill you) and every pull, patrol and mob in the game.  Tanks are played the least as most people do not enjoy the sheer requirements required to do them.

What Arena Net is doing isn’t trying to reinvent the system but making it functional.  And on a surface level, all it appears to be what they are doing is just renaming the roles.  Rather than Tank/DPS/Heal, they have Support/DPS/Control.  DPS is DPS, Support is heal and Control is Tank.  Arena Net describes each of the roles from the following link as such:

“Heal: Don’t belittle the SUPPORT role by calling it heal. Healing is the least dynamic kind of support there is. It is reactive instead of proactive. Healing is for when you are already losing. In Guild Wars 2 we prefer that you support your allies before they take a beating. Sure, there are some healing spells in Guild Wars 2, but they make up a small portion of the support lines that are spread throughout the professions. Other kinds of support include buffs, active defense, and cross-profession combinations.”

“DPS: Call it whatever you like–DPS, damage per second–we just call it DAMAGE, and when it comes to making red bars go down, you can never have enough of it. Don’t trivialize it though; damage is a very versatile aspect of combat. There are so many ways that a character can do damage.”

“Tank: This is where Guild Wars 2 makes the biggest break from the traditional MMO setup. Tanking is the most rudimentary form of the most important combat fundamental, CONTROL. Every game has it, yet it always seems to get a bad name. In Guild Wars there was Knockdown, Interrupt, Weakness, Blind, and Cripple, to name a few. We wanted to build upon what we think makes control such an important part of dynamic combat.”

At first glance, this looks like all they are doing is renaming them.  But with what information Arena Net has given us, there is no threat management system and therefore no tanks.  At the Reddit AMA, Arena Net has stated that if you want to play a tank like warrior in Guild Wars 2, you can.  But it is far from required to do any type of content.  Also at the AMA they stated that 5 rangers with the same weapons and same trait set up can do any content available.  They said the same thing with Guardians.  While they did say it was possible, it is all based on the skill level of the players which means they are putting the difficulty in the actual content rather than finding the people to do the content.

The second primary issue with the Holy Trinity is that it does not encourage people to play together but forces them to become co-dependent on each other to partake in content.  There is a difference between wanting to play with people and being forced to play with people.  In Guild Wars 2, you have the option to play with people that you want.  You no longer have to hope that one of your friends wants to play a tank or a healer as you don’t require any particular roles to accomplish a task.  Without having to have people play specific roles to fulfill the needs of content.  This means that people can play the classes they want to, how they want to and you can play with the people you want to.  If the guild only has 1 tank and you do not particularly like him, you are stuck playing with that one player.  Joining another guild solves that problem, but why should I have to leave my group of friends just to play the game?  The answer is you shouldn’t.  I did it back in wow and I got to see the content I wanted.  But I always felt bad that the reason I started playing the game was because I wanted to play it with friends and that always meant that I stopped playing with them so that I can do the content the game wanted me too.

The last problem is it forces people to play roles they don’t want too.  If you like playing a tank or a healer, then more power too you.  But DPS is the most commonly played role and most people do not enjoy playing a tank or healer.  My guild leader does not like playing anything other than a DPS mage.  She does not like playing a healer and does not like playing a tank.  She even refuses to do such.  That is the mindset of many people and I am guilty of it as well.  When I first played WoW, I played an Enhancement Shaman and refused to play any other role.  It wasn’t till I got fed up with not getting into a guild or doing dungeons because I played a very sub-optimal class.  In fact, it wasn’t until I lost a lot of my raiding privileges with my current guild and had to play another role that I found my love for healing.  Others may play the other roles, but overall just not like playing any of them.  I know healers who do not like tanking of DPSing but do it because it was what’s needed.  I know people who play healers but only play it because they do not like waiting around to do content.

So Arena Net is getting rid of the Holy Trinity.  My only fears is that they somehow manage to screw it up.  And without an actual game to test their promises, its all up to speculation at this point.  I have complete faith Arena Net will keep their word.  But I always have faith that game developers keep their word.  And as I said, without an actual released product, there is no telling if they will or will not.  Only time will Tell.  As of now, we can enjoy the SWTOR releases and see if Bioware is actually going to keep their word.

Anyways, as next week is Christmas, I will not be making a post for you guys.  I hope you all have a wonderful and safe holiday!


One response to “The Excommunication of the Holy Trinity

  1. A well thought out and written post. I definitely agree with your thoughts on the trinity and I am excited to see how well GW2 can pull off their eviction of its requirement.

    What I disagree with is the following statement:
    “Dynamic events work the same way as the invasion system in RIFT with a few minor nuances…”

    On some base level this may be true, but where GW2 differs is that Dynamic Events ARE their PvE content, whereas in Rift they had the standard quest system and the Rifts/Invasions are simply set up next to that. One could play all the way through Rift without ever closing a rift, or clearing an invasion. In many cases a rift was simply in my way as I was trying to get a quest done and could not complete it… and if I was out questing alone then many times I was simply out of luck as I could not clear the rift myself.

    In GW2 the Dynamic Events are the world. The events chain to logical subsquent events and many of them interact in ways that I think will really be interesting. Other games have had “public quests” before, but this system of having them be the world content, has interesting implications and I believe it will result in a whole new feel for the world.

    Couple that with the fact that events will scale their difficulty in response to how many participants are there, and that there is no more kill stealing, (everyone that helps kill a mob gets XP and loot), so you’ll actually be happy to see other players show up. I think dynamic, cooperative groups will be popping up all over the map as events become active, which is not something you see in current games where other players are actually competing against you to get their objectives/quests/kills done first. This seems to me to be a lot more than a “minor nuance”.

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