Games Breaking Away From The Trinity

Syl says she’s recently realised that what she most wants from future MMOs is for them to keep the swords and magic, but get rid of the holy trinity of tanks, healers and DPS. She says she’s tired of it. She takes a look at WoW and points out that despite a few design attempts to work round the trinity, the damn system is more entrenched in WoW than any other game.

Enter Guild Wars 2. Syl points out bits from the developers talking about their approach to the trinity, and how they’re treating specific roles. They seem to have a whole new attitude to healing – are re-classifying it completely. And that’s just the start. Syl’s getting very excited about it and points out a lot of ideas the GW2 developers have which sound spot on, all about balancing fun and roles to create a new way of playing.

A thing that never seizes to baffle me personally, is the strict separation of abilities between roles, in WoW and most other MMOs: You have this powerful caster standing next to you in a 5man party, that magic spellweaver – and all he really does for the group is deal damage, besides few more mob-centric abilities. While his allies fall left and right, while his healer is about to die horribly, he stands there hurling firebolts at the enemy, unable to do anything about much more pressing matters.

As a child of fairytales, sword & sorcery books, tabletops and classic RPGs, I need to ask: in which fantasy setting is this “realistic”?

Syl’s post is long but well worth the read. Nils read it and then wrote his own response, studying the tank/healer/DPS trinity. I mean studying – his post reads like he’s got the monocle out and has pinned the roles down by their delicate, pretty wings. Ahem. Anyway, his post is a good dissection of what the problems with the current trinity system are, and why both tanking and healing are absurd roles. And why they exist and games lean on them so heavily. Nils also ponders a little on potential solutions which look like they have roots in some of the games we’re seeing developed at the moment. Here’s looking forward to what we see those games achieving, and the ideas they take on board.

What about you – do you think we’re on the verge of breaking away from the traditional trinity, or is it so set into the fantasy genre that it’s going to stay?

_Quote taken directly from Syl’s post

You can find Syl’s Raging Monkeys homepage here

You can find Nils’ Blog homepage here_