Are DPS classes outdated?

by on January 9, 2012

We Fly Spitfires is well known as one of the contrarian blogs to watch, and today Gordon’s got a great post up there, presenting solid, persuasive arguments that the DPS-only class is a relic in most MMORPGs, and isn’t much longer for this world

“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.”

Gordon’s excellent post echoed a similar argument from Matthew Rossi last year for me – except rather than eliminating DPS, Rossi was suggesting that Blizzard, in particular, eliminate tanks. Overall, the sense in the blogosphere seems to be that the old single-role model is dating badly, and that we’re in for a hybridish future.

What do you think? Will there be a role for DPS-only classes in the future of MMORPGs, or is RIFT’s do-it-all Cleric class the model for the future?

If you enjoyed this article, check out our other posts from these categories: General MMO Interest

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

The Renaissance Man January 10, 2012 at 6:31 am

There’s a big difference between the argument that rossi made, which I took some umbridge with, and the argument being made here. rossi argued for eliminating tanking from the game, not eliminating pure tanks, as none exist within the game. Gordon is arguing for eliminating pure DPS classes, which is to say that there would still be a need for DPS players in a group, but some players wouldn’t be shoehorned into that role simply because of their choice of class.

There’s two styles of hybrid, there’s potential hybrids, and effective hybrids. Effective hybrids are characters that can be in an encounter, and DPS effectively and then heal or tank effectively within the same encounter. These become problematic when you attempt to balance encounters and you’ve got a tank doing as much damage as a DPS, or a DPS putting out as much healing as a healer. Either they can be effective, and they render the pure roles obsolete, or they can’t be effective in either role, and they wind up shoehorned into a few encounters and otherwise can’t perform. Such was the fate of atonement priests, incredibly effective on a few fights, such as heroic Halfus, but completely inferior to actual healers and actual DPS in everything else.

Potential hybrids are like paladins. A ret paladin can do effective damage. He cannot heal effectively nor can he tank effectively, but he’s a minor gold investment and a gear set away from being a prot pally or a holy pally. The player has choices in between fights, but he doesn’t have effective choices during the fight. I think that’s the model that Gordon was pushing. Don’t get rid of the need for DPS, get rid of the classes like rogues that can only DPS.

I think that removing any leg of the holy trinity would drastically hamstring the developers ability to design challenging encounters in PvE content. However, removing the constraints on class design would allow them an even wider range to work within.


Ahtchu January 10, 2012 at 4:16 pm

At its core, this argument asks for the HT concept to be modified. It can’t be:
Asking to review purebreds is an exercise in a waste of time. They provide stability to a system, just like hybrids add flexibility. Both are needed. This also is covered in the series linked above.
The only thing that is outdated are those arguing for the HT concept to be changed. It needs to be *built on*, absolutely!, but suggesting that stripping its core concepts does not show critical thinking, but rather, a lack thereof.


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