The recent Everquest Next reveal has seen a lot of really interesting posts debating it’s apparent lack of holy trinity combat system. I think it all started with a post at Tales of Aggronaut regarding the interests of players who like the trinity system and the developers apparent dismissal of it in the name of fun. I admit after reading that post and thinking about I became rather angry.. I calmed down, deleted the rant that was sitting in my drafts and started again.
I was sad at first as I love being a healer, it is a role I have played for many years in mmo’s with organised groups and without. In PvP battlegrounds, open world, and even in lfg raids. It is a part of my identity in these mmo’s as I first and foremost identify as a healer… Have a look at the blog title, that’s how much I enjoy healing. After playing GW2 for a year I miss healing so very much, trying out my Elementalist made me realise I miss it even more. Aside from that they give people a defined role and a style of play that is meaningful and important to them. It is something that appeals to our base personalities which make them so important to our gaming identities. Just because it isn’t as popular as a hybrid or straight DPS shouldn’t make it less important as healing offers a certain unique playstyle withing mmo’s that really appeals to me and many others. Here’s why I like it.
Sometimes it isn’t fun healing the dungeons or raids although many times I enjoyed it precisely because it wasn’t. One of the best times of my mmo gaming was reaching the cap in Rift and heading into hard modes. This was before they were nerfed and for the Tank and Healer, even for the dps these were some extremely challenging encounters. I reveled in it, truly I did. I embraced the challenges and it pushed me for more. Where many groups were duo healing the entire encounter I was blasting most of it out solo. It wasn’t fun, no it was something far more exhilarating then that. I was truly and utterly engaged in my class and the game I was playing and I miss this challenge that can only come from these defined roles.
There is also a certain amount of reliance with each other in those circumstances where you need each other to beat these encounters. I enjoyed being needed and a critical point in our groups and it was a strong point in building that rapport and connection to others that is just missing in these all or nothing dps zerg fest encounters we have at the moment.
I work in Childcare for a living, a profession solely about caring for others so it was really no surprise to myself when I fell into the healing role, nurtering others is something very familiar and just an innate personality trait within me. While the Tank is always the protector, omitting damage from others the healer is about nurturing and caring for others, it’s not stopping harm but about healing wounds. You’re also helping others to grow further, enabling others to continue onwards towards their goals while being supported. I want others to achieve not just myself and I believe that is a core aspect.
I guess the similarities between the two classes are rather close in that they both have a focus away from the self and onto others but I believe they are something fundamentally different from each other. They are almost like polar opposites in what part they focus on but both form a whole.
I have discussed before that I have ganked other players but this always seems to be within a group and as part of the usual sense of nurturing others, or nurturing my group. I have been playing Dota a little lately in order to test out those MOBA’s everyone is talking about and having a … partially ok time. My first experience was rather amusing though, I was defending my line and this guy kept chipping away at me. I made a comment over TS bemoaning that this guy keeps attacking me to which my friends replied”of course he is, attack him back”. It is just a different frame of mind I hadn’t even thought about at first, I was focused on defending my line and farming creeps to better my team and would have preferred if I was left in piece to do it.
I started of course attacking back after that but it really did feel odd, I’m not an instigator in the slightest as it really runs counter to my usual playstyle with waiting for others to engage and supporting their efforts. Now this extends very much into PvE encounters in that it is always the Tank and Dps’s jobs to instigate the fight and focus on that other monster, or person. I wait, I support and my focus is always around others, I attack others as well but that primary aim is not on the self or on the enemy and as such it feels unnatural to be that person actively engaging others.
To me it feels like Healing is of a more dynamic role than any other. It is a reactive playstyle in that you are constantly adapting to the situation and using skills accordingly. There is no set skill to use or rotation to play out every single encounter that plays out pretty much regardless of the content, there are no set I win button macros to success. Boss fights often play out a little differently in when they put out damage and of course players always offer a certain randomness to the fights that just can’t be accounted for and it is your role to react to this. I enjoy that there is no set plan to combat and with this dynamic play I am constantly engaged in the combat.
Focusing on Fun
Imagine one day if someone said that for some reason your favourite puzzle game company announced it was never going to make puzzle games ever again because apparently they aren’t fun enough. They explain that many games will still have puzzle elements, you can play those over there and that should be enough. But you love these in particular puzzle games and you know, since you have played those other games with puzzle elements that they don’t offer the depth of puzzles and the amazingly engaging experience you had completing those original puzzles.
That would make me incredibly sad, as this news does as well, it’s just not what I prefer. Sure I would have liked if they had just updated the combat a little, I actually think The Elder Scrolls has done a decent job of that but abandoning it does seem like a mistake. Now imagine your one of those fans of Everquest suddenly being told that the ganes they play and the gameplay they love is not good enough anymore. I think their ranting and raving is actually pretty justified in this case as an established game and I.P is suddenly completing changing the core of what makes it. Leo the lion was a part of that feeling as well and it all just adds up looking like a big middle finger to the community that has made Everquest a pillar of the mmo genre. Oh well.. Let’s chase some whales instead WOOOOO!
Now with the focus on providing “fun” experiences above all else it seems that the role and gameplay I, and others adore is not appreciated or needed anymore and that really is a shame. Healing, Tanking, and support classes have very valuable roles in these mmo’s as they provide a a sense of independance with each other. Being everything all the time or worse, completely removing those roles is an extremely corruptive influence that is slowly eroding away at our mmo social structures. MMO’s are meant to be about needing others, whats the point of have a multi-player space if everything can be done solo or with as little communication as possible. I’ve written previously about the attitude of helpfulness in GW2 and how it was very social but never eventuated into socialising and as my play has gone along you can see the extent with which the community has suffered because of it… silent dungeon runs aren’t the worst of it.
I’m actually rather conflicted about the use of the trinity though as I think both styles have their strengths. For defined structured group content having a trinity is the better system… That’s not even debatable. I have the only really experienced the other side in Guild Wars 2 but it really was some of worst group experiences I’ve had. The structured content just didn’t have that… well, structure. It was freeform madness with very little coordination and group functioning other than just kill stuff faster and bug out frustrating encounters.
From the many games I have played it seems like having a flexible skill/class system is the way to go as people can use these more defined roles and gain that sense understanding and order in these encounters yet allow greater freedom in the open world. It honestly seems like they went the easy way out in this regards with abandoning something more complex but with greater flexibility. There is a wealth of experience they could have drawn from as well from previous games. They could have had the best of both worlds, a system wherein there is space for the trinity and mechanics revolving around that, and then also had many wherein you get to show off this new adaptive Ai. It would have had a far greater diversity in the mechanics, experiences and gameplay but we get one type, a type that feels far more restricted in what it can accomplish.
The part where I don’t mind it’s absence is for PvP. Playing in WvW and even in structured has been some of the best PvP combat I’ve had in an mmo so far. It feels incredibly fluid to play and has some amazing complexity built into its system with how skills function that create some far more engaging and dare I say… Fun combat. It is more than just playing a game of healer whack a mole and has more nuances in how the combat experiences unfold. Now GW2 took the system no where near as far as the should have and never really balanced it enough to achieve greater things but I had a taste of it, and that taste was extraordinary.
To me your system doesn’t appear as complex as Guild Wars which really does make me worry. Eight skills in total and no in combat weapon switching from the sounds of it, that’s not simplifying an admittedly over complex system, that’s you making it so a drinking bird could play effectively. It also seems like you don’t have any sort of combination system to at least make skill use require coordination either. Dare I even ask about active blocking and dodging. Yes I’m still very skeptical as I have seen how this development fascination with action combat in these mmo’s can go wrong. I want you to succeed in this because we really need an MMO that is like what you claim.
This talk of a trinity less combat system was what intiially set of many warning bells with people as it is an indication of a focus towards an mmo that sounds familiiar to all the other trash we’ve been handed lately. I was interested in EQ Next because it was different, this was you giving into the pressure of the industry and abandoning that. I hope I am mistaken.