Massively Overthinking: Our favorite MMORPG classes

Nostalgia has me this week: I've been thinking a lot about some of my all-time favorite MMORPG characters, some of whom I can't physically play anymore because they no longer exist, and some of whom have been dramatically altered inside their games so as to make them almost unrecognizable to me now. Ergo, it's time to inflict that on all of you too!

What is your one single most favorite MMORPG character class of all time? Which game was it, how did it work, and why was it the very best class? I posed all these questions to the Massively OP writers for this week's indulgent Massively Overthinking.

Andrew Ross (@dengarsw): I have fonder memories of self selected skill sets, but if I have to choose a class (and one that wasn't fun because it was utterly broken), I'm going to give a tie to Asheron's Call 2's Tactician and Bounty Hunter. The game was always quite unique and inventive, but these two classes were really interesting. The Tactician set up powerful, non-mobile pet "turrets" with different ammo types and had a repair skill. It also could create walls that lasted a little while. As the game had collision detection, the use of walls really helped give players new strategies even when the tactician couldn't use their main pet.

The Bounty Hunter, on the other hand, was random as heck. It was a melee class with a ranged attack or two back before this was a thing in MMOs. It had the highest straight damage attack in the game, but you'd pull aggro off of any decent tank with it instantly. You had an awesome damage combo having you attack the left side of the enemy, the right side, the back, and the front. You had a "vigor" drain (think stamina + mana) that could just turn people into worthless goo in PvP. You had a death prevention buff that started at 100% and each time you would normally die, you'd lose 50% chance of it working (or something like that). Best, though, was that you had a buff that increased your chance at getting prime loot, as all the loot in the game was randomly stat generated items. The class was squishy and heck and unreliable, but that also was probably one of the things that made it so fun.

asheronscall-2

Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog): I can't even hold myself to one! And I asked the question! My favorite character to roleplay isn't even one of my top 10 classes, so it's neat how these shake out. My Earth/Storm City of Heroes Controller takes the top spot, I think. Damn, those particle effects, and the raw power of that combo. I had a hundred alts, and she was years off from being my first character in CoH, but she was epic. Beyond that, I'd say my classic EverQuest Bard, Guild Wars Ritualist, and World of Warcraft Shaman circa WOTLK. I really felt like those classes were a joy to play mechanically; they just felt satisfying and right, the kind of class you think about when you're playing your alts (or my main, in the case of my EQ Bard, since she was my alt!).

And I know I didn't make room in the question for skill-based games, but my "disco archer" in Ultima Online has been a treasured favorite of mine for over a decade. She's got archery, bushido, and discordance (a bard skill) and their associated passives all jammed in, and while she isn't the most powerful character in the modern meta, she cleans up pretty much everything I ever care to do in UO. I'd bet most of the UO screenshots we've ever used on this site and Old Massively included her!

Eliot Lefebvre (@Eliot_Lefebvre, blog): You know, there are so many classes that I've loved, and there are lots of obvious ones... but I have to give a nod to an old favorite that couldn't really work in any other game in the form of Final Fantasy XI's Blue Mage. Blue Mages are fascinating because they have a whole minigame associated with them wherein you have to get hit by an enemy skill to learn it, but you also have to balance the cost of a skill and the slots you have available before equipping it. Skills also had associated stat boosts, and the right combinations of skills would result in passive traits. It was complex as heck, but the result was a class that could become intensely versatile, with a wide variety of options for taking on any given situation.

For more modern class design that's focused more upon balancing classes together for group content, it doesn't work so well. But it was a fun design, and I'd love to see more developers play around with the idea. It's a long-time favorite, and the fact that it showed up in my favorite FFXI expansion doesn't hurt.

Justin Olivetti (@Sypster, blog): Hm, I've had many favorite classes over the years and most all of them were pet-related. My Illusion Controller from City of Heroes gets a strong nostalgic vote, and I definitely had great times with Lord of the Rings Online's Lore-master. However boring it might seem, I'm going to cite World of Warcraft's Hunter as one of my top faves too. I loved the concept of taming your own companion and then siccing a gorilla or bear on a foe while shooting it in the face with a rifle.

SWG

MJ Guthrie (@MJ_Guthrie, blog): Single favorite? I don't have a single favorite! How could you possibly ask me to choose... I knew you were actually evil. Well, since I probably can't include classic Star Wars Galaxies -- my Master Dancer/Master Creature Handler/Master Entertainer/Medic/Musician would win hands down -- I will have to split the vote between the Fury in EverQuest II and the Disciple in Vanguard. Both are healers but with unique twists.

The Fury has every power I have ever wanted rolled into one package: lightning, fire, heals, invisibility, and shapeshifting. It even has a quick-travel portal ability, which I didn't know I wanted! There are also speed, underwater breathing, and other helpful buffs. Seriously, this class only lacks a pet. Whenever I think of my dream class, I picture a Fury.

Vanguard combined a monk with a healer to make a Disciple. I have always loved martial arts, and the moves are just beautiful to watch, so giving me the chance to make those moves without giving up my love of healing was awesome. I also really appreciated how Disciples had to be engaged in the action in order to heal, so it wasn't just a game of watching health bars.

Honorable mentions go to Vanguard's Shaman healer (Phoenix transformation and pet ftw) and the Dread Knight, a shadow magic/necromancer tank (even though I never played it). Face it, Vanguard just had some of the all-time best classes period!

Patron Archebius: This is a tough one! I have a pretty strong attachment to Guild Wars 1, so I'm tempted to say my Warrior or my Assassin - I had a ton of fun trying out different builds as the Warrior, whether damage or tanking for Fissure or just trying to run to Drok's, and the assassin was just cool. The animations, the armor, the moves... I really liked that class.

But ultimately, I think my favorite class of all time has to go to TERA's Slayer. Maybe it was just that it fit my standard character template - girl with a greatsword tends to be my default, for whatever reason. Maybe it was the skimpy armor; I'm not made of stone.

Mostly, though, I think it was the fact that it had the potential, if played well, to do things that no one at that level should have been able to do. I saw a guy solo a BAM with it once, and I came close to being able to do the same thing. It was such a radical departure from what I'd played before, pounding out the same set button sequences, that the idea of an MMO class being able to transcend level and gear through good reflexes and smart tactics made me love it.

Your turn!

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88 Comments on "Massively Overthinking: Our favorite MMORPG classes"

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MJ Guthrie
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MJ Guthrie

disUserNameTake Deepfred Glad I didn't have to list one for every game i have played!

milosanx
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milosanx

Saiga Zeneren (mateuszpachnik) If only I could get myself to play AoC again..

fangGWJ
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fangGWJ

benrobdob Veldan Engineers from WAR and GW2 came later but could not match or duplicate the vibe/atmosphere of the Ritualist.  It is a shame there is no GW2 counterpart.

fangGWJ
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fangGWJ

Motodew bunglerm00se Dystopia I think the problem with the friar (and too each his own if you still prefer it) is that Vanguard's Disciple or WAR's Warrior Priest are IMHO far superior classes in that arhetype.

malrats
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malrats

EQ Druid was a thing of beauty. :)

Motodew
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Motodew

bunglerm00se Dystopia Friar for me. Melee fighter in medium armor who had self buffs and then could step back and heal and be, at the time, sort of martial artist-like.

RanchRifle
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RanchRifle

Playing an MMO with a rigid class system is like living in a caste system. You are what you were born to and can never get out of your bucket. Give me an open character system like Asheron's Call and EvE Online. If you must have a class, look to Dungeons & Dragons Online. Ever see a barbarian step in as the parties primary healer? A rogue tank like a boss? How about a wizard laying the hurt down with a two handed sword?
To me, an MMO without the freedom to build a truly unique character is just a waste of time.

dorn2
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dorn2

In an MMO only UO and Champions Online have ever satisfied my desire to make my character the way I wanted.  In general I feel class MMO's always get it wrong.  Every class I've ever played is not really "correct".

I think in their desire to make classes different these designers think they have to make every character have some deep flaw.  Yet inevitably that flaw makes the class no fun.  Even worse they take the problem one step further by trying to shoe horn people into tank/dps/heals.

The answer isn't simply everyone is a tank mage but the idea that you can't let anyone be a tank mage is wrong too.

melissaheather
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melissaheather

Druid from EverQuest remains my favorite. If only you could have had archery, you'd be perfect.

Well, on that note, LOTRO's Hunter is basically a druid with archery, so maybe that's why I played it for years and years.  :)

VoySy
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VoySy

Warden from Lotro - one of most unique classes in MMORPG history.

Rune-keeper was nice too.(yes I've said it, bite me)

Oleg Chebeneev
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Oleg Chebeneev

Like I said quite a few times before on MO - my all time favourite MMO class is hunter in WoW. Not sure it stays this way in Legion though since I dont like the changes.

yocraigst
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yocraigst

WoW: Warlock (destro, esp during MoP, B4 nerf)
GW2: Necromancer

The only two classes I've ever played that I thought were perfect.

malrats
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malrats

I probably have like 100 favorites but my memory is awful. I can barely remember the last class I played (okay, it was BnS warlock). There's no way I could ever pick one favorite, but I did always love EQ bards, EQ2 shadowknights, and WoW Paladins.

alexjwillis
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alexjwillis

Guild Wars 2: Elementalist (very traditional MMO Nuker in one sense, but actually amazingly versatile and dynamic when you drill down beneath the surface)
Lord of the Rings Online: Minstrel (shout-and-bagpipe you to death!)
SWTOR: Sith Warrior (classic tank that FEELS tanky) and Bounty Hunter (10/10 for capturing how we all think playing Boba Fett would feel)
EVE: anything, because classes are dumb :)

bunglerm00se
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bunglerm00se

Space_Ghostal  Loved, loved, loved my Dark-Dark Defender.

bunglerm00se
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bunglerm00se

Dystopia Dark Age of Camelot was my first MMO and still holds a special place in my heart. Valewalkers were really cool. I also enjoyed the Skald and Bonedancer classes from Midgard.

bunglerm00se
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bunglerm00se

I can't pick one favorite. There's no way. So here are my top five (though in no particular order):
Mastermind - City of Villains
Gravity/Kinetic Controller - City of Heroes
Demolitionist - Tabula Rasa
Hunter - World of Warcraft/Lord of the Rings Online
Engineer - Wildstar

IamTaemys
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IamTaemys

Pick one favorite?! That's the hardest question ever. This is kind of cheating, but I really liked my Rift Rogue. Of course in that system, he was a couple different things: a sneaky stabber or a support bard. As a traditional stealth rogue, he used hiding and poisons (a long-time favorite thing for me, back to UO GM Assassin). As a bard, he was a healer and buffer. I loved both of those ways of playing and really loved being able to change on the fly.

ichi plays
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ichi plays

a pic of my hunter, and a screenie of a convo where I asked another hunter in the group if he was planning on running the instance with a fishing pole equipped.  Hunters were their own joke, and it was fun to tear stuff up as one because the bar was pretty low,

Rylorn
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Rylorn

Rift - Bard
Swtor - Powertech pre 2.0

AtticLion
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AtticLion

I can't decide between my FFXI Beastmaste, which I've waxed poetically about many times before here in the comments, and my WAR Chosen. Both provided me with literally hundreds, if not thousands, of hours of fun. 
Often in spite of their parent games own shortcomings.

Saiga
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Saiga

DDO: favor unlocked Drow sorc. FOD/PK/FOD/PK/FOD
AOC: HoX
TSW: not a class but fist/chaos
BDO: sorc so far

Saiga
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Saiga

Zeneren (mateuszpachnik) oh hell yeah

Helase
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Helase

I absolutely love guild wars 2 mesmer class! 
Also really liking Black Deserts witch which I main currently.

koryanders73
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koryanders73

Picking one favorite would be impossible.  I loved ffxi Monk/Dancer, swtor Imperial Agent Operative for the awesome stealthiness and just overall class feel, GW2 Mesmer loved just the different style of play.  Lotro Loremaster don't know why I love it I just do.  I also really enjoyed Engineer in gw2 because again never played anything like that in any game.  We need a good steampunk MMo I think just for something different.

My absolute fav will have to be Druid from Wow, having a job that can switch between tank , dd, or healer is just all kinds of awesome.  Does any other game ever allow this type of versatility in a class.

VanillaBri
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VanillaBri

Pre-CU Jedi. Power .. unlimited power!

mbbrazen
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mbbrazen

Without a doubt my Metaphysicist from Anarchy Online, came with a 3 pet bonus and just had awesome abilities.

rabidwargamer
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rabidwargamer

I'm a sucker for dual wielding classes. Rogue and Enh Shammy in WoW or Spellslinger in Wildstar.

Kanbe
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Kanbe

My head just exploded trying to pick a favorite

Jemmyt
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Jemmyt

WoW : Palatank (in WotLK). I fell in love with the tanking role when I learnt to play a Paladin in Wrath Of The Lich King. I miss that design of the paladin.

Dystopia
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Dystopia

Oh, and not to forget FFXIVs Astrologian. Love the whole card draw mechanics, even they are quite rng prone sometimes.

Zeneren (mateuszpachnik)
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Zeneren (mateuszpachnik)

Herald of Xotli - Age of Conan hands down ;)

Dystopia
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Dystopia

My beloved classes up to date have been:

DAOC - Valewalker (Trees with giant scythes? Sure!)
WAR - Disciple of Khaine (Had a nice new touch for a healing class; also pretty stylish animations)
RIFT - "Riftstalker" and "Bard" Trees
FFXIV - Ninja (fast paced with a lot of utility and style)

Space_Ghostal
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Space_Ghostal

Rynn I agree. I wish more MMOs would do this!

benrobdob
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benrobdob

Veldan The GW1 Ritualist was one of the most unique classes I have ever played, loved it.

Sleepery
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Sleepery

Aw, I can't believe no one's mentioned Warden from DAOC. Most enjoyable hybrid class I've ever played, and so much fun in RvR.

Random User
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Random User

CoH archetypes and their ability designs, coupled with the combat gameplay, are hands down the best.
Every other mmo out there is junk in these departments.

Space_Ghostal
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Space_Ghostal

COH: Dark Defender with Dark sub set. I have yet to find a class as cool as that any other MMO. I loved being a healer plus giving out tons of de-buffs. I also had teleport. One of my favorite things was to teleport my wiped group to me and mass rez the entire party in one shot..

ohforfs
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ohforfs

Vanguard: Bloodmage. A damage and healing combo where you did damage to heal allies and yourself. This tapped out my two favourite mechanics.

Polyanna
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Polyanna

Anarchy Online Doctor. First class of the first character I ever played. When properly geared, it is the archetype of the silly OP classic stand-and-cast raid healer that can just overheal the shit out of everything in sight, over and over, forever, without ever going OOM. Before heal aggro was nerfed on Complete Heal, when heal tanking was a thing, it was also the number two tank in the game.

ttyl
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ttyl

blood mage (or any convert-damage-to-healing support)

disUserNameTake
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disUserNameTake

Deepfred You really get around!  ;)

Rynn
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Rynn

I really loved playing my Illusion/Kinetic controller in City of Heroes, though my Storm/Power defender would be a really close second. The classes (archetypes) in City of Heroes are far better than pretty much every other MMORPG I've played.

Some honorable mentions would go to WoW's druid class, Aion's cleric, and LotRO's guardian.

Veldan
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Veldan

I liked classes best in Aion (the original ones, Aethertech makes me facepalm). I think it's the only game where I enjoyed every class and I honestly can't tell which I liked best. 
Second place goes to Guild Wars. Especially because of Elementalist, Mesmer, Assassin and Ritualist.

BalsBigBrother
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BalsBigBrother

FFXI Monk with dancer subjob with bonus points for awarded for being the race of Galka.  Punching things in the face with big heavy fists then performing a delicate healing waltz or samba to heal any damage I had taken was pretty awesome.

crackfox
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crackfox

EQ2 - Troub/Dirge; I could never decide which so I had one of each.
Vanguard - Bard.

Khalith
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Khalith

Swtor- Imperial Agent.  The "feel" of the class, the story, and the animations.  Everything about the class design is perfect and conveys exactly what it's supposed to be., it really makes you feel like an imperial operative.

WoW- Blood Elf Paladin, Cataclysm version.  That was when the paladin was at it's peak of gameplay for me.  I clarify Blood Elf Paladin because I absolutely loved their lore and story and really loved where it went from an RP perspective.

Rift- Void Knight- Loved the whole elemental anti-magic tank and the mechanics of magic absorption with it.  It felt great.
Everquest 2- Shadow Knight.  Another fun tanking class, it also felt great to me playing it as a Dark Elf, the lore and story of it once against really drew me in and helped me enjoy it.

FFXI and FFXIV- Dark Knight.  The Drk story in both games is awesome and I loved playing as them as a dps (XI) and a tank (XIV).  I'm not as big a fan as the XIV version (I miss my scythe like drk had in XI) but it gets the job done.

Ironwu
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Ironwu

I will probably  get toasted for this, but my favorite class from the last 16 years of MMOs is the current incarnation of the WoW Blood Death Knight.

*  Plate armor with a metric ton of Damage Mitigation
*  Self heal tied to the best damage skill
*  Management of Runes and Runic Power resources for optimum performance
*  Able to DPS both single target and AoE targets with great effectiveness
*  With proper stat selection, skill chaining created a nigh on undefeatable juggernaut

It is hard to describe how satisfying it has been to play through WoD content with the Blood DK.

wjowski
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wjowski

Definitely the Mastermind from City of Heroes.  Nobody's done a pet class that fun before or since.

zyrusticae
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zyrusticae

ihatevnecks
Admittedly PSO2 has the singular problem of being focused on spamming optimal attacks over and over again (yes, every class does this), so it's not terribly exciting to watch. That being said, actually playing as the class feels great, and pulling off all those split-second counters is straight-up sublime. That, and I'm a huuuuge fan of Iaijutsu (which is a big part of why I love the draw stances for BM and BD in Blade & Soul). 
Speaking of BM & BD... I couldn't possibly pick a 'favorite class' out of those available in B&S, hence I didn't list any here. I think they're all golden. I main BD and absolutely love spamming lightning flash, though.

wpDiscuz