Massively Overthinking: What class is missing from your favorite MMO?

    
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I’ve been obsessed with Albion Online the last few weeks – it really feels so much like Ultima Online to me. Ultima Online but better! And yet it’s still missing a few things. I really want to play a bard so badly. That was one of my two favorite things to do in old and modern UO: dungeon-diving with my bards and treasure hunting. And the lack of a bard spec in Albion Online really weighs on me. The combat lines are relatively simple without something like bard skills to mix it up.

For this week’s Massively Overthinking, I want to hear about your favorite MMO and a class (or profession or skill line, etc.) that it has never gotten around to adding. What class is missing from your favorite MMO?

Andy McAdams: Instead of a specific class, I might actually say the whole archetype of “support” classes. Ever since we’ve started sacrificing enjoyable gameplay experiences on the altar of “ZOMG BIGGEST DEEPS EVER” for every single class, the true support role has gone away and I miss it. We’ve talked about the lack of psionic/psychic classes and how while mechanically they were similar to mages, class-fantasy wise it was a whole different game — but almost no one uses them. When I think about other support classes I miss, I also love the bard classes, but my main experience was Troubador in EverQuest II, which I loved playing. I also really loved the Illusionist from EQII because “illusion” magic is really fun for me (hence I “main” Mesmer when I play Guild Wars 2).

Back in the olden days, in the long long ago when Anarchy Online was relevant, I loved my Meta-Physicist — give me my two flying meatballs and a creep flesh-colored demon, and I would just sit back, randomly buffing the demon or bella, and it was amazing. I didn’t do a ton of DPS, but man it was hard to kill me. Trader was also a really cool class in AO, built primarily around buffing/debuffing, and the Bureaucrat class that was adored not for its DPS but for its sweet, sweet XP buff.

I miss the classes that focused more on support and utility instead of a mind-numbing adherence to a rotation. The rotation is fun, but character classes used to be so much more than self-unaware caricatures they are today. I still play them, don’t get me wrong, but my point still stands.

Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog): Let me throw a wild one out there: I wish Star Wars Galaxies had minion masters! Yes, we have access to pets and droids, but the game (and its emulators and rogue servers) has always been pretty strict about those being one at a time. You can’t even run a droid and a pet at the same time. Engineers, at the very least, should be allowed to use multiple droids! I really do love classes with multiple pets swarming around; it’d be nice to have that in my favorite sandbox.

Honestly, though, pick pretty much any MMO out there and it needs more magical options. Way too few MMOs have water and earth magic, just for one example.

Carlo Lacsina (@UltraMudkipEX, YouTube, Twitch): Funny you ask this just as BDO reveals the Corsair.

It’s always fun to ponder on what’s never been. But I remember how there was a rumor floating around for the cancelled Guild Wars: Utopia. The game was supposed to come out with two new professions: a time mage and a corsair. Between the two, I was most excited for the corsair. There was speculation the profession had skills that used alcohol and pirate-themed battle cries. Folks even thought they would wield a pistol in one hand and a sword in the other. How interesting would that have been!?

People pointed at Margrid the Sly as a sort of preview. They also pointed at the various “talk like a pirate” days as evidence that ArenaNet had plans on adding the salty seadog to the roster. But all we can work from is speculation.

Colin Henry (@ChaosConstant): I always wish that more MMORPGs had true summoner classes. Sure, just about every MMO has a pet class or two, some even have a class with multiple pets, but I’m talking about a class that spends most of their time managing uptime on a small army of minions, and ramps up minion production the more havoc they wreak. I fell in love with this playstyle with Marvel Heroes’ Squirrel Girl, but most people will probably think of the Necro from the Diablo series or Guild Wars 1. I understand that all of those minions running around are both visually distracting and likely intensive on the server hardware, but I for one would still love to see this type of class implemented in more MMOs.

Justin Olivetti (@Sypster, blog): Well, the most obvious answer in the world is a Bard-type class added to World of Warcraft. Players have clamored for one for years, and Blizzard even teased it in an April Fools’ gag a while back, but nothing doing. Having just gotten back into Final Fantasy XIV, I’m once again struck by how many jobs that game has — and yet only two of them use pets. I’d love to see more pet classes in that game!

Mia DeSanzo (@neschria): I have never found a satisfactory replacement for the original EverQuest Shadow Knight. Dark knight/paladin classes in other games just don’t have the same versatility or feel. They lean too hard into either the “dark” or the “knight” parts.

Sam Kash (@thesamkash): So my favorite class was the Dervish from Guild Wars 1’s Nightfall expansion. Since Guild Wars 2’s announcement, I’ve been holding out that it might add the class, but nope. Even when Path of Fire was announced, I thought the return to Elona might mean the return of the Dervish, but also nope. I know that new classes are not going to happen in Guild Wars, but they couldn’t find a way to incorporate it with the remote specialization system.

The Dervish was just so fun to play too. You could pay off at an alternative Monk, but I looked to boon myself up to the max for some big damage. It had elements of a paladin, but it wasn’t based on a western fantasy knight. Having a mystical warrior based on a different culture for once was pretty awesome. It adds an element of representation that might not seen important but that really mattered to me.

Tyler Edwards (blog): One of my greatest World of Warcraft pet peeves has long been the relative lack of classes and specializations that use ranged weapons, like bows and guns. I’ve never really clicked with the mechanics of Hunters, and I would really like another option. Yet Blizzard seems allergic to adding more choices on that front. Every single class added since launch has been purely melee. In fact, the number of specs that use ranged weapons has actually gone down since launch, since Survival is now a melee spec. I do actually like the idea of Hunters having a melee option, but Blizzard should have added another ranged weapon spec somewhere else to compensate. Since the team revamped rogues at the same time, I think one of their specs should have been made ranged.

I’m a fan of darker classes, so I’d love to see a dark ranger class or something similar (I’ve long thought dark ranger could be rolled together with shadow hunter and perhaps some Night Elf themes for a general “shadowy ranged fighter” class that can fit many races), but I just want more physical ranged options, and I’ll take what I can get.

The argument seems to be that there’s no room for more ranged weapon specs, but that just seems absurd to me. We have over 20 specs that use melee weapons; you’re telling me the game can’t support more than two that use ranged weapons? Get out of here!

But what I find perhaps even more egregious than the low number of bow and gun builds is the fact WoW still doesn’t have any classes or specs based on thrown weapons. If you’re a more casual fan, that might seem a bit random and niche, but if you played the Warcraft strategy games, you’d known that throwing weapons are a huge part of the Warcraft universe, with a wide variety of races and units across many games using them. In Warcraft I, the main Horde ranged unit was a spear-thrower. Warcraft II introduced Troll axe-throwers and hammer-throwing Dwarven gryphon riders. Warcraft III saw yet more troll units with a variety of throwing weapons, as well as Night Elf huntresses and Blood Elf spellbreakers that threw glaives.

I realize throwing weapons were removed as a distinct item type back in Mists of Pandaria, but a thrown weapon class could just use melee weapons and then have abilities that throw them. There are already class abilities that work like this, like a Demon Hunter’s Glaive Throw. We just need a whole class built around that playstyle.

Outside of WoW, well, I have lots of thoughts there, too. I love class design, and I always think the more options the better. For one thing, I really wish more games included spears, polearms, and staves that are actual weapons and not just stat sticks for casters. They all have great aesthetics, and having a little more range than other melee weapons is a unique and interesting playstyle. I’m quite excited that New World is offering spears.

Another thing I wish more games offered is mid-range options. By that I mean either builds that include a roughly even mix of melee and ranged abilities or a ranged weapon that has a relatively short range, like shotguns and pistols in The Secret World. This is another case where New World is breaking the mould; I like how its hatchet weapon is a hybrid of melee and ranged.

On the subject of New World, though, there are a few weapons I was really hoping would make it into the launch line-up that didn’t. Pistols, a “paladin” style weapon with holy and melee abilities, and lightning magic chief among them.

In short, I just want all of the things. I love coming up with new characters and builds, and I’m never satisfied. But seriously, Blizzard, just let me be a spellbreaker or a dark ranger, OK?

Every week, join the Massively OP staff for Massively Overthinking column, a multi-writer roundtable in which we discuss the MMO industry topics du jour – and then invite you to join the fray in the comments. Overthinking it is literally the whole point. Your turn!
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BodeanG
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BodeanG

Classes like the Friar (DAOC) or the Lahn (BDO).

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Peregrine Falcon

I think the reason that the trinity went from Tank/Heal/Control to Tank/Heal/DPS is because game developers couldn’t solve the boss control problem.

Here’s the dilemma. Devs don’t want you to be able to control bosses. This circumvents the challenge or their carefully designed mechanics. Players don’t care about controlling minions or slightly tougher mobs (LTs, Vets, whatever your game calls them) they want to control bosses because bosses are the only actual threats.

So basically you don’t see much in the way of controls anymore because game devs haven’t been able to figure out a way to deal with them that doesn’t either make the control class entirely worthless or completely neuter their boss encounters.

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Gamhuin

I’d like to see more crowd control classes – not a class WITH crowd control as we see in most games, but a class that specializes in it such as the enchanter from EverQuest or psionicist from Vanguard to a lesser degree.
The inclusion of an enchanter in a group would drastically change how a group would pull and fight groups of mobs in EQ vs. a group without one.

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Anstalt

For actual classes, well, that’s just an aesthetic choice and I’m all about halberds, spears, polearms and heavy armour. Most fantasy games seem to give me something close to that, so class wise I’m usually set.

What I do miss are more roles.

The trinity is just too limiting for my tastes and I’ve always found playing those roles a bit too straight forwards and easy. So, I’m all about support roles, whether that be buffer, debuffer, cc, off-tank or whatever. Roles where you really have a huge effect on the outcome, but the gameplay is subtle.

This is why the captain from LotRO was my favourite ever class. We had a massive outcome on fights, but everything we did was very subtle and easy to miss. But as a raid leader, you could see: when you had a good captain in the group, everything just seemed to go smoother and easier, when you had a bad captain it was really tough! Loremaster and Burg were similar, but their actions were a bit more obvious.

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Ken from Chicago

Every MMO that’s sleeping on staff fighting. I fell in love as a kid with this kind of fighting since seeing The Adventures of Robin Hood, with Errorl Flynn, ever since Robin and Little John battled on a log in a forest and 1970s martial arts flicks.

Unlike most weapons (sword, dagger, spear, arrow, crossbody), the quarterstaff was easy to be nonlethal. It also had such of variety of attack and defense moves. It had great reach to rap someone’s knuckles or trip them up.

We finally got to see proper staff fighting featured in The Mandalorian season 2 finale, the part before whatshisname showed up. 👍

City of Heroes, Guild Wars, DC Universe Online and I think Champions Online have had staff fighting. Star Trek Online has a smidge if you wield a Vulcan lirpa (the weapon Spock fought Kirk with during Fon Parr, hilariously spoof by Jim Carey in Cable Guy).

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Ardra Diva

Reading down I’m amazed how many people have same wish.

I always pick the closest thing to a Druid. The Hunter class in LOTRO is pretty close, but I miss the ability to charm animals. That was one of my favorite features in EQ. Charm a snake, send it into battle. They did poison damage, too. Or a bear, or something else. Charm spell broke? Run! :-)

Saluka
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Saluka

An actual proper frost mage that can cc tank.

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Raidervc

Elder Scrolls online should add a non combat skill line called “bard.”

That is all.

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David Goodman

I’d like to have some kind of beast mastery in FF14 /taming class. The chocobo “companion” is not significantly fleshed out to cover that need, and I don’t want a magic-based summoner either.

Lemme tame something fluffy with sharp, pointy, gnashing teeth!

Overall, i’d also like echo the loss of support buffer/debuffer classes. These days, much has been done to improve the soloability of healer archetypes because developers, finally, realize that not 100% of the game revolves around the group dynamic, so I don’t see why it wouldn’t be every bit as easy to create a support-focused class that isn’t worthless outside of the group too.

I think this is largely due to the fear that companies have, that a class will become “required”, but that’s a self-infliected problem: Min-maxers are always gonna min-max, it’s up to them to make sure the content CAN be completed without them in the first place.

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Sleepy

Have to agree with Andy, I miss the control and buffer classes. Being a bard in EQ1 (twisting aside) was an amazing experience, due to how much you improved any group you were part of. When most of the game was grinding, it became immediately obvious just how much of an effect you were having as it all sped up and became easier.

Also all MMOs should have a shaman archetype – a chainmail-wearing healer/buffer/dot hybrid that could do a lot if played well.