This is not a ground breaking new topic for many of my fellow long-time MMO players out there. Through study and attention to the blatantly obvious, a majority of people prefer DPS(damage dealer) roles to supportive ones. The reason this topic came to mind is I am currently in that preparation phase of deciding which class I truly want to play when Warhammer Online hits retail. I have always been one to have multiple characters in a MMO. I will try one class and take it to mid-levels and then decide if it’s worth taking it the rest of the way or if it’s better for me to restart and try something I might enjoy more. Very few times do I guess correctly when trying to plan what class I want to play. So back to the topic at hand, why do players prefer a dps role? There are several reasons why people may be drawn to a dps role and I must say they are enticing.
Big Number Syndrome, or BNS, is the addiction some players have that leads them to think that unless they are dealing huge numbers their character is worthless. DPS classes are damage per second for a reason! It’s common in a fantasy mmo to have a rogue or berserker type class with their role clearly defined to deal big damage. In games with PvP these classes are very popular for their ability to “wtfpwn” people. One shots or combos that are downright deadly are the biggest cause of BNS. It’s easy to become blinded in your own ownage.
The lack of responsibility also draws many players to play dps roles. Your job is simple: dps the mob. You aren’t worrying about keeping aggro, healing, or crowd control. Your job is to stand (usually behind) near a job and swing your weapons. Now, I’m not saying that all DPS players are alike and that skill can not set you apart. The good players are obvious. Sometimes in a game the dps classes are very gear dependent and distinguishing a good player from a mediocre one is nearly impossible. But given time and usually the higher level the player gets, it becomes obvious who is a quality player. Let’s face it though, dps classes can be relaxing. You’re not going to be blamed for a wipe because you didn’t do your job (well, rarely). The fault usually lands on the tank or the healer and it’s usually unfair.
Dps classes level faster in almost every single game! I’m sure it’s been a nightmare for developers to try and balance this problem. Damage dealers simply kill monsters so much faster that their lack of healing or utility doesn’t matter. They can go through a dozen monsters before a healer or support role can go through even half as many. Who wants to be the one fighting a single boar for 5 minutes just to get 50exp when a berserker has killed 20 of them in the same amount of time and gained 1000exp? No one wants to level slowly in a MMO, or at the very least inefficiently. Until a solution to this problem has been found this will always be a major draw for DPS classes.
Those are just three main reasons that I could think up on the spot. Bottom lines is that DPS classes are just easier than supportive ones. I’m sure there’s a better way to explain it and if I knew much about psychology I’m sure I could give you a real ‘thinker’ of a reason. Where does this land me though? I’ve played the DPS role before in DAOC, WoW, EQ, heck I’ve tried DPS in every game. There’s nothing wrong with indulging in a fun class and if it’s truly what you like to play then more power to you. For me though I can never seem to stick with a DPS class as my primary character. I always fall back on the roles with responsibility. I took a test that said I am a supporter-strategist or “Quarterback” when I play. I think that test was absolutely correct. I love contributing to my group’s success and knowing that as long as I play well my group can have success. In WoW I played a Healadin (Healing paladin) as my main character and in DAOC my primary ended up being an Aug Shaman and Healer. I have also enjoyed roles of Bard classes. I love the support they bring to any group.
Blogging about this stuff is very therapeutic. I think my decision of playing a Goblin Shaman is a good one. For about 30 minutes there I was actually considering an Orc Choppa but now I’m certain I want to be a Shaman. Warhammer Online is also really making it easy on me by giving support classes medium armor. DPS will be in light armor and Tank-types in heavy armor. This means that we have balance in the Force, er, realms. I might actually have a shot at taking out a DPS class because he’s wearing lighter armor! As a Shaman I won’t be all heals and buffs, I will have damage! Watching the pvp videos out there I see Shaman throwing all sorts of nasty spells and Waaagh at the enemy.
Hopefully all you rogues out there won’t backstab me in a dark alley because I’ve been critical of a stereotypical player. This same analysis can be done to each playstyle. I can just imagine the supporter roles as the type who always needs to be loved and the mezzers being classified as control freaks! Perhaps as we get closer to WAR you will find me changing my mind. I wouldn’t be surprised.
Which class will you play in Warhammer Online? Which play style do you prefer?