Why do players prefer a DPS role?

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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?

  • Which class will you play in Warhammer Online?

    I’m pretty much settled on a human Warrior Priest. They seem exactly the sort of class I like to play.

    I prefer playing as a dwarf when it comes to race though, but their support classes just don’t do anything for me. I’d love to be a dwarf Slayer, but so will every other person playing a dwarf I imagine, so combined with the reasons that you state above, I expect there’ll be DPS overload in that quarter.

    Which play style do you prefer?

    I prefer hybrid support roles: I like to be able to heal or buff, but I also like to be able to get into the thick of things and swing a melee weapon every now and again; cloth-wearers aren’t really my thing. Hence why the Warrior Priest seems perfect… but only time, and bunch of greenskin trophy skulls, will tell.

  • I’m still not certain what class I will end up playing in WAR.

    However, I generally play a damage dealer for one primary reason. This explanation goes back to the first MMO I ever played, FFXI. This was a fun game for me . . when I got to play. Generally speaking, I spend most of my time looking for a party. This was beyond frustrating to me.

    So, the reason I play a DPS is simple: I want to play a class that has some sort of ability to solo. I hate sitting on my hands waiting for something to happen. I like to make things happen myself.

  • I tend to go more for hybrid classes in games, simply beacause I like the suport and variety they bring. I have a 70 Shaman(Main)/Druid and Paladin in WoW, most the pure dps classes i have played tend to bore me to quickly 😛

    When Warhammer come out I am prolly rolling a Goblin Shaman or a Dark Elf Blackguard.

  • I’ll probably go with a Chaos Chosen. I’ve always played heavy armor wearing classes in nearly every MMO since the original EQ, and I love doing it. I like how the Chosen look and since everybody loves Chaos, I’ve been dead set on playing a Chosen since about July.

  • You make it sound like all DPS players are idiots.

    I played a Monk in EQ1. Why? Because monks were the pullers and I loved that role. I also led raid teams frequently and that class was a great scout/point person for the raid, giving me good vision into the situation (and feign death never hurts.) Add on the fact that I was usually the ONLY character in my static party that could do significant damage and you can easily see how it was a key role in many situations – very supportive role, and not a free ride by any means. The puller dies a lot.

    I played a Bruiser in EQ2. Very versatile class, that also does a ton of damage and is fearsome in PvP. Mostly, it was a pretty solid solo/duo class and the animations looked great.

    It goes on: Lineage, CoH, WoW, Vanguard, etc – I almost always play a DPS class – and yet not one of your three reasons ring true to me. I never look at the numbers, I prefer great responsibility in groups/raids, and the proliferation of DPS players makes leveling harder in many cases because they’re not in demand.

  • The overview of why many people play a DPS class was based loosely on a stereotypical player. I never said DPS players are idiots nor do I think the role is at all worthless. How MMORPG’s are set up right now there is not a single encounter that can be done without them. And I did say that there is a difference between and good dps player and a bad one.

    Monks type characters are not necessarily classified as a straight DPS class, which is why you will find no mention of them in the entry. Monks are very much supporting roles in many games.

    When surveyed why people play DPS classes these were the three dominant reasons and are not indicative of every single player (as made obvious by you Brenth).

    It’s also important to note that none of these are negatives. I find them highly positive reasons to play a DPS class. Leveling faster, less stressful in groups, straight forward, usually balanced and in the top performing classes of any game, and PVP ability. I can’t see negatives there.

    Hope you were not offended by the generalizations made there. 😉

  • Not at all. Just a little sensitive to the stereotype (even though i know stereotypes exist for very good and supportable reasons in all cases).

    Just throwing a few thoughts out. Interesting that you say all these reasons are sort of good reasons for playing DPS when I read them as shallow reasons, but that’s coming from a guy who plays these classes for, well, various reasons as you can see.

    Thanks for the thoughts. Good stuff.

  • I haven’t yet decided on my career and race yet, mainly because I still don’t know whether I’ll go Order or Destruction. A lot of that will depend upon where my friends play and what my guild situation is (or isn’t) upon release.

    When I did my overview of all the classes in August, my top five at that time were Zealot, Archmage, Shaman, Runepriest and Bright Wizard/Magus. I usually always play a cleric or priest in MMOs and RPGs, so I’m very used to the support role and “healbot” that it can become. So I’m drawn to the dwarven runepriest in that respect, but I’d love to play Destruction. Zealot or Shaman would top my list there.

    On DPS classes, I think those reasons are exact reasons why it would appeal to me. I really never have played a DPS class to max level in MMOs – they always end up being an alt that I mess around with, long after everyone has realized how uber they are. I just remember from DAoC that classes that could do damage quickly, and to lots of people quickly, were almost king (that and stealthers). So it would be a nice change of pace to play a “big numbers” damage dealer in War.

  • It’s a process of elimination for me:

    I really dislike the MMO “tanking” paradigm of low-damage, high-defence that relies on “tricks” to stop opponents doing the sensible thing of smacking up cloth wearers (not saying it doesn’t work as a game element, or that it doesn’t takes skill to do it, I just don’t like it). Seems like trying to control a bunch of unruly kids (“Johnny, you stand here! Here! No, don’t move… Jimmy, what are you doing? Don’t attack the wizard! I thought I told you not to attack the wizard, come here this instant! Johnny, where do you think you’re going, I haven’t finished with you!”)

    Buffing is dull. Select player, click buff, select player, click buff, with the biggest challenge being running after damn fools who’ve buggered off out of range. Healing needs too much staring at other players health bars. I have nothing but respect for good healers, but I prefer to be focused on what I’m hitting rather than some yellow or green bars.

    So, in the traditional tank-healer-dps trinity, that leaves DPS, but I’d prefer to put it (using blue-sky thinking to leverage non-traditionalistic role asymmetry into meaningless corporate jargon) as “enemy focused combat”. I really enjoy playing a Dominator in City of Villains, a class with decent DPS, but focused around control (immobilising and holding the enemy). What I’m hoping is that Warhammer might manage “Tank” classes that don’t just involve wearing really heavy armour and shouting “yo mama’s so fat” now and again to make stuff hit them, in which case I could be tempted. Otherwise, maybe a Witch Hunter, or some Elf class they haven’t unveiled yet (I can’t play Dwarf DPS, as “Hammerer” is quite possibly the stupidest class name in the entire history of time).

  • For me one important aspect is desirability in groups. The big drawback of DPS classes is that they are interchangeable. Did you ever get stuck in a group that waited in front of a dungeon because they couldn’t find any DPS class player? That simply doesn’t happen. Groups always wait for healers or tanks.

    I find it quite revealing that in World of Warcraft when looking for players for a group people don’t shout “need a healer, tank, and dps”, but they do shout “need a healer, tank, and random”. Sorry, I don’t want to play a “random”.

  • I play currently with keen in LOTRO where i have made 2 dps class, and a burg more supportive but little dps. I find myself in many of the ruts he writes about. Some of the choice to play a dps class, and i do a lot is because its easier, ad i weant to see things near end of game. I tend to align myselfelf with folks i like and i do dps class because its what my small teams need. I found myself going back and playing more of a supportive role where i have multiple roles or options at once. This burg, not a big dps by self has opened my eyes. So, warhammer online, maurader looks real cool, dps looks great there, will i get bored could be? In looking for my options- for sure evil side. Maurader with keen’s healer good combo? prob. Dont care for tank , i need faster. I like debuffer role. I truely see my self as a tide turner, i like the part of swinging a battle at the right moment, (Burg lotro perfect right now with so much conjunction action), Is the main debuffer on evil side the dark elf? kinda intrigues me. Personal reasons i shy away from elves. I like trying new shoes in different games. In conclusion, i like support roles, i start with dps class, and move into supportive tide turners for depth of character (My perception). Thanks nice time to eflect on my process. Oakenshield Templars needs you ! Join Oboe (keen) and Arkeo (Arke) woot (shameless plug noted)

  • […] Keen and Graev have a good post up about why (according to them) players prefer playing DPS roles. Statistically, it appears to be more or less true– according to Warcraft Realms, four of the five highest class percentages are traditionally DPS classes: Mage, Rogue, Warlock, and Hunter. Warriors additionally have a higher population, but it could be argued that only 1/3 of the Warrior specs (Prot, as opposed to Arms or Fury) out there are actually meant for anything other than DPS. […]

  • I’ve talked with a guildie, a married mother of three, who plays a massive-DPS raiding rogue. She told me once, “In real life, I’m a restoration druid. When I’m relaxing, I want to do something aggressive and me-centric, because I never get to do that in the real world!” I’m probably the opposite — my work requires that I be aggressive with my personal contributions, so when I come home, I’m happy to play a buffing-healing class.

    Probably not the reason for every DPSer out there, but food for thought.

  • Excellent point Bob! Playing games is an escape or change from the real lives that we lead. Playing in an opposite or contrasting style to that of our normal lives could very well be a solid reason for many people choosing one class over another. Great thinking!

  • […] Keen and Graev have a good post up about why (according to them) players prefer playing DPS roles. Statistically, it appears to be more or less true– according to Warcraft Realms, four of the five highest class percentages are traditionally DPS classes: Mage, Rogue, Warlock, and Hunter. Warriors also have a higher population, but it could be argued that only 1/3 of the Warrior specs (Prot, as opposed to Arms or Fury) out there are actually meant for anything other than DPS. […]