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Trinity?

It’s impossible to visit any forum or online gaming site without running across thread after thread about the holy trinity.  This was of course brought up with the reveal on EQ Next a few days ago and it’s been fueling since.  It’s a touchy subject for a lot of players and will only continue to be even after the existence or nonexistence is finally confirmed when players get their hands on a playable build.  
I personally stand in the middle of all this mess.  I can and have adapted to both but i do have a preference.  While i tend to lean towards having a trinity, I’m not a fan of the current popular iteration of it.  As it stands, it’s a pretty dumbed down version of the kind of system i would prefer and have enjoyed in the past.  Let me explain!
     Tank + Healer + DPS 
This is the current popular system we’ve had in place for almost a decade now and it stinks.  Not only do i find this boring and repetitive but it also limits what kind of classes players are willing to bring to dungeons or larger scale content.  Now it’s an issue of encounters being built around only requiring these 3 pillars which is also part of the problem.  Your tanks do their thing while healers play whack-a-mole and dps pew-pew until mobs are dead.  I’m personally tired of this model.
Tank + Healer + DPS + CC + Support
Lets get back to the way group content used to flow!  It was so much more involved and specialized and in turn a lot more fun to me.  I’ll use FFXI as a point of reference since that’s what i have the most experience in.  Your average group, during the games prime, consisted of 6 players:
  • 1 Tank – Paladin or Ninja
  • 1 White Mage – main healer and provided buffs
  • 1 Red Mage or Bard – debuffs and mana restoration
  • 1 Black Mage – big nukes and CC
  • 2 DPS – for damage and skillchains
This was the tried and tested group setup everyone used to level up, since the only way to level up was through group exp grinding at camps.  Let me first state that i like having camps as an option and do not want to go back to it being the only method of exp.  With that out of the way we can examine what made this such a fantastic setup.  Keep in mind that while all these classes were not required, they made a night and day difference to your party’s efficiency. 
You had the tanking, heals, and off heals covered and really needed it as we took a lot of damage.  Crowd control was there in the form of the black mage, red mage, or bard which could all sleep mobs in case you accidentally pulled or aggro’d an extra one.  Support came from the red mage or bard which could off heal, restore mana, and debuff mobs.  And lastly the dps were their to do their thing and whittle down mobs.  They did have the important task of performing skill-chains for the black mage to time nuke his magic bursts.  This allowed for huge amounts of damage which was almost required in order to keep mob exp chains going.  The interdependency of all these classes made for a great community.
Classes
     
Another aspect that seems to be lacking in current gen MMO’s is the utter lack of class diversity.  I’m sure this ties back into the current trinity system’s pitfalls, but it needs to change.  I like having a lot of classes, and i mean a lot.  EQ has 16 of them, FFXI has 22, and EQ2 has 25.  I’ve made it no secret that i believe FFXI has the best class system of any MMO out there.  I’m a huge fan of only having one character, one name and I’m not a fan of alts.  This goes back to everyone knowing who everyone else was on a server and reputation actually being everything.  XI’s subclass system, along with the large number of them, allowed for everyone to play any role that was required (provided they had the class leveled).  This didn’t eliminate the need for all those roles, it just made everyone more flexible.  Alts were still possible for players that love doing that, which i know there are a lot of.  It’s really a perfect system, well, until the level cap is raised!
Party Size
Oh how i hate when party sizes are smaller than 6.  To me it just feels like the absolute perfect group size and not just because that’s what XI had.  When you have 2 spots already tied up in a healer and tank, what exactly do you have room for?  I’m assuming you want at least 2 dps, so that brings up the total to 4.  Is there room for another dps or do you want CC or support?  Does the content even require CC or support?  More often than not the answer is just to grab another dps and that’s really the fault of the system more so than party size, but it does factor into it.
The majority of players are dps, which I’m sure is nothing new to anyone.  When you limit the party size to something ridiculous like 4 as The Old Republic did and Elder Scrolls is doing, then you’re essentially only grouping 2 dps per tank/healer.  Now I’m not sure about anyone else, but in my world tanks and healers don’t grow on trees.  This leaves a ridiculous overabundance of dps out in the cold and waiting around.  While the 5 man group alleviates this a tad, i feel the perfect solution is to go with 6 because it just plain works.  You still have to build a system around using CC and support effectively otherwise no one will bring them regardless of group size.

Taunts
Force taunts are stupid.  There i said it, now get over it because it’s true.  We didn’t have force taunts in XI, we had “Provoke”.  This was a warrior ability on a 30 second cool-down that raised your enmity level.  While it was used for tanking purposes, it wasn’t very efficient when compared to almost everything else.  You see, every spell had an enmity number associated with it.  Heals and paladin abilities were more efficient means of building enmity but so were debuffs and sleeps.  This is also why AoE sleeps would usually get you killed if not used correctly.  Enmity also decayed over time and also decayed from taking damage.  What this meant is that tanks had to work their butts off to maintain a mobs attention through timing their heals and popping abilities just to stay at the top of the enmity table.  If someone pulled threat off of them, it generally meant they were dead.  This made for complex combat where everyone had to know their limits.  Unfortunately, the encounters themselves were not very complex but that’s another issue all together.
The UI 

I’m a minimalist so i like my screen free of clutter.  I enjoy the focus moving away from staring at the UI and instead to playing the game itself.  This doesn’t mean I’m satisfied with only having 8 abilities.  This typically leads to spamming 2-4 of them while the rest are longer cool-downs.  In contrast, having 30 abilities by level 20 is also unacceptable.  Nothing is worse than having dozens of useless buttons on my bar that are completely situational except for that one time something may happen.  A 5-second attack buff on a 5 minute cool-down?  Get that junk out of my game.  I’d like a happy medium of 20 abilities, or 2 full bars, of actual useful stuff that I’m going to be constantly using. 
This is what i don’t want!
My Ideal System
I’m a huge fan of how GW2 handles their actual combat.  I don’t like being rooted to the ground unless I’m doing some long cast spell or channeling a melee attack.  It’s just super fluid as a melee and feels good.  Where i find it lacking is of course in the trinity department, which i know is the point of the game.  I’d love for a system that incorporates a 6-man group size with the full trinity model (including CC and support) and content that requires the use of them all.  Wrap that up with GW2’s smooth and fluid combat, 20 hot-bar abilities, large diverse class system, and grouping to actually be important to leveling.  I’d be a happy camper.  No pun intended.

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