Top 5 Kick Ass Classes in MMOs
By Jason (Hhean) Harper, OnRPG Journalist
By now, the MMO genre is becoming quite the aged beast in terms of gaming history. Starting out in the confines of text based MUDs, and trading its MMORPG name for a smaller, sleeker abbreviation. Still, for the most part MMOs stick to the ‘holy trinity’ established back in their murky, MUDdy beginnings. There will always be a warrior guy who takes a beating, there will always be a healing guy, usually religious, who does the healing, and there will always be the sneaky guy (or the magical guy) who does all the damage. While the fourth ‘crowd controller guy’ is becoming more and more common in games, most MMOs don’t go far out from these traditional roles. I thought I’d give a little write up on some of the classes that, for me at least, stand out from the pack of trinity huggers in terms of concept, game play, or both.
Mesmer (Guild Wars)
She plays blue decks in Magic: The Gathering
In more competitive games, I always enjoy playing whatever class that will annoy my enemies the most. The mere thought of someone snapping a keyboard over their knee in frustration lights a small fire in my jaded little heart every time. Few classes come close to the sheer rage that can be induced by the Mesmer, whose entire game plan revolves around denying your enemies options, and punishing them for doing just about anything. While the idea of the class is far from unique (I write as Everquest’s Enchanter springs to my mind) its look, its play style that messes with not just the mind of enemy characters, but also their players sets this controller type above its predecessors.
Speaking of controllers…
Gravity Controller/Dominator (City of Heroes/City of Villains)
I once met a guy in CoX that was named Gerdan Freedmen. Guess what archetype he was.
Deciding which of CoX’s archetypes is the most kick ass is actually quite a tall order. Might as well ask a father to choose between his hideously powerful children who are capable of wiping out vast hordes of mooks at a time. City of Heroes, and its main competitor, Champions Online, really thrives on how over the top and bonkers the whole superhero genre really is. When thinking about which archetype truly pushes that absurdity to new heights, I had to go with the gravity controller. Want to stop the bad guys by hurling bathtubs at them? Can do! Ever wondered what happens to a Rikti when it gets dropped from a great height? Wonder no more! Ever felt like playing Portal while also playing your MMO? Speedy thing goes in, dead thing comes out. While other archetypes can giggle while rooms full of guys attempt to hurt them with mere bullets, or turn an entire office block into a blazing inferno of pain, the gravity controller is the only one that has ever made me laugh at just how crazy the whole thing is.
On the topic of blazing infernos, let’s stop with all the controlling and get straight to damage…
Bright Wizard (Warhammer Online)
Smoky the Bear and him aren’t friends
Look around you. Are you standing amidst a sea of flame? No? Clearly you’re not a Bright Wizard.
While Warhammer Online was full of awesome classes thematically (as they were ripped, kicking and screaming, from the Warhammer lore) they were often not that great mechanically. Yes, I’m looking at you, Witch Hunter. I think Mythic got the Bright Wizard fairly close to the mark though. They actually had a mechanic that drove home the ‘magic is really dangerous stuff’ theme that is central to Warhammer, while still enabling the class to kill everything, anywhere, at any time. With fire. Lots of fire. Have I driven home that this class burns things yet? This class alone broke the game’s RvR elements, as just a small handful of these walking conflagrations could stop entire armies in their tracks at the correct choke points (Okay, Mythic’s patches made them slightly less able to pull this off, but they are still capable of these shenanigans to a lesser extent). While, yes, the idea of a wizard using fire is hardly a unique concept (Even LotRO gave in and added fireball hurlers eventually), a mage who does nothing but use fire, is themed around fire and is, most likely, on fire right now shows a definite, single minded theme that few other MMOs dare to try.
Time to change the temperature a little…
Death Knight (World of Warcraft)
Beneath it all, he’s a daddy’s boy
Sometimes, it’s good to be bad. Already beginning the game at a higher level, World of Warcraft’s first (and only) hero class starts you out feeling like a devastating engine of unholy destruction. There are few games, let alone MMOs, where you kick things off by slaughtering your way through an entire village, taking all comers as the place burns to the ground around you, break into an armoured fortress, and finish things up by taking part in a large battle alongside giant sized zombies. Then you eat breakfast.
If the looks of the class alone didn’t interest people, Blizzard came up with a few interesting quirks for the class by adding in the class’ unique rune magic mechanic, and giving it a closer tie to a single weapon (or weapon set) in the rune weapons. While the Bright Wizard took one theme (fire) and ran with it at full tilt, the Death Knight feels like someone wielding a toolbox full of evil, and smashing people in the head with it.
Oh, and you get to scream “Get over here!” as you rip everything and its grandma towards you. That’s a plus.
From a class themed around its equipment we move to a class that is defined by its complete lack of equipment….
Monk (Final Fantasy XI, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Everquest, Ragnarok Online, numerous others)
Chuck Norris, eat your heart out. After I pull it out of your chest
The Monk is an old staple within RPGs these days, stemming from their initial inclusion in Dungeons and Dragons, from which many computer RPGs are inspired. A class that is defined by punching stuff in the face while wearing pyjamas, that isn’t to be confused with a bunch of healers who ran off with the name into the lands of Guild Wars. Any game that includes them is hardly being a unique and special snowflake, and often including this overtly eastern themed class in a pseudo-medieval European fantasy setting bends the lore of that RPG backwards just to allow for their existence. They tend to fit in much better in eastern MMOs than their western cousins, and in some cases are the basis for a game in and of themselves (See: Kung Fu Online, or Jade Empire). For all the trouble they cause from a writing and thematic standpoint though, there is a reason they have remained an old standby.
No other class allows you to do a flying roundhouse kick into the face of a dragon. While the other fighting guys are pussy footing around in armour, wielding hulking weapons, the monk is pummelling ancient horrors to death with his bare hands. They’re the Rugby player in a world filled with guys who seem to think they’re playing American Football.
Disagree with some of my choices? Think there are better classes out there? Have a good rant on our forums, and maybe I’ll write a cut of your best picks.