There has been one constant in MMOs for the last eight years. There have been casual MMOs, raiding MMOs, MMOs in space and MMOs in the future but, through them all, the Holy Trinity has been a constant. The concept of the tank, the healer and the DPS has been ingrained in our heads over years of constant use. When we face a boss, be it with four of our friends or nineteen of them, it has almost always been with a tank leading the way, a healer healing him and DPS killing the boss. Sure, there have been a few exceptions, the Shade of Aran from Karazhan being a notable exception, but the exceptions have been few and far between. The Trinity has always been there.
Guild Wars 2 is turning this supposition on its ear. Gone are the typical threat mechanics. Gone are the days of healers standing in the back and spamming their heals. Gone are the days of only certain classes or specs doing damage to the boss. In Guild Wars 2 there are no taunts to keep aggro off of other classes, there are no targetable healing spells and every profession is expected to DPS. The question now becomes: how will the average MMO player handle this change?
Like many GW2 fans, I have spent the better part of the last week watching videos from the Press Beta. I have watched the WvW videos, the Profession videos and the Dynamic Event videos. But I have paid special attention to the Catacombs of Ascalon videos. Its not that I am more excited for the instances than the rest, to the contrary I am much more excited for the WvW content, but because I believe that the instance content will be the biggest shock for MMO players. For most MMO players the lack of the Trinity will be a total and complete shock, even if they know about it in advance.
In many ways, what I saw in some of the videos and what I believe will happen when the game releases remind me of the ‘Stages of Grief” that psychologist use to explain how people deal with the loss of a loved one. No, I am not comparing the loss of the Trinity to the loss of a loved one but I do think that it will hit some players hard.
The first thing I see happening is confusion. Players will rush into the first instance and wander why their Warrior can’t hold aggro. They will wander why everyone is dying so quickly. They will not dodge and they will forget to use their self-heals. They will run around in circles, screaming like a little girl, and wander why this big, bad monster is attacking their Elementalist instead of beating on the big, mean warrior in plate armor.
I expect mass chaos for the first few days and weeks of GW2. The strategies we have all come to know, after years of gaming, will not work in GW2. Instead of taunts, we must dodge. Instead of expecting heals, we must heal ourselves. New strategies will have to be worked out and new mindsets put in place. This will take time.
Even after the community starts to understand how GWs works, there will be some players that will be in denial. In one of the videos I watched over the weekend, there was a Guardian that constantly stated in chat that he would tank the mobs while the rest DPS’d them down. Even after it was obvious that this would not work he continued to attempt it.
I expect a lot of this. There will be a player who will insist that the Warrior or Guardian in his group carry a shield and tank. There will be a player that will insist that the elementalist stay in ‘heal spec’ and heal. And, yes, there will be players who get mad and yell at group mates when they refuse to do it his way. Denial will be rampant and the old mindset will rear its ugly head often.
The next stage will be one of two things; anger or acceptance. Many players will just not be able to handle the loss of the Trinity. These will be players who cannot fathom a boss fight without a tank, a tank without a healer and a boss dying without dedicated DPS. Very soon after release you will see these players on GW2 and MMO forums complaining about the lack of the Trinity. Only they will mask what they are truly angry about and instead call the game ‘EZ Mode’. They will lament the loss of the Trinity and rage against the lack of raids. Forums will be rife with these people as they take out their anger on the game and the community.
For the rest of us, we will learn to adapt. We will recognize the loss of the Trinity for what it is; a new challenge. Many of us will find the new system refreshing and less constraining than the Trinity and we will rejoice because of it. We will find the fact that we do not have to spam general chat for a tank and healer something to be excited about. But most of all, we will play the game and ignore those who can’t stand the loss of the Trinity.
The release of GW2 will be an exciting time, not only because its a new game but because its a new way of doing things. The Trinity is dead; long live GW2.