[GW2] Some Trinity Whining
This post is in direct response to Syl's "[GW2] Tired of Trinity Whining. Or: As if!", and a counter at that. Not very common, since I tend to agree with Syl on many topics. In this case, I believe some of the misgivings on the subject of roles are valid. The problem might be as well one of concept. Syl (as well as the proponents of the Trinity) talk about the three roles of healer-tank-dps, instead of the notion of "role" itself, which is what I found lacking in GW2. Mind you, not from direct experience, since I decided upon not buying a beta, but from footage and the report of other bloggers.
The topics that Syl's post covers are too broad to have received such a diminutive treatment in one post, but I will do my best to answer them. The issues of cooperation and communication are tackled, and mixed up, but they actually encompass many more issues than that of the roles, such as the server-wide "groups" and the incentivising of social actions such as cooperating for a quest or ressing. I will refer to my previous post on the topic because I do not think I can add anything else to it, I still feel the same way about this issue. TL;DR: Automating or incentivising what was a social act of yesteryear does indeed avoid some unpleasant events, but eliminates a choice of acting manifestly socially, and a way to distinguish the more social-oriented players. I expand upon this topic much more on the post, please check it out if there is a conversation to be had on that particular subject.
That part cleared, the Trinity itself has to be analysed for what it does or does not in the game. The arguments of the proponents of the Trinity as listed by Syl are the following:
a) No holy trinity means there is no cooperation anymore! *GASP* b) No holy trinity means people do not coordinate / communicate in groups! c) No holy trinity means zerg-mode and needing no strategy! d) No holy trinity means there can't be difficult combat!
A) Is wrong. The Trinity is not the issue with cooperation, as I discussed above. What the Trinity is, is a system that subscribes a class to a specific function in a party, making it more clear for all the participants the way to tackle the challenges. A "crutch", as Syl herself called it. The problem is not with a Trinity-less system, but with a role-less one. The Trinity is just one possible arrangement of roles, and the one we have learnt to expect, and translate into many other games which are not MMOs. I'll expand upon that later.
B) Coordinating and communicating are different acts, and thus have to be considered on their own. There is some sort of coordination in WoW's PvE content, even in randoms, although it is automated by the Trinity itself. The tank pulls first (or if a dps does, I let them eat the mob and go on my merry way), the healer keeps them all topped, and the dps do their thing and once in a blue moon CC some mob. This type of coordination is so ingrained in our gaming habits that we no longer see it as a coordination, which is why 5-man randoms work so well. The Trinity does the coordination for us, selecting the role we will be filling. The problem is, Guild Wars 2 has not created an alternative to the Trinity that involves any more complex cooperation than the one that we have automated.
C) That would depend on how the developers tackle the issue. We do not know yet if high-end combat will require more cooperation than the ascertained easy content that dynamic events are. In the end, we might be seeing fights like Aran in Karazhan, a favourite of some friend of mine, and that model will succeed. The concern that many people have is that high-end PvE will involve the same zerging that dynamic events are. You die, you get ressed or run back, and people pew-pew away; strength in numbers, no penalisation to chain-ressing, etc.
D) Same as above. It depends on how the encounters are designed. Zerging is the lowest-resistance path, but the qualms against zerging are only partially related to the difficulty of the encounters. In a zerg-rush, nobody stands out. You are the lowest common denominator, an expendable DPS helping the bar get lower a bit quicker. That is why zergs are not interesting.
When people deplore the loss of the Trinity, what they really miss having is a particular role in the combat, a role which may enable them to outshine through their performance. People do not miss the Trinity, they miss fulfilling a role. That role could be aligned with the Trinity (I felt proud of one-man healing Karazhan), or be something particular assigned to the individual at a given moment (Mage-tanking Maulgar, Warlock-tanking one of the Twin Emperors; Hunter-kiting in Maulgar again). If ANet is cunning enough, they will be able to pull these off in high-end PvE, and the lack of role-based performance will be diminished by an individual-based performance, but I am skeptical about it, given that there has been no instance of that in low-end PvE.
It is extremely difficult to replace the Trinity model with something completely original. No matter where you look at, people will be arranging their groups into roles similar to that of a meatshield, plus healer, plus damage dealer or control. Diablo 3: The multiplayer is so inefficient and unbalanced because classes are not designed to complement each other. A workaround in the vanilla game (before many nerf patches) which allowed one of the top WoW guilds to defeat Diablo in Inferno was to create a pseudo-Trinity with a Barbarian tanking, two Monks healing, and a Wizard dpsing. In Diablo 2 it was possible to play with friends without feeling hindered because the game was much more forgiving, and thus there was no need for a Trinity, or any role-based system. Team Fortress 2: One of the basic strategies to advance the line was to shield a Heavy or a Soldier and bring down the enemy's turrets while healed and invulnerable. Healers were key to the survival of the team, but there also existed other roles which are not easily translatable into the MMO environment unless there is a major paradigm change in the way encounters are designed. These roles were that of the Spy or the Engineer, the former to take out key targets and the latter to defend a position. Conclusion: There ought to be a major change in the way encounters are designed for other role-model to become viable in the MMO setting. Either that, or have a role-less system, which in turn does have those negative effects the Trinity-supporters claimed: loss of the individual performance, zerging and zerging-designed encounters, chaos.