GW1’s backline play was strong because it was so strongly built upon prot and the debuff/cleansing cycle, not healing. When strong healing skills were introduced, a lot of the fine structure of the game fell apart as it devolved into more of a damage vs healing race.
PvE tanks have always been this abomination of stupid aggro mechanics grafted with insipid power healing wrapped in a thick shell of gear checks. Those systems were specifically designed to have monsters choose to attack the least threatening foe possible, where their attacks would be the least effective – and the worse a target you were, the better you were doing your job as the tank.
I do not mourn the loss of that garbage at all.
Now, GW2 does have a problem. Its problem is that there should be trade-offs between damage and utility that are interesting and support the group in different ways. In GW1, for example, your offense required both raw damage dealing and offensive disruption to be effective – your heavy damage couldn’t kill much through protection and debuffs, while your disruption wasn’t going to kill on its own but could set up your offense by purging the protections that kept them safe.
A well designed, no-trinity version of GW2 would still be anchored in damage, with a layer of buffs and debuffs augmenting combat – and a layer of removal, both of buffs and debuffs, over which the tides of the fight would be waged.
Unfortunately that is, for the most part, totally absent from GW2.
Yes, there are a handful of buffs and debuffs – of course, the debuffs do not work in PvE against any foe that matters, which only amplifies the problem. Removal, on the other hand, is largely absent. Defense is built around invulnerability frames, against which there is no answer; dodges and bubbles conquer all. Many buffs are totally impervious to removal. The handful of the ones that are vulnerable to removal are straight stat boosts, totally uninteresting, and only vulnerable to a small handful of skills.
It is as though they understood that these elements needed to be in their game, but did not understand that they were the foundation of their game. Not the pretty murder barbie game, but the strategy aspect of it, the part that gave it depth.
So to the original point – even without an insipid hard trinity, there’s a place for a ranged support class, one that is focused on providing tactical buffs, cleansing debuffs, controlling space, and enabling movement. That class is totally consistent with everything they set out to do with this game. Yet it’s impossible to actually create, because the tools are not there; instead of a rock/paper/scissors of damage being trumped by buffs/debuffs being trumped by removal – which gets beaten down in a vacuum by brute force – you just have a game of rock/rock/rock, where rock fights rock and the best rock wins.
The game doesn’t need a trinity of one-dimensional characters. But it does need depth, depth that is sorely lacking.
Personally, I think he nails it. Discuss?
Edited by El Duderino, 15 April 2013 - 08:28 PM.