The ideal with character classes in MMOs is that there should be a wide enough choice that every player can find one that they like, and then use that character to pursue all of the in-game goals which appeal to them. They might involve different mechanics, different lore, a different look and feel, different levels of complexity, or different roles, but there should be something for everyone.
But what happens when some choices start to seem objectively better than others? Well, those should get fixed in some kind of balance patch. But what if the advantage is so core to the game design that it’s never going to be changed?
With the dungeon finder tool, players are finding (to no ones surprise) that if they queue as tanks or healers, they get into instances much more quickly. It’s widely held that the main shortage is on the tanking side, and that fits with my experience also. So the pure dps classes will have a longer wait, and hybrids can choose whether they prefer a dps role with a longer wait, or the hassle of gearing and learning to play a different role that will get them into instances more quickly.
The game isn’t just dungeons (and once everyone is geared up, it won’t really matter how long they have to wait), but they are at the forefront of people’s minds at the moment. So I’ll be surprised if the majority of new alts created right now are not druids and paladins (the two classes which can have options to tank, or heal, or dps). Suddenly, role flexibility is the new black. Then there will probably be a lot of other new hybrids, less flexible than the paladins and druids, but still able to either heal or tank as well as dps.
This is not only a good thing but also the only real solution to dps queue times. When these new alts come down the levelling pipeline, it will inject a bunch of new tanks and healers into the dungeon finder. But still, now that role flexibility has become so useful and marketable, it isn’t fair that some classes are restricted to one role.
One thing to bear in mind though, when you’re done being jealous of non-existant tanking queue times – there has always been an oversupply of tanks who wanted to raid. That’s going to get worse, when everyone and their dog has a geared up tanking alt. Established groups will discover that if they lose a tank, it’s easier to ask an existing member to hop onto an alt or offspec rather than recruit a stranger to a role that traditionally required a strong commitment to the raid group.
What do you think? If you are considering a new alt, would you pick a non-hybrid right now?