Almost from the very beginning of SWTOR’s existence, I’ve known exactly what class I was going to play.
However, the introduction of advanced classes made that once simple decision a great deal more complex. While the “Juggernaut”, a single saber dps/tank class, and the “Marauder”, a dual saber dps class, play quite a bit differently, they are both Sith Warriors.
Sith Juggernaut: "I'm a walking tank -- those blasters are just going to piss me off."
Sith Marauder: "You have until I reach you to live."
In most MMOs, I’ve always played dps classes. However, tanking is something I have always loved, and I’m pretty decent at it, if I do say so myself. While I do love tanking, there is one big reason why I never stuck with it in MMOs.
Tanks are not viable in most MMO PvP systems.
Too many MMO PvP systems are just dps burns, where classes gang up on each other and exchange one or two hits before dying. While this is fun to some, that has always been more suited to dps classes. Tanks have no place in a dps burning system — they can’t do enough dps to compete, nor mitigate enough damage to survive longer than any other PvP classes.
Any class that could tank would most likely find themselves carting around three types of gear: a tank set, a PvE dps set, and a PvP set. Because tanks in many MMOs are not viable in PvP, most classes that had tank specs would need a separate spec and gear for said spec in order to stay competitive in PvP. This all amounted to a great clusterfuck that I just never felt the urge to dive into — therefore, it was much less of a headache just to cut out the middle man and play a dps class from the start.
With the lifting of the embargo on PvP information learned from the recent Fan Site Summit held by BioWare, and especially the information pertaining to PvP held in this interview with Gabe Amatangelo, lead PvP designer for SWTOR, my decision suddenly got much easier.
And the winner is (as if you couldn’t guess by now)…
Why do I hear Pantera in my head everytime I think of my future Sith Juggernaut?
By the way, go and check out Darth Hater’s coverage if you haven’t already. It’s an awesome collection of info. The interview with Gabe Amatangelo was among that collection.
While I enjoyed it all, I think it is safe to say that interview had the biggest impact on me of all the interviews I’ve seen/heard/read recently. It not only solidified my choice in class, it also assuaged many of the fears I had that SWTOR would be just another dps race. I suppose I shouldn’t have had doubts, seeing as how Mythic’s people are working on the PvP for this game (Mythic being the creators of the best MMO PvP system ever created: Dark Age of Camelot), but it is still a great relief to see Mythic’s fingerprints on SWTOR’s PvP in such a real way.
I enjoyed reading the entirety of the interview, but there were select pieces that had the biggest impact on me. I’ll quote a few here.
*Asked what role tanks can fill in PvP*
Gabe Amatangelo: They are able to “guard” their allies. Building up their defense, avoidance, etc. is not going to be lost in a PvP situation. They’ll be able to shift whatever kind of damage absorption they have onto their buddy. And then the scoreboard tracks every bit of damage they take on behalf of their buddy, and they are rewarded accordingly. We carrot players who aren’t working as an organized team with their buddies in Warzones — like pick up groups. They still have an incentive to throw that guard on a healer that is about to go down or that DPS that got thirty kills on the opposite faction. Basically, a tank who is a good tank will be able to switch their guard targets of opportunity when it is most viable.
You have no idea how much this excites me. Gabe Amatangelo, you are a friggin kingpin.
In most PvP systems, tanks earn no benefits from their increased armor. Classes do so much damage, a tank might as well be wearing cloth or leather. They might take a few more hits, but they go down just as easily. With this system, I could actually contribute something to my group as a tank in PvP.
Later in the interview, Gabe Amatangelo elaborates a little bit further on a tank’s role in PvP:
*Asked if this system means tanks will not be forced to change to a dps spec in PvP*
Correct. To clarify this a bit more, if you built yourself up to have taunts, heavy armor, and all kinds of avoidance and absorption all of that is going to be one hundred percent viable in PvP through the guard ability. If I taunt a player, they are going to do less damage to everyone except for me. And that less damage that they end up delivering — that difference is going to be tracked on the scoreboard for me. When I guard a player, fifty percent of the damage they receive is redirected to me. And of course, all my heavy armor and avoidance is going to come into play, helping them to survive as well as myself, and all the damage I take on their behalf will be tracked for my rewards at the end of the Warzone.
FIFTY percent? Let’s think about this for a minute. If I, as a tank, can guard a clothy ally, basically allowing them to circumvent half the damage you do to them by taking it upon myself, you CAN’T leave me alive. There is no “avoid the tank, he doesn’t do enough dps to make a difference”; if you leave me alive, you are doing half damage to my dps allies, meanwhile, they are doing full damage to you.
This also works with healers. If I see an Inquisitor healer, or any healer, getting focused on by a dps, you better believe I am going to guard that healer. Just like that, I take 50% of your damage and suddenly you have to fight more strategically than just simply going up and burning someone down with pure dps.
A system like the one SWTOR appears to have is one that values ALL roles. I don’t think I could praise this approach enough if I tried.
All roles should be viable in player vs player. They should be, but for whatever reason, most MMO companies have failed to achieve giving all their classes viability in an MMO PvP system. But of all the MMO companies out there, really only one has successfully found a way to achieve universal role viability on a consistent basis.
Whatever you might say about WAR as a whole, you cannot say it fell flat due to lackluster PvP. The PvP system of that game was its strength. Mythic took many of the same principles they had in place for DAoC and carried them over to WAR. With Mythic employees working on the PvP systems for SWTOR, it looks like some of those same principles will carry over, yet again — which pleases me very, very much.
However, on a selfish level, I’m more excited that I finally have my class and spec nailed down. It is something I have considered for a long time, and to finally have it pinned down leaves me with a feeling of satisfaction.
In celebration of this, I think I’ll post the aforementioned Pantera song that immediately popped into my head when I heard this news.
See all my Impz on Dromund Kaas. I’ll be the ominous looking Sith Pureblood Jugg hanging out in the cantina when I’m not questing, or (so sick) in a Warzone.
To the ‘pubs I meet on Alderaan… Don’t run. You’ll just die tired.