There seem to be a few “top five” lists going around and with my recent post about returning to Lotro and figuring out which class I actually like, I thought it may be a nice idea to write about my favourite classes.
First things first, I can only decide if a class can be in my top five once I have played it for a substantial amount of time and in various situations (solo vs. group content, maybe PvP, depending on the game). So, I started by making a list of all the classes that fit these criteria. I did not count classes like the Death Knight in WoW that I used to love, but who never saw group content, PvP or reached max. level. If you’re interested, you can find the full list at the end of this blog post. Let’s take a look at my top five MMO classes:
5) Engineer (WAR)
This one I wasn’t so sure about: I had other classes that got really close. But I had so much fun playing her and all other choices had a “but…”. Warhammer Online has classes locked to races. So if you wanted to play an engineer, it had to be a dwarf. Obviously, this isn’t an issue for me at all! Especially since I love the look of the female dwarves. I quite like playing classes with rifles or pistols. The best part about WAR’s engineer, though, was the spanner that she could use when somebody reached melee range. She played with turrets that are stationary. There were different turrets for different situations, like a turret with a short range that hits several players. If I remember correctly, both the engineer and its mirror class from the other faction, the magus, were deemed underpowered. But balance isn’t part of my criteria. Class balance changes all the time anyway and in the case of WAR, nothing can change anymore because the game is offline (the official one, at least…). I loved her. I enjoyed playing PvE, I loved playing PvP and since I never played PvP solo, she was fun in groups, too.
4) Warden (LotRO)
I am still so angry with the changes Turbine (now Standing Stone Games) did to the class trees in Lord of the Rings Online. I loved my warden so much as I could easily play her as a DPS/tank hybrid. This isn’t really possible anymore. However, after so many years, I would have to relearn all the gambit combinations. So there are two reasons for not playing this class anymore, but let me tell you, this is an amazing class… with some flaws, as mentioned.
If you knew all the gambits, then you became quite powerful. The warden only wears leather, but she has a lot of self-heals and life transfer skills. Or rather, “morale transfer” since you do not have a life bar in Lotro, but a morale bar. Keeping the aggro from several mobs at once also wasn’t an issue – and I really loved tanking several mobs and leeching morale off of them. I have also never seen a class like this with the gambit system in other games. Altogether, I just wish it wasn’t so bloated. You had three basic skills (1, 2 and 3 in the chart) which you could combine and then a skill to “fire off” the combination. So, hitting 1 – 2- 3 then the “fire off” skill activated the skill “Power Attack” which gave you an improved chance to hit, did main hand damage and a bit of damage over time. The gambits could be two to five basic skills long. Obviously, it takes quite some time to build up a longer, more powerful skill. So at one point, you also had the ability to shorten a gambit. That is, on top of the 1, 2 and 3 skill, you also got one skill to load 1-2 into your gambit builder. So, you’d click this skill, then hit “3”, then the “fire off” skill for the Power Attack saving you one click. If you ask me, a maximum of four basic skill combinations would have been just fine!
3) Mesmer (GW2)
I didn’t like the mesmer in the original Guild Wars, so I didn’t expect to like this class in Guild Wars 2. But when it got announced, I fell in love with this class quickly. During the early days, Flummi walked through Tyria with a sword and a pistol. I really love the mobility you get with this combination. She felt like a melee, a very squishy melee, of course. But because of the mobility, I could get out of quite a lot of tricky situations and managed to survive a few skill challenges where others died when trying them solo. This was in the very early days, of course, where nobody really knew that they were doing. What makes this class special is the illusion mechanic. Several skills call a clone or phantasms. They either look exactly like your character (this can be very confusing in PvP) or are just a see-through version. They do different things, e. g., the pistol can call forth a Phantasmal Duelist who fires a pistol at your target. The best part is that you can also shatter your illusions which deal a lot of damage.
Guild Wars 2 is the only game where I never had a class that I really called my main. Over the past few years, I always switched between the warrior and the mesmer. However, as much as I love my warrior, I wouldn’t put that class in my top five. The warrior is a good solid class, but that’s it. It’s nothing special, just your typical MMO warrior. The mesmer feels “fresh”, though, and it’s just fun to play and nice to look at when you see yourself several times!
2) (Frost) Mage (WoW)
There is only one reason this class didn’t end up on spot number 1: Frost mages can’t heal. The class itself isn’t even special at all. It’s a very generic fantasy mage that you would expect in a fantasy MMO. In this case, I even decided to not put a class on my number 2, but a specific spec of a class. The number two spot goes to the frost mage, not the fire or arcane version.
The frost mage is a typical frost mage: her frost spells slow the enemy’s movement speed and the damage output is usually lower than that of a fire mage. This makes the class great at kiting. Being the typical mage, it also means that you don’t want to be hit. You’re not as much of a glass cannon as other mages, though, which is a reason I loved playing her. I also love that the mage in World of Warcraft has access to portals etc. which sped up the travel time immensely. It’s not a big deal anymore nowadays, but it used to be! I played a lot of PvP back then (during Burning Crusade) and enjoyed the class there as well. So much even that I refused to spec into fire only to go to (PvE) raids. Thankfully, we had a rather casual raid that had lots of people with great equipment already when they asked us to join. After playing with them for a bit, the raid leader said that he’d rather take a good player like me than one with the perfect spec! So, I stayed frost throughout Burning Crusade. I still love the class and would play it in WoW Classic again if my hand issue let me. She’s just a tiny twink now, but I do have a frost mage!
1) Shaman (WAR)
Number 1 and 2 were easy for me, although bookahnerk thought I’d put the frost mage on the top spot. It was a very close call, though. But I do love playing healing classes and shaman is just that. I know the rest of the list doesn’t reflect my love for healing either, but most of the healing classes seem… either rather generic (like the priest in World of Warcraft which I love playing!) or annoying (like the druid in World of Warcraft with its treeform and the need to keep up three HoTs on the tank during Burning Crusade).
So why is shaman my favourite class I ever played in any MMO? Warhammer Online’s mechanic of having offensive and defensive targets plays a big role here. You have a friendly player in your defensive target and can heal them while having an enemy as the offensive target that you can damage. This means that there’s no need to switch. Offensive spells hit the offensive target, heals and buffs the defensive one. Additionally, shamans were designed with that in mind. There were skills that did both damage and healing at the same time. And after casting several offensive skills, your next defensive one got a boost. In most PvP fights, I used it the other way around. I kept healing until I got the offensive boost and then used an offensive spell on an enemy when I had the chance. The offensive spells with cast time turned into an instant spell at that point, for example. Of course, I didn’t do much damage. But I could help and hinder the enemies without risking a life.
Warhammer has classes locked to races, so there was only the goblin shaman. The other faction had a mirror class, but since these were elves, I stayed away from them. If I had been able to choose any race on the Destruction faction to play a shaman, I would have chosen goblin anyway.
Honorable Mention: Black Orc (WAR)
Ah, I love telling this story, because it’s so typical me! Warhammer Online’s closed beta event came along and I had no idea which character to create and play. I was so excited, but I didn’t want to spoil the “launch experience” by playing a class in beta that I wanted to play at launch. So, I looked at the classes and decided to go with the Black Orc. A tank class. I had never played tanks before, I didn’t like the bulky orcs. Perfect! I made an orc with the tiniest tusks I could find as it was the least ugly one and off I went into my first WAR adventure. By the end of the beta event, I knew that a) I loved the game and b) I had to play the Black Orc and nothing else! I had completely fallen in love with tanking. Now, I have never been the person who liked standing in the front row, being seen by everybody. But I loved that with my Black Orc! The class itself didn’t make it into my top five, because it did feel a bit clunky in the end. It had a skill to reduce movement speed, but you first had to use skill 1, then you were allowed to use skill 2 and then you could use the skill you wanted. These chains sounded like fun in theory, but became tedious in RvR, especially with the laggy servers. Also, in the long run, both the engineer and the shaman were more fun when I look at all the settings you could play in.
Three out of these six classes are from Warhammer Online… to be honest, while writing this blog post, I logged back into Return of Reckoning and started playing again. I was positively surprised to find a very short wait time for a scenario to open. The Inevitable City was crowded with players, too. If that is usually the case, I may play the game more often. I like the RvR action and I am always astonished by how easy it is for me to play against other players in WAR while I do avoid it in all other games. There’s just something special about this game…
The classes I played in various situations (solo, group, PvE, PvP if applicable):
- WoW: Warlock, Frost Mage, Druid, Priest, Shaman, Hunter
- WAR: Engineer, Shaman, Black Orc, Magus
- Lotro: Warden, Guardian, Runekeeper
- Wildstar: Medic
- Guild Wars 2: Mesmer, Warrior, Engineer, Ranger
- Guild Wars: Necromancer, Warrior
- ESO: Templar
- Rift: Cleric, Warrior, Mage (Chloromancer)