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Classes are special character archetypes, used by many games to differentiate their characters in combat. The concept of classes has its roots in Dungeons & Dragons, and first made its appearance in D&D-inspired role-playing games. Since then, it has become a staple of many RPGs and games with RPG elements. Many MMORPGs also rely heavily on the class system to encourage teamwork, especially with harder enemies and player-vs-player events.
Classes often work with a party system, with different classes fulfilling different roles in it, and the success of a party depends on its classes and their ability to work together. Some games also allow class changes, either requiring some retraining or switching on the fly. The Job System, popularized by the Final Fantasy series, is one example.
The concept of classes has also made its way to team shooters like Team Fortress and Battlefield. Similar to RPG classes, classes in shooters have special abilities or playstyles that complement the team. This is to encourage team-based gameplay in a genre not known for it.
Classes can also be seen in racing games. Unlike the former types of games, however, classes in racing games is used to differentiate types and power of vehicles. Games like Forza Motorsport and Gran Turismo use vehicle classes to ensure a more even matchup in races, so that players driving a hatchback would not find themselves against a Ferrari.
Common RPG Classes
- Warrior / Fighter: The melee hack-and-slash class that is often the hero of the game.
- Knight / Paladin: A class clad in heavy armor, made to absorb all that enemies dish out.
- Barbarian / Berzerker: The big guy with an equally big weapon, used to smash enemies.
- Monk / Martial Artist: A melee class that forgoes weapons for their powerful fists and martial arts.
- Archer / Ranger: The ranged class with bows or guns. This role can also be taken by the Rogue or Hunter classes.
- Thief / Rogue / Assassin: The sneaky bandit with itchy fingers and a nose for treasure, and wields a mean dagger.
- Priest / Healer: The class who makes sure the party survives the encounter with their heals and revives.
- Mage / Wizard: The class with the spells to burn, freeze, electrify, or just make enemies disappear.
- Summoner / Necromancer / Druid: Minions galore with the summoning powers of this class.
The "Holy Trinity"
Many RPGs that employ a class and party system balance game encounters around parties with 3 types of class: the Tank, the DPS (damage per second), and the Healer. The Tank draws the attention of enemies away from the squishier classes, the DPS deals damage towards the enemies, and the Healer keeps the Tank and other characters healthy. This concept, popularized by World of Warcraft, is center to many MMORPG enemy encounters, and many raid bosses can only be defeated by careful balance and coordination between the 3 types.