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TOR’s Swiss Army Knife Class System

Published by under Editorial on Apr. 13. 2011.

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SWTOR’s current class system is nothing new, Ultima online had this. Even though it did not have a class system in the traditional form we all know now.

Yet, it did give you the ability to take on a number of roles, Mage, Warrior etc.


The ability to be multi functional was set out so long ago.


Fast forward to now, and TOR is again hitting on the multi tool function game-play mechanic. Rift has done this very same thing, and playing at the end-game, it is quite evident that not every class that has Tank or Healing abilities is viable in those given roles.

Look at any mmo from the past 6 years, and you can see that the roles of Tank and Healer, are not the best at being able to fill  the role of dps. Combining these roles with a dps viable spec, will open countless game play balancing issues.


Take the Trooper Tank for instance. This class has access to the heaviest armor in-game. This is balanced by giving this class a lower dps, and a system to hold agro from many a raid and world boss.

Dps on the other hand, has access to the highest damage weapons. Now if you combine both, the problem is self-evident.

High armor, high dps, would become a very powerful class indeed. Yet, this will not play out like this. In the interest of balance, you have to give this class lower dps and/or armor.

The Healers in the same token have lower dps as the norm, as well as lower armor. As a support role giving this group high dps, would also account for major balancing issues.


Taking this into account, how effective would you become at any of these given roles ?

If BioWare resolves  this by gimping skills to come into line with other classes, the Trooper can not possibly become good at each role they have available. We all know the sacrifices a player has to take, in becoming the raid leader when it comes to tanking. They take a in ever diminishing low-end dps rates, to other classes around them.

This also make them level in a totally different way to other classes. Having lower dps is not always a bad thing, when your armor surpasses others around you. You may not be able to kill a single target as quick as the next player. Though you can take on multiple targets at the same time.

This in turn, gives Tanks, a very nice way of farming and leveling, that other classes can only dream about.


Changing the tank roles up to have a viable dps spec, within the given trees, will not make any more good tanks available.

There is a good reason for this. Adopting the role of tank, can be the hardest, yet most rewarding role you can have. These players that reach the top, are the best of the best. You have to play the class way more, and learn every inch of every raid.

They lead from the front, they have to know what is round the next corner. This does not come easy. The time investment alone far surpasses those of dps and healers. Anyone with a mouse or keyboard can be good at dps.  Tanking on the other hand, you have to learn what the boss is doing, how to counter it, as well as watching your group to make sure they are not taking aggro. If they do, as the tank you have to counter this quick and effectively.


It will not make any difference if you make more tanking roles, in finding a good tank. Also I can see this diminishing the effectiveness of tanks on the whole. To be a good tank you have to play as such. You have to learn your skills, from level one to max. But having a dps tree, is highly attractive to most of the mmo players of times gone by.


Most of the player base, will indeed take on the dps tree, for most if not all of their leveling experience. This will leave them not knowing their class. Nothing can replace the countless hours, learning your skills. Playing dps, over tanking, will not do you or your group any good, when you take the responsibility of leading the front line.

It would be like changing class altogether. All the skills set before you are alien, and unnatural. Having to check your skills as you use them, will cause great problems.


We have all seen the footage from Pax and the flashpoint. Most of the groups did not complete the instance. This could be down to not knowing how mmo’s work. But most of it would boil down to the players not knowing the classes and skills they have at their disposal.

This is exactly what will happen if you try to switch from one role to another.


Not knowing what to use when are where, will get everyone killed. As a tank you take up the most important job in the group, followed by that of the healer, who also has a dps role.


As anyone who have played a healer before will tell you, they are the slowest leveling class in every mmo. Having a dps spec, will be irresistible not to use. This will also leave you at the same disadvantage as the tank would have, and that’s not knowing your class.

A bit part tank with a hardly used healer, will make for a few fun times for sure, and do expect to have raids last far too long, if your core team does not have the knowledge behind them.


It’s going to be an interesting run up to launch, seeing how BioWare is to make all these roles viable for end-game content. I’m sure it will be fun and interesting, when the information rears its head. The good old tank/heal/dps may not be as flamboyant as a multi class system. But we do know those in the role of tank and healer are more than to up the task.

This way there is way more uncertainty, expect to see long raids and lots of nurd rage when the game hits 🙂


So until we meet again, MrWarlock signing off

8 responses so far

8 Responses to “TOR’s Swiss Army Knife Class System”

  1. Tanroon 13 Apr 2011 at 11:13 pm

    Wow… Have you played an mmo before? Allowing healers and tanks to have a dps doesn’t open up any game play balancing issues. You either spend your skill points/talents what have you to create a viable tanking/healing spec and you are not able to dps very effectively. Or you spend them to build a dps spec and not be able to tank or heal effectively. The only imbalance that would exist is if you had enough skill points to fill both roles concurrently.

    In rift you actually have to switch souls to fill the different given tasks.

    In wow you switch talent builds.

    I expect that bioware will come up a system that allows you to switch between tanking or healing, and a solo dps spec.

  2. BorukBHon 14 Apr 2011 at 1:05 am

    I don’t think the topic was class imbalance, but more of a “If I level as DPS, how well will I be at healing later on if I switch”

    It was a common them in Warcraft because everyone leveled as DPS and when it came time to heal/tank, you had the ones that did it the easiest. That, in turn, lent to the problem of the crap AOE Tanking and Healing that they moved away from in LK, and when people started having the problems talked about in this post…nobody knew what they were doing for those roles.

    I’m looking forward to more information regarding classes and even skills/talent trees so we can get a glimpse of stuff to look forward too.

  3. MrWarlockon 14 Apr 2011 at 7:30 am

    Hi Tanro, yes I’ve played mmo’s before.
    My 1st being Ultima online, after this I could easily count 20+ more, that I would say I’ve played for more than say 500 hrs in each. (some a heap more)
    The more roles a class has, does make the dev’s job of bring balance to that class more difficult. Not saying it can’t be done, it does mean a lot more work on their part.

    This post is mostly about not knowing your class, if say you tend to tank or heal in the end-game. We know as gamers, that PvP dictates balancing on every server.
    Players want to be competitive in PvP, and these players tend to have the greatest influence when it comes to fixing or breaking a class.

    This in turn may leave, some of the tanking/healing spec’s, somewhat useless when you reach that all important end-game, and still trying to make the class competitive in PvP.

  4. Dracoon 14 Apr 2011 at 4:33 pm

    I too have seen alot of crappy players who were dps try to go heals/tank. Thank goodness there are players who can fill most roles effectively and be able to switch from one to the other without any gimping of your group or raid. I always leveled toons in a dps spec for speed reasons since i was just going for the max level right away.
    With WoW for instance, the several pre raid dungeons gave alot of time to practice and master your raid skills. I played a healer and was right on par even with leveling in a dps spec. My only beef is with players who put half thier points into a dps tree and half into a healing tree and then try to heal dungeons and raids. It just doesn’t work very well if at all. I like the way WoW went with talents, where you filled one tree before you could go into another one.
    Either way it really comes down to how good of a player you are period. Sure the hours put in allows for less thought and more reaction when choosing what skill to use next, but i feel that could be learned in a very short period of time. Some people just aren’t cut out for tanking or healing no matter how much time they put in :p

  5. MrWarlockon 14 Apr 2011 at 8:22 pm

    So true Drako, at least when you’re in a guild setting, you get to know who has the good set-ups. Pug’s on the other hand could be a nightmare 😛

  6. Tanroon 14 Apr 2011 at 10:50 pm

    @ MrWarlock.

    I think Blizzard has finally squelched a lot of the class imbalance by requiring players to fully fill out a single tree before spending points in another tree. I’ve been playing wow for so long it is hard for to remember anything before it. I do remember issues in EQ where you either really terrible at DPS and a decent tank or healer, or You really lousy at either of the those rolls and could dps very well. Rift has a very balanced class system where you can generally perform at least 2 roles when you hit endgame.

    I am really hoping that gone are the days of being pigeonholed into only one role when you reach the endgame. In WoW my favorite class are the ones that effectively tank or heal and solo well. That said I am currently playing a Druid (Healer/DPS), and a Deathknight (Tank/DPS). I look forward to Rolling a Sith Inquistor and a Bounty Hunter in TOR!

  7. Massaon 16 Apr 2011 at 8:23 pm

    I would thing that a tank able advanced class baseline (with no talent points spent) would be subpar dps with average mitigation. It would be the talents themselves that either raise the characters dps to average or its mitigation to tank levels as not to allow them to be overpowered.

  8. Mayhemon 20 May 2011 at 6:38 pm

    Not true, they changed pallytanks drastically twice revamping the entire class how it worked and the spec trees and i didnt have much of a problem adapting. If you know how to tank you can tank in any game with any tank class, if you havent tanked anything before then yes you do need to start from scratch. you also dont need to use cookie cutter bs specs, i never have in any of the mmo’s ive played(many many mmo’s including UO from the day of release) and ive been in very top end raid guilds as lead tank.
    Some people can tank some cant. Mayhem of Jen’jidai