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The staff of gets together to bring you some behind the scenes insights on stories, the industry and the site itself.

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Contributors: BillMurphy,MikeB,garrett,SBFord,Grakulen,

Community Spotlight: Is Tanking Really Necessary?

Posted by MikeB Thursday August 12 2010 at 4:07PM
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This week’s Community Spotlight focuses on the thread “PvE without a Tank System/Mechanics is simply a Zerg Fest! Prove me wrong otherwise” by MMOExposed. While MMOExposed doesn’t do much to elaborate on his point, sometimes a bold thread title can really get a discussion going. Are tanks or tanking mechanics really necessary?  Let’s find out what the community had to say!

Tazarconan provides us with some in-depth thoughts on the matter:

“I had a huge conversation about this matter with some rl friends the other day.

I have reasons to believe that such a system could be way better than the usual tank and spank wow/style tanking system. Let me explain. I ll take as example ddo online .Tanking in ddo is something misty. There are tanking styles players paladins,warriors with shields and builds that support  survivalability of the player and also a taunt . But there is the style of the combat and the combat mechanics that u almost never see all mobs being tanked by the tank. One of the reasons is that there are many sudden encounters where 1 mob spwns next to the mage 2 in front 1-2 from left side and 1-2 from right side and all these mobs u have to fight them by tanking them at least for some seconds by almost everyone in the party.

Such situations raise adrenaline keeps u tight and alert and ofc if the combat system is actually working its way more fun and intresting than the casual tank system.Combat is becoming that way more intresting and fun (that depends on player's taste cause many ppl nowdays want always to win easilly without the need to actually fight hard or think carefully to win something). Also that way u dont just put all your talents for max dps but you have to think carefully to build a character that is also having some good standards of survival (tough to kill).

And thats one of the more intresting things also in ddo many options for the character build feats skills extra feats racial feats etc. and its also something id like to see in more and more mmorpg's that are coming a deep character advancement system ..something more than just 3 talent trees.”

Twistdstrange offers a solution that allows tanks to play a role, but aren’t quite necessary:

“A possible solution would be to allow the inclusion of tank characters, but not make them exactly necessary unless the group wants one or the situation specifically would call for one.

I think a group should be made up of anything, and players shouldn't be inclined to choose the player's class over the player herself.

As far as grouping in WoW goes, the general tank consensus is Paladin or go home.

If you were putting together a group of friends to play with, wouldn't you rather say "Let's take John [a DPS], he knows his stuff, besides he's a riot in vent."

Instead of, "Let's lurk general chat for some random tank that we can pretend to like for forty five minutes until we get our loot and drop group."”

Coman injects a bit of humor to the discussion, warranting a mention here with a simple but effective joke:

“I keep placing Siege tank at the ramp of my base. but the zerg just keeps coming does help a little though...”

Arenasb is fine with tanks, not so much tank mechanics (threat, aggro management):

“Tanks are fine, anyone to try defend the group or his teamates by soaking up damage is fine by my book. However, what I really hate are the artificial threat and aggro mechanics in games like taunt. Utilize other tactics such as body blocking, kiting, and general control is much more interesting than a threat based mechanic.

If you want to call this zerging than so be it. It is so much more interesting than having one person sit there and use threat with taunt to keep all of the mobs attention.”

I don’t really know where I’m at on the issue. I would say I’d probably lean more towards arenasb’s stance as I like the idea of the protector role in a party, but the whole taunt aggro management bit, not so much. Being able to literally rescue another player, using collision to block, and of course CC would be largely preferable to me.

Another user mentioned that tanks are useless in PvP as a result of the whole taunt mechanic because players will ignore a tank in PvP. I don’t feel that is inherently true. If tanks are given most of the CC they can be hugely disruptive and become a real nuisance that requires being dealt with. Also, another good example of PvP tanking, ironically enough, is City of Heroes, where tanks can force other players to target them by use of taunt. I’m sure a few of you will be iffy on that as it removes player control a bit (but hey, so does confusion, right?) but it was a unique take on PvP tanking nonetheless.

What are your thoughts on the role of tanks and tank mechanics in MMOs? Share them with us below!