Right off the bat, as I have in the past couple of weeks, let me state that the following list is simply my own favorite five classes from various MMOs. I'm not looking to make any broad statements about the industry, but rather to state my own tastes, and hope that the rest of you will share with me your own. I'm sort of a notorious alt-a-holic, but even people like me have favorite classes. There are so many to choose from, and even though most classes tend to fall in line with a few basic roles within the grouping dynamic, the following handful are those which I have found the most fun time and again over the years.
Honorable mentions go out to the Conjourer in EQ2, the Celestial Powerset in Champions Online, WoW's most hated/loved Hunter, Auto Assault's Engineer, my Lurikeen Ranger from DAoC, and Guild Wars' Mesmer. All very adequate in their own regard, but the following are my top five most fun MMO classes. Feel free to shed light on your own in the forums!
#5 Age of Conan - Tempest of Set:
All the classes in Age of Conan fall into the holy trinity of healer/tank/dps, but the beauty of the ToS to me is that it manages to be both a proficient healer and a harbinger of death. Like any good hybrid, the Tempest might not be tops in either category but I'm a solo player most of the time and the versatility of the Tempest means I can play the game exactly how I want. It also means that I can do my part when needed in group situations. Not to mention there's just something very satisfying about dropping your Idol, letting it tick off bolts of electricity at several mobs, while your own buffs do the same from your body, as you whack the bejesus out of cannibals with a large mace and shoot lightning from your fingertips. There are a lot of ways mobs can die in Age of Conan, and beheadings and impaling are the easy favorites of most. My own preferred method of destruction is when one turns blue and fries to a crisp because of my allegiance to Set.
#4 Warhammer Online - The Ironbreaker
I know that I'm in the minority of folks who still love Warhammer. And part of the reason I still enjoy that game even though it's not exactly what so many had hoped for is the Ironbreaker. As I said, I'm an alt-a-holic, and the IB is the only class I've ever taken into Tier 4. Is it his survivability? His massive two-handed weapons? Is it the shiny armor that looks ever so fitting on a stout dwarf? Actually, the reason I adore the Ironbreaker can be summed up by two words: knock back. I know other classes have it. But what makes the IB so fun for me is the ability to launch attackers away from my healers, to punt healers into lava, and to in general be an annoyance to the opposing team. The class would still be a fantastic tank without its knock back, but with it the Ironbreaker is much more fun to play.
#3 City of Villains - The Mastermind
My friends know something about me. They know I love the undead. Not the Twilight sparkly kind, but the brain-eating rotten kind. Since I was a wee lad, I've had a passion for Romero films, and when City of Villains was released with the ability to be a super-villain commanding his own zombie army I was sold. I have a fondness for pet classes as it is, but having a zombie horde at my disposal is just icing on the delicious cake of necromancy. Maybe I'm a little more twisted than your normal geek, but I still giggle when I log into City Of for the first time in a while and watch my zombie pack projectile vomit onto my enemies. It's also a very proficient solo class to play, that can still offer a lot to a group when the pets are used as distractions to keep agro off of your team members. Even if you're one of those weirdoes who prefers "thugs" over zombies, you can't go wrong with the Mastermind.
#2 World of Warcraft - Death Knight
The class I played lovingly for years in WoW was the Hunter. I was sold on the idea of being a gun-wielding dwarf with a bear for a pet since I first saw the game's original opening cinematic. But that all changed with the release of the Death Knight. Sure it's easy mode in an already highly accessible game, but need I again remind you of my love for zombies? I get to have one as a pet here too! Not to mention the plague worms, the wicked amount of spells at your disposal, and the sheer coolness factor the class has above its non-heroic brethren. There's a reason everyone plays or has played the Death Knight... they're high on fun, look ridiculously cool from the start, and get lots of fantastically nifty spells to use on mobs. If Blizzard can ever figure out a way to make healing as enticing as it made tanking (take note of the Celestial Powerset in Champions), I might have to revise this list again.
#1 LotRO - Warden
For a long time the only class I ever enjoyed in Turbine's Middle-earth was the Champion. The others just didn't do anything for me. But with the release of Mines of Moria and the addition of the Warden, I finally found an alt I could dive into. Like most of the other classes in LotRO, the Warden doesn't have any spells or skills that are high on the razzle-dazzle. But what makes the tank so much fun for me is the mechanic behind the class. The Gambit system makes choosing what skills to use and when from your hotbar about more than just "what's the best sequence to press the keys in". Gambits make tanking an art form, and while I'm nowhere near a master at it, I've seen some pretty amazing players do some crazy things by building serious AoE threat. Plus it's just plain cool to watch a Hobbity Warden kick an orc in the junk. You know I'm right.