Friday, September 29, 2006

Fight Club: The Joy of the Melee Class

You are not a master of the arcane. You are not shielded by your faith. You are not your freaking Khakis. The only thing you are: is very, very good with your blade. You are the Melee and your one true moment of Zen is when you send a piece of metal through the body of your opponent. Other classes can do the casting or the healing but you are all about instant gratification and the high damage that follows it. You own YouTube and thousands watch and groan as you show off your critical strikes and best damaging attacks. After all that's what online games are about: kicking ass.

The three most played classes in World of Warcraft are Hunters, Rogues and Warriors. If you split the data by alliance/horde lines then the hybrids: Paladins and Shamans make a entrance. But in general the classes that can dish out the instant damage with their weapons tend to be the most popular in the game. You have to wonder why these three classes are so often chosen over the others. Is the joy of meleeing just so much better then the required timing of playing a caster? Recently I am starting to notice that on my long raid nights its the casters who start getting tired and wanting to log off early. The melee classes seem to be having fun as if the 145th run of Molten Core is still a new experience for them. This is leading me to believe a couple things about melee classes.

1) Melees are FUN.

2) Melees feel Important.

3) Melees are more affected by Loot.

The Fun Factors:

A) Direct Interaction
I've mention this before in my healer posts so I am not going to go so far into a explanation. I'll simply summarize that directly tracking and delivering damage to the "badguys" is a rewarding experience. Offensive casters also get the experience but they are limited in that spells cause more agro and require mana.

B) The Downtime tradeoff
Melee classes have no downtime when in groups with healers. Instead the healers sit down and drink and refill their mana while making sure the melees stay alive. In a single group smart melees wait until the healer has completed the downtime before fighting but in raids with several healers they just keep going and going and going. Believe me the feeling that you are an unstoppable killbot is a very fun thing indeed.

C) NO Buffing
This is a short and sweet example. Melees are not bothered by having to improve other classes with buffs every hour, half hour, or 15 minutes if your an unlucky paladin. The stress of coordinating buffs while trying to heal and crowd control can get a bit wearing especially in a large raid format.

The Importance Factors

A) The High Damage Attacks
The best thing about being a melee is that you can see your contribution to winning. Its right there in front of your face as bright yellow numbers which seem to appear above your enemies head as a sign of weakness. Melees are even given special attacks just for the sole purpose of causing big numbers. Execute, Eviscerate/Ambush, and Aimed Shot are all about delivering those massive numbers that make you feel all fuzzy inside. How often does an execute crit for over 4k when the mob only had 900hp left?

B) Solo Ability
You are not just a cog in the big raid machine, you can actually do quite well on your own. Warriors are great on taking out multiple targets at the same time and will often explore dangerous areas by themselves. Rogues can deliver damage so fast that they are the preferred farming class. Throw in the ability to vanish and stealth and they also have very little risk in exploring new areas. Hunters are the best soloers in the game with their pets to draw agro while they deliver damage.

The Loot Factor:

A) Weapons are oh so nice
Melee classes are practically the weapons they carry. Their ability to deal damage is directly dependent on the quality of their weapon unlike other classes whose damage is limited by the damage range of the spells they use. The improvement a melee experiences with a upgraded weapon tends to be twice what a caster would experience from that same zone. Compare a rogue and a mage going into ZG after getting blues from single group dungeons. The mage gets the Wand of Chaos from Hakkar while the rogue gets the Fang of the Faceless. Which one has improved the most from the weapon upgrade?

B) Armor Envy
Melees are more dependent on their armor then other classes. They get near the "badguys" and as such they must be able to survive the "badguys". Thus they have a desire to upgrade which is a little stronger then most casters. A blue equipped priest can heal just fine in MC while a blue equipped warrior would get yelled out for trying to tank. It seems as if casters could wear nothing but jewelry with intelligence and stamina on it and would be fine. But for melees they need the armor class on each and every item they can lay their hands on. Unfortunately, this has often created an impression of greed which is why melee classes are more often accusing of ninja like practices.

With all these reasons you can seen why fighting as a melee class is more popular. There's more direct stimuli on your when you play and your responsibilities are more relaxed in a group environment. You don’t have to worry about buffing, healing, or even handling the downtime. Instead you get to do what the majority of game players find most fun, fighting.

PlayOn Data on Class Popularity


Kinless said...

Yes, melee is fun. I'm enjoying the heck out of my level 54 Orc Warrior. My friend plays a Shaman, also level 54, who prefers to hit stuff and plant solid shocks and cast chain heals. Otherwise it's all about his windfuried two-hander. He's into melee too. There's something visceral about putting out the damage.

rosemary said...

I agree with most of your comments. However, while playing a warrior is fun, it's not nearly as easy to solo as you suggest. Crowd control compared to other classes is very limited, and the class has no aggro wipe ability, unlike rogue and hunter. Combined with no buffs or self heal abilities beyond potions or bandages, a warrior can get into a lot more trouble more easily than other melee classes. I levelled a warrior up to 60 and I'm now levelling a hunter (yes, I like melee...), and find that it's far easier to complete yellow and even orange quests than it ever was with the warrior. Experience helps, it's true, but a hunter that plays with even a little common sense is very tough to kill.

Anonymous said...

The gear-dependability of melee classes is a two-edged sword. A fully geared DPS warrior can pretty much outdps anything else in the game, and be quite durable while doing it. These are the ones that get all the glory on YouTube, Google Video or Warcraft Movies. However, 90% of melees have worse gear, and get laughed at by casters who kite them to death.

One contributing factor to the fun of playing a melee class is instant response. Because the vast majority of skills have no casting times whatsoever, you can directly see the results. The "twitchiness" of gameplay also rewards reflexes, while casters usually have to think at least 1 spell ahead of the opponent.

When it comes to soloing mobs, both melee and casters have their advantages. Against non-elites, melees can chew them up like nobody's business. With an occassional bandage, they can keep going and going and going.. Casters are dependant on their mana, so they need to kill mobs as economically as possible during long grinds. Melees can also handle adds better than casters. Even a weak enemy slows casting down, gets you dazed and otherwise messes up your rhythm.

On the other hand, when dealing with tougher mobs, casters have an advantage. While melee gets hit by everything the mob can throw on you, casters can kill stuff much more safely. Because the mobs require preparation anyway, downtime ceases to be an issue. Even casters with inferior gear can kill dangerous mobs, as long as they have ample space to manouver, a snare or a DoT. While a melee with inferior gear might simply die, the caster just kills the mob a bit slower.

Relmstein said...

One has to wonder if the popularity of the twitch combat classes will translate into success for the new MMOFPS games coming out soon. Namely Huxley and Tabula Rasa where I believe all abilities are instant cast.

yunk said...

I agree except on the gear dependence part. I know everyone says meleers are more gear dependent, but in reality we are all gear dependent. A major mana pot every 2 minutes does not make up for a lot of int, or mana regen gear. +damage and spellcrit helps a lot more to end fights than simply getting more mana, or wanding for awhile while you wait for it to come back.

Even stunlock rogues, people say are less gear dependent, but my stuns only last so long, and even with prep my cooldowns still eventually make me unable to continue a fight if I can't kill fast enough.

I think the fact that mana can be regenerated in combat give the illusion casters aren't gear dependent, but there's more than just mana to consider. When i solo with my priest, gear makes a huge difference in how fun it is, or how painful if I forgot my +damage gear in the bank.

But yeah, melee is fun. And casting damage is more fun than healing. Healing is only fun when people screw up and you save them by the skin of their teeth, or you take on a challenge you aren't ready for and somehow make it out. Healing is far more fun in 5 and 10 man for that reason.

Anonymous said...

I play a warrior and I enjoy it, I've always played a warrior not only in WoW. I'm a dedicated player, but not everybody is.

Friend of mine rolled warrior first time when he bought WoW, and was PvPing with it, after few days of throwing CDs and other things around the room from the pure anger, his girlfriend forbidden him pvping on a warrior.

He rerolled a warlock and have way more fun with it.

Conclussion? Being rooted, slowed, seeing absorbing shields eating my hits and not giving me rage, being polymorphed and turned out of the fight, seeing how my 6k HP burns down slowly, while I'm not being able to do anything about it with my purple weapon etc. etc. etc. is NOT fun, it's frustrating.

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