(Note: This was an older blog I made. I am moving these here to keep all my work together)
Anyone who is a fan of MMORPGs knows about the Holy Trinity, The Tank, The Healer, The Damager(Usually called DPS). Games like WoW rely on this heavily for their instances and for a good reason. It helps players know their role in instance scenarios thus bettering play. Designers of dungeons create the level with the trinity in mind in order to better the experience of all the players. It allows for better team-play because there is less confusion of what you're supposed to do. It increases replayabilty as well because if a Tank grows tired of the dungeon he can experience it from a whole new light as a Damager. This sounds great right? Not always.
What does a healer do during solo? Other classes have problems similar to this where it's role does not translate well into all modes of play. A tank who is ignored by smarter players in PVP is now stuck being a sub-par Damager or Healer because he can't fill his role. The reason Damagers are the most popular classes in MMOs is because many of the quests require you to kill X. I have yet to come across a quest that says "Take damage from X" and from my experience the "Keep X alive" quests are impossible if you do not attack. A problem that I've seen often is that team composition is very limited. You can't have a team of 5 Damagers because you will most likely die over and over because you are missing a tank and a healer. Is this flawed design? MMOs are about playing as a group but as we know from playing WoW, you don't always play as a group which makes being a Tank or Healer a little tough as these are group roles.
Many recent MMOs have been creating Hybrids of these where you lose some of your Tanky-ness in order to dish out more damage. Or you are a Damager who has limited healing spells for certain situations. The problem I find with this is that it still limits the flexibility of a class. Different situations call for different skills. Some might think they shouldn't have to play 300 hours on another character to play another role. But some might argue that they chose that role to begin with and they should stick with it. It's difficult to choose which is in the right.
I've been playing a lot of Guild Wars 2 and they seemed to have chosen to get rid the holy trinity from their game. Each class can anything they choose. So you Mage can be a Tank, Damager, or a Healer. A warrior can Tank, do damage or support (with banners). Sure some classes do certain things better but overall each class is very flexible with how they want to build themselves. This isn't perfect though. What I've seen is that because every class has the abilities to heal themselves the role of a "healer" is eliminated. I also found that almost everyone seems to be leaning more towards DPS rather than anything else. In group play it is nice to have roles dictated for you but you shouldn't be locked into it. A recent announcement by Arena-Net states that your Traits (skill tree) will be able to be changed for free on the fly when ever you are not in combat. I think this is a great way to give flexibility to the player while not locking them down to a class. 5 DPS in a dungeon? Someone switch traits to tank and someone else to healer. A low damage Engineer can tank while in a dungeon or go glass cannon while soloing.
I know it seemed like I went around in a circle but I wanted to present this from different angles. I think the Holy Trinity works great because it defines a role for each player however being stuck as that role all game limits the player from playing many different styles.