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Let's Go Raiding: How MMOs Took the RPG Party System to New Heights

Why are party systems so great in MMOs?

If you played an RPG or MMO, or both, then you most likely know what a party system is. If you don't, it's basically a group of characters that set out for a quest, dungeon, etc. in an effort to work together, and emerge victorious. But, why is it special? Each character contributes a certain skill to help the entire team, thus making the challenge a bit easier. 

The most typical party system is the tank system. One character is the tank, who faces a potential threat face to face, taking hits, thus taking the aggro away from the rest of the part. Then, there is the healer, who makes sure that the tank does not die by healing them. And finally, the attacker, who obviously tries to take down the threat. Everyone must be in synergy in order to be successful. Just think of the A Team!

RPGs have implemented that party system in games like Monster Hunter, Dragon Age: Inquisition, and even Pokemon. But so have MMOs for that matter. Before talking about MMOs, let's examine the RPG genre and how it has used the party system.

Party System in RPGs

Monster Hunter has been using the party system since day one!

As mentioned before, Monster Hunter is an RPG that has been using the party system for quite some time now. In the game, the player assumes the role of a monster hunter and embarks on quests to slay beasts of all kind. Past titles only allowed you, all by yourself, to embark on quests in single player. However, since Monster Hunter Freedom Unite, players could take helpers with them on quests. Those helpers would assist you through buffs, healing, distracting the enemy, etc. Basically, just the way a party system should work.

As far as multiplayer goes, players could embark on online hunting quests with three fellow hunters (four total). Depending on what type of monster players would encounter, they had to construct the proper team in order to do well. For example, two melee builds would fight the monster head on, third player would be the gunner build (archer) and would assist by using various arrow or ammo types against the monster. And finally, the fourth player would be support (Hunting Horn. It plays various melodies that buff all players). Combine that all together, and you got yourself a great synergy team!

Party System in MMOs

A party of players taking on Vorago in Runescape.

Any modern MMO uses the party system to do well in raids, dungeons, against bosses. Unlike RPGs, which most (if not all) have a party system comprised of NPCs since they are single player, MMOs have taken it one step further with communication.

Unlike Dragon Age: Inquisition's single player (yes, it has multiplayer, but the focus here is the single player party system), which only has you, and a bunch of NPCs as the rest of your party, and whom you have to manage, MMOs are mainly controlled by everyone!

When you make a party in an MMO, you get the chance to communicate with fellow players, devise a plan, and do what you have to do in order to do well. Another good thing is is that fellow party members are conscious individuals who know what they are doing. Unlike RPG members, who just charge into battle, MMO members are more careful, know what they are doing, and will ensure the success of the entire party.

Also, it doesn't hurt to communicate with others in an MMO. Through communication, you know what is going on, and what needs to be taken care of. In RPGs, you can only issue commands (even if such a luxury is possible), and hope that they command is carried out by an NPC.

Final Thoughts

Guilds are great to make a party system!

From a personal standpoint, the party system is executed far better in MMOs rather than in RPGs. You get to interact with other players instead of artificial programs. And since MMOs are MMOs, the possibilities for the party setup are almost endless -- you can be the most unique party or the most trusty and generic -- unlike with RPGs, where the party systems are fixed... unless it's Pokemon!

Published Nov. 25th 2016

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