Common Character Classes
Games that uses a Character Class System are likely to use classes that are at least somewhat familiar. This is for several reasons. One is that these classes fill useful roles in battle, so they keep reappearing in an example of convergent design. Another is the fact that designers generally want to make switching to their system easy, so more people will do it; when the classes are already somewhat recognizable, that lowers the barrier to entry for a new player trying to pick up the game for the first time. See Character Class System for a discussion of classes in general, and Fighter, Mage, Thief for a common tripartite division. This is obviously not meant to be an exhaustive list, but merely to hit the highlights; please keep this in mind. In addition, this is a genre-neutral list — Character Class Systems are primarily used by RPGs, but show up in everything from FPSes to Strategy Games these days, and this list is meant to reflect that without bias toward any particular genre.
WarriorMay also be called "fighter", "soldier", or some other variation of the theme "guy who fights". Their job is to hit the frontlines and engage in direct combat with the enemy. They tend to be something of a Jack of All Stats, though they usually lean toward Mighty Glacier as well, being stronger than usual at the cost of being slower than average. The "default" option for many games, they're usually the simplest class to play.
RogueAlso "scout" or "thief", they emphasize speed and/or stealth above all else. This makes them ideal for Hit-and-Run Tactics, given that they're good at both ambushing the enemy and avoiding fights they don't like. Typically a Fragile Speedster, they're usually not sturdy enough to carry things on their own, but are nonetheless valuable for weakening and disrupting the enemy.
RangerAlso "archer", "gunner", or "sniper", they specialize in powerful long-range attacks. They're generally a Glass Cannon, capable of dealing lots of damage to a single target from a safe distance, but aren't very good at defending themselves, especially at close range. Best used to take out high-value or defense-heavy targets while being sure to keep their beefier teammates between them and the enemy.
SupportAlso "healer" or "buffer", they improve their allies' ability to fight without adding much on their own. They may aid teammates by healing them to keep them alive longer, by offering bonuses to allies, or by inflicting penalties on enemies. Either way, as a variety of Squishy Wizard, a support class by himself is generally easy prey. Requires more teamwork than most classes, which can be frustrating on both sides; bad support can bring down a good team, but a team that doesn't protect their support is equally annoying.
NukerThe class with the most different names and hardest to define, their singular uniting characteristic is the ability to mow down foes. Whether they're a mage casting fireballs or a weapons specialist with a heavy machine gun, they can cover lots of ground with area of effect attacks, rapid fire, or both. This makes them especially deadly against large numbers of individually weak enemies. They're usually a Glass Cannon unable to take hits and/or a ponderously slow Mighty Glacier. In the right circumstances they can wipe out hordes of opponents, but if caught in a bad spot they'll go down like a pile of bricks. See also PVP Balanced, An Adventurer Is You, Competitive Balance, and Fantasy Character Classes.
- Left 4 Dead's team of human survivors are all mechanically identical, but the special zombies (playable in Versus mode) fall into this.
- Hunter: Rogue, as his leaping attacks make him fast and good for ambushing, but he's fragile.
- Smoker: Ranger, with the best attack range of any of the zombies.
- Boomer: Support. Boomer attacks obscure their target's screens and summons a horde of AI mook zombies to attack.
- Tank: Warrior/Nuker. Much stronger and tougher than other types, but not very fast.
- Left 4 Dead 2 adds a few more special zombie types:
- Charger: Warrior. Big and tough, though (as the name suggests), actually quite fast too.
- Spitter: Nuker, who fires puddles of damaging Area of Effect acid.
- Jockey: Rogue/Support. Small and quick, but doesn't actually do much damage: his primary attack lets him control the target's movement.
- Team Fortress 2
- Warriors: Soldier (long range), Pyro (short range)
- Rogues: Scout (speed), Spy (stealth)
- Ranger: Sniper
- Support: Medic (healer), Engineer (dispensers heal, teleporters move teammates quickly)
- Nuker: Heavy Weapons Guy (rapid fire), Demoman (area damage), Engineer (sentry gun defends fixed position)
- Transformers: War for Cybertron uses Soldiers (warriors), Scouts (rogues), Scientists (rangers, nukers, or medics), and Leaders (warrior/support).
- The Battlefield series, though there are variations from game to game, typically includes some iteration of the Assault (warriors), Engineer (rogue/support), Medic (support), and Recon (ranger/rogue) classes. Bad Company 2 adds nuker elements to the Medic class by giving them a light machine gun as their primary weapon.
- The protagonists of Borderlands all serve specific roles:
- Roland the Soldier is a Warrior/Support.
- Mordecai the Hunter is the Ranger/Rogue
- Lilith the Siren is the Nuker/Rogue
- Brick the Berserker is the Warrior/Nuker.
- Borderlands 2 has six Vault Hunters and a mixed bag of roles for each:
- Axton the Commando is a Warrior/Ranger.
- Maya the Siren is a Support/Nuker.
- Salvador the Gunzerker is a Warrior/Nuker.
- Zer0 the Assassin is a Ranger/Rogue.
- Gaige the Mechromancer is a pure Rogue.
- Krieg the Psycho is a pure Nuker/Warrior.
- Lord of the Rings: Conquest (spiritual spin-off to Star Wars: Battlefront) has the Warrior, Scout, and Archer filling the roles of the first three. The Mage is a combination of support and nuker, leaving some to criticize its Competitive Balance.
- The core 3rd Edition Dungeons & Dragons classes roughly break down as follows:
- Warrior: barbarian, fighter, paladin, [two-weapon] ranger
- Rogue: monk, rogue (duh)
- Ranger: [archery] ranger
- Support: bard, cleric, druid (though the last two can also fall under Warrior and Nuker due to how overpowered they are)
- Nuker: sorcerer, wizard
- The 4th Edition of Dungeons & Dragons breaks classes down into four categories but with different names: Striker (rogue, Ranger, or damage specialists), Defender (warrior, paladin and defense specialists), Controllers (Wizards and other classes that inhibit enemies) and Leaders (Clerics, Warlords and other classes that assist allies.)
- The first edition of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay grouped the careers into four classes:
- Warrior: Best melee fighters, good at ranged combat, but usually not good at anything else.
- Rogue: Weak to mediocre fighters, but very good at stealth, especially in cities. Some were also good at fast talking, bribery etc.
- Ranger: Only slightly weaker than warriors and usually even better at ranged combat. They usually had a more useful section of skills than Warriors.
- Academic (Support and/or Nuker): most non-spellcasting academics, such as physicians, artisans, merchants, scholars etc. were Support. Not much use in a fight, but much more useful when it comes to interaction with NPCs, solving puzzles etc. Spellcasters were a combination of Support and Nuker, but "leveled up" much more slowly then the other classes.