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", "paladin", "gladiator", "knight" 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 complemented by a long list of weapons and armor they can use, 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", sometimes "Ninja", 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 stand up against a direct assault 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. Alternatively, they specialize in taking down speedy targets due to their usually more precise accuracy.
SupportAlso "healer" or "buffer", sometimes known more specifically as "White Mage", "priest", or "cleric", 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, doing lots of damage. Whether they're a Black 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; thus they're also prime targets.
Sometimes, a class may fit more than one category (and may explicitly be a hybrid in-universe); some other times, a Jack-of-All-Trades may be present who can do all of the above (usually not as effectively as specialists).
Gaming examplesFirst Person Shooters
- In Left 4 Dead, the team of human survivors are all mechanically identical, but the special zombies (playable in Versus mode) fall into this trope.
- 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)
- Nukers: Heavy Weapons Guy (rapid fire), Demoman (area damage).
- The classes from Dirty Bomb can be generalized as this.
- Fire Supports tend to be warriors, with the exception of Arty as a ranger and Kira as a Rogue/Ranger hybrid.
- Recons are rangers except for Phantom, whose lack of sniper weapons classes him as a stealthy rogue.
- Medics are support with Sparks being a Ranger/Support hybrid.
- Engineers act as rogues. Fletcher being a Rogue/Warrior and Turtle being a Support/Rogue.
- The Assaults are are all warrior/nuker hybrids save for Rhino who is a pure nuker.
- 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 weapons the player can pick in Call of Duty:
- Jack of all trades: Assault rifles. Moderate-high fire rate, able to be suppressed, good mid-to-long-range performance, and can be fitted with a grenade launcher.
- Warrior: Submachine guns and shotguns.
- Rogue: Any gun with a suppressor, knives and crossbows.
- Ranger: Sniper rifles, designated marksman rifles, and assault rifles with ACOG.
- Nuker: Machine guns, launchers (standalone or attached to assault rifles), frag grenades, and C4.
- Support: Odd case, as health regenerates automatically, there's no need for medics. Stun grenades and riot shields fill in the role for protecting teammates.
- 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 second installment of PlanetSide;
- Infiltrator: Ranger or Rogue. Turns invisible and can carry either a sniper rifle or a submachine gun.
- Light Assault: Rogue. Carries a Jump Jet Pack and can wield a variety of close to mid-range weapons.
- Combat Medic: Support, but can be a potent Warrior. Revives, heals, and restores the shields of allies and carries an assault rifle.
- Engineer: Support. Bad in direct combat, but keeps his buddies shooting and repairs armored assets.
- Heavy Assault: Jack of All Stats Warrior. Carries a machine gun, rocket launcher, and a heavy-duty energy shield.
- MAX Powered Armor: Nuker. Unmatched DPS against infantry and can be configured for Anti-Air and Anti-Armor, but is slow, cannot drive vehicles and can only be healed by Engineers.
- Plants vs. Zombies: both the first and the second games have plants that play specific roles. What they do may vary but they all boil down to:
- Warrior: plants that cover the short-range, dealing high damage per second but are more at risk of being overrun by zombies (Bonk Choy, Chomper, Parsnip, etc.)
- Ranger: Plants that shoot or lob things, dealing low to high damage per second at long range (Peashooter, Cabbage-pult, Bloomerang, etc.)
- Rogue: Plants that have sneaky/unorthodox methods of attacking, usually trap-type (Spikeweed, Celery Stalker, etc). Those that deal massive damage but of single-use, overlap with Warrior (Squash, Tangle Kelp, etc)
- Nuker: Single-use massive damage Area of Effect plants (Cherry Bomb, Doom-shroom, Jalapeño, etc). "Shooting" plants that have their own area of effect, whether shot automatically (Melon-pult, Fume-shroom, Laser Bean, etc) or with the player's input (Cob Cannon, Coconut Cannon, Banana Launcher, Missile Toe) overlap with Rangers.
- Support: Plants that produce sun (Sunflower, Sun-shroom, Sun Bean, etc), plants that provide defense (Wall-nut, Tall-nut, Infi-nut, etc), plants that slow down zombies (Ice plants, Stunion, E.M.Peach, etc), and other diverse things (Magnet-shroom's Anti-Armor ability, Hypno-shroom's hypnosis ability, Power Lily giving you Plant Food, Intensive Carrot's reviving ability, etc).
- 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, or scholars are Support types. Not of much use in a fight, but very advantageous when it comes to interaction with NPCs or solving puzzles. Spellcasting academics, on the other hand, are a combination of Support and Nuker, but "leveled up" much more slowly than the other classes.
Non-gaming examplesAnime and Manga
- Lyrical Nanoha: From Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS onwards, there's an established Class System squads of mages try to assemble either in full or split into subunits:
- Front Attackers are warrior types that specialize in close-quarters combat, make great use of magical-enhanced attacks, and overall prefer the Modern Belkan magic system for its effectiveness in one-on-one melee combat. As the Front Attackers' role is to cut into the enemy lines and protect the squad, defense and survival skills are important to increase attack time and reduce the need for support. Characters in this position: Subaru, Vita, Ginga, Nove, Vivio, and Einheart. Probably, also Signum and Zafira.
- Wing Guards are rogue types that rely on hit-and-run tactics, tend to be fragile speedsters, and abuse energy blades (protruding from their Devices) to slash or sword-beam the enemy. High mobility is needed so they can quickly shift from protecting the Center Guard or aiding in breaking the stall for the Front Attackers. The Midchildan magic system may be the weaker in terms of melee combat, but it grants energy blades and along with elemental magic, a Wing Guard can get a solid close-quarters combat. Characters in this position: Erio, Fate, Rio, and possibly Vita.
- There's a variation called Wing Back that is virtually equal to the Wing Guard but being positioned between the Center Guard and the Full Back instead of between the former and the Front Attacker line. Furthermore, it seems to be less mobile than its counterpart as it mainly aids the Center Guard and protects the Full Back. There's only one known character occupying this position: Corona — she possesses a rare skill and uses the Midchildan magic system. Wing Backs don't appear to be rogue types but more of combat-oriented support types.
- Center Guards are nuker types that overlap with ranger types because while their task is to deal as much damage as possible, a remarkable degree of accuracy is also needed. As they fight only in mid-to-long range, they gain the best scoping position which explains why the team captain or the best strategist often fills this position. Although this comes with the cost of it restricting their mobility and needing protection. Their spells of preference are shooting, bombardment and area-of-effects. Center Guards usually employ the Midchildan magic system for its effectiveness in long-range combat. Characters in this position: Teana, Nanoha, and Hayate if she ever learned to tune down her literally nuke-level spells so her allies don't get caught in the crossfire.
- Full Backs are support types that rarely engage and instead focus on providing transport and casting increase (healing and boosts) spells on their allies as well as restraining and casting decrease (debuffs and dispelling) spells on the enemy. Other types of support include communication (e.g. telepathy), investigation, rescuing (e.g Holding Net), sealing, and shapeshifting. As such, Full Backs favor the Midchildan magic system for its wide variety of effects and applications. High mobility is required and more often than not they are aided by a Boost Device. Characters in this position: Caro, Lutecia, and Shamal.
- In Girl Genius, at least according to Franz the Dragon, a "proper bunch of adventurers" comprises a Fighter, a Spark, a Cleric and a Thief. Three of these are obvious, evidence elsewhere in the comic suggests that Sparks definitely count as Nukers.