If you're like most gamers, you probably prefer to play as "damage dealer" types, whether ranged or melee. You might even think all PVP games would be better off without support-type characters!
After all, damage is where most of the thrill comes from, right? And there's no such thing as a "support character" in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, so that's proof that support types are unnecessary, right?
In today's age of multiplayer gaming, both in PVP games and MMO games, it seems players have an overwhelming fondness for aggressive gameplay. They want to be killers, not helpers.
You see it all the time in MOBA games: players who select support characters, only to play them in a solo lane, build out damage items, and try to carry the team. All-out aggression is "more fun," apparently.
But multiplayer games lose a lot of their complexity and charm when support characters are neglected. Here are several reasons why support characters are really important for multiplayer games.
5. Healing and Regen Effects
To keep your character alive and the game still rolling, you need to have regen and healing skills.
Although most games grant healing-type abilities to characters of all roles, they're usually weak or restricted in various ways. For example, maybe it has a long cooldown and can't always be used when needed.
That's where support characters come into play. They're needed for sustained survival, using their healing and regen effects on allies so those allies can focus on dishing out damage.
Some game design elements can make healing abilities less necessary, though. For example, lifesteal effects and regenerative pickups can keep damage dealers topped off without need for a healer. But support characters do more than just heal! Read on...
4. Crowd Control Effects
Crowd control effects include stuns, slows, immobilizes, knockbacks, etc. A lot of characters are given these types of abilities, though, so do we really need a dedicated support character with CC skills?
Well, yes! Support characters are often designed to sacrifice certain aspects—damage, mobility, tankiness—so their supportive abilities are much better than what other characters have.
A damage dealer might have some crowd control, but supports can usually control crowds for much longer, with much stronger effects, with much larger areas of effect, with much shorter cooldowns.
Supports may also have abilities that nullify crowd control effects on their own teammates, which non-supports usually don't have.
3. Absorb Damage
In some games, tanks and supports are two different roles. In other games, tanks are seen as a sub-type of support. We take the latter stance.
Tanks are technically support-type characters as they help control the flow of battle, and they mainly do so as damage sponges. By drawing attention onto themselves, damage dealers are free to attack.
Without the support of tanks on the frontlines, damage dealers would have very little opportunity to participate in battle as they're usually too fragile for sustained combat on their own.
2. Serves as Extra Inventory
Items play an important role in most MMO and MOBA games, as they provide boosts and effects that can completely change the tides. For example, warding is crucial in higher-level MOBA games.
But wards take up an item slot, and most games limit how much a single character can carry. Enter the support character!
Support characters don't just sacrifice their own killing and survival capabilities, but also their inventory space. They give up the opportunity for decked-out equipment so they can carry things like wards.
In other words, damage dealers bulk up on damage items and tanks bulk up on health and damage reduction items, whereas support characters bulk up on items that hinder or counter the enemies.
The job of the support character is to take on that responsibility so everyone else can be as optimally built as possible.
1. Serves as Distraction
Aside from stuns, there are special crowd control effects used by support-type characters like hooks, taunts, and stuns.
The hook is a skill that pulls units towards the user. The taunt is a form of crowd control that forcefully makes affected units attack the user. The stun renders units unable to move or act for a while.
All of these abilities open up windows of opportunity against enemies, allowing damage dealers to swoop in and do what they do best—without any return damage for as long as the enemies are disrupted.
For example, hooks isolate targets by pulling them into your territory, making it easier to gank them. If they manage to escape, hooks and stuns give your team extra time to burn them down.
Along similar lines, taunts are important for redirecting the attacks of enemy damage dealers. They might be able to wipe your entire team in seconds, but if you can taunt them and force them to attack your tank, that gives you extra time to kill them before they kill you.
All in all, PVP games and MMO games would be little more than raw chaos and mayhem without support characters. Support characters bring structure and strategy—without them, games would be less interesting.