In a number of MMOs a typical support character can or have been good at healing, buffing/debuffing and/or crowd control, but have perhaps been a bit weak on the offensive side of things. In slightly old MMOs we have support characters that are very dependent on their teams to progress, while in some newer MMOs character canbe a bit more all-round.
Dropping the dedicated focus on a certain aspect can have both good and bad points to it – the bad can be that characters are less distinct from each other, the good is that the charcters might more fun to play solo as well as in teams.
With this in mind I found the new Vigilance power in City of Heroes to be an interesting approach. Vigilance is an inherent power for the Defender archetype in the game. As the same suggests, this archetype is good at assisting the rest of the team to do better. Vigilance thus was a power that as the overall health of the team dropped, the cost of using the Defender’s powers also dropped. I.e. the more trouble the team was in, the better the capability of the Defender to support his/her teammates became.
In the latest issue (issue 17) Vigilance was changed. They still kept the endurance (power cost) discount, but also added a damage bonus. If the Defender plays solo he/she can get a damage bonus of up to 30% (at level 20+). If the defender plays in a team the damage bonus is reduced based on the number of team members – at 4 to 8 team members there is no damage bonus at all.
I like this approach because it does not change inherently what a Defender is, or make it more similar to other archetypes. But if the player plays solo or in a small team the character becomes a bit more viable for the offensive part of the team as well. It is a rather simple change, but one which I think works out quite ok.