Star Trek Online and the MMO Trinity
Although I will happily espouse the virtues of Star Trek Online, the multiplayer element of this MMO is very much optional. The central mission arcs are all solo friendly and although you can play through this content in a group, there is no major incentive to do so. The only times I have grouped during standard PVE content has been to help another player new to the game and when replaying a specific mission for the rewards if offers. The latter can be done a lot faster when grouped. The space and ground queues that are available at level 50 are designed for 6, 10 or 20 players but again the multiplayer aspect of these is somewhat arbitrary. Players can either join a PUG via the group finding system or set up bespoke event themselves with friends of fellow Fleet members. Beyond that there is no compelling interaction between players.
This difference handling multiplayer content was highlighted recently when I played through a featured instance in LOTRO. Although most of the six players present were somewhat over powered, and could blitz through most of the trash mobs, the final boss did require players to fulfil specific roles. There was a need for a tank to hold aggro, DPS dealers to burn the boss down and the healers and control class to heal and debuff. LOTRO was a game conceived and created when the MMO industry was still very much focused on the traditional trinity of classes. What I find curious is that STO was developed at the same time and technically has class distinctions that would support multiplay in such a fashion. Yet it has either never been implemented within the game or has been removed over time via various updates and patches.
However, the fleet system in STO really does foster a community spirit. My primary Federation Captain is a member of Reddit Alert and I must say that the fleet chat is extremely sociable. Where the game may lack a compelling multiplayer aspect, the discussions, debates and advice that is available in chat is invaluable. Many fleet members frequently group for the pleasure of it or to help others achieve specific goals. In some respects, this is does offer a degree of compensation for the lack of traditional multiplayer elements within STO. Considering the nature of the source material you’d have thought that the game would have been created with content that had specific roles for each class. Such collaborative play would have certainly been lore friendly.
For good or ill, mainstream MMO content has moved away from complex class interdependency and an inherent need to group for content. The majority of games now focus on PVE content that is solo friendly and offer players builds that allow them to selfheal and adapt to the content requirements. Perhaps the home of such class interaction is now the MOBA or the team shooters such as Overwatch. Taking a specific role in a group content in Star Trek Online would be very gratifying in principle. It would help create the illusion of being part of a larger Star Fleet. However, I think it is highly unlikely for the developers Cryptic to take such a step and introduce this mechanic retrospectively. Frankly the way the community now focuses on DPS builds I don’t think you could have a Tank class that could hold threat.