ASHES 101 - ARCHETYPES & CLASSES
When it comes to Ashes of Creation most of what you are going to hear about the Archetypes and Classes is opinion and speculation. That is due mostly to there not being a lot of information out there.
The most common asked question about Archetypes and Classes is what classes there are. Before you can even jump into a discussion about classes, first you must have a better understanding of why things are called what they are.
First and foremost, there are 8 Archetypes, and your Archetype is the job you do. When you first make your character you will select one of the 8 Archetypes to be your main. Once you make your selection that is it you cannot change your main Archetype. You will, however, at a certain point in your character's development be able to select a secondary archetype. Once you have made this selection you will transition from being simply an Archetype to now being a class. You will also be able to change that secondary class. It won't be easy, and you won't be able to do it on the fly, but you will be able to do it.
Now, before we move on, a key thing for people to understand. Unlike other games where your class is a combination of the skills of your primary and your secondary class, in Ashes of Creation you only get the skills and abilities of your primary class. Your secondary class will provide available augments to your skills, but no new skills outright. So that means a Paladin (Tank Main + Cleric Secondary) may have some augments to his skills that provide self-healing, he will not have access to direct heals like the Cleric has.
Before we move on
Archetype: Your role and what responsibilities you have in parties and raids
Class: How your skills can be augmented in order to help you fulfill your role
Now, for some of the Archetypes, it is easy to figure out what role they are taking on and how they are going to do it. Tank is pretty obvious and Cleric is also pretty obvious but its strange they didn't name that Archetype healer. While it would be easy to fall into the trap of saying Mage is Magic Damage, Ranger is Ranged Damage, Fighter is Melee Damage, this simply is not the case. Since we know every class can use every weapon and wear any armor, we know that there will be some crafty people who play Fighters with ranged weapons and that there is a place in the world for a Ranger with a 2-handed Warhammer. What also know some skills do require a certain weapon; so you won't be doing any shield bashes unless you have a shield equipped.
Now, while any class can wear any armor or weapon, classes do have preferred options. Tanks, for example prefer Longswords and Heavy Armor, Clerics prefer staff and Medium Armor as noted by their skills and passives. Does this mean my Cleric can't wear heavy armor? No. What it does mean is that I won't pick up any bonuses from my class skills for doing so.
With the option to pick any of the eight classes as your secondary, it is in fact possible to "double down" into your class. What this means is if I want to be the most potent healer of the 8 Cleric Classes, then I will want to go Cleric/Cleric. This will make me the the most potent healer, but what I gain in potency I will gain at the expense of diversity and/or utility.
An important note, is that you only get the skills from your primary archetype. What your secondary archetype does is augment your abilities giving them a different flavor. The most common example of this Augment system is the Fighter's Rush ability when Augmented with Mage's Teleport or Rogue's Stealth.
The base ability is that the Fighter rushes from Point A to Point B. You see the fighter making this movement.
If the Rush is augmented with Teleport, then instead of seeing the fighter move, he would teleport from Point A and arrive at Point B to delivery the Rush attack.
If the Rush is augmented with Stealth, then the fighter would temporarily shroud with the Stealth ability (breaking any tab targetting locks) and then arrive at Point B to deliver the attack.
As you can see, there is no new ability added, but the different Augments offer custom tweaks to the skill that change how the skill functions.
While it would be fun and entertaining to speculate how classes are going to function, we are not expecting to see classes until Alpha 2, which was tentatively scheduled for Quarter 3 of 2019, but we are awaiting the Creative Director's update letter to see where we are on the testing timeline.
Archetype: One of the 8 Different Roles that a character can choose to be.
Primary Archetype: The role (tank, DD, healer, support) you choose at character creation. This will determine what will be doing in parties and raids. Once selected your Primary Archetype cannot be changed.
Class: This is made of up your primary Archtype and your secondary Archetype. You are allowed to change your secondary Archetype which allows each character to swap between 8 different classes.