Right now, I’m having a blast playing my cleric in Rift. I’ve taken advantage of the game’s flexibility to mix talents from the shaman (a melee DPS), justicar (tank and melee healer) and inquisitor (ranged caster). And at level 39, my points are spread more or less evenly between the three. In WoW, this would be rankest heresy. In Rift, it’s working – at least so far. Leastwise, the instance runs I’ve done so far we’ve completed successfully and nobody has lolled at my DPS or off-healing and I feel that I’m pulling my weight in the PvP warfronts. While I don’t really excel at one thing, I do a number of things and can switch between them at will. In other words, I’m a hybrid.
WoW was never really a hybrid friendly game even back in the vanilla days, and as raiding got established as the end game it got worse. Raids don’t really need hybrids so much. A raid is big enough that each member can specialise in one task. You don’t need to take the edge off your main role in order to cover another one at the same time. Five man groups probably could have benefited from some players being able to support heal or off-tank, but the design assumption is that those five are raid-optimised specialists. One tank, one healer, three DPS.
In Rift, the design assumption is apparently 1.5 healers per five man group. The game pretty much demands at least one hybrid or support build in the group, be it a justicar tank throwing out group heals to build aggro, or a bard doing (moderate) healing by (moderate) DPSing, or a mane with some chloromancer or necromancer spells.
But beyond that, even the guys with specialised builds can have alternate roles set up and switch very quickly out of combat. The assassin can transform into a riftstalker and be main tank for the group. It’s not uncommon for the clerics to quickly discuss at the start of an instance which one will heal and which will be DPS.
We’re all hybrids now.