There are ten skillsets (”classes”) in ArcheAge currently, each one having its own unique playstyle and skillset. ArcheAge does something that we don’t see a lot of in modern MMOs - multiclassing. You will be able to pick up to three skillsets, mixing and matching them to create a sort of meta class based off of the three.
The three skillsets you pick will determine the active and passive skills that you can equip. While picking classes is a complicated process, this brief guide will go over what each of the classes do and the types of skills that each one has so you can start thinking about which skillset you'd like to mix and match. They can be reset, starting at level 10, so you can never really make a mistake in picking (althought it does cost a fee to reset them). Some combinations don't work as well with others, like Archery and any Mage line don't combine that well since Archery skills like Float don't apply to casted spells, but you can still combine them for Archery's instant-shots to mix in while casting.
What a lot of players end up doing is taking a primary skillset like Battlerage, Sorcery, or Archery (Melee, Caster, Ranged) then adding two of the support skillsets like Shadowplay and Defense for melee, making a teleporting strong hitting brawler that can beef up and pull enemies off of others if neccessary. There is a ton of flexability in the system though, and some crazy combination could totally work for what you want it to do.
Battlerage (Melee DPS)
This skillset focuses on fighting and DPS. The majority of skills are attacks like Charge which rushes an enemy and Triple Slash which hits three times for physical damage, with a cleave on the third strike.
Sorcery (Ranged AoE DPS)
This skillset focuses on ranged DPS and a lot of AoE skills. There isn’t much to this line other than think “caster DPS” with some control skills. Freezing Arrow for instance does damage and applies a 3 second snare and Frigid Tracks freezes your “footprints” for 15 seconds freezing anyone who walks into your footsteps.
Shadowplay (Stealth / Teleports / Melee DPS)
This is a really cool and fun line, that goes great in any melee build because you can teleport to the target, away from the target, and you gain stealth, along with some really strong burst abilities.
This skillset applies debuffs on enemies, from a 12 second snare that breaks on damage to trapping enemies in bubbles preventing them from attacking for 10 seconds unless they take damage. This skillset pairs nicely with anything that doesn’t do DoTs (damage over time).
This is a pure healing skillset. It includes a revive, healing, and buffing skills. Plus at level 50 they can turn themselves and nearby allies invisible for 30 seconds (Twilight) assuming no one moves.
Occultism (Pseudo Necromancy / Debuffs)
Think Mesmer / Necromancer in the original Guild Wars. You have different debuffs along with the ability to summon temporary pets that do damage and debuff. You can also mind control (!!!) other players / enemies. While theoretically a pet class, most summons are temporary.
Archery (Ranged DPS)
Skills related to using a bow, although many of the skills can be used without one. Similar to Battlerage and Sorcery, skills relating to Archery are basic damage abilities and damage buffs. Float is actually kind of cool, it lifts you in the air for 12 seconds and increases the range of ranged attacks and damage by 30%, but doesn't work with anything with a cast time.
A pure tanking skillset. Has taunts, health regens, mitigation, and “Imprison” which impressions all enemies for 20 seconds and only a large object can break the barrier.
Auramancy (Magic Tank / Debuff Breaks)
The same as Defense, but focused on magic damage. Can interupt, have debuff immunity, buff health, and teleport.
Songcraft (Bard / Buffs)
A pure buff class, with a stun. This pairs with support players, the various songs can heal, buff, and debuff.
That’s pretty much the basics for the different skillsets in ArcheAge. You can combine three to make your “class” and there are currently 120 combinations in the game.