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Contributors: BillMurphy,MikeB,garrett,SBFord,Grakulen,

Community Spotlight: Are Healers Boring?

Posted by MikeB Monday September 23 2013 at 3:24AM
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In this week's Community Spotlight we focus on the thread, "The life of the Healer" by Arclan:

A rumor is going around that the Healer class is boring; and that everyone else gets the 'fun.' Well let me disagree. My secondary EQ character was a Cleric, and I spent thousands of hours playing him and loved every minute of it.


1. You get respect from everyone, and appreciation from your group mates


2. You help push the group into more dangerous and lucrative encounters.


3. You employ constant problem solving and decision making; deciding who to heal, when, and for how much. All the while trying to avoid aggro and, if you got it, keeping yourself alive.


4. The consequences of your decisions are high; literally holding the power of life and death.


Although I mention problem solving/decision making third, it is THE reason I loved being a healer.

Read on for some highlights from the thread!

naZchoco finds healing the most fun:

I've been healing since 99' as a Cleric myself. 

I love the respect I get from it. 

I love how attentive we have to be on certain fights. Aggro control, status ailment curing, heals, while all the same doing the usual waltz around red rings and AoEs like everyone else. 

I think it's the hardest of the classes and I think it's the most fun.

The only problem I have with it is we usually get the shaft in terms of looks. Except cleric - at least it was plate wearing :D

Psistorm finds healers to be the hardest to play, but also the least rewarding:

Personally I feel that healers are probably the hardest class to play, and in many ways also the least rewarding. You get to keep everyone alive, watching 5 targets on top of needing to know when the fight needs special attention on top of doing the mechanics, and if you slip up you generally get shouted at. You pretty much have to have healed a dungeon in order to be allowed to heal a dungeon, so to say. Or at least have read up on every encounter.

Meanwhile tanks need the same kind of pre-knowledge, it almost feels as if healers/tanks aren't allowed to learn anymore in todays MMO society, people expect them to know everything up front already. They need to be more geared usually, though they don't have to do a ton of work over dps. They often are subject to different mechanics, but most games seem to give them gratuitous threat building abilities so that threat isn't really an issue.

Meanwhile DPS can die all they like and blame others in some games, only need to do the waltz whilst spamming their rotation as fast as they can, because the tank is expected to keep aggro and stay up, and the healer is expected to smooth over any screwups the group does.

Granted this is my personal, perhaps slightly jaded opinion, but in todays "don't talk, just kill stuff already" LFG experience, this seems to be what it boils down to. Which is probably why I a) really should find me a nice guild on any upcoming MMOs I play and b) will probably pick up tanking. I tried healing once and it really is a bit too much for my taste, but tanking I tried out and I like the taste of it.

So what can games do to make it more fun? Imho break up the trinity, and try to make every role responsible again. And re-introduce CC and support as a major player. Make it so that DPS classes aren't pure DPS, but instead have a good helping of temporary buffs, small heals and such at their disposal, as well as some CC. Make fights revolve around those concepts, make the party turn into a scenario where people help each other, rather two people carrying three others to an extent.

Ridelynn has mixed feelings about healing:

I usually like playing as a tank, because you tend to control the direction and tempo of a group.

I've dabbled with healing a bit here and there - it's not bad. You certainly get some amount of respect, and the healer and tank are more or less in sync - they both have to be on the same page, or the entire group just falls apart. In some games (and particularly in large raids) it seems like you just stare at health bars, and it's an entirely different meta game. I got bored with it fast in EQ and WoW, but in FFXIV I'm liking it a lot better.

DPS is just kinda along for the ride... You follow the script of the event, and you follow the pace of the tank, and you try not to get the (negative) attention of the healer.

I was always the DPS type guy. I used to love playing rogues and I still love playing archers. Today, I can have fun doing anything. It was actually Warhammer Online that changed my perception on support roles. Tanks actually had an important role in WAR's PvP and I learned to appreciate healers a bit more when I played the reworked Archmage. The Archmage was a lifetap healer who could heal his secondary target while damaging an enemy at the same time. Their healing wasn't as strong as someone dedicated entirely to healing, but it was actually respectable and honestly, quite fun.

I haven't spent a whole lot of time being a healer in a dungeon setting, but I don't think I would find playing whack a mole with health bars all too exciting. That said, healing isn't inherently boring; it's all about how you do it. There are certainly mindless healing classes out there, but there are also exciting variations available and that's ultimately what we should strive to see in our MMOs.

What's your take on healers? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Saydien writes:

It really depends on the game. I loved playing healers in the past but the past years all games really had healer classes that I personally don't enjoy at all. This decision to turn healers into hybrids might be viable for those that dislike pure healing but at the same time it alienates people that really want to go all-out on healing. Healers like in GW2 or Age of Conan where you only apply a heal over time and just have to keep it running is meh.

I wish devs would go back to healing classes like in Dark Age of Camelot where you had no less than 12 healing skills. The quick judgement of which heal to choose to keep everyone alive and on top have a decent aggro and mana management left so much room for skilled healers to shine and improve.

A proper and deep healing class embedded in a group-focused game that requires proper healing, already would be all that it would take to get me hooked. I have a feeling that I will keep getting disappointed though.

Mon Sep 23 2013 5:58AM Report
mcrippins writes: No - People just want to do damage so other players can see their damage. If combat logs and damage text didn't exist, then none would care. Mon Sep 23 2013 6:01AM Report
meddyck writes: They are not intrinsically boring especially if the class can do other things (CC, debuffs, buffs, damage) beyond just healing. But they can be more frustrating than other class types because in addition to everything else you also have to put up with people complaining that you didn't heal them or let them die when they did something stupid like aggroed another mob when the group was still fighting. Mon Sep 23 2013 6:28AM Report
Wicoa writes: No love healing and support. Its fun to some people not only that usually the animations are preddy. Mon Sep 23 2013 8:44AM Report
koboldfodder writes:

If you are playing the same-old-MMO, then yes healers are boring because the mechanics have been the same for 15 years.

 

Stare at health bars, press a button when they get low, wait for mana to regen.

It's not a "healers are inherently boring" problem, it is a DESIGN problem.

 

If you played City of Heroes, you could play one of the great MMO classes of all time, the Defender....which was the "healer" class in that superhero game.  But you could play it so many ways with all the different skill sets.  You did not even have to take a healing skill...lol.  You could be a debuffer, or a buffer, or bubble your team to victory.  If you never played the game, you are probably shaking your head wondering how they could make a healer class without actually healing, but if you played it you know it and are agreeing with me.

 

The other game is Vanguard.  This game had healers with healing skills, but they were great classes.  Every single one of them.  The tradition cleric with heavy armor, which could tank (gasp).  The squishy blood mage with it's little healing pacts.  The shaman with it's, well, everything.  And probably the greatest healing class in any MMO ever.....

 

The Disciple.  Whatever your top five MMO classes of all time are, this is in that list.  This class was part monk and part healer and all awesome.  You could lay the beat down on some mobs while healing your team at the same time.  Whoa...you mean you did (gasp) damage?  Hell yeah!   And heals!  and not crappy heals too.  You were a main healer.

 

Throw in RIFT as well.  The game is kind of bland, but their healers are pretty interesting.

 

Three games out of about 300 that did healing right. 

Mon Sep 23 2013 10:26AM Report
Kyleran writes:

I had some of my best times as a healer in MMORPG's from DAOC, WOW and several others, and at no point did I ever find them boring, even when staring at a screen full of hotbars to monitor. (but then, I like EVE, not a lot different really)

But my days as a healer are over, (at least from a PUG perspective), no way am I subjecting myself to the arses that are found in most games/groups today, and the temptation to let members of my group die because they piss me off is too great, just never turns out well anymore.

I suppose I'd still run a healer for my guild groups, but these days I find there's always plenty of folks willing to take on that role so haven't really seen the need. 

Now I pretty much stick to buffer/support classes if they still exist in a title, or ranged DPS if not available.

Though in my current game (DAOC shard) I'm playing a Skald which is a terrific hybrid of short range and melee damage, and I get speed too.... best time I've had playing a class in a long time.

Mon Sep 23 2013 10:40AM Report
TiamatRoar writes: The most awesome healing gameplay I ever got to experience was Lunia, an action MMORPG (older version, before later updates made everything easy). There, depending on your skill build, the healer class had up to 5 different heals that all had different mechanics. 1: Self-Heal (useless, don't bother with it) 2: Semi-channeled heal. This heal had a small AoE. When cast, you'd do up to three pulses of it. It was your strongest heal but your allies had to be almost next to you in order for it to hit them. Which was BAD if your allies had a monster on their tail because then that monster's attacks would smack you (and interrupt the heal), as any attack could hit multiple targets if all those targets were in the hitbox of that attack. You could cancel the heal and run like hell after just one or two pulses, but then you'd have dumped a LOT of mana into a heal that wasn't able to get its full 3 pulses out, and the heal's 15 second cooldown would mean people could die while waiting for it to come back again (Lunia's gameplay was very fast paced). The healer had to be very coordinated and skilled to find the right times to get this off in boss fights, ideally when the boss is chasing after a different ally than the one you're trying to heal and when a giant AoE isn't flying your way. 3: Heal bead. A projectile heal! You'd shoot two heal balls and whoever they hit would be healed. Lowest cooldown of all the heals. Seroiusly, how many action RPGs (or any MMO for that matter?) had you firing off heal balls? It's like playing a ranged attacker that's trying to "attack" your own team mates with heal attacks and it is awesome. 4: Giant AoE heal. It healed very little compared to the others but in really frantic fights, you sometimes only had time to use this instead of the pulse one. Any healer forced into a situation where they could only use this heal and had no chance to use the pulse heal was a fight you were probably going to lose. So it was up to everyone to find or create (wizards could cast walls in front of monsters, knights had a brief taunt with a cooldown longer than its duration, etc) opportunities for the healer to heal people with the slower lower-range pulse heal in the middle of battle, with the healer using this big AoE heal as a stop-gap measure in between those opportunities. Ridiculously huge AoE heal: Healed practically nothing, had a 60 second cooldown (IE, FOREVER), but had bigger range than your entire friggin' screen. This heal was aptly named "Emergency Heal" and was mainly used to save people who were dead on the ground (you had 3 seconds to heal someone dead on the ground at 0 HP before they actually die). Healers had to use this spell only during those emergencies and make sure it counted, because with a 60 second CD, you probably weren't going to be able to save them a second time with this. In addition, healers had a weak ranged attack so they could contribute to the battle if no one needed healing at the moment. Weak, of course, but better than nothing. Old-School Lunia had some of the most ridiculously frantic and crazy battles for healers ever (and everyone else too, but especially healers). You had to be dodging fire balls and projectiles flying all over the place, running away from monsters chasing you, and finding opportunities to heal your teammates amongst all the madness. It's a real shame so many people never got to try that game before later patches made things easy as hell and the game went out of business. Mon Sep 23 2013 10:52AM Report
MindTrigger writes:

I often choose a support role, in games that actually have them, and I've never been bored.  The last time I played a dedicated healer was in LOTRO, and not only was the gameplay fun, but the player were very appreciative of my skills.  In addition, while other people were left out of instances, healers were often in demand, so my healer characters usually see a lot more group invites and overall less "down time" trying to get into groups.

LOTRO's Loremaster was also a very fun support class that could be very demanding during instances.  The crowd control and power/health transfers kept many groups alive when a healer was overwhelmed.

 

Mon Sep 23 2013 11:53AM Report
MindTrigger writes:

I often choose a support role, in games that actually have them, and I've never been bored.  The last time I played a dedicated healer was in LOTRO, and not only was the gameplay fun, but the player were very appreciative of my skills.  In addition, while other people were left out of instances, healers were often in demand, so my healer characters usually see a lot more group invites and overall less "down time" trying to get into groups.

LOTRO's Loremaster was also a very fun support class that could be very demanding during instances.  The crowd control and power/health transfers kept many groups alive when a healer was overwhelmed.

 

Mon Sep 23 2013 11:53AM Report
Mothanos writes:

I love healing.

I love tanking.

This is my playstyle and its sad that mmo's these days step away from it.

Or make all classes do dps.

 

Its the main reason i quited GW2 and might not even touch EQN.

FF ARR and Eve Online all the way.

Tue Sep 24 2013 2:41AM Report
Drakephire writes: I enjoy playing a healer in my PnP D&D group where I play a pacifist healer...essentially a super healing cleric. But I won't play one in an MMO unless I'm grouping with friends. As mentioned above, too many arses out there. Tue Sep 24 2013 3:09AM Report
jesad writes: I entered the world of  pen and paper D&D as a healer and have played a healer in several different games and I have nothing but respect for those who play that class (I moved on to crowd control).  To do it well is not only somewhat difficult but a little bit frustrating, and it is far from boring although I have seen bad healers get bored of being bad at it. Tue Sep 24 2013 5:43AM Report
Voqar writes:

Healers can be boring if the game's mechanics allow for infinite mana, a capacity to endlessly heal stupid, is pure healthbar whacamole, and so on.  Healing can also be boring when the content is boring.  When all you do is faceroll and there's no tension and no real strategy overall, or when threat is easy mode and nobody has to play smart.  When threat is easily managed and nobody (healers) has to consider threat vs action it's more boring.

 

If you have finite resources (mana) and need to be more strategic about your healing it's more interesting and compelling.  When content is demanding and everyone has to be more on their game, it elevates things even more for the critical roles (tank/healer).

 

"Personally I feel that healers are probably the hardest class to play"

 

Eh, 2nd hardest.  Tanking is by far the hardest role.  There are reasons why tanks are the least played class - it's the role with the most responsibility and the role that is the most involved.  Many simply don't want or can't handle the responsibility.

 

I enjoy all roles in MMORPGs but I enjoy tanking the most due to the challenges it entails (and I enjoy being in control of my grouping and leading groups).  I also love healing but I consider it a relaxing alternative to tanking.  DPS is a waltz in the park compared to either since even being the best DPSer humanly possible is nothing compared to being a great healer or great tank.

 

 

Tue Sep 24 2013 11:47AM Report
MurlockDance writes:

Healers are not boring especially in an PvP context. My favourite class archetype is healer for PvP and doing some DoT damage. I played a cave Shaman in early DAoC. Despite not being great at healing I still rezzed and healed people, the latter much to their surprise and in those days cure poison was vital. It still helped since in those pre-ToA days damage was not quite so out-of-whack as later on in the game. My favourite though was playing a Vanilla shadow priest that picked up many healing talents as well. They were so much fun in world PvP.

 

In PvE, healers are a little less interesting but I find the WoW healers to have been really great again in the early days of the game. Priests were so much fun in groups: bubble too early and you got killed so you had to watch aggro and the tank very carefully. I left healing though when playing a healer in PuGs began to stress me out since if things went badly it was always my fault.

 

I do long to get back into a healer role sometime so maybe I will try it again.

Wed Sep 25 2013 10:11AM Report

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