For years now, though not the original “trinity”, MMOs have used a formula based around three play types called the tank, DPS, and healer. ArenaNet saw the terrible plague of LFG spam, and tried to remedy it with a new formula in Guild Wars 2. One where any profession could fill any role in a group, including a healer. While you will never be looking for a certain profession in order to make a dungeon group, some still feel the lack of a true healing profession is hurting the game. But was attempt to rid us of the trinity a flop?
In Guild Wars 2, every profession has the ability to perform every role within a party, including the ability to heal. Every profession can heal itself, and others. In fact, you are forced to give one slot to a healing ability. The reliance on another player to heal you is completely removed, meaning everyone in the party can now care for themselves.
So if we all have a healing slot, then why would we need a healing class? The biggest argument I hear is that we only have one healing skill. Even back in the days of the original Guild Wars, players would fill their skill bars with heals. So why not allow players do so in Guild Wars 2? I don't think it would hurt if they added some more healing type skills for us to put into slots six through nine. But is necessary?
There are a lot of other variables that happen during combat that would make a true dedicated healer kind of worthless. Let's look at the ability to dodge. You have the chance to dodge an attack completely, and let's not forget about blocking! Now you can't dodge every attack, but still a well-timed dodge can tip the balance in your favor during even the most heated battles. Now factor in that every player has this ability, and your party just gained a huge advantage.
Most don't think about it, but there are a lot of ways players can support each other. AoE healing is an option, as well as skills that can give boons to allies. We can even take the conditions off of our friends, and change those into boons! Finally you have the best way you can support your party. Any player can help a downed player get back up on their feet. Think of this as reviving. Normally a healer would be necessary to do all of these things, yet we are already doing them either through skills, traits, or critical hits with equipped Sigils.
A lot of players complain that bringing up downed players in combat takes too long, and that there should be a skill to do it instantly. Look at the Signet of Undeath, and Signet of Mercy. Both of these skills have the ability to bring downed players back up. The Signet of Undeath can actually revive up to three players in a targeted area instead of just one! Now this may seem like the perfect solution to the reviving problem, but these skills are only available to the Necromancer and the Guardian. I think every profession should have at least one skill that’s similar to these in some way.
Really ArenaNet placed a lot of healing into Guild Wars 2, but rather than placing all of those skills and abilities into one profession, they dispersed it all over, and disguised it somewhat. Healing is no longer dependent on the abilities of one single player. Now the whole party can step in and play a supportive role when the time arises. It's just up to the players to figure out how, and to coordinate those efforts. It’s not the lack of healing, it’s often the lack of effort put in by us the players to figure out how to contribute to the party.
I find that many players complaining about a lack of healing only focus on pure DPS, and why not? It’s often the easy way out. Stack power and let it go. They believe the best way to support an ally is to kill whatever is killing them. The problem is that the enemy can kill your ally faster than you can kill your enemy. Players need to branch out, and find ways to not only bring the DPS, but a way to deliver support to the rest of their party. What's better, one party member that's awesome at DPS that’s dead, or an entire party that stays alive through support, yet still delivers good DPS together?
But if players are resorting to the “easiest way” and it’s just basically DPS-ing everything in sight, then that means the design’s not fully functional either. ArenaNet did a great job straying away from the trinity formula, but some improvements can still be made. Some more healing, and reviving skills could be added as long as the numbers are kept down so that we can't fill up the skill bar. It wouldn't hurt is some of these new skills had interesting mechanics to make supporting allies as much fun as hacking away at enemies. Even with this room for improvement, ArenaNet breaking away from the holy trinity is far from being a flop. It’s just not fully realized.
Do you think Guild Wars 2 needs a dedicated healing profession? Would you like to see more healing and support skills added to the game? Tell us what you think in the comments below.
David North / David North is a freelance writer for MMORPG.com. David loves to play and makes games, but now he writes about them! If you want to creep on him and make fun of his ability to draw, follow him over on twitter @David_the_North.