Ahead of Dawntrail, Final Fantasy XIV Players Are Conflicted About Healers

Ahead of Dawntrail, Final Fantasy XIV Players Are Conflicted About Healers

Final Fantasy XIV fans are having a debate over what the healer role should look like going forward. The MMO’s next expansion, Dawntrail, releases this summer and will bring with it a myriad of new features and changes to how the game will play. Recently a benchmark for the expansion was released which, on top of letting players gauge how ready their PCs are for Dawntrail, showed off some new skills for the game’s many jobs. This has led many to wonder if healers are too much, or not enough, of a DPS role.

To understand the debate, we need to dig into what the healer job role entails as it exists in FF14. Every job has two types of skills, off global cooldown (or ogcd) skills and global cooldown (gcd) skills. The global cooldown is essentially a timer that limits how often players can use skills. In FF14’s case, that timer is set to 2.5 seconds. Ogcd skills can be activated outside of the timer limit. When it comes to healer jobs (White Mage, Sage, Scholar, Astrologian), players need to balance both healing and damage dealing across their ogcd and gcd skills.

However, as these jobs exist in the game currently, much of the healer rotation (the optimal order in which you use skills) relies on doing damage on the global cooldown and using ogcd healing skills. Because the most useful healing skills can be used off the timer, a healer is often mostly focused on dealing damage on the global cooldown. This is the reason that new healers are often told that the first rule of healing in FF14 is to deal damage. The most skilled healers prioritize damage dealing and only heal when absolutely necessary to mitigate massive attacks from enemies. But most healer roles have a very simple set of damage-dealing skills. For example, a White Mage will likely spend most of a fight spamming their two main attack skills, Glare and Dia. That leaves most combat encounters feeling rather boring if you play as a healer.

Image: Square Enix

This has led to a debate on the ffxivdiscussion Reddit about the need for a healer rework in Dawntrail. One user points out that datamined information shows healers aren’t going to see much of a change to how they work, and wonders why there is pushback against making healers more DPS-centric. Currently, the community feels like healers sit in a sort of in-between place. The game does not prioritize a need for active healing at most points during combat, leaving the role of a healer to be mostly a damage dealer in support of the full DPS jobs in encounters. This is all well and good, but then the DPS rotation of healers needs to be more interesting than just spanning two buttons. “Inside [developer Creative Business Unit 3] are two wolves,” one user jokes, “One wants healers to heal, the other one wants fights that barely require healing. Both of them barely care about it, so nothing ever gets done.”

In part, the healer situation can be attributed to the development team sanding down some of the game’s complexity. As producer Yoshi-P said in a recent interview, FF14 has lost some of its stress. That can be a bad thing, especially when it leads to some jobs feeling like they don’t do much in combat. Of course, there isn’t an easy solution to this problem, but the community does have some suggestions. “There are two ways to handle this,” theorizes one poster. “One is where the devs are satisfied with damage intake and the healing relative to it, in which case we definitely need a more complex DPS rotation for healers, the second one is where they decide damage intake is not high enough and instead demand much more healing GCDs.”

As a healer main myself, either of these options sounds great! One of the reasons I switched from White Mage to Astrologian between Shadowbringers and Endwalker is because White Mage had become a more simplistic job, both in how it heals and how it does damage. The card system for Astrologian, which adds opportunities to buff party members while also managing healing and damage dealing, just brings something more for me to do and keeps my brain engaged.

That being said, Astrologian is getting a major rework in Dawntrail that we don’t know much about. While it’s possible the rework could address some of the community’s issues with the healer roles at large, it may also exacerbate the problem. Complex jobs have been reworked and simplified before, most notably with Endwalker’s rework of the Summoner job. We’ll just have to wait until Dawntrail launches on July 2 to find out what fate it may have in store for Astrologians, and healers at large.

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