I don’t post here often (read:ever), and I likely won’t follow up on this thread for more than a few days after posting, but I’m going to write this anyways, maybe it’ll give someone some food for thought.
Stop for a moment to get off your Sylphie soap box and consider this: What if healers in this game *aren’t* healers?
There are plenty of mmo’s out there that don’t have any dedicated healer class, they’ll have different types of DPS, some with more support skills, some with more tank-y skills, some with more potent attack skills.
What if this is one of those games?! *gasp* At least maybe it’s almost like one.
Would all of our arguments cease if they name of the role that gets a green icon was just “support” instead of “healer?”
[For the sake of this thread, set aside the “support DPS” monniker for MCH and BRD. Yes they bring some utility at the SLIGHT cost of their own dps output, but the amount of actual support they bring is minimal. And that’s a thread for a different section.]
Why look at it like this? Why consider that healers aren’t meant to heal 100% of the time and are actually supporting DPS (EVEN when it’s been stated that fights are balanced based on ZERO dps contribution from the healers?!)?
Let’s look at tanks, first. Because tanks, like healers, have the ability to stance dance.
Tanks are a DPS, in that they are continuously contributing to the damage going out. No arguments here, right? They do damage per each second of the encounter, therefore tanks = DPS. And let’s not forget that the goal of every piece of content in this game (except casual side stuff like gold saucer) is to kill the monsters and enemies. Tanks are *not* DPS, they don’t get a red icon, it’s blue. But they also are DPS. Tanks have a tank stance (read: CS off) and a DPS stance (CS on). Tanks trade off high damage for being able to control the aggro of the battle field, and they can sacrifice a bit of that control by stance dancing for a bit more damage. The ability to mitigate and control aggro is what makes them “Tanks” despite also being DPS.
tl;dr:Tanks are damage dealing classes that sacrifice high bursty damage (except fell cleave, because warrior OP) for aggro control. Effective tanks put out as much DPS as possible while controlling monster hate, and mitigating through the extra damage happening. DPS also helps kill the monsters faster, which is not only the goal, but helps the tanks do their jobs more effectively (more damage = more aggro). No one suggests that tanks should lose their significant DPS and be *only* meat shields. Even though their name implies that’s what they should be.
Now let’s look at our regular old red icon’d DPS. They go pew pew, do the most damage, and things die. Pretty easy. They get some extra fancy skills that let’s them kill things in differently twisted ways (AOEs, DoT’s, bursty combos). Stuff dies, no one complains.
And in the green icon’d camp we have the “healers” but let’s call them support. They have these skills that support the others, in the form of heals, shields, and buffs (astro). Like a tank’s top priority is to hold aggro and mitigate (while also DPSing), a “Support’s” job is to keep the party alive using it’s variety of skills, while also meeting the end goal of the content (kill the thing!), because that’s everyone’s goal. They’re a lot like tanks in their design, with stances for different functions. Actually there’s a part of them that’s a lot like DPS too, which I’ll get to.
Let’s get all over-simplified hypothetical here and imagine every role in FFXIV had 9 skills only.
DPS would get 3 standard attacks (think your basic 1-2-3 combo), 3 more DPS attacks that cements their role as DPS (let’s say 3 DoT’s for a ranged class, or 3 AoE’s for a caster), and 3 EXTRA DPS skills (think proc’s or special circumstance skills, like bloodletter or trick attack), because their role defines them as the ones who put out more DPS, and their class separates them from the others.
Tanks would get 3 standard attacks for their average dps (1-2-3 combo), 3 aggro controlling skills (provoke, flash, tomahawk, etc.), and 3 damage mitigating skills (foresight, etc).
Try not to think of GCD/oGCD or buff vs attack, the point here is to consider each class has 9 very simple “functions” to get their respective job done. Like an oversimplified mobile version of FFXIV.
Each class gets 3 standard attacks that every class gets, 3 skills that perform their “role” (DPS get damage skills, tanks get extra tanky skills, etc) this is what will set their colored icon as DPS/Tank, and 3 special skills that help separate their class from the others in the role (e.g. what makes a DRK not a WAR) basically what defines their job.
In this setup, healers would also get 3 basic attacks (e.g. stone, or broil, or malefic), 3 straight heals (e.g. cure or physick or benefic), and 3 special support skills to differentiate their roles (adlo, or regen, or card buffs)
The point is to strip everything down to the bare minimum and look at the basics of what every class was built out from. Every class gets the 3 basic attacks. The next set of skills it what defines their role (red DPS, blue tank, green support), and the last set of 3 is what defines their actual class (WAR/DRK/PLD, AST/WHM/SCH, etc).
You’ll notice DPS have all 9 skills as DPS oriented. Tanks have a dedicated 3, but some of their remaining 6 likely also add damage in addition to the tank functions. Healers get 3 attacks, and the other 6 are dedicated to their support, like the 6 dedicated to tanks being tanks.
If you can look at it this way, EVERY class, which already has the same goal of KILL THE THING, also has the same basic function to get that goal done. Party dynamics don’t change the presence of these basic abilities, they just provide more tools to work together as a team. Priorities will change depending on the role, for example tank is: Aggro first, mitigation next, DPS last. Support would be: Party health first, buffs (regens/shields/cards) next, and DPS last. DPS would be: Special utility your role brings first (caster bringing magic damage, or archer bringing dots), special class defining skills next (buffs, procs, etc), and basic DPS last (basically when 1 and 2 are met, you fill in the gaps with the 3rd, this applies to all 3 roles).
All of this boils down to the design not being, let’s place these completely different roles into an environment together and force them to mesh, but rather, let’s give everything the same basic design and then build them out to have unique ways of accomplishing the same task.
This isn’t a game of meat shield + heal slave + damage dealer
It’s a game of:
Slightly weak damage dealer with aggro skills + slightly weak damage dealer with healing skills + slightly weak damage dealer with strong damage dealing skills.
tl;dr I don’t believe at any point was a role designed or balanced to be 100% healing, it’s not how the core functions and mechanics of *this particular game* were made (long GCDs, slower builds of damage going out, etc). Other games have dedicated 100% healers who can’t do anything else. No role in this game is built so that they can *only* do one thing.
That said, it seems to me that the devs like to be adaptive to varying play styles. You can tank an entire dungeon run without leaving Defiance. That doesn’t mean it’s optimal, but you can be successful (to a degree) doing this, just like a healer can not DPS the entire run, and still be successful (to a degree).
Why is healer DPS not accounted for in balance? Because the whole backbone of healing requires an understanding of mechanics, which you’re not going to have when you’re learning new content. When you’re learning, you focus on your first, and maybe second priority. For tanks this still means they DPS (some, maybe in tank stance the entire time) because many of their role-defining skills also come in the form of attacks). Many slightly-above-casual healers, who are comfortable DPSing, won’t go into new content and holy bomb all over the place, they’ll pull back on DPS (if they DPS at all) and watch the damage going on while they’re learning. Balance is designed around this learning to clear phase. It’s like in sophia where the first phasar tilt mechanic doesn’t actually tilt. It’s there to demonstrate that one blue line = 3 small read ones and the board won’t tip. If you’re familiar with the fight, you don’t care about this, but when you’re trying to figure out the mechanics the first time, this is a huge clue. Just because it’s not expected for you to DPS while learning a fight, doesn’t mean DPS isn’t expected to be contributed.
Balanced is designed around the ability to learn to clear a fight, not around being able to farm a fight.
So stop for a moment and consider, what if healers aren’t healers? What if all classes had the same core basics (which they do), and then added more utility as you progress (which they do), that don’t override the core functions (which they don’t).
What if this isn’t a game with 100% healing healers? (which it isn’t) And while I wouldn’t argue this is a game *without* any healing roles, like other games have. I would argue that this game falls squarely (pun not intended) in the middle between no healers, and healer-only-healers, and does a fantastic job of meshing support DPS with healing.
Really real tl;dr Don’t you dare touch my cleric stance.