No More Healers

I don’t have much time for blogging this half of the week, but there is a nice fundamentals-article at Guild Wars 2 about death and healing.  They will be using a Borderlands style near-death status where players will be weakened when down on the ground in appropriately named Downed Mode, but if they can kill off an enemy in time they stand back up with renewed vigor.  Alternatively, allies can help the player back up to her feet.  “Death,” which happens after failing at Downed Mode can still be countered on the battlefield with rez skills.  Otherwise the death penalty is going to be gold to pay the warp fee to go to the nearest known waypoint.  It’s going to be really interesting to see how players act in a large herd when an unpartied ally goes down.

The other bit is on the replacement of the “holy trinity” with focus on Damage, Support, and Control.  I think their main goal in this vernacular gymnastics is to get away from all the prejudice involved with Tank-Heal-DPS roles.  For starters there will be no healer class.  The monk is dead.  Thank you, ArenaNet.  It only took 6 years for you guys to listen to me.  I kid, a little… instead the “holy trinity” becomes inherent to each profession.  I love utility classes that respond to the battlefield instead of having a set role the whole time.  My favorite class in an MMO, the Captain in Lord of the Rings Online can do Damage, Support, and Control.  The problem is he can’t fill the role of any one of them to the degree that is sometimes required.  The Captain’s “balance” is in the fact that, for example, when he helps Support, the Minstrel can focus a little more on Damage.

At Kotaku, ArenaNet dev favorite Izzy says:

“All the healing that happens in the game – the main meat of healing is your personal heal skill. You are in charge of your health. Other people can help you and support you say by pulling a creature off of you, or provide minor healing, but nothing as effective as you do yourself. “
It’s interesting that they are taking the risk v. reward away from groups, and putting it back on the player.  If the player goes agro/DPS crazy then they may very well pay the consequences.  It’s on them instead of forcing a healer to “do better.”  With only two official classes, Elementalist and Warrior, and two unofficial classes, Necromancer and Ranger, out of the 8 total, it’s still hard to get a clear picture of how this will all work.  Hopefully the flow and feel of the game will be a lot more apparent in just over a month when fans play Guild Wars 2 at Gamescom and PAX.

if challenge had a taste, you’d be quite delicious

16 thoughts on “No More Healers”

  1. The feeble death penalty really feels like a wimpy “we don’t to hurt nobody’s FUN”… I often say we have gone too far with the “no risk, only reward” mentality of today.

    BUT for breaking up the trinity alone Guild Wars 2 already deserves the Distinguished Service Cross.

    This is another proof that GW2 is a completely different game to GW1. For better or worse, I think for the better. I am not sure if PvP will be to the liking of the GW1 hardcore pvp crowed, though.

    Though ArenaNet seems to cater to Joe Average, they are still bold enough to try something new. And I think getting rid of this super stupid trinity (yeah, it is, face it, WoW addicts!) system is fantastic news.

  2. Wow, awesome idea. I hope it works out. We really need to break away from the traditional holy trinity model of MMO development. Hopefully this makes everyone more responsible with aggro and not placing blame on others.

  3. “It’s going to be really interesting to see how players act in a large herd when an unpartied ally goes down.”

    Well, unless your somehow just watching the action and not playing, then your part of that group – if you run past the unpartied person, it’s not the game they are writing that forced you to do that, you decided to do it.

    1. I wouldn’t be so altruistic. You are fighting, partied up with 4 other people, and fighting with 20 others in an event. Some guy not in your party goes down. How often are people going to try and get that random guy down? What if he sucks, or possibly could suck? What if it takes 3 seconds to get him back up, which are seconds you could’ve used in helping your party reap more glory?

      1. This raises a really good point that I hadn’t thought of previously. That being: Isn’t this sort of the heart of what an RPG is supposed to be, in the traditional sense? In some ways, this is RP in its purest form.

        Do you, playing as your character, stop to help someone for altruistic reasons? Or take advantage of the situation to get better goodies? It’s just a choice, that defines your character – not what class you pick, or what gear you wear.

        I’m not an RP person at all, really, I prefer the mechanical end of the game and give my characters silly names, etc. But I’m irked that in a holy trinity game, this kind of simple choice is often supplanted and disallowed by a meta choice – what role in the trinity you want to play. It becomes Role-playing, where RPG just means a combat game with arbitrarily determined, abstract roles, created by the designers (never the players!), that you choose when you begin a character and can never change.

        That is, in a trinity game, if you’re a tank or DPS, you probably have no option to help the person who’s lying in your path mortally wounded, removing that character-defining choice entirely. Which, I might add, is deeply illogical – in reality if you walk by someone who’s been mortally injured, you don’t need a mana bar and greater heal trained to offer them some water or try to bandage their wounds.

        In short, I think these changes are great; they bring back some logical options and choices, and soften some of the calcified, abstract rules that have been considered un-questionable for so long. I think a similar point could be made for the shift away from having the very illogical idea of a dedicated healer, as another commenter mentions below.

  4. Thank god I found a blogger talking about this awesome news instead of Real ID or SWBoRing!

    I’ve always felt that the dedicated healer was a bit of a silly concept. Key there is I didn’t say “healing”. Healing, to me, has always been a vital part of MMOs. I started graphical games in Ultima Online and it was generally accepted that you healed yourself and most players were capable of doing so.

    To me, dedicated healing is one of those things that just doesn’t feel natural in the setting. Doing damage and taking damage make sense. Healing one’s self makes less sense, but is still plausible. Doing nothing but healing, to me, makes no sense and never fit naturally in the flow of playing a game… any game… ever (for me at least).

    1. Well said. I started in UO as well and I’ve been dying for “bandages” in a game for some time.

    2. Agreed with Cedia – well said, Heartless.

      Although I never played UO myself, I think it’s also analogous to the BYOB style of GvG play in Guildwars, where everyone brings a heal and some support/movement skills so they can take care of themselves – as well as helping each other, where possible.

      That style of play always felt more exciting and natural to me. I think it also allows for a lot more common-sense tactical play, such as “oh crap! big guy’s running at me, better run”, rather than “ah, I’ll sort of wander away, but the healer will get me, it’s fine”. There’s something unsatisfying – perhaps anticlimactic – about having this giant monster incessantly pounding you in the face, and you just sort of go “eh, healer’s keeping me up.”

      That said, there is also something deeply satisfying about how simple the abstraction of the trinity is. We shall see whether the changes in GW are for the best, I suppose.

  5. Other people can help you and support you say by pulling a creature off of you, or provide minor healing, but nothing as effective as you do yourself.

    I wonder how closely the implementation will match the vision. I recall hearing something similar about Champions Online, then hearing that a dedicated healer is still a viable, powerful, and/or necessary group member. (Not that I have heard much about Champions Online in … gosh.)

    1. With Champions Online though, most of their content was clearly created before the combat was completed. So you’re facing bosses that are designed for the holy trinity, only with a group of independent players.

      While I like CO’s combat approach in other areas, this was one aspect where they half-assed tried to do something different, with an escape route to fall back on the usual. So of course, fall back is what they ended up doing.

      Age of Conan had similar issues where the content ended up dictating changes to the combat system they tried. In both games, there was a messy transition period.

      The key is whether ArenaNet has had time to develop the content around the combat, rather than the other way around.

  6. I really like the idea of support, control and damage rather than healing being the key element to fights.

    Those boss fights where over the duration the tank gets healed for hundreds of times his health are just ridiculous. The model where HPS > DPS for lots of characters is again just a bit silly.

  7. Something about the self sufficiency reminds me of Random Arena. I always enjoyed teams with no monk, but lots of damage, self heals, and support. Yay for GW2

  8. I’m afraid I’m one of the dissenting voices here… but I’m still hoping the end product will be a joy and a surprise (despite my trepidation).

    …I love being a healer. I play other things quite happily. But I love being a dedicated healer. This isn’t to say I don’t like being able to defend myself. Indeed, one of the greatest differences between GW and WoW for me, when playing a healer is, I can rely on myself to defend myself.

    I’m hoping that GW2 doesn’t leave me, and others like me, out in the cold.

    But to be honest, when my Alli chat was celebrating this announcement, it felt like a kick in the battery nuggetbase.

    1. I have also played healer classes in every MMO I have touched yet because somehow I like helping people rather than harming them. (Strange attitude for an MMO player, I know.) But I was absolutely excited about the news because I am now sure that GW2 will offer the ability to play my class exactly as I want to: full support for the group.
      In my opinion, only the way this support is done has changed. No more stupid ‘LP bar game’, as ArenaNet calls it in the PCGamer interview, where I stand somewhere, hopefully defended by someone else, and simply spam my healing abilities. Instead, jumping around and keeping my allies alive by distracting the enemies, stunning them, knocking them down, buffing my party members…

      All in all, we get both: The ability to support allies (no matter which class we choose, which is even more amazing), and more active and exciting gameplay. Whenever I am going to be in a group (or only near some kind of ally), I am definitely going to switch to ‘support mode’, and it will be more fun than in any ‘holy trinity’ MMO; I am quite sure of that. So maybe there will not be ‘dedicated healers’ any more — they will simply turn to ‘dedicated supporters’.

      If ArenaNet manages to implement everything as they want to, I am therefore sure that it will actually be the ‘healers’ who profit.

  9. I’ve played guildwars for a while, and dabbled in the monk class. I’ve always loved putting up prot spells just before a spike landed negating most of the damage done on the target. So the way GW2 is handling healing is something I have to commend them on. Good for them for breaking the mold.

    The way they handle dying is great to see as well. Now instead of going away from the computer to get a feed, or just quitting the game in general. I will be able to become more involved with the game and be able to contribute something, even if its only a little, to the situation.

    Good work Anet.

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