FFXIV: Should healers be pressured into DPSing?

healing

Dang, this is a heroic-looking pre-fight shot, ain’t it?

Now that the main story quest has passed from mundane to at least somewhat interesting, it decided to dump me out at level 46 with a notice that the next quest won’t pick up until level 49. I’ve never had this happen in FFXIV before, and while I wasn’t exactly peeved… I was a little peeved. It feels like a weird disruption of the flow, and since I wasn’t doing any side quests, I don’t even know where I’d go right now to pick up some additional work.

Really, it just means that I need to do three levels’ worth of dungeon grinding to get back on the MSQ train. At least as a healer, that’s not a horrible prospect; queues are near-instantaneous for me.

So let’s talk about something I’ve bumped into a couple of times so far, both in the game and in various comment threads/articles — and that’s the issue of whether or not healers in FFXIV are expected to do double-duty as damage dealers. Now, most MMOs I would say that the answer usually (but not universally) is, no, you’re a healer and you come to heal (and buff, debuff, cleanse, etc.). In fact, in many other games I’ve played, if a healer up and started trying to DPS in fights, they’d end up with a grumpy group worried about their own safety.

For whatever reason — and I think it’s an issue of class and game design here — FFXIV has a culture that puts pressure on healers to moonlight as damage dealers in dungeons. Now, I’m not against doing damage, even as a healer. If I’m in the mood, sure, I’ll DoT things up as long as everyone’s safe. But generally I don’t feel like DPSing on my Scholar, because (and follow me closely here) I’ve queued up as a healer because I actually want to heal. If I wanted to do damage, then I think I could probably figure out a way to switch to do that.

As a healer, my vision is mostly drawn to the party panel where I watch health bars and debuff icons, playing whack-a-mole with hit points and slapping shields all over the place. I only keep a little bit of attention on the rest of the screen, mostly to stay near the party and out of any telegraphs. If I have to throw out damage, then I’m taking my toggle off the tank and have to take my attention away from health bars to look at enemy mobs. When I’m doing that, I’m getting nervous because my eyes have to keep darting back to the health bars because — expected to DPS or no — if my team dies then I’m going to get stinky eyes.

It’s sometimes a little more stressful than I’d like in a run, so while I do DPS occasionally, I don’t make a regular habit of it. It’s my subscription and if they don’t like it, vote-kick me out and I’ll find another group happy to be kept alive.

The other night the tank got snarky with me during a boss fight that I wasn’t throwing out DoTs, which violated two small pet peeves of mine — calling me by a role instead of my very-easy-to-spell name and telling me how to play. I bluntly replied that I was fine as I was, thanks, and left it at that.

I know it’s a weirdly contentious topic in the FFXIV community and it bugs me that it even exists. Healers wanna just heal sometimes — there’s a joy to it and I don’t often get to be a healer in MMOs. The “DPS too!” crowd can suck on a lemon.

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16 thoughts on “FFXIV: Should healers be pressured into DPSing?

  1. Athie March 1, 2016 / 9:32 am

    It’s a funny thing in this game — until just recently, tanks were also evaluated mostly on their dps. It’s a game with a mainly really good community, but there’s a large contingent that is ready to rage at support classes for allegedly being lazy. The way the game is designed, incoming damage is usually low enough that healers can mostly (as in 60-85%) devote their casting to damage-dealing. But on the other hand the instance timers are generous and damage-dealing classes are powerful enough to beat the bad guys promptly even if the healer chooses to do 0% damage. Basically: unless you are doing progression on cutting-edge content, this is not a game that demands or even especially rewards optimization. But MMO players have a really hard time letting go of the optimization culture…

  2. Silverangel March 1, 2016 / 9:42 am

    I just started playing ffxiv recently as an Arcanist. With 4-person dungeon groups and only 2 DPS, it seems to make sense to try to squeeze extra DPS from the healer at least on trash when mana isn’t an issue. Agree it’s silly to get angry and righteous about this though.

  3. Tridus March 1, 2016 / 10:32 am

    Let the person die. “Sorry, I was DPSing.”

    See if they complain about not doing DPS again. 😉

  4. KerynW March 1, 2016 / 10:43 am

    I ran into this too… in Haukke Story mode, no less! Bard threw a screaming tantrum because I wasn’t DPSing, compared it to him only doing ‘white damage’ and when the rest of the group told him to hush and do his job or be kicked, he started pulling every uncleared mob in the instance, kiting them in circles so we couldn’t kick him. It took the rest of the party 40 minutes to pull them off him and kill them so that we could finally get rid of him.

    And THEN, since he happened to be on my home server, he followed me all over the place, emote-spamming and probably yelling about how I wanted to be carried and how terrible I was (I put him on /ignore, of course, but it was still annoying.)

  5. Picoman March 1, 2016 / 10:47 am

    If you are standing idol for 5 seconds waiting for health bars to go down, sure, throw out some DoTs but full healer DPS is reserved for experienced players only with Scholar being the best at it. During boss fights you may want to locate your skills that will weaken the boss (eg Virus) for others to go to town with.

    However, you may be reading the debate at end-game progression where minimum ilvl and DPS checks clash head-on. Here is where Tank & Healer DPS can get you a World First. You are correct to dismiss the crying from the tank, its your time, but you will one day experience a dungeon run with a rockin’ healer and feel like it was the fastest run of all time.

    Regarding EXP, head to Northern Thanalan during prime-time, if you see a marauding horde of players running from FATE to FATE then ask to join their party. You can also unlock the Levequest for that area, if you haven’t done any leves, you probably have an allowance of 100 fast, repeatable quests.

  6. pkudude99 March 1, 2016 / 11:21 am

    What I’ve generally found with Scholar is that if I follow this “formula” then I’m pretty ok —

    1. Cast Stoneskin and Adlo on the tank
    2. Go into Cleric Stance
    3. While tank is pulling pre-cast Bio II. Tank ideally should hit that 1st mob just before your attack hits. You learn to time it.
    4. Cast Miasma and Bio also.
    5. Bane to spread the dots to the rest of the trash.
    6. Hit F2 to target tank, drop out of Cleric Stance.
    7. Physick, Adlo, Physick (assuming tank needs it — usually won’t until you’re post 40)
    8. Check group health to see if anyone needs a spot heal
    9. CS again, toss a few Ruins at the lowest health mob.
    10. Out of CS, top off the tank
    11. Back into CS, refresh DoTs on highest health mob, then Bane again.
    12. Fairy can usually keep tank up on its own vs 2 mobs, so should be okay to spam Ruin for the rest of the fight.

    Below level 40, the fairy can usually do 80% or more of the healing all on its own, so you can spend most of your time in Cleric Stance doing damage. It’s an experience thing though — when I was 1st learning to heal, I spent a lot more time doing straight-up healing and very little time in Cleric Stance. Since the pre-50 gear has a lot of INT on it also, the difference between being in or out of CS was noticeable, but not massive, so if I did do damage I often wouldn’t toggle into CS anyway. I felt that any damage that I added was “bonus.” Now that I’m familiar with the dungeons, know when the spike damage is coming, so I also know when I have breathing room to add damage vs when I need to be healing.

    After 50 your gear is differentiated from the damage casters and you won’t have INT on it anymore, so if you don’t toggle into CS then you only do about 20% of the damage that you do while in CS, so the toggle is very necessary. This also applies if you are sync’d down — your gear still doesn’t have the INT anymore.

    FWIW, I healed Aurum Vale this morning using the above formula and it went very well. The 1st and 3rd bosses toss out a lot of AE damage, so I spent a lot more time on them doing full-on healing, but I still managed to have my 3 dots rolling most of the time even so, and on the 3rd boss I could even Bane them to the adds it calls.

    Post 50, oddly enough, the boss fights actually mostly do less damage to the tank than the trash fights do, so you can spend even more time in CS doing damage on those fights. It’s a little weird, but it works out, especially after you know the fights.

  7. Tyler F.M. Edwards March 1, 2016 / 11:51 am

    My policy is that as long as you’re effectively clearing the content, nobody has the right to criticize how you play. It’s a game. It should be fun. So what if you’re a little sub-optimal?

    Now, personally, I’d much rather be weaving damage into my healing, but if you’d rather just be a healbot, more power to you.

  8. lonomonkey March 1, 2016 / 12:39 pm

    As other have said already, you are right and that tank can do die in a fire somewhere. That said, I run a lot of dungeons and when I’m grinding hard for whaterver shiny thing I want I will often dps hard just to make the run go faster… and also to keep from falling asleep when the healing is a bit too easy.

  9. wolfyseyes March 1, 2016 / 1:05 pm

    This concept that healers are expected to toss DoT’s is one of the most asinine aspects of the game’s community. I’m of the mind that when there’s a damage check or an enrage to burn past, then maybe a healer should help…but ultimately play what you want! As a DRK, I’d rather be healed than have just a tiny few numbers added to trash mobs.

    TL; DR – Screw that guy.

  10. Aywren March 1, 2016 / 2:09 pm

    Play however you’re comfortable playing. Your role is to heal, and as long as the party stays alive, I feel you’ve done your job. I do ultimately think it’s up to you and that no one should chew you out for not DPSing.

    I run with a White Mage best friend, and she can do some pretty good DPS in parties with a solid tank. But she’s been playing FFXIV healer for over two years and is really good at it.

    When I’ve played healer, I always found the stance switching the most hectic part. So I can totally understand a healer who just wants to heal or who is nervous about dropping out of heals to do damage.

    However, on the other hand, we had a duty roulette last night with a Scholar who did pretty much nothing but stand there and follow the tank while their fairy healed. I watched her do literally nothing but toss a heal every minute or so, if that. We weren’t speed-running, and it was one of the first level 15 dungeons (with my friend playing a level 50+ tank), so tossing a few dots in that case wouldn’t have been too much to ask, I think (?)

    Sadly, there’s a number of folks who think every dungeon needs to be a speed run. You’re probably going to keep running into them as long as you’re in Duty Finder. Heck, the tanks were already speed running the brand new dungeons from the new patch on the first day they were released. Talk about a “Whaaaa?” moment for me on my very first run. : /

  11. Redria March 1, 2016 / 4:20 pm

    “calling me by a role instead of my very-easy-to-spell name”

    That’s a huge pet peeve of mine as well, even when it’s not being directed at me.

    I also sympathize with your feelings during combat. That nervous sensation is horrible, eyes darting all over the screen, wondering if they’re focused on the right quadrant at the right time. That feeling has left me wondering if I’ll ever be able to heal in an MMO again outside of Wildstar.

    Now, I know Wildstar is not a game you would typically equate with “comfort” or a sense of ease when it comes to keeping people alive, but Wildstar has seriously spoiled me for healing, especially in raids. Instead of the raid frame mini-game, I feel like I’m finally seeing the whole encounter without peaking at it from the corner of my eyes. Not having to specifically target someone or fiddle with clicking on their raid frame is just so understated and incredible for a healer. It also feels natural to toss out some damage with extra Shield Surges instead of switching gears to pure DPS abilities.

    I’m trying to think of what other games approach healing like this. Tera is similar, though maybe not as fluid. I do like their “lock-on” heals that have you “painting” targets before unleashing a delicious payload of healing, so to speak. =P

  12. tithian March 2, 2016 / 2:42 am

    As a scholar I naturally gravitated towards DPSing during the trash. Even at some of the easier bosses, I’d throw some dots around to speed things up. Having 2.5 DPS on your party can do wonders, however it takes practice so that you know your tanks ‘threashold’ to start healing him again. If the tank is pulling 2-3 packs at a time, or is relatively squishy though, DPS goes out the window.

    This is especially true at lower levels, since at 50 I had tanks that rushed and pulled everything and heals were being spamed non stop. And when I wasn’t DPSing I was never called out for not doing it. Maybe it’s an EU – NA cultural difference.

  13. Mexi March 2, 2016 / 2:58 pm

    I’m beginning to hate playing SCH because that’s the job I get the most grief on. Even when I’m actually able to DPS. Because MP recovery is so good and things like Lustrate help, I get hassled a lot if I don’t DPS. I actually find it easier to play WHM in dungeons because it’s easier and more visible to holy spam. SCH is my favourite job but I’m feeling more and more I can’t play it. SE made some mistakes with healers. They’re too simplistic so far. I’d much, much rather have a more complex healing and/or support role than DPS on a healing class.

  14. Pata Hikari November 14, 2016 / 2:56 pm

    Final Fantasy XIV is a game in which every job is designed to contribute to DPS.

    The game even indirectly tells you this with the CNJ quest-line with the main thrust of the story being a girl who just wants to heal, while sometimes to balance nature Conjurers have to go out and fight.

    Also, complaining about DPSing as SCHOLAR is hilarious. I mean, really, this is healer job grafted onto a DPS class, you have tons of DPS tools and a healing pet to handle scratch damage. Why wouldn’t you DPS?

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