The Daily Grind: Which MMORPG offers the best healing experience?

In light of the epic reveal of Revival's graphic healing system this week, I thought Massively OP reader Fenryr Grey's recent question to our community was on point:

"In my opinion, MMO players, especially the ones coming from action games have a huge emphasis on DPS, and since those people are the majority in most modern MMOs, the market shifted toward DPS mechanics. But healing and support mechanics have come to seem rather dull or basic by comparison. Is healing an outdated role? Are there MMOs with engaging heal or support mechanics?"

A few years ago, I argued that the loss of "mezzer" ground to the "deeps" and the trinity shift from tank/healer/mezzer to tank/healer/deeps was partly a result of improving AI and partly a result of solo-friendly gameplay, but I'm with Fenryr in missing support classes. Healers are usually all we can look forward to, and even if you do enjoy making the bars go up, it'd be nice to see something a bit more engaging.

So which MMOs offer the best healing (and support) experience in 2016?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today's Daily Grind!
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124 Comments on "The Daily Grind: Which MMORPG offers the best healing experience?"

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kgptzac
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kgptzac

Tera's (I think) Mystic.  The idea of producing static items on the fly to drop on the ground to be picked up by party member who needs it feels like a fresh experience.

Also I think GW2's water field + blast finisher aoe healing is a good approach for games without dedicated healer class.

donweel
Guest
donweel

I guess I would have to say World of Warcraft. The duel spec allowed a healer build and dps Shaman build. The healing addons made it easier to have a dedicated healing role. Was kind of like playing whack a mole but it was there. DDO has healing builds and classes but most characters are so self sufficient now it is only a part time thing. I think the same goes for Secret World and ESO.

plutosams
Guest
plutosams

I always main-heal so a game without a healer class is a non-starter for me...so at least for me they are not outdated.  I am probably the outlier, but I actually love the traditional healer playstyle and I grow tired of games really quickly when they don't have it.  My favorite I must say though is Esper from Wildstar, has a few modern aspects to it from action gameplay, but still plays like a traditional healer.  Most action healers in newer games drive me crazy...trying to get 4 other very mobile players to stand in your tiny aoe is just not fun and ultimately means I have less control over my heals.  Most mobs are fairly stationary so it really makes the healer role ridiculously more complicated than the damage role.  I would agree that we should try to make it more interesting, but I don't think the goal should be to make healers play like DPS, it is a different play-style and purpose.

digi_owl
Guest
digi_owl

Roke "everyone", thanks to the prices being whacked from years of gold digging in the dungeons.

Valkyriez
Guest
Valkyriez

Agreed. I've not bothered with healing much in other games due to boredom but ESO finds a very good balance between healing and supporting your party with buffs and dps.
Very well designed overall and I actually miss my Templar. I really liked Medic healing in Wildstar aswell but was a definite second behind ESO.

Celestia
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Celestia

Cyclone Jack breetoplay Phedre Well said, Cyclone Jack.  It was such a huge reversal in attitude, but that took a good year or more to kick in with the players.  Controllers weak abilities in the early levels also hurt their early acceptance since they didn't do a whole heck of a lot in lowbie groups.

Celestia
Guest
Celestia

thickenergy Let me know if you find one or both, please.

Celestia
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Celestia

Valkyriez Healing in ESO is the most engaging design I've seen in ages.

BritoBruno
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BritoBruno

captainzor ~~DIE, MOTHERFUCKER DIE~~
Such a good song.

lorenleah
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lorenleah

Rozyn lorenleah To each their own :)
I started out MMOs playing healing classes and probably wouldn't have stuck with it if I had to juggle both heals and combat at that time.  What I've always enjoyed about it is getting to sit back and actually watch the battle and the other players' skills a little bit if I do my job well enough, as opposed to being too busy for the luxury of paying attention to the scenery and animation.  I also just prefer a more relaxing MMO experience in general.

wolfyseyes
Guest
wolfyseyes

Healslinging in WildStar, without question. Love the pacing and the skillset I have to play with. When I Healsling in PvP, I feel like I'm just as active and contributing as anyone running in for the kill.

koryanders73
Guest
koryanders73

Does anyone remember scholar from ffxi. Loved it, my husband did a wonderful job healing out an entire alliance in Abyseea on Scholar with me helping on Bard.  Good times.

Loyheta
Guest
Loyheta

I've been a healer in every mmo I've ever played that offers it. I honestly can't think of anything interesting enough that sticks out. Honestly I'm tired of health bars jumping up and down violently to make things harder. There have been interesting healing mechanics out there that have made it fun but that is about it. Also I do miss support classes.
GW2 could have been better if it wasn't berserk game starring berserk stat. Wish instead of eliminating the trinity they eliminated dps. Give me a game with tank, healer, and buff/debuffer that all deal similar dps while giving everyone a role in the fight.

Loyheta
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Loyheta

BhimaJenkins Ret or Holy?

Valhalla Awaits
Guest
Valhalla Awaits

Only healing class/mechanics I ever thought were great were the ones for the priest in TERA. Every other healer has just been pointlessly dull and repetitive ranged heal slinging.

Though I admit, the revival's system could replace it as the best healing system, if they don't don't change it at the last moment.

BoomBiddyBye
Guest
BoomBiddyBye

I've played a few healer classes over the years and the ones I like the best are the ones in games where you don't have to click health bars. The more bars on screen and the more you have to interact with them instead of the actual game world are the worst.

BhimaJenkins
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BhimaJenkins

Ret Pally healing back in WotLK was awesome. Hard to do in Raids, fun as hell everywhere else.

quark1020
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quark1020

Never forgive. Never forget.

quark1020
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quark1020

Rozyn lorenleah I'm glad both of you have your own interpretation on how healers should work. It means variety, and that's always more interesting.

Valkyriez
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Valkyriez

Templar healing in ESO with a sword/shield and resto staff is where it's at.

quark1020
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quark1020

direpath Indeed! I played it through the eyes of the operative, but I thought it was hilarious to sneak around in pvp and heal people, only to poof away when the enemy started to wise up and focus on me.

Robert80
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Robert80

Rift.  The rest of the game may suffer, but the healing builds were very cool.
You had lots of utility, buffs, debuffs, and some nice damage output while still healing.  I still think the Chloromancer builds were my favorite.  A good Chloromancer could handle a lot of raid heals while main healing the tank, along with some nice buff/debuff effects.  The classes in the game really had the focus on utility that so many games have eschewed... it is too bad much of the rest of the game was a buggy and less than great mess!

crackfox
Guest
crackfox

I enjoyed 'healing' morale on my minstrel in LoTRO, but I generally don't go in for healer classes. When it comes to support, I'm much more of a bard kinda guy. That's probably why I liked the minstrel. Epic lutez.

Dajhryne
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Dajhryne

While I've played Rift, SW:ToR, GW2, EQ2, ESO and TERA I never got into the healing aspect of them so can't really comment on how they are or compare.
I'll second what several have already said about TSW however. Aside from the novelty of leech healing there's just so many options and combinations that are possible. Roll your own in whatever balance between healing and dps that you like or that you can get away with depending on situation, gear and personal ability/preference.
Coming from a pretty extensive background in EQ I found AoC's healing system to be a very good alternative to simple spam healing that required massive hp and damage inflation every expansion for things to remain a challenge. Healers not really *stacking*, aka two different healer classes were far better than two of the same class, solved the *one class to rule them all* thing. Plus all healers in AoC are damage dealers capable of topping parses while healing. Not to mention never ever needing to target players at all.

direpath
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direpath

I have a lot of fun playing my Scoundrel healer in SWTOR. Super mobile. I read all the posts saying they are the weakest healer, but I dig it and have not had major issues keeping my group alive. Plus who doesn't like the idea of stealth plus heals!?

Berius
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Berius

Believe it or not, some of my best healing experiences came from Aion as a Chanter. I was always fond of dps/heal hybrids with support and Chanter (along with BC Ele Shaman) was a blast back when the game first came out. I loved that I pretty much could do whatever I felt was needed. I was always welcome in groups, and not too shabby at defending myself. (until I got servery out-geared)

Rift was another game where I was able to play a hybrid-melee character and had a great time. I even main-healed a couple of times and I just enjoyed the amount of healing/dps versatility the Cleric soul had.

...and I guess PvP healing in WoW is fun too.

Rozyn
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Rozyn

schlag sweetleaf This is part of the reason I love rolling healer and my husband tank - if you ignore us, you will die. You will absolutely die.

Rozyn
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Rozyn

lorenleah Haha, you're are the complete opposite of me in every way when it comes to healing. I read your comment after posting mine and just started cracking up. Nothing wrong with that though!

Rozyn
Guest
Rozyn

Not GW2, I know that. I enjoyed VG because it had creative healing classes and I love hybrid healers, so Disciple and Blood Mage were a blast. I like my Fury in EQ2 because she also has some awesome 'click this and dps as hard as you can while healing the group' buttons. WS was fun if you had a very good group who actually understood the limitations of your heals, it did get kind of old sometimes though since the selection was so limited. Enjoying healing in ESO except now I realized I reeeeaally want to try a NB healer and I made a DK healer instead, oops. 

I judge MMOs by their healing classes and how interesting they are. I also tend to go the hard route, I never roll a cleric but instead go with the dps healer who is a pain in the ass to prove you're good at lol. FFXIV bored me to tears, SWTOR was the same, and I can never really get into those games because I know I don't enjoy my favorite archetype in them. If I'm hitting one big heal on cooldown and that's it, I'm pretty much done with that game.

Cyclone Jack
Guest
Cyclone Jack

breetoplay Phedre
Well, when CoH was first released, it took a good number of months before non-Empaths were really understood and accepted.  Early in the game, if you weren't an Empath, you just weren't wanted, because Empaths were heals and heals were understood (the one exception was Kinetics because Speeeed Boooost!!).  Once the other power sets were allowed to prove their worth, it ended up being that Empaths weren't really necessary, since the buffs and debuffs did wonders in preventing the damage in the first place.  That said, everyone still loved my Mind/Empath Controller, Richard Simmons, up until sunset.

Rumm
Guest
Rumm

Wildstar was without question the most fun that I've had healing in a game, ever. Rather than watching a grid and playing wack a mole, you actually have to pay attention to whats going on around you. Its one of the few games where healers get to experience the entirety of sights.

lorenleah
Guest
lorenleah

I enjoy healing and personally I prefer straightforward classes without too many fiddly mechanics to confuse in the heat of the moment.  My criteria for whether I consider a healing class good is basically "can I explain the mechanics of this class to someone who doesn't play healers and have them understand how it works?"  This is more important than you might think when playing group content, because someone who doesn't know how your class works may hinder you from being able to heal them effectively (for just one example, in Guild Wars 2 getting someone to stand in your water field AoE for a split second so you can blast it is a nightmare).
The best time I've had with MMO healing was probably FFXIV's White Mage for this reason, followed by Corruption Sorc/Seer Sage in SWTOR.  Healers I've hated include FFXIV's Scholar, TERA's Priest, and Rift's Chloromancer.

camelotcrusade
Guest
camelotcrusade

EQ2 was my favorite game for healing, and I liked SWTOR's healing commando if I consider more recent titles.  Neither one was perfect, but both afforded me at least a little time to participate in the battle and/or watch what was going on.  I don't like it when all I can do is watch lifebars and essentially miss the whole fight, or when I have little meaningful to do while waiting for boss fights.  I also don't like it when it only works well if you have a bunch of mods or add-ons... imo it should be perfectly doable in vanilla.

Pashgan
Guest
Pashgan

The best case: no healing at all because it's overpowered and whole game experience is designed around healing so a single person in group or raid may improve or ruin gameplay for other people. Skyforge is the best in this case.

The
worst case: "action combat" games - like
vanilla Tera - where healer has to target a person jumping between mobs,
obstacles, traps, AoE - and the healer has to do that while jumping and running
as well.

paul2724
Guest
paul2724

I've yet to find anything quite as awesome as my Vanguard Disciple :(

thickenergy
Guest
thickenergy

I need a "City of Heroes" macro. And maybe some therapy.

Shienne
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Shienne

'Nuff said.

Line with more hugs
Guest
Line with more hugs

Old Man Yells at Game
Well, the game was too easy because support was too strong.
Blind was especially potent in large groups, the Shatterer couldn't even land a hit.
Now, Aegis is pretty weak because of frequent damage, but Protection and Reflects are just as useful as ever. Other support boons like Alacrity are crazy good and always liked, too.

Preventing damage will always be a very personal task, though. Or something like a Disc priest, but that tends to break encounters...

Zenethian
Guest
Zenethian

Nordavind YES! And if you do AR/Blood or AR/Fist you can even have a few traditional healing powers in there if something gets hairy.

Leilonii
Guest
Leilonii

digi_owl Old Man Yells at Game talast No often they go Cleric's.

yocraigst
Guest
yocraigst

I like healing in LotRO, which is much the same as WoW except the green bars don't empty so fast, so things are much calmer. Directly targeting individuals when needed or aoe heals or hots. I know a lot of ppl criticize the whack-a-mole system of watching green bars, but I like the feedback you get when you see those bars fill up. I can't get into healing when you can't target players individually but can only place splash heals in the general area where the players were standing and hope for the best...totally unsatisfying.

BryanCole
Guest
BryanCole

ButterPanda888 Apparently there are emulators being worked on for both games, how far along they are or how well they work though, I have no idea.

woolydub
Guest
woolydub

The thing I didn't like about old school healing classes is they didn't usually have a healing spec that PUGs were cool with bringing for a raid or dungeon(or large skirmish in LOTRO). That was the design issue for me. The Rune Keeper was the closest I felt a game got to getting it right and there were a few months where playing a Smite Monk in GW1 was viable as a top damage dealer. I am all about dedicated healers for group play IF game makers allow for people to also have a spec that can do something else to switch it up from time to time. Just because a class can heal it doesn't mean it should have to be that for a group 100% of the time and that's usually how it went in the old days.

Leilonii
Guest
Leilonii

Nordavind Meh I never liked leech healing because I feel like I'm not actually healing. I want to be in control of what happens and leech healing is just so passive. You're basically just a dps class at that point who happens to have passive healing to go along with your damage spells.

fangGWJ
Guest
fangGWJ

By far my favorite healing in an mmo has been taking a keep in WAR while underleveled.  It was me, an archmage and a runepriest healing a whole warband.  WAR has great variety of heals and shields: direct heals, hots with a little heal up front and small hots with a bigger heal up front.  You had to stay in front of the damage so it became a great strategy determining who is getting pounded and who just took a stay hit and then maintaining the hots when they wear off.  There were a couple of deaths that us two healers had to juggle responsibility of healing the whole warband for.  Each of us healers died once so that was insane trying to eek out a rez in between healing the whole warband.
The only other experience that comes close was healing my first Deadmines run as a druid :)

breetoplay
Guest
breetoplay

digi_owl breetoplay I don't really think that's true. WoW was a dramatic shift. Ignoring the CC-heavy early MMOs I listed, let's look at what came out between them and WoW. City of Heroes went absolutely insane on support classes and it came out half a year before WoW. EQII is big on support as well, both healing and CC and pure buffing/debuffing classes. WoW on the other hand nuked CC big time and split it over multiple classes, basically watering it down and reinventing the trinity with deeps instead of CC. That was a dramatic shift for the genre, provoked by WoW specifically, not something that came on gradually. Games made afterward that weren't too far along in development (so basically everything AAA after GW1 - Conan, WAR) followed WoW's direction when it came to CC especially.

Jaed
Guest
Jaed

While I like the healing choices in Rift, I think the most challenging group healing experience in an mmo is in LOTRO, where you have a skill queue to contend with, almost everything subject to a GCD and really having to choose whether this next GCD will be a cleanse, a heal, a buff or a hot.

Leilonii
Guest
Leilonii

I love healing and usually main a healer but I want to do more than "make bars go up". Aion introduced me to the idea of support and healing classes that do more than just heal. Then I played TERA which took that all around support class in one idea to a whole new level by making it action combat and putting me right into the middle of the fight with everyone else.

It's hard to go back after that. TERA's Priest is probably my favorite healer class thus far. They are expected to do more than just heal (which in a good group is truly a secondary concern). They are expected to buff the group with both long and short term buffs and both offensive and defensive buffs, replenish the group's mana constantly, cleanse any CC's, debuffs, etc. from the group, debuff the boss's endurance so the group does more damage, rez any fallen team members in combat. And when someone messes up and gets hit, or when a fight mechanic requires taking damage, then they start healing with the varied arsenal of huge heals that they have. Along with of course needing to avoid damage themselves via good dodging and iframing, keeping an eye on every team member - where they are, what they're doing, etc. so they can not only react appropriately but know where they are so they can aim at them to heal them. 

ESO is taking another interesting view of the action combat healer. They don't have to aim, although they do need the same awareness of themselves and their group so they can hit them with their heals, because some of them either are GtAoE, or PbAoE, with limited range. They have to focus on proper dodging, blocking, and interrupting. They also have a variety of skills that involve cleansing, buffing, debuffing, and CC. along with the healing - and in this game resource management is an important thing, unlike TERA. So the healers in this game too have a varied role that requires more of them, and also puts them in the center of the action. They also are expected to offer decent dps when they can aside from everything else.

I'm sure you're seeing a pattern here. :) I like do-it-all healers that are expected to provide every single support mechanic you can think of all at once, while also being immersed in the fight in an action combat game, and the added requirements of that such as proper damage avoidance, an increased spatial awareness and awareness of the actions and locations of all group members at all times, often some need to aim, lots of movement. 

You basically do whatever your team needs of you at any given moment and need the skill to figure out what that is in a changing fight, instead of relying on a simple rotation all the time, while handling the extra mechanics thrown at you in action combat games. Healers like this are just so much more fun than the stand in one place and play with the UI all night game. In tab target games you feel like you're playing an entirely different game. You don't always know what's going on in a fight and feel very much removed from it. You're standing in the back, feeling as if you're not really participating, just staring at HP bars spamming an often necessarily complicated rotation of healing spells to keep those bars high enough. It's lame design and just simply not engaging enough.

captainzor
Guest
captainzor
Rohirrim
Guest
Rohirrim

I like the old, traditional, simple healing...1-2 Direct heal, 1 Hot and 1-2 aoe heals. The heal also must be slow and strategic. From the current MMOs, I like a lot FFXIV White Mage for the same reason I liked a lot Holy Priest in Vanilla - WotLK wow. I also like support classes. In Aion I played a chanter... 
In general I like slow, strategic gameplay with more roles than the usual Tank/Heal/DPS..

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