When I first dabbled with the MMORPG scene, Star Wars: The Old Republic was being released. I started my career as a DPS, excited to fulfill my dream of being a dual wielding, lightsaber master Zabrak. After I finished that story, I realized there was a greater calling for me, a position where my untapped talents were needed, a role known as the healer. I quickly made my new character, a red Twi’lek Sith Sorcerer. This is what I’ve learned about being a healer.
In most cases, when gearing a character as a healer from the start, few DPS attacks are offered. On the chance you do have a few decent attack spells or moves, your stats are so low in damage that killing just one enemy is tedious. In either case, defense and gear are usually so terrible, the healer might as well be running around naked waving a twig at a dragon. Starting an MMO as a healer is almost always going to be an uphill battle. This should be the first sign for anyone striving to be a healer for end game to reconsider their choice, because life as healer will not improve.
Let’s assume you decide to persevere, instead of giving up and deleting the character altogether in favor of an easier role. Maybe you found a few friends who DPS and/or Tank that were willing to let you tag along. Finally, end game is right around the corner. Up to this point, there have been a few bosses where your strengths as a healer truly shined, but you’re still waiting for that first real challenge. I’m sure other healers will agree that using the same DPS move repeatedly to act like you’re helping kill some trash is boring after a while. Nothing beats that blood pumping adrenaline rush of repeatedly watching those health bars gradually shrink and then shoot back to full health by working through the rotation you’ve perfected. That is the epitome of satisfaction for a healer.
Healing a DPS who thinks they’re just as tough as the Tanks is nearly impossible; not because the healer has no idea what they’re doing but because the DPS is taking more damage than is possible to replenish. For all of the DPS characters out there that have fun pulling aggro from the Tank to yourselves, all because of your high percentage of damage done every second, I have news for you: It’s not cool, it’s frustrating! The Tank is in that position because of their immeasurable HP and damage mitigation. Maybe some blame can be shared with the Tank for not holding the beast’s attention well enough, but be considerate. All I’m saying is that DPS is designed for exactly that, damage per second, not defense. Make a healer’s life easier, leave the defense to the Tanks.
That’s not to say Tanks are off the hook from making the life of a healer complicated. We healers ask for so very little in return for the precious heals we offer, which, by the way, are all out of the kindness of our hearts. Tanks need to keep the baddies away from us healers, to prevent us from taking damage, and we’ll be happy. Nothing is more aggravating than when the Tank ignores my swiftly depleting health, forcing me to flee for my life! Healers are what I like to call squishy, meaning we have little resistance to damage and die easily, even with throwing all the heals we have on ourselves. If a DPS takes aggro they have a better chance of survival. Tanks, once that boss targets your healer you better panic and gain its attention back immediately. Hell hath no fury like a healer scorned, and we can be spiteful.
Lastly, I would like to touch on why the healer deserves a huge thank you at the end of every mission or raid. Healers have made the self sacrificing decision to put that extra skill point toward a stronger heal, instead of raising our defense or making our favorite attack cause more damage while a certain ability is active. Gear for healers is normally unattractive, by my standards anyway. The only saving grace is when the game has the ability to let your character have the outfit that looks nice at the same time as the one that gives high level stats. Rarely are the two ever the same. There’s also the little point of, without a healer, that dungeon you’re queueing for would never pop. In most MMO games, the DPS role is saturated. I hear nothing but complaints from DPS players, and even Tanks, about how long they sit and wait in a queue just for healers. If a little more gratitude was shown for saving their lives from fire they insist on standing in, that is completely avoidable and always spawns in the same spot, there might actually be more healers.
The biggest drag about life is a healer is the under appreciation, but the role can still be loads of fun. In fact, with any MMORPG that I start my first task is to find out which races and classes are designed for healing. Don’t try to fool yourself by saying healers could just be taken out of the game. The healer role is one of the most crucial of any game. No matter how geared the character, healers will always be necessary to make any raid run smoothly. Be kind to your teammates, but especially your healer, because you never know when they might save your life from an otherwise imminent death.