DCUO: This Ain't No Place for a Healer
|Carnegie. Older. Colder. Wiser.|
I've been playing DC Universe Online (DC online or, simply, DCUO) for quite a bit. And during that time, my character Carnegie, a Healer specialized in sorcery, has only recently been complimented as a Healer. Sure, there was a learning curve and perhaps a bit more steep than the other classes and yet
He was subject of occasional blame.
This healer sucks!
You should switch to nature powers!
Go DPS! (as if switching is that easy)
And mocked instruction.
He was often without a controller, and I noticed it was during that time, the level of player frustration rose. However, living in a harsh metropolis had already hardened me to unwarranted public opinion, and having a YouTube account had long since deafened me to internet insults, hence insults based on a video game did not effect me in the slightest. I kept on chugging, and now Carnegie probably one of the best healers I have come across—according to other players—even more so when considered in the absence of controller.
|"You're one of the best healers I ever saw. Seriously. Especially since there is no troller." - A DCUO DPS|
However, what I am getting at is the utter lack of Healers now present in this game. Or, perhaps I should say the sheer paucity of people willing to switch their character to a Healer. I blame this attrition on the small sample I had run across – poor damage inflictors (DPS) – and oddly enough never tanks. And specifically, a subclass of DPS called “Glass Cannons”. These are DPS who neglect a large part of the other stats and only focus on how many numbers they can inflict in damage. A risky maneuver, that is not without its benefits, but nevertheless must weigh a number of players and they had been found wanting – to put it graciously.
I will disregard Tanks (the ones who draw the ire of the enemies, while letting the other members of a group do their specialty) and Controllers (who provide the much needed power the players draw from to perform their specialties) from of this essay. As I have played either a DPS or a Healer most of my tenure on DCUO.
The DPS, really needs to focus on one area of the screen:
|I Я DPS. DPS SMASH!|
While the Healer needs to focus on the entire breadth of the screen, even more so on the location of other players, the enemies, and the other players gauges, and the cool down of the power menu.
I am a magic using Healer. And there are many ways to play this game. I usually engage the enemy in combat, while healing other players, and navigate the area to where I can utilize my range, and tactics to their utmost ultimate effectiveness, while penultimate is inflicting damage and setting up my next volley of magic. I need not only to know my DPS, but the DPS the enemy inflicts upon my entire team, their reaction to stuns, as well as my own, and the overall state the enemies are in. I assume it is quite different with the other healing types in this game, however I never make assumptions on someone's skill, I never take orders, and I realize the role of a Healer evolves during the course of battle, and sometimes it may be more beneficial to a group to have Carnegie in close-quarters combat rather than simply throwing magic on the sidelines. Much to the horror of the DPS, the shock of the Controller, and the sublime delight of the Tank. Despite, the pitiful instruction I field from the DPS (usually he thinks he is the leader of the group).
|My usual view from the flurry of activity on the screen.|
A DPS player will usually give this advice to a group:
Tank you go in and draw Agro.
I'll do the damage and kill the adds.
Healer stay by me and heal.
I still have yet to be nonplussed by the instructions of a DPS. They find it completely common to ignore the Controller. I would never make such an assumption that the role of a Controller is any less demanding that that of my own Healer. It never strikes a DPS that the game is designed specifically for the intention of our roles, and being such, with the defined perimeters of our roles (given there are enough players to dedicate to their correct roles-which more oft I am finding there is not) there is no plausible way a game designer is going to simply agree to those mechanics. There would be absolutely zero challenge. More often than not there are lesser constructs (referred to as “adds”) that will come along and prevent one from healing. This is accomplished by attacking. Shudder at the thought, but the adds attack all peripheral characters. This is a fact. One will rarely have the ability to simply “heal” on the side lines. A time will come along where the game will recognize the pattern a player-character is doing and pull him into battle. And it is at this time, it's going to take more than your restoration stat, or simply spamming heal while you roll away, to effectively impact the game.
It should have been no surprise that healers are atrocious at first. The mechanics are entirely different playing with people, than playing against the computer in the solo missions where the healer is in a DPS role. While the same really cannot be said for the other two roles, that of of Tank but more so for a DPS. A DPS inflicts damage as a singular role. I assume the game takes on a different perspective for that of the Controller as well.
My advice to playing a Healer, is much the same as I would give counsel to the Wizard class in Advanced Dungeons and Dragons 2nd Edition. For those who may not know, the Wizard get's a 1D4 (the little triangle die) to roll his hit points. If the dice favor him, he will get a maximum of 4 hit points.
That's it –four! He can only cast spells (or "throw magic" as the cool kids say now-a-days) once a day. If he uses Magic Arrow, well, that's it. He is done for the day. Going in, everyone knows this. No one ever blames the wizard for losing an encounter. It is only later in the game does the Wizard become a venerable living God, capable of much more exponentially than his prior incarnation of a “n00b”. This cannot be said about any other class—well that goes for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition. The core classes. I don't know about the Bards and the Psionics.
If you are going to be a Healer, you are going to be responsible for the team losing – in the eyes of the team at least. Until you get a mature group of players you can play with on the higher levels. And it might suck, if you are not accustomed to the acumen in DCUO. The game, more often than not, requires you to make ridiculous choices, over the perimeters given, and at times it may seem counter intuitive. And more often than not, you will get advice from other players on the “right” way to play.
You don't have a pet? You should get a watcher! They heal a whole team! And it doesn't cost you anything bro!
|Does it look like I need a watcher?|
And there will come a time where you realize it is fruitless to explain the mechanics of pets to other healers who feel they are a fail safe. While there is nothing wrong with Healers who use pets, as I said there are many ways to play a Healer. And if you're a Healer who's pet works, more power to you. I have never been so lucky. My pets usually go brain dead and do nothing.
And it is that experience on the USPC server coupled with what I hear when I walk into an alert of a group:
You're a really good healer!
We won the raid because of you.
And more often than not:
Thank God! A HEALER!
FINALLY! A HEALER!
[and variations on the theme]
At this point in my DCUO tenure I realize, I am an excellent Healer and a skillful player. I am, what so many megalomaniac DPS players see themselves as: A Game Changer.
It is because I realize what is more important than individual skill is having a good group. It makes a Healer shine. It would not be fair to say it makes it easier, or any less tasking, but somehow it makes an encounter seem as if everything is going according to a divine plan.
Frequently on Global Chat I see this type of story:
I am a DPS.
My league has disbanded.
And many of the groups I join kick me, because they already have a DPS…
Or, I will be the only healer and play with three DPS players, when I am not playing with my league Midnight Madness, who are an excellent group of all-around players.
My experience is that the Healer class changes the game almost unrecognizably when you switch from DPS to Healing. I am not talking about the different load out of spells, and how they interact with the game, nor am I talking about the “When in this role, your damage potential diminishes to 65% but your healing abilities are increased 100%.” never mind "the 100%" might not be a significant heal to anyone, let alone yourself, at the beginning. Casting spells as a sorcerer takes time. Inevitably, one will be hit whilst casting and -BOOM- miscast! A miscast is when the spell will take time to replenish or "cool down" while there is absolutely zero effect from the spell. In the healer role one cannot do effective damage, what options are left? Dodge? Ha!
|Carnegie. Happier Times.|
I surmise it is the initially harsh criticism Healers have received that surely has impacted the game. That much is evident. There are so few Healers, or perhaps so many people are simply unwilling to play as a Healer. It is a completely different investment in powers, armor, and strategy and one does not simply switch back and fourth between Healer and DPS without some forethought. Even within my own league, there is usually a demand for healers. A demand that is frequently met less and less as I notice the instances load.
It was only today, that I was pulled into a raid, of which I had never played. It was a group of eight players, and out of all of them Carnegie was the sole Healer. And to compound my suspicion of the rarity of healers around, several players had flat out told me, in no uncertain terms, I had won the game for them.
|This was not the instance. It was a t3.|
Yet, the fact cannot be over looked the DPS class has become over saturated. In fact the DPS market is so saturated very few people can back up their role as significant DPS. While, on the other hand, there remains a genuine demand for Healers of all types, lightening, plants, etc. The Healer has become a precious commodity. And yet the sheer demand of time, never mind the learning curve, and harsh jeers is surely enough to erode any aplomb of a future prospect. Why does one need to put up with thankless scores of cretins who offer unsolicited advice? If you can't beat them, join them. Or abandon the game entirely. And I can't say I blame them. Who needs to be on the receiving end for something that happens in a make-believe world, where a group may shirk their responsibility and never own up to a failure. It certainly hasn't stopped the DPS drones.
If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find me... maybe I can help you.