Blizzard – “Let healers DPS?” Good Idea?

Blizzard – “Let healers DPS?” Good Idea?

Can you hear it?

There’s a gentle hum in the ether. It’s a grinding of cogs and a rattlin’ of nuts and bolts. It’s the sound of the WoW developers thinking about us healers. Yay, they’re showing us some development love! Ah, but this time, they’re thinking about getting us to DPS. Wait, wut? I’m a healer, not a DPS! That’s like the antithesis of healer, right?

Well, that was my first thought when I read Ghostcrawler’s musings, over on MMOChampion. I’m not going to regurgitate the blue tracker verbatim here as you’ve probably already read it, but for reference the basics are that the devs are thinking about giving us healers some DPS utility. It sounds like their current plane of thought keeps healers away from having a duty to do X damage in a group setting but enables them to do some damage if they want to. That is, enabling us to damage things might make things a bit faster for the group in a Heroic, say, or fun for us if we fancy it.

Of course, this is all speculation at this stage, and there’s nothing  concrete now or definitely going to happen in the future. But if it is an option then it got me thinking. How would I feel, as a healer, about having new and improved DPS options?

The power! Now that you mention it. I mean, we don’t know any details of how much damage they’re thinking we might be able to do. But come on – having your group’s cute, fluffy priest patch the team up and then turn round and smite ye monsters seems a bit well, Heroic. The fluffy priest would be worth the utility of two single-role players. That sounds a little over-powered to me, or at least like a back-door into Hero class status. “Uber-healer” perhaps.

I’m sure the devs have already thought of the potential of too much power, too much utility. Powerful healer class also able to kick out a believable impression of another role? Surely not. So perhaps we’re going to see some kind of power trade-off. A glass ceiling on our healing capabilities to make room for DPS utility, so we’re not too good. Perhaps that ceiling will even be customizable, so that you can decide how much or little you fancy being able to DPS – in return for being a slightly less capable healer.

I wonder whether this could lead to a whole new breed of hybrid. I’m not just talking about a hybrid class, or role, made by Uber healers – although that could happen, exponentially more if it were to be customizable. I’m talking about a hybrid player type. I’m willing to bet that not all healers want or much care to be able to DPS. I know I don’t, for one. Personally I think that healing classes should be about restoring health, not subtracting it. I also think if that’s what the class’ or spec’s lore is centred around, a lot of healers might have a problem with doing damage. Mimetir herself would, as tree. Zap the enemies? No, that’s what lazer-chicken form is for.

Saying that, I’m sure it’d be fun for some healers, and there are probably healers all the way along the spectrum from “meh” to “w00t laz0rtree here I come!”

Either way we’re getting into the battle-lines drawn up between “spec ret if you want to DPS” and “healers should contribute as much as they can”.  Both are fair sides, and the latter gets me thinking about mechanics. An Uber healer putting out twice the threat to usual? Think of your holy pally dropping some huge heals and then nuking the mobs with something suitably vengeful. That’s either going to be one dead Uber-healer, one twitching tank or one game play mechanic in need of serious tweaks. So that the players don’t, you know, break.

Not to mention the brief fate met by a PvP mage who’s missed the patch notes and has just met his first Uber healer in Warsong Gulch. Or team of them in the arenas. I know I wouldn’t be amused if I was that mage, particularly if I then found the battlegrounds were overrun by these new Hero classes. Oops, Uber healers.

It also occurs to me that whatever it does or doesn’t do to healers, cataclysm does bring with it a drive to get us all to start new characters. Do we really want the capital cities to be filled with fluffy but overpowered priests months down the line? Imagine the looting.

So what do you think? Do you want to be able to DPS as well as heal? Do you see any problems with the idea? Or do you have anything you’d really like to see done with it?

This is a post by Mimetir, a druid of a raidleader on The Venture Co. (EU). You can find my twitter feed here.

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