Tuesday, February 21, 2012

[SWTOR] Leveling as a Healer

Among other alts in The Old Republic, I'm leveling a healer Commando. My original plan was to run instances with this character, but I got bored of waiting in the fleet and went back to questing.

Leveling as a healer in SWTOR is interesting. I generally run with a DPS companion (Aric Jorgan at the moment). For normal pulls, I generally use the regular DPS abilities of the base class. But for strong and elite enemies, I do actually act as a healer. I let Aric kill the mob, and I keep him healed, with the occasional zero-dps attack if incoming damage is light enough.

I actually like it. Normally leveling as a healer means that you level as a very weak DPS and don't use your heals regularly. You only use them if you get into groups.

But healing a companion is very much like healing a regular player, and you get to practice your regular healing rotation.

It's probably slower than leveling as DPS, but it is nice to play solo as a healer, and still act like a healer. I do think that companions make life a lot easier for tanks and healers, allowing them to level with their preferred playstyle and get lots of practice with the correct abilities. It's a lot better than learning how to tank or heal on the fly in an instance.

9 comments:

Jehjeh said...

I also levelled my main as a healer and I was quite surprised to see how "easy" it was. And fun, that's the 1st time it's possible to advance with a weak DPS. I remember how it was difficult in wow and the difference is huge.

Ulv said...

I levelled initially as a Powertech Tank with healing companion and it made things slower but I could easily survive encounters that others either scraped through or died on.

I'm levelling a trooper now as healer and it's a blast although I'm doing so with my wife who is tanky specced.

Coop said...

I initially tried this, but got frustrated. The biggest issue for me was the UI. I tried setting my companion as my focus, so I could use a modifier key to heal him, but found that everytime I mounted my focus would reset. I really wanted to be able to both heal and push out some DPS, but with that UI oddity, along with the lack of target of target, the easiest way to handle most strong and elite fights is just to target my companion and spam heals. Rather unfulfilling in my opinion.

I also tried healing in battlegrounds, and while it's possible, it's hardly efficient or fun. It just re-enforces my belief that bioware needs to open up UI addons or needs to look at the UI for healers in different situations, instead of only looking at how it works for DPS characters. There's a reason why in WOW healing addons are so popular. They don't make healing easier than DPS, they make it less tedious than using the DPS-centric UI.

So far as a healer while soloing I feel like a hunter in WOW who does nothing but cast mend pet. I wanted a better balance of heals vs damage than what I seem to have as a pure healer. I feel like I shouldn't be spamming heals like I often find myself doing.

I'm a healer, I especially like PVP healing in MMOs, but I'm afraid that unless SWTOR either will open up their UI to allow addons, or actually takes the time to look at what would make healing tolerable I'll be done with this game before summer.

Liore said...

I levelled as a healer from 1-60. It was definitely slower than levelling a DPS character, but absolutely feasible. I would use my DPS companion for non-elite or a silver elite pull (and dps along with him), but get out my tank companion and heal her for golds or multiple elites.

@Coop

I love healing in warzones! That's the best part of the game. :) I'd like to resize the buffs/debuffs bar (which you should be able to do in 1.2 or 1.3), but personally I don't see addons as something necessary for healing.

Rubel said...

I'm also leveling as a healing Commando, and I agree that it works out pretty well with a DPS or tanky companion! I wish I had a pocket tank leveling partner, but hey, I'll take what I can get.

What I'm a bit sad about is how much trouble it seems to be to find instance groups for levels 30+. Maybe it'll all level out at the endgame or something.

Marcelo Andrade said...

I've started playing at least 6 sorc/sages that are stuck at various levels. Have a 50 inq that I leveled all the way healing specced and is now raiding as one, and right now I'm leveling a jedi sage for the giggles but scrapped the healing and went madness spec for the DPS.

I'll be honest with you: even if it's doable or you really want to play as a healer, I seriously don't advise people to level as one, after comparing both experiences.

The 'kill 10 rats' part of any mmo isnt exactly exciting, so whatever can speed that up is worthy.

The sorc/sage DPS is so efficient that I have no struggle at all against 2-3 strong mobs and elites just melt. In comparison, there was no way to keep my companion against 2 strong mobs bashing him at the same time without chain casting and eventually going out of force. It was stressful and painstaking slow.

The only advantages of leveling as healer is the possibility of getting groups for flashpoints and heroic 4 quests easier, but from my experience (specially if you play republic) you'll not do heroic 4 quests at all after the third planet or so; and flashpoints, well, that's another of Bioware's joke. You can either play the game or sit for 1 hour looking for a tank in the fleet while not playing.

My suggestion, if you play a class that has such an effective DPS tree as sage/sorc, level as a DPS. If you're a sage/sorc and wants to see how healing works, respec once at 22 (the level that changes how you heal for the first time) and at 36 (second major change, will show how you'll heal at endgame). Stick around for a couple levels, then go back to DPS and smile! You'll get plenty of healing action at lvl50 in a game without dual spec.

sard said...

Levelled an operative to 49 so far, sorcerer to 22, and mercenary to 25, all heal spec. I dare say it's almost easier than the dps counterpart.

Shintar said...

@Coop: It's not a perfect solution, but you can quickly target your companion by hitting F1 twice.

Anonymous said...

Hi,

I leveled up my first WoW char as resto druid (though I had a few hybrid talents from moonkin). Never used any addons until the level 60 and beyond. I play now a shadow/disc priest, love it.

I've also leveled up my first (and last, if you don't count a few experiments) character in SWTOR up to level 48 right now: a jedi sage. In MMO I don't enjoy tanking, DPSing, and soloing very much tho I do like to the sneaking around as rogue, or the sniper mission in COD4. For me in a MMO, the DPS are my workers, I am the one who keeps the workers working, and as a healer I should be easily able to analyze where we can improve on the fire dancing (or rather, evading it). Unfortunately there is no combat logs, no recount, no deathlog. Nothing.

Now, on the realm I chose not many people play republic, so it is rather hard to find groups. I was able to find groups from level 1 to level 25 or so, As Cademimu and Y. IV (or what was it called?) and after it became near impossible. And that is in a game where healers are rare, hard to get! I had to solo from there on.

Soloing works fine, with a companion as tank (takes a bit longer) or DPS (requires a bit more healing) it works. You can also do a little bit of DPS output yourself if you are not bored. Often it makes it easier because there will be less burst (just be sure your companion not die, I use the equiv of a PW:S + a preHoT).

There are shortcuts to target your teammates just like in WoW (F1-F4) but the F2 is the one in bottom (not always the tank) and the F3 is the 2nd one, F4 is the 3rd one; the top one (you are always F1). I found this order very cumbersome. I'd prefer me F1, F2 top one, F3 middle, F4 the bottom one. Perhaps for others this is minor detail, but I never could get used to this. This is probably because in WoW when I started to play I played resto druid with exactly these F-keys as binds and never used them afterwards. So, in SWTOR I switched to clicking + keybinds (and mousebinds with Naga). Did I already mention I miss healer addon? Like I said in other post on this blog the raid frames are in position where your peripheral vision isn't. This is a serious problem and design issue.

My other problem is my companion. He likes to dance in fire. If you have a boss in your class quest line, and that boss does something I need to interrupt yes sure I would. But I can only interrupt and heal so much (I also must DPS inbetween). My companion is a fire dancer. I've even gone so far that one boss (it was an extra boss, dropping an epic BoE) I took my healer companion -who I never geared up at all!- who healed me -as healer!- while I was doing the boss and healing myself. With pots etc I was able to -barely- kill him, and it took me quite some time and effort. Every time I tried using a DPS companion, it died quickly due to dmg from the boss I could not outheal. Even with a companion who was geared.

Now, I love these challenges, but as you said in the other post the UI leaves a lot to be be desired...

...and this is perhaps the reason why I won't lengthen my subscription. Plus, I don't want to level an other character. I want to focus on this one, but the game does not let me. That's how it feels. I'm actually inspired by one of the comments (Liore's) to try a respec to DPS (would be my first respec) and solo some content. Maybe I will enjoy, or enjoy playing at level 50 the end content.