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Thread: Is the Age of the White Mage Over?

  1. #1

    Default Is the Age of the White Mage Over?

    A recent discussion on the SomethingAwful forums' Final Fantasy megathread was highly interesting to me and I'd like to continue it.

    It basically started with someone criticizing FFXV's gameplay and the ranking system and I chimed in saying I didn't like ranking systems a la XIII. They "criticize" you for playing how you want to play. WHY do I have to beat this boss as fast as possible? Why can't I play defensive and heal a lot?

    This launched a whole discussion about what game designers' intend and if there is such a thing as a wrong playstyle. Amidst that, I tried to be clever and say "hey, didn't Bravely Default do well and it had a turn-based system." I've never played BD but apparently, turn-based or not, it rewards hyper aggressive gameplay and punishes turtling. Something to do with amount of actions you get and how the bosses react to them or something.

    Then of course I was reminded there hasn't been a "traditional" White Mage in years. They've done their best to give them damage options as well. This was a general topic about "pure healers" in gaming so it branched off into other things, like someone mentioning how apparently Clerics were a joke in old D&D where older playes forced them on newbies and subsequent editions did their best to give Clerics damage options, just like White Mage got in later FF's.

    Basically, with the way games are designed now, it seems like dedicated healers are obsolete and the game designers themselves want you to just attack a lot, not turtle up. I mean, you can be strategic about how you're attacking of course, but you need to keep up the offense.

    Also the Souls games were brought up and how inefficient spear/shield is but how a lot of games prefer it because it's the safe and familiar route. I've never played a Souls game but that's kind of where I was coming from. A dedicated healer in a JRPG is my "safe and familiar route." But I'm a dinosaur I guess and need to get with the times.

    What do you all think? Are new RPG's not compatible with how they used to be? Is there no room for a Healer who is just there to be a healer?

  2. #2
    Radical Dreamer Cid's Knight Fynn's Avatar
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    Tbh, the white mage had offensive options as early as FFI. Granted, Dia only affected the undead, but it was still there. In FFIII they had access to Aero and even in IV, V, IX, and X we at least have Holy.. And since most of the jobs are straight-up lifted from FFIII there, Bravely Default's white mage has basically the same move pool as its FFIII equivalent, so also heal/support with wind spells.

    Not a new thing, I think. Though it is frustrating that FFIX and X kind of lumped all their white mages with summoners, since I kind of like my characters to have specific roles, so I like a black mage/summoner a la Rydia much better.

  3. #3
    Sh♥tposter Extraordinaire Jinx's Avatar
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    I mostly MMO these days (FFXIV) and no, there's not.

    There's actually a MASSIVE debate within the community on whether healers should DPS. Correct answer: YES. SE even provides a stance for you (called Cleric's Stance ) that switch your stats around so that you can do high damage. But low healing if you heal in Cleric's. Ah, the feel when healing in Cleric's and not realizing it because of an accidental double tap or accidental key brush...

    But the point is, there are going to be lots of times when you, as a healer, don't need to heal. You don't need to heal your tank every time he gets hit. Not until he's down to 2/3 or 1/2, really. The more you heal, the more you get a feel of when to heal. But in that off time, what are you going to do? Just stand there. Now, if someone is a new healer or says they're new to healing that dungeon, I cut them slack. You don't always know what might happen, and it's okay to get a feel for the dungeon/healing. But if you're jumping around or spamming dance emotes...no. Throw on Cleric's throw on DoTs. It takes about 6 seconds. If your tank is full health, you will have more than enough time.

    Speaking from a more traditional sense...I'm not sure how much I'd like the rankings you're talking about, but designated healers are only useful occasionally. How many times in the early stages of FFIX do you have to skip Garnet's turn or have her physical attack for a measly 3 damage? I don't mind having someone whose main role is healing, but having a couple of good damage spells, especially early on, makes that much difference.
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  4. #4
    'Just Friends' Formalhaut's Avatar
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    Yeah, I don't think White Mages have always purely been a healing role, although I think they've gradually become more battle-ready as the FF series has progressed. Jinx is right: if there's no healing or buffing to be done, it is inefficient to keep them in their healing roles unless you're anticipating another damaging attack. That window of offence will probably become smaller in really tough fights, but it is there, it's just a matter of practice.

    I feel like FFX-2 actually did a pretty good job of making the healing dresspheres really useful (White Mage and Alchemist) but making their offence such that you can switch out of them at a moment's notice.


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    Nerf This~ Laddy's Avatar
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    The problem is when a game designs healers poorly. Either everyone can heal, or those that can heal can't do much else. I've been making a pen-and-paper RPG for kicks for a few years now and I've decided that designated healing classes just aren't necessary, and instead opt for a few classes that can run healer builds or kits.



  7. #7
    Skyblade's Avatar
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    The closest I can recall to having "pure" White Mage classes are tactics games, where healer classes rarely get offensive utility, especially early on. I mean, in Fire Emblem, there are, what, two offensive staves in the entire game? Both late game options. And, of course, your pure healers eventually become healers that can also deal damage. Similarly, in FFTA, White Mages can only take offensive action by swinging their piddly sticks, or with cure spells on Undead. But, since they can use A-Abilities from another class, damage dealing is there.

    Versatility is a big thing. Giving players more options is generally seen as better, and received better by players.

    As for "offense being more popular/rewarded", it's usually because it's the most efficient way to end a battle. That's the point of the combat systems, to win. The faster you win, the more efficiently, the better. Combat time spent healing is spent not winning. Therefore, it's frowned upon. Especially since healing out-of-combat is usually much quicker.
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  8. #8
    Yossarian Lives Administrator Psychotic's Avatar
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    Depends on the size of the party. With the 3 person party favoured by many newer FFs it's hard to justify sacrificing one character to be a healer. In a 5 person party favoured by IV or RK or indeed a 6 person party like the Tactics games I find it's easier to put someone on pure healing and buffing duty.

    That said, my default FFRK party has the White Mage (either Arc, Vanille, Penelo or Y'shtola) having their abilities as Curaja and Diaga, the latter being an offensive holy spell. I instead prefer to put Protectga and Shellga on my offensive characters who can use White Magic like Cecil, Celes, Beatrix etc.

  9. #9

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    No.
    White Mages will always have a purpose in trinity set up games. Trinity set up games have the typical tank, DpS, and Support roles such as a White Mage.

    However, there isn't any need to insert a trinity character/class into a game every character/class can do a little bit of everything to different degrees. Flexibility has been a very important factor to take into consideration for no telling how long.
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  10. #10
    ˇApagando las luces! Vermachtnis's Avatar
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  11. #11
    The King's Shield The Summoner of Leviathan's Avatar
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    Like many have said, Healers tend to always have some offensive capacities, sometimes minimal, and we're rarely pure Healers. To pull off pure Healing role that is useful would require the design of the games to change in such a way to put a emphasis on healers and actively protecting the party. Generally, RPGs are more often than not now action based which lends itself to being more DPS focused than anything else with some ability to self heal.

    So I don't think there was an era of pure Healer but instances of different games and series that make it more viable than not.

    That being said, I main healer in FFXIV and if comfortable or doing nothing in a fight will totally stance dance and DPS. Faster it dies, less I have to heal.

  12. #12
    Killer of Conversations Galuf's Avatar
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    Yeah im afraid nobody likes white mage because scholar and astrologian do its job better. Oops wrong thing ish
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