Final Fantasy 14's healers have had enough and are going on strike, after streamer tears through Dawntrail's first dungeon preview without needing them at all

A healer looks mournfully towards the camera, hand outstretched, as she topples into the bowels of the Tam-Tara Deepcroft in Final Fantasy 14.
(Image credit: Square Enix)

Final Fantasy 14, as I've previously discussed, is a little too straightforward when it comes to its casual fayre—though that's not to say said content is "bad". Dungeons are often pleasantly cinematic, with interesting mechanics and banger soundtracks. They're just… pretty easy.

This has been, it would seem, upsetting healers tremendously—because when there's not a lot of incoming damage, you're not really using your full kit. It doesn't help that said healers' damage rotation is usually "push one button, and re-apply a DoT sometimes". Having a couple of healers at max level at present, I can confirm this diagnosis. In fact, healers are the job I hop onto to turn my brain off—which is great for me, but not so great if it's your main role.

Part of the issue is FF14 suffering from the success of its own design—the game, through its lengthy main story quest, does a very good job at not only building up a strong vocabulary of telegraphs, but it also teaches the player (at an arguably sluggish rate) to deal with them well. I'd argue that the median casual dungeon-runner in FF14 is more well-versed in its systems than, say, your average World of Warcraft player—not because of a skill issue, but because one went through college, and the other attended 30-minute seminars for a week.

The more pressing part of the problem, however, is that dungeons are often very forgiving in terms of damage. In fact, damage is often so predictable and unnoticed that, with a little bit of foresight, players can beat them without a healer at all—relying on their own potent damage mitigation tools and self-healing.

During a recent media tour, streaming personality and raider Xenosys Vex spent his precious time beating Dawntrail's first dungeon without a doctor on board—cleaning house with a Warrior, a Dragoon, a Ninja, and a Red Mage (thanks, GamesRadar).

Xeno Tanks the Dawntrail Media Tour Dungeon With NO HEALER - YouTube Xeno Tanks the Dawntrail Media Tour Dungeon With NO HEALER - YouTube
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In fairness, Warrior is the one tank whose entire shtick is self-healing. It's practically part of the job's identity at this point that they're self-sufficient—but still, this news was not well-received by Endwalker-fatigued healers hoping for a change.

"I would like to make this the official thread for those in support of a healer strike," writes the author of a thread on the Final Fantasy 14 forums with over 300 pages of replies at this point, titled "#FFXIVHEALERSTRIKE".

Their manifesto centres around the oversimplification of healers' job rotation, too many healing tools given to other jobs, the homogenization of jobs (something game director Naoki Yoshida wants to address after Dawntrail), and the "lack of threat level in nearly all forms of content". The idea behind the strike is that, come Dawntrail, participating healers will not be queuing up in their role, leading to longer dungeon queues for all.

"While we have given feedback and asked for more required healing, more DPS actions to diversify our offensive gameplay, and more identity and agency in our design," replies another frustrated player in the thread, "we have gotten nothing and have been largely ignored. Meanwhile, tanks and DPS continue to get more and more healing to the point where healers do not feel needed in content, and are at times actively discouraged from playing healer. I have been told to switch jobs multiple times when joining a treasure map dungeon as a Sage, for example."

Before I add a pinch of salt to this whole hullabaloo, I do want to say that I think these are all fair criticisms—damage is too low, and healers absolutely do spend most of their time pushing one button with the occasional off-global-cooldown heal covering most circumstances. But also—I'm not sure this strike is gonna work (if it even happens).

Effective protest action is disruptive but, considering FF14's heinous popularity, I don't think there's going to be a noticeable dip in queue times going into Dawntrail due to the sheer volume of players hungry for main quest goodness. Even if there is, you'll be able to play most, if not all, mandatory content in Dawntrail with a party of NPCs via the duty support system. I'm going to be doing that on my first clears anyway, just to get that extra bit of juicy story from inter-party banter.

It also strikes me as premature. Yoshi-P has spoken not only on job homogenisation, but on the "stress-free" nature of FF14's content as well, with full intentions to inject a little bit of panic back into the game's ecosystem. This is Dawntrail's first dungeon, completed by a very competent raider on a job with a huge amount of self-sustain, at a time where not everything's going to be fully balanced.

Besides, like a lot of FF14's changes, I think any adjustments are going to be made gradually—it's not like the team's refusing to push a big, shiny red button with "make healers fun" on the label. Not to mention that with the buff to Swiftcast coming, I get the feeling healers might be sweating more in the future than expected. Or white mages will become glare mages again. Anything can happen.

Harvey Randall
Staff Writer

Harvey's history with games started when he first begged his parents for a World of Warcraft subscription aged 12, though he's since been cursed with Final Fantasy 14-brain and a huge crush on G'raha Tia. He made his start as a freelancer, writing for websites like Techradar, The Escapist, Dicebreaker, The Gamer, Into the Spine—and of course, PC Gamer. He'll sink his teeth into anything that looks interesting, though he has a soft spot for RPGs, soulslikes, roguelikes, deckbuilders, MMOs, and weird indie titles. He also plays a shelf load of TTRPGs in his offline time. Don't ask him what his favourite system is, he has too many.