The hardest thing for me in any MMO is to join in with group content. This is a strange statement, coming from someone who began his MMORPG “career” with Final Fantasy XI, an MMO where you had to group up for every piece of content past about level 10. But in terms of ratios, I had more far more good groups than bad ones in FFXI.
World of Warcraft, on the other hand, leaves me with a sour taste in my mouth when I think of group content. Constantly grinding dungeons for loot, often with a group of players who don’t want to talk to you, discuss tactics, or help you out in any way, has set a poor precedent for modern MMO grouping. Despite playing RIFT for twelve months, I have not joined a single dungeon group.
It isn’t just due to the nature of the content, however. It is also due to me and my skill set. I don’t think I am a particularly bad games player, but nor am I the type of person that sticks with one particular class in MMOs, perfects it, and knows it inside out.
Because I like to mix things up so much, I am more of a Jack of All Trades in that regards. Kinda ironic considering my post about roles in MMORPGs and how having focus was a good thing.
I’ve mentioned before how in WoW I played a feral tank for most of the WotLK and Cataclysm stuff. This spoke to my desire to play a class that was supportive, didn’t have long queue times for dungeon finder as my impatience often gets the better of me, and most importantly wasn’t a class that was ludicrously complicated and would allow me to spend time watching the field rather than watching my cool downs like a hawk. Cataclysm screwed this up for me a bit by giving feral more abilities and a slightly more complicated rotation, but there was more to my quitting WoW than just that…
When I’m playing solo, I’m quite happy to be bad at my class. Most PvE content — especially levelling content — is forgiving enough for me to suck a bit.
But group content is another matter entirely. I don’t want to be the guy that lets the team down. When my guild was working on Icecrown in WoW, they desperately needed an off tank, and I was available but woefully under geared. I still went with them, because otherwise they wouldn’t have been able to raid at all, but I was constantly aware that the healers were having to work much harder than they should have been with a better-geared tank, and I made semi-regular silly mistakes because I simply cannot cope with too much happening at once: it is why I don’t do small-scale competitive PvP. Arenas and me were never going to mesh.
At least with my guild I was with familiar people who would generally be calm and collected and help me out when I was being a complete idiot and missing obvious things. But grouping with people I don’t know is another matter entirely.
One of the best things about RIFT is its public group system for world events and Instant Adventures. It is incredibly easy to “hot join” large scale open-world PvE content like Invasions, and thanks to its soul system, my cleric has the flexibility to adapt to almost any group role the raid/group might need.
If I join an Instant Adventure where there’s no healer, I’ll gauge how well equipped for the content the group is and, if necessary, switch to my healing spec to support the group. I can adapt on the fly and not feel like I’m a complete letdown for the group because there are so many of us. (I always make sure I mention my lack of healing experience in groups too, just to cover my back…)
In small group/dungeon content, however, my reticence remains. In the TERA CBT2 event today — after posting my blog of impressions earlier — I ummmed and ahhhed about trying to join one of the two available dungeons. I’d hit the current beta level cap, so I was a bit high level for the Secret Base instance, but I thought it would be a good place to cut my teeth without danger of completely screwing up and me constantly wiping the party.
While I was trying to figure out how the LFG system worked, I sorted out my spellbars and read up on my actual healing spells. My main heal, Titanic Favor II, used TERA’s lock-on mechanic, which worried me a bit, as I still have issues with Volley of Curses not firing off properly anymore; and this was supported by Arun’s Vitae V which drops the heal-over-time globes on the ground.
I also had a nice short-term buff, Titanic Wrath, which increased the strength stat of party members within an 8m radius when cast, and the ability to cleanse debuffs from party members with Arun’s Cleansing Touch.
Thrall of Life remained an excellent backup ability should I have need of it, and I also had Aura of the Unyielding I, which provided everyone in the group with a 30% resistance to critical hits as long as I left the ability toggled on at the cost of a small MP degen.
A fairly rounded skill set, though less varied than the Priest’s, as I found out later this evening. More on that in a dedicated post.
After all that reading up, I still hadn’t really worked out the LFG tool, so instead I just ran around the area practising healing the people who were fighting the elite basilisk mobs. I quickly discovered that, actually, my lock-on heal mechanic was pretty awesome. Average HP for most players around this level was between 5-6000, and my main spell was healing for about 1900, +60hp per tick for 10 seconds, modified by my healing power. That’s like a third of a player’s HP so, assuming they weren’t playing like a complete spoon, actually keeping someone up with pretty straightforwards.
Growing in confidence, I noticed someone asking in area chat if they’d like to team up to kill some basilisks as a party. It was a priest looking, so I said yes, thinking that with two of us, and a lancer tank, we would be a solid group and I wouldn’t feel like a complete screwup until I’d had more practice as the priest would pick up the majority of the slack.
We spent a good 30-40 minutes killing basilisks. I imagine the xp was pretty good, but I was stuck at the end of level 27 thanks to that being the beta cap. I learned quite a few things about how TERA’s healing works, and actually found it very enjoyable indeed. It helped that my group members were a nice bunch who didn’t shout at me when I let their health dip.
I also learned that, for some reason, nobody picks up the Vitae Globes I drop. I don’t know why this is. I’d drop one at the feet of the tank whenever I ran in to do my strength buff, or the mob’s position had drastically moved, but nobody ever used them. I’ll have to do a bit of research and find out if there is a reason for this…
After this group had broken up, I joined forces with a lancer and we duoed some basilisks. This gave me the chance to really test my abilities at healing. Unfortunately, because I was a few levels higher than the mobs, actually keeping the lancer’s health topped up wasn’t much of a problem — even when we aggroed a second basilisk and ended up fighting two for a minute while we finished the one we had pulled first off. In fact, I had more than enough time to swap between my healing and dps bars and throw some Metamorphic Blasts and Volley of Curses in-between healing the tank.
It was a surprisingly enjoyable experience, and I’m quite looking forwards to trying to heal an instanced dungeon now. Since CBT2 was supposed to finish at midnight I’ll have to wait a couple of weeks for CBT3 to try it out, and they’ll probably raise the level cap again, so a run of the Secret Base will have to be the first thing I do when I log in, as if I get any higher level I’ll trivialise the content completely and that wouldn’t help train me up at all.
Any hints, tips or tricks for Mystics, leave ‘em in the comments below!