Final Fantasy XIV Shadowbringers has been a massive success for Square Enix, but game director Naoki Yoshida has also taken time out from the celebration surrounding the new expansion to explain why it was yet another let-down for fans looking for a new healer class in-game. The last time a new healer class was introduced to Final Fantasy XIV was way back in 2015's Heavensward expansion, the game's first expansion after A Realm Reborn.
The fact that it has been four years since a healer class was introduced into the game is only made more frustrating by the fact that Shadowbringers introduced the Dancer job. People had hoped that the Dancer job would incorporate healing as a main mechanic since there's precedent in the franchise for that being the case, but it was instead developed as a ranged DPS job that also excels at buffing single-target party members. The other class introduced in Shadowbringers, Gunbreaker, is a tank job, of which there are already many within Final Fantasy XIV.
During an interview with DualShockers, director Naoki Yoshida elaborated on why Final Fantasy XIV still doesn't have a new healer class despite fans constantly requesting one. According to Yoshida, balancing healer classes takes more time than other jobs, making it a tricky addition to new content:
"Of course, with healers, yes, we do admit that there are difficulties in balancing different jobs in that category. It was a struggle over the years maintaining different jobs...
We do see that Scholar has the ability to cast barriers and the fairy they can summon, they're very mobile. On the other hand, it was lacking in pure healing capabilities. We do see players utilizing the Scholar to just have barriers set up and the rest of the time they're mainly attacking. Healers who utilize other jobs may look at the Scholar and think, they can do everything else, why can't we have that?"
It's a lengthy explanation on why balancing healers is so difficult, but it's true that Yoshida has identified exactly why it's difficult to introduce a new healer job to Final Fantasy XIV - because it's been so difficult to get the existing ones right already. The result, though, is pretty concerning, as Shadowbringers has been dealing with a massive drought in healers available for end-game content and leveling parties because people just aren't being incentivized to play them. With the flashy new toys occupying every role but a healer, only those dedicated to their craft have been able to keep Shadowbringers rolling along.
During the interview Yoshida also admitted that there may not be a perfect balance yet, indicating more tweaks and adjustments are coming. Final Fantasy XIV Shadowbringers made sweeping changes to the games skill and ability layouts, outright removing many staples from job rotations. With that in mind, tweaking may take some time before everyone arrives at a balance they're satisfied with.
In the interim, though, it seems that popularity is a major factor in deciding whether to bring a new healer class to Final Fantasy XIV. Given that an expansion's jobs need to be flashy and exciting, it makes sense that healers take a backseat - but given that Final Fantasy XIV released a new job in the Blue Mage mid-expansion cycle, perhaps Yoshida and the team can find a way to do the same for a new healer before we head to the next adventure in one of the world's biggest MMORPGs.