For those that are looking to scratch that MMO itch while their preferred fantasy home is cutting through a downswing or if you are just attempting to broaden your horizons, Lost Ark is the newest fish on the filet board. This series looks at Lost Ark through the lens of a former or current World Of Warcraft (WoW) player and attempts to answer questions for those on the fence about investing in such a new--and frankly different--style of game. Before we dive into what is the best class at aiding your party, first foremost we have to get pedantic. You’re not a healer--you are a support. You provide utility and resources to your team while also tacking on some non-trivial damage. With the majority of spike damage in the game coming from telegraphed attacks rather than just your typical mob auto-attack or light mechanic. There is much more of an onus on the individual and their positioning to curb damage intake. The support is there to further mitigate, slow, and then begin to top the party. Sure there is healing to be done, but this is not the style of game to have you tunnelling your attention into keeping your team alive so much as just generally supporting them in a more broad sense.That said there are two dedicated support classes in Lost Ark; the Bard and the Paladin. BardThe Bard is a ranged class based around, you guessed it, music. Wielding their harps, Bards add buffs from attack speed and casting speed, to added damage. Primarily though, they are all about damage mitigation. When compared to Paladins, Bards are viewed as the support class with more defensive options for the party, best at keeping people alive and applying big burst healing in a pinch. From a WoW perspective, it is most similar to Discipline Priest as your primary focus is proactive mitigation from predictable damage. The more apt comparison if you’re familiar with FFXIV is Scholar. You don’t have a pet to help heal, but your awakening is very similar to a buffed Deployment Tactics Adloquiem, you provide arena-targeted mitigation, and you provide an “increased damage received” debuff on the target for your team to optimize around while providing personal DPS yourself. You also have to choose between using your most important resource for additional damage or healing.PaladinOn the flip side of that support, coin are the Paladins. And much like their WoW counter-parts, Lost Ark’s Paladins are a tanky, melee support with higher damage output. If there was a WoW analogue for Lost Ark’s Paladin it probably would be WoW’s Paladin as well. Sitting opposite to the Bard, the Paladin’s healing is much more effective in small, consistent doses. Similar to Bard when it comes to team contribution, it adds lots of utility to add to the party through added stats and buffs. However, Paladin comes with an optional cleanse which can be vital in select raidsPaladins are easily more reliable with regards to support application, physically getting your buffs on your party, than the Bard. Paladin’s support skills have more range which makes group coverage much easier.Past the two dedicated supports, there is one more class we’d also give an honourable mention to; the Gunlancer.GunlancerThe closest thing to your typical tank from WoW, think a Protection Warrior interbred with a Blood Deathknight, but something that also fits the definition of support in Lost Ark perfectly, the Gunlancer brings an entirely unique gameplay loop to the table. Every class has a dash. The Gunlancer jumps backwards away from your mouse. Most classes need to be concerned generally about their positioning. The Gunlancer can chew through certain mechanics, which inherently can be supportive (think about body blocking projectiles or being able to soak a mechanic in place of a DPS). The two dedicated supports provide lots of healing and mitigation. The Gunlancer provides some shielding to their party while also bringing stuns and the ability to actually “taunt” bosses or mobs out of actual attacks, removing some problems entirely, while also contributing some significant damage through their hefty burst windows. This leaves the question; which is the best? Related: Comparing high-end WoW healing to high-end FFXIV healingAnd while it would be simple to just pick one and send you on your way, the reality is that it depends on your playstyle and the actual encounter at hand on top of what your group composition is like and if you’re matchmaking or in a pre-made group. Find what you enjoy and run with it, you cannot go wrong with either of the two dedicated support classes, those being Bard and Paladin, and Gunlancer is entirely unique to the game and still can get the job done in their own way. Even in Lost Ark’s equivalent of the Group Finder, support classes are always in demand so you’re really trading percentiles, especially for the majority of the player base. Want something a bit more defensive? Try Bard.Looking to be aggressive with more damage? Try Paladin.Don’t want to conform to the others and be a bit more self-sufficient with damage carry potential? Try Gunlancer.It is important to reiterate; you’re not healing so much as you’re supporting. While this seems overly focused on language, once you begin to taste some early group content you’ll begin to realize that your job is much deeper than simply keeping the party alive. Supporting in Lost Ark is not about dedicating your time to restoring health so much as it is padding survivability. Everyone in the party has an individual responsibility for their own health pool, the supports are there to ease the damage intake curve not remove it entirely. The beauty in Lost Ark’s support system has you focus on landing buffs during important damage windows and coordinating with your team to amplify their damage output. It still retains this intuitive and reactionary playstyle that a more modern MMORPG like WoW does with its healers, but it fine-tunes the process into something both uniquely theirs and deeply engaging.If you enjoyed this piece, follow the author on Twitter at @Volamel.Images via Lost Ark and Blizzard Entertainment
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