Dedicated healers in games generally get the short end of the stick. Whether it’s having to rely on the skill of your team mates or your inability to keep up, being a healer is generally a thankless job, hence why many games go with the Combat Medic, someone who can heal but can also look after themselves, capable of surviving in a one on one fight just like anyone else. Turning back to the Team Fortress 2 Medic, he seems a tad out of line.
A designer at Riot, the company behind League of Legends, once argued that it’s no fun “making little bars go up” when everyone else is “making little bars go down”. He said that Medic is boring and no fun, that you can’t win a game without one. Ignoring the fact that you can’t win a LoL match without an Attack Damage Carry, there’s a huge reason why the Medic in TF2 is so damn powerful.
Support characters often get shouted at quite a lot. I’ve played support in LoL and Dota 2 and it’s bloody awful. In LoL particularly, you basically babysit your ADC until they have their items and they’re strong enough to auto-attack everything to death with their stupidly high percentage-of-health damage and high critical hit rates. The same goes for the Jungler, who’ll get shouted at whether he ganks or not. Supports have very little power and have to work with chump change. In previous seasons, Supports were nothing more than babysitters and wardbots, spending their alreadu mediocre income on wards and things to protect their ADCs with. Things have improved slightly, with the traditional healer support being replaced by heavy hitting crowd control tanks and secondary APCs (Ability Power Carries), but it’s still thankless. (On the flip side, this change means I can play Vel’Koz as a support).
What has all that got to do with TF2? Simple. It’s who holds the game-changing power. In most games, it’s who can dish out the most damage. In TF2, it’s the Medic. Alright, in a lot of games, having healers is a game-changing scenario, but the pushing power and the breaking of stalemates generally comes from brute force. With an Ubercharge though, it’s the healer who’s in control.
The thing is, people just see Medics as healers. Yes, Medics do a lot of healing, but that’s just to get to the best bit. It’s a means to an end. Why do you think one of Medic’s best lines is “The healing leaves little time for the hurting”? Healing players is just an obstacle to get past so you can get your Ubercharge and smash the enemy team to pieces, whether it’s via the sheer power of the Kritzkrieg or the brute force of the Medi Gun.
Of course, a Medic on his own is useless. That’s where his team comes in. While a stupidly good damage dealer will steamroll whoever opposes them, often without any assistance from his team, a stupidly good Medic is still tied to all his fellow players, relying on them to keep him alive while he keeps them alive and eventually turns the tides. In the end, everyone gets something out of a Medic and the Medic gets something in return. Plus, it makes a change that the healer is the centre of a team, rather than whoever can deal the most damage.
Few people can say that they make healing look awesome the way Medic can.