This week, you can add another app to that list: Healbot, a free, stand-alone iOS game that simulates World of Warcraft boss fights from a healer's perspective. Your party takes damage; it's your job to heal through it. If the boss hits zero before your party does, you win. Just like real life! Well, real life in Azeroth, anyway.
If the name app's name sounds familiar, that's intentional. According to the game's developers, Healbot is "based on the mechanics of the Healbot mod in WoW." But how does this simulation stack up against the real thing? And is it worth your dear, sweet, precious time?
The gameplay is fairly simple and easy to pick up. You're shown a screen with six different health bars -- one for the boss, five for your party. As the boss damages your party, it's your responsibility to choose one of the three available heals -- light, medium, or heavy -- to keep everyone alive until the boss dies.
As you might expect, the tank takes the bulk of the damage in any given simulated fight. The rest of the party will often take direct damage, too, but at a lower frequency and magnitude. On occasion, the boss will unleash an attack that hits all members of your party.
Through all of that, it's your job to choose one of three possible healing spells to use. There's Light, a low-strength heal with a quick cast time; Medium, a middle-of-the-road spell in terms of both strength and time; and Heavy, the most powerful heal that requires the longest amount of time to complete.
Currently, the game has two different modes. In Automatic Loss mode, you lose the game if any member of your party dies. By toggling that option off, you can play a much more realistic simulation in which the game continues even if a party member dies. Should someone bite the dust, though, the game gets much harder -- the remaining party members take more damage. Of course, if you die as the healer, you can no longer cast any heals -- you just have to hope the boss hits 0% before the rest of the party does.
The challenge level seems pretty low here. As a shadow priest, I have minimal healing experience, and yet I was able to almost immediately master the game. Since you have only three healing options, the game lacks a level of real complexity. There are no HOTs, cooldowns, or shields to keep things interesting. It's like playing a priest who's only able to use the spells Flash Heal, Heal, and Greater Heal, which gets pretty old after one or two simulated fights.
There's no mana bar to watch, so you can spam heals in anticipation of damage without penalty. You can also cast all three heals simultaneously -- no need to wait for your heavy heal to finish casting before hitting the light heal button. Your party members enjoy a certain amount of healing independent of what you provide, yet another factor that takes away from the difficulty. Not that any of these are necessary -- the damage the boss deals never feels like much of a challenge to mitigate.
Graphics and interface
Graphics here are simple and utilitarian. You're basically just looking at a Healbot or default raid frame healing window. Controls are simple, too; all you have to do is tap the screen to choose your target, and then tap the heal you want to use. As far as simulating the most basic of healer mechanics and experiences, it does a decent job.
Is it worth it?
This isn't exactly the kind of app I'd be willing to pay for -- but thankfully, I didn't have to. The Healbot iOS app is free. That being the case, if you own an iPhone or iPad, there's no reason not to check it out. It's an interesting little time-waster that, as a WoW player, you'll probably get a few minutes of enjoyment from.
While they're not there yet, the folks at Trip Hop have made a decent first step toward creating a fun WoW healing simulator. Hopefully, after a little more time in development, the Healbot iOS app will be a much more realistic simulator, and as such, a much more enjoyable experience.
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