The long-awaited patch 5.4 was released earlier this month for Final Fantasy XIV. The patch, known as "Futures Rewritten" brought in fresh stories, new dungeons, more raids, and a charming catboy.
It is worth remembering that all classes in Final Fantasy XIV are certainly worthy of playing. This game is one of the most balanced MMORPGs out there. Hence, it maintains a healthy player base several years after its release.
Still, there are little differences between healing classes that make one class better in certain circumstances. Below are the rankings of the three healing classes in Final Fantasy XIV, with the changes in patch 5.4 in mind.
The White Mage
The Astrologian looks better on paper compared to the White Mage, but you are not playing this game in theory. The White Mage is a press-button-to-win kind of class as you can be impactful without being proactive like the Astrologian or the Scholar.
The White Mage also has burst damage aside from being a powerhouse in active healing. This class also has access to the best AOE spell in the game.
While true that the White Mage is not a team player due to its anemic buffing spells, they do not need to power up their allies when they can deal damage themselves. In fact, the White Mage is more of DPS class than a healer class because of its AOE attack, Holy spell, stuns, and obscene damage output that should clear dungeons without much effort.
Its single-target healing spells are also the strongest. Benediction can save Tanks faster than the Scholar and the Astrologian. The Scholar is the better beginner class since it will allow you to learn the mechanical controls of your characters that should be handy once you switch to other classes specifically the DPS classes. However, for the purpose of this ranking, the White Mage is just too easy, a foolproof healer that you have to actively try to lose in order not to succeed.
The Astrologian is everybody's favorite. They are loved by the community because they have wide utility in a form of cards. These cards give huge damage buffs that can clear late-game bosses rather quickly. The Astrologian's kit involves managing cards in the most efficient ways - both in healing allies and doing damage themselves. This is also the reason why the Astrologian is number two instead of occupying the top spot in our rankings: they require skills in juggling the cards for timings.
The Astrologian was introduced with the Heavensward expansion. They were considered one of the worst classes in Final Fantasy XIV. In patch 5.4, the things that made this class unviable a long time ago are gone. The Astrologian synergizes well with any party composition. This is due to the unique characteristic that allows them to swap between two different stances: Diurnal Sect and Nocturnal Sect. These stances allow them to cast regens or shields with their skills. They can be more of a White Mage or a Scholar, depending on the stance. This makes them extremely versatile as you can have any of the other two healing classes. Of course, they are not better than either of the classes in which they specialize in.
The Astrologian is good for those who love micromanaging their skills but is harsh for those who just want a relaxing game session. It is also worth noting that you can only reach the Astrologian's versatility in higher levels, otherwise, you just have to stick to either healing or buffing and not both.
The Scholar is one of the first classes in Final Fantasy XIV. They mostly use fairies, Eos, or Selene to cast regens and buffs. The Scholar also wields a shield so it has great survivability. This also means that the Scholar does not have regen options in their arsenal. They are incredibly reliant on cast abilities.
In this current patch, the Scholar is the weakest of the three. Although, they are not bad, the other two are leagues better. In the early years of the game, the Scholar was the best end-game healer as they could outwork the other two classes at higher levels. However, the current release of patches balances everything out, making the other two healers as viable as the Scholar late game.
The Scholar is popular for its instant casts since they rely more on "Off Global Cooldown" (oGCD) abilities. oGCD abilities have their own cooldown timer and can generally be used in-between global cooldown (GCD) abilities, spells, or weapon skills. Proper management of the fairy on the field also gives the Scholar gameplay complexity when compounded with shield damage mitigation. Chain Strategem is their offensive buff, upping the strength of the team further.
The Scholar is a good class for beginner players. This statement would have been inaccurate early in the life of the game, but several patches later allowed players to easily manage the Scholar's fairy. It is not as difficult as it was once. The Eos management is the more difficult part, but you would have learned this while you are playing the game anyway. The Scholar is not the runaway favorite healer class anymore, but they are still a great pick.