Disclaimer: Everything said here is in relation to group fighting and raid v raid. This is a group game no one cares about small scale.
In 5.7 Druids dominated the healing meta being the only real viable healer for any competitive group composition and while the reworked druids trees certainly bring a lot to the table they did not fix the overall problem with druid healing (orbs). For this reason and the new meta of 5.8 Druids will be an obsolete healer.
To understand why this is the case we must first start in 5.7. The 5.7 group v group meta was entirely defined by the Fae Assassin. The 2500 points of healing block on a near zero cool down allowed them to solo carry any fight. They also had unparalleled mobility allowing them to stick to any target even through CC. This meant that any low mobility class was simply deleted, there were not enough healers on any side to keep up with this level of heal blockage and if there were you just brought a 2nd heal blocker. In this mobility meta Myrms, Templars and, Clerics were unplayable because the assassin just deleted them. This brings us back to Druids, THEY WERE NEVER THE BETTER HEALER they just fit the meta. The need for burst healing orb stacks to cut through heal block as well as their higher mobility and higher self healing through double healing orbs made them a fantastic fit. Though their ultimate roots them in place making them an optimal heal blocking target however using it intelligently and calling for peels could largely mitigate any risk of healblock during that time. 5.7 however is gone now we are in a new meta.
With the complete nerf batting of heal block there is a new meta in 5.8 , one that will likely be defined by melee ball compositions very similar to the meta of 5.6. We all remember the great food battles of 5.6. With the changes to food I don’t think we will be starving to death anymore but the tank meta is going to make its triumphant return with some new interesting changes. With the return of fessors into the meta the melee balls will need to be constantly moving around to avoid tornados and knock-ups. With the return of myrms with net pull and templars with divine light the roaming melee ball meta is stronger than ever. The problem is simply that in the roaming melee ball meta is totally incompatible with the Druid play style. Druid has 2 major sources of healing, abilities and orbs, and with no ability to check the numbers ill call it about 50:50 from experience. The orbs are burst healing when stacked up and the abilities are more used to sustain the melee ball though they do have some decent burst with wisps. In a roaming melee ball meta, as the name points out, the ball is ROAMING making it near impossible to properly stack an orb stack. The whole reason the orb stacks worked in the past was a druid could prestack during the stand off period (where both groups gain visual and assess the situation. A phase now gone with mounts I would imagine…) use those orbs to heal during the first portion of the fight while they made new stack closer to the action. This cycle would repeat where a druid drops a new stack while the previous stack was used to heal the focus target and abilities were used to heal the melee ball taking ambient AoE damage. This system worked incredibly well and was the reason Clerics were phased out, they simply could not compete with the burst healing. The new meta however is one of sustain mobile healing, yes I am aware druids a more mobile in general as they are wood elves and fae HOWEVER THEIR HEALING IS NOT MOBILE. Their ultimate, while a great heal, roots you for the duration... Ace please fix. All the druid abilities are bad for healing mobile targets and being mobile while healing with soothing winds being the only exception. Will o’ Wisps requires me to stop for 2 seconds while it charges, rain is stationary circle like holy symbol but far smaller and has almost a 1 second delay before the heal starts (meaning you must lead it on a moving target) and if you are stunned before it starts to heal it does not heal at all (confirmed in 5.7 untested in 5.8). The changes to bark skin were a shining beacon of hope until I read the part about how it is self only… So all the druid abilities are sub optimal while moving and healing moving targets and orbs require a rather stationary fight to work effectively. And lets not forget that double healing orbs were removed as well (not complaining but its important to note). Up to this point has been the pitfalls of the druids actual kit, but that is really only half the story, the fundamental game changes that come along with 5.8 are also a factor here. In 5.8 there will be an incredible increase to population and fight sizes. This means that there is more CC in general and combine that with the return of myrms, templars and fessors people will NEVER be able to be in the fight then disengage and get back to any sort of orb stack even if druids could get one down. In 5.7 there were really only 2 faction fights and the one night we had a 3-way fight healing on a druid was really rough. In 5.8 there will be constant 3-way fights requiring large amounts of repositioning as people try to avoid being sandwiched. More moving = lost orbs = lower healing.
What is important to note is that I AM NOT SAYING DRUIDS ARE BAD I am saying they are not as good as clerics. In a roaming field fight they are worse then clerics as they cannot move as well as noted above. In a fort fight there will still be decent movement though it will be more stationary perhaps enough for a druid to be viable but even if this were the case viable is not better then a cleric so why would anyone play a healer that’s bad in one scenario and average in the other when there’s a better option?
There are some aspects of druid I have not touched on so lets do that quick:
Damage/ sickle druid(sub optimal): They were bad in 5.7, low survivability low damage. It would appear they have gotten a damage buff and some neat sustainability changes however those changes are not enough to make it group viable especially after they made it a leather class. Those heals and shield are small sustain heals not burst heals for group fights. In my opinion those changes solidify the sickle druid as a solo ganker toon that has no place in group fights.
Hybrid druid: This is possible to be a viable class with a hybrid damage healer that rewards you for bombs is a great idea but the problem is bombs will have very limited use in open field and though they will have some decent DAMAGE uses in forts if you are using orbs to damage you are not healing and as noted about the orbs are a massive portion of your healing. Not to mention bombs can just be immuned by good players and require a lot of setup. The group beam is nice but 5 minutes CD is to long. Though the largest problem for them is simply the fact that you need 2 healers per 5 people because of group sizes. Getting that many healers in any MMO is impossible and will be a considerable issue as the game moves forward. So if I can hardly get enough healers as it is why would I not take the best healers and let the dps guys do their job?
Heal druid: Most of the stuff related to this class was mentioned in the above section however I did not touch on chain beam. A fantastic addition to the class however if were already short on healers when would one of those healers, already a sub optimal healer, have time to damage buff the DPS? I could see druids both healing (for chain beam and off heals) and hybrid (for group beam and bombs) be used as a support buffer/bomber type thing but it’s a hard thing to pull off and if put in the wrong hands is totally useless.
In summary I am not saying they are bad I’m saying with the changes they have really been moved to a support/off healer then a main healer and in a game already stretched to get enough healers no one will play one. I am not here however to only complain I have some ideas for fixing the class.
Sickle (Still sub optimal): give them back mail to start with and work from there, they need some sort of tank skill. Their ult roots them in place and their dodge pips will be stolen they need some way to stay alive or be mobile enough to run. Start with mail and work from there.
Hybrid: I am a big fan of the class though it needs group beam to have a CD reduction maybe 3 minutes instead of 5. Not much to be done here, this is an off healer/damage role I think its set up for that but the beam holds it back as does the fact its not a real healer. An ult that can be used while moving.
Healer: Make wisps usable while moving, remove the delay on heal rain and make the radius larger, make bark skin a group ability again after getting the upgraded version, make the ult usable while moving and perhaps the most important change of all: MAKE LEFT CLICK USABLE ON MOVING TARGETS. If I could hit people with orbs while they were moving it would eliminate the need to stack orbs in the back, I would just heal you while you moved. The orbs really are the core of the class and their gimmick so you can’t change it too much but if this was the case druids would be viable while healing on the move. The other option would be to make a new left click only for this tree that is like a mercy beam from overwatch but either way something needs to be done about the healing