To me it looks like they switched from heal spam to barrier spam. The difference being you had various types of healing spells and you just got one barrier spell, excluding guardian spirit passive (as far as we know).
In the Dragon Age books healing was ussualy done outside combat and was exhausting the mage rapidly.
yeah, what i've seen in the video it seems that barrier doesnt have a cooldown, it's just focus dependant. and it affects everyone in its radius. also, did they had DOTS on them in the video ? or does the barrier slowly fade even without taking damage ? i think it's the latter.
if you play it properly it seems to me that if you make sure the enemy group (//incoming damage) isn't to big then you're able to keep barrier up on your party nearly all the time. and if it's to big you can use CC's and/or you go for some quick takedowns (to downsize the group)
and if there is one thing that mmo's/rpg's has taught me is that barrier spells are more effective then pure heals since they tend to make it easier compared to pure healing. see barrier as an addition to your healthpool. you're able to survive hits which would otherwise oneshot you, you're less sensitive to burst/spike damage and you generally have more time to react to damage. and your healing will be more efficient.
a rundown; (heal and barrier are the same amount of health points)
lets say person X takes some damage, he doesnt seem to take damage anymore so you top him off incase of some unexpected burst. you've healed him for 200 while he only missed 50 health. then 5 seconds later he takes some unexpected burst. 100 damage. now you have to heal him again or risk loosing him to some more un-anticipated damage. so you've either used 2 heals or you've used 1 heal and risked loosing him. however; lets run this scenario down but then with the irregulare 'heal'(i.e. barrier)
you might've already anticipated that person X will take damage at some point and decided to pre-barrier person X. in that case then person X has lost nothing of his healthpool and you've only used 1 barrier. or he took 50 damage and you shielded him afterwards. at that point his chances of becoming instantly gibbed are even smaller then if he had a full healthpool and no barrier. even after the 100 hit. because then he would have -50 health and a 100 barrier left
ofcourse you could've also waited for that person to take 150 damage before you healed him. but the point im making is that you generally waste less resources and with barrier your chances of unexpectidly loosing someone are smaller.
i think people are just complaining because they changed something and they arent used to it. i think it's actually a change which will make the game easier if you use it properly. there generally is more skill involved in barrier healing in games (if it's cooldown or greatly resource dependant which it is) but the reward is greater. you just have to plan ahead. get a feel of when damage is coming and to whom. or you could just.... tell your party to hug and spam barrier on everyone... dat skills...