Wisdom of Nym: The state of Final Fantasy XIV's melee DPS

I main melee DPS on my main character in Final Fantasy XIV, but it was never really by design. Originally I was quite happy playing her as a tank most of the time, it's just that character traits developed over the source of the game, and by the time Ninja was released, I had regular run partners playing a Paladin and a Scholar. So everything lined up perfectly, and here we are.

Regardless, melee is usually sort of my thing; I prefer being in the paint to being out of it. So as I did a few weeks ago with tanking, let's take a look at the melee jobs in the game, what they can do, and what they can't do so well after all. And if you'd like to argue about which ones provide the best DPS in the game... please, do so over there, away from me; I don't actually care. (But the answer is probably "not Bard at the time of this writing.")

Dragoon

Dragon Dragoon.There's more to Dragoon than just standing in obvious telegraphs and dying over and over. Heck, there should be very little to none of that because Dragoon has two range-closing abilities and a sudden backstep; it's a very mobile class. Dragoons seem to be just as likely to get caught in AoE fields as any other class, but the joke is there and will never go away because that's the world we live in.

Memetic gags aside, much in the same way that each of the different tanking jobs provides a different style of tanking, the same is true here of melee DPS. Dragoon is the precision approach, all about swinging a two-handed weapon and lining up for maximum damage. You line up the perfect shot, take a deep breath, toss on Life Surge, and watch an auto-crit rip your target apart. Heavensward also gives the class a buff to manage as both a stacking improvement and a resource while adding back in some positional skills, but by and large Dragoon is still about lining up those perfect, powerful thrusts and jumps.

Niftiest Ability: Jump. What else could it be? The new set of abilities actually makes the skill even more potent, giving you good reason to use it as your Life Surge ability woven between other weaponskills. A lot has been done to balance its animation lock against damage and so forth, and it's been the subject of a great deal of tuning, but on a fundamental level, Jump gives the job a great deal of distinctiveness and just plain looks cool.

Lamest Ability: Fang and Claw or Wheeling Thrust; pick one and that's the one. It's not that either ability is bad, it's the fact that they're two routes to the exact same destination, randomly rewarded and requiring you to pay close attention to use the right one properly. Learning the distinction is not overly difficult, but it's a level of frustration that you don't have with any other job, and it's two separate skills which, again, do the same thing in every practical sense.

Biggest Weakness: Here's the problem with building up all your skills toward one overwhelming spike: You can't be spiking all the time. Over time, Dragoon damage evens out to be at reasonable parity with other melee DPS; there are still some uncomfortable spikes and valleys along the way, since you need to do your setup first to hit the spike and then maintain things for when your skills come back off of cooldown. Heavens help you if you use your cooldowns and then the boss goes invulnerable at just the wrong moment.

Ninja

I leveled this in just a couple of days, I'll note.Mechanically, Ninja have traditionally been defined in the franchise by their ability to dual wield, their penchant for throwing things, and their frequently being overpowered as heck. In Final Fantasy XIV they don't technically do the first, barely do the second, and definitely aren't the last. But they're still really cool and fun, emphasizing the whole stealthy side of play whilst providing a very technical play experience.

As the theme goes, a Ninja is an assassin, delivering high damage in short order, requiring very little time to set up, all while providing party utility against any targets not killed swiftly. Mastering Ninjutsu keypresses as part of your muscle memory is vital, as is managing your cooldowns, the durations on your buffs and debuffs, and all of the little elements here and there that allow you to keep a steady stream of hits incoming. Having Armor Crush in our rotation makes life a great deal easier as it enables us to make use of a wider array of skills without compromising the importance of our main self-buff.

Niftiest Ability: Ninjutsu. Technically this is four abilities, and even more technically this is seven abilities. Sure, no one's using shuriken once you can use two-tap combos, but this one skill functionally contains a speed buff, single-target damage, multi-target damage, a damage field, a bind, and a damage increase for the entire party. What makes it even niftier, at least to me, is that unlike Jump, these skills aren't your showstopping huge hits; they're woven in amid other attacks, allowing you to plan and pace out your attack.

Lamest Ability: Smoke Screen. This one's lame for a few reasons. It's not a threat dump; it's basically a Quelling Strikes effect you apply to someone else, which means that by the time you notice someone's threat spiking, it's already too late to make the most use out of it. Four levels later, you get Shadewalker, which is a far more productive way to manage threat. And it can't even be used on the Ninja, thus it doesn't even catch the thematic impact of a smoke bomb from popular culture. (Yes, I realize it mirrors Goad in that regard; that's not the point.)

Biggest Weakness: Taking out multiple targets is not a fun time; you have two abilities that deal solid area damage which are both tied to Ninjutsu, and Death Blossom is a pretty horribly inefficient AoE in terms of TP. You also can be pretty heavily screwed by network latency, as Ninja is very much a job in which your movements need to be precise and perfect, with a single errant keystroke sending your careful series of buffs, debuffs, and cooldowns into disarray.

Monk

Boy, sometimes I'm tempted to go back to cat.If you ever find yourself saying that the global cooldown in FFXIV is too long, play a Monk for a while. This is not a job about waiting for the precise moment to strike; it's a job all about building up your speed and flailing against your target with vigor until something breaks. There's a potential blue metaphor in there, but I'll leave you to construct your own.

While Dragoon has taken some pages from Monk's book this expansion, Monk has taken some pages from Dragoon's book with the addition of a few unleashing-style moves with Chakra and Tornado Kick. The former is there to allow you a buildup between fights or when there's nothing to hit, while the latter lets you unleash your Greased Lightning for heavy damage - and then Form Shift swiftly back to the third stack of Lightning in short order. In other words, it's still very much Monk and still about always doing something, even if that means burning off stacks before they fall.

Niftiest Ability: Form Shift. The overall design of the job very nicely created the image right from the start of a job that is all about shifting parts of a combo, always attacking, never stopping. Adding in Form Shift allows the Monk to quickly weave ahead and prepare during periods of downtime, providing control over the next part of the combo to be activated. It's a workhorse skill, but with so much of the job already being about subtle interplay, Form Shift lets you subtly tweak that play as needed.

Lamest Ability: One Ilm Punch. To be fair, this skill actually does have a great use against enemies who use, say, Stoneskin. In other words, against FATE targets. Most of the time it either won't remove the buff or will remove a buff that can be dealt with anyhow. It's not a terrible ability; it just seems a touch out of place, like a skill created for a purpose that's never actually been implemented in the game.

Biggest Weakness: I hope you like remembering positional traits on skills and moving around all the time because that's vital to playing Monk correctly. You can do a fair bit of macroing to save space on your action bar, but you still need a solid memory of which skills require you to stand where, and woe betide you if you can't get there for whatever reason. Losing your momentum with Monk is like losing your pattern with Ninja; the difference is that Ninja can effectively start the pattern over, while Monk has to build momentum up again.

Feedback, as always, is welcome in the comments below or via mail to eliot@massivelyop.com. Next time around, I want to share some insights into crafting and gathering, now that I've actually been getting into those once again after a great deal of alt leveling and so forth.

The Nymian civilization hosted an immense amount of knowledge and learning, but so much of it has been lost to the people of Eorzea. That doesn't stop Eliot Lefebvre from scrutinizing Final Fantasy XIV each week in Wisdom of Nym, hosting guides, discussion, and opinions without so much as a trace of rancor.
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33 Comments on "Wisdom of Nym: The state of Final Fantasy XIV's melee DPS"

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FreyrPrime
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FreyrPrime

n3rdbomb3r The Warrior statement is a big overblown I feel. Using A1S Faust as an example, our warrior sits in DPS stance with full slayer since he isn't tanking.
He has full Eso gear with a couple 210 Gordian pieces and he comfortably sits in the 1200 range. My Dragoon is similarly geared and I pull 1400 easily. That's single target on Faust, no Geirskogul cleave.
Warriors ARE incredibly powerful, but any dps worth their salt should at the very least break even with them, if not be a few hundred dps ahead.

n3rdbomb3r
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n3rdbomb3r

Monk used to be the dps kingpin of ARR with Goon in close behind and ninja somewhere in between. However, one of the interesting things in HW is mechanically, due to the way greased lightning works now, Monks have to work a whole lot harder to do good dps, and certain fights they are at a significant disadvantage based on GL functionality VS Nin or Goon (example: Ravana EX, Alex 1), where periods of inactivity end up with your stacks falling off completely. They've tried to remedy this with some slight patching but its.... dtill not so great >.<.
Nin and goon dps can very wildly, as they are two classes that seems to be remarkably easy to play very very badly. Something to note in terms of Melee dps are actually the state of Warriors right now. If a Warrior is well geared and knows their cooldowns/rotations, they can tank in dps stance almost the entire time and pull numbers almost double your party's dps combined. In the pvp community, its often thought right now that SMN and Goon are the kings of dps, but every so often at the end of a match, if you look at damage done, there are usually a few warriors in the 300-400k range, which is CRAZY good dps.

sydh
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sydh

kgptzac The jump cooldowns have already been shortened quite a few times since the start of ARR. When you get into the heat of a pve boss fight or some tanky trash mobs those 30/60/120 second jumps come quite often. Especially with the long rotation the Dragoon class already has. Any shorter and all you will be doing is just jumping. While hallmarks of the job it would take more away from it than provide if it's simply spammed.

number473
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number473

kgptzac You should be using your jumps and other skills not on the global cool down to boost your damage. There is a bit of time after you use a global cool down skill where you can weave something like a jump or a buff in without losing time on your global cool down. If you get into the habit of doing that you'll see that combat becomes much more active and engaging.

staticlove666
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staticlove666

ihatevnecks Eliot_Lefebvre staticlove666 Thats FF XI, not XIV. Duh.

staticlove666
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staticlove666

Eliot_Lefebvre staticlove666 So have other dps. If it werent for FF XI's Dragoon, then this conversation would not be happening.

Dope_Danny
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Dope_Danny

Right now im currently really into DRK now i've hit lvl.60 and had enough gear to hit ilvl177 and getting into raids but NIN is still my main job purely because it really ramps up in combat and feels really fast compared to my ARR original main job of BLM. That and it works the best on a PS3 controller UI layout. I cant play it on my PS3, be zipping around like a mad bastard and it feels fast, fluid and the Ninjutsu system is basically what i wanted out of WoW's DK and Monk resource systems. Monk and Dragoon are okay but feel more stale compared to NIN to me. Though maybe that could be because they were launch jobs but NIN came along far into ARR's lifespan when direction was more set in stone.

gorkoswow
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gorkoswow

Agreed. Main scholar and I see blackmages do this all the time. I know you have that buff that gives you haste but it dose not help if your dead

kgptzac
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kgptzac

I started FF14 a few weeks back and now is lv50 Dragoon.  I don't have the expansion so I'm not sure that'll change my perspective if I do... but the jumping abilities are basically fluff in a large chunk of the game.  Sure it's nifty in solo, but it's rather useless in instanced pve, where the job of being melee dps only done in melee and not away.

The larger issue is the skill cooldown.  Not only weapon actions have global cooldown, the skills with individual cooldowns are long as hell.  If the jumping skills have shorter cooldown and more incentive to jump around the mobs (other than getting out of telegraphed attacks), then I suppose the game can be a lot more fun.

wolfyseyes
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wolfyseyes

I have been itching to play a melee DPS alt because healing in this game bores me to TEARS and I feel good about where I am currently as a Spoopy Paladin (AKA Dark Knight).
This write-up has me more interested. Though now I'm split between Ninja or Dragoon....

DPandaren
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DPandaren

One Ilm Punch is pretty much a PVP skill. That's the only place I ever used it. There's a couple of other skills like that in the game.

Drewbob
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Drewbob

Not enough to do at endgame, and I'm past the point of paying while I wait. I really enjoyed playing the ninja though, and the dark knight could be relatively fun.
Just need more than two "experts."

themindstream
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themindstream

If you're eating cleaves and you're not the tank, you're doing it wrong. (Or the tank died or lost agro, which is someone else doing it wrong.) Melee in a party should never be attacking from the front, it is a penalty to accuracy and most melee have some form of side and rear positional requirement.

ihatevnecks
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ihatevnecks

Eliot_Lefebvre staticlove666 loldrg

AngelBlack
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AngelBlack

Polyanna It's WoW w/o as many of everything (raid bosses, races, dungeons, etc.). If you don't have a final fantasy liking/nostalgia then it will be a WoW copycat for you with a 2.5 global cooldown. It has nice graphics for an MMO though, but yea...didn't do much different this expansion outside of separating raid tiers (so the easier one comes with the attached story of Alexander- the main antagonist for raid this expansion). The dev team does a nice job keeping the content patches coming at a regular pace(around 3 months give or a take 2 weeks). Healers are expected to contribute significant dps in 14 (for progression raids). Classes have become more homogenized to lessen the chances of classes being shunned.

The newness of it all may be impressive for a while if you try it out. Ive been playing since Sep 2013. Music is nice. Main Story is nice as well for an MMO, but I'm losing interest in the endgame(the 4 bosses of Alexander just don't interest me like the bosses of previous raid Coil did, along w/ class homogenization), and losing reasons to keep paying a sub every month. Gear grind to gear grind to gear grind. 
You can do crafting/gathering, but honestly gil(gold equivalent) is pretty much useless as you can get the best gear through the tomes(ffxiv gear token grind). Of course you can buy stuff for the looks if you want. 

Gonna try  GW2 myself most likely since it went F2P for the base game.

ihatevnecks
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ihatevnecks

Polyanna You don't need any FF background to play or enjoy this game. In many (most) ways it's very much a typical themepark MMO with the FF skin slapped on. Yeah you'll have more appreciation for small easter eggs and other things inspired by past games, but just like the FF games themselves, this is a stand-alone unrelated to any past title.
Gameplay is very similar to WoW or SWTOR - tab-target tank/healer/dps gameplay with 4-man dungeons and larger (10 or I think 25?) trials and raids. Combat is very slow to start because of the longer GCD, but by the time you're in your 40s-50s with most classes, that becomes less of an issue because most classes have a large rotation to keep them busy. 
The one standout thing from those other games, or WoW at least, is the story focus. Much of the content in this game, both leveling up and at max level, is gated by your progress in the Main Scenario Quest. Some of it is super dull and grindy, other parts are really awesome to go through. But this game's definitely much heavier on the story content, beyond just one or two occasional story-heavy quests.

Polyanna
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Polyanna

How much fun would a person have with this game that knows less than nothing about the Final Fantasy line of games and never had any interest in the whole JRPG scene, or anything vaguely related to it? Is it just like any other MMO with a Final Fantasy skin, or do you have to "get" the FF series on some level in order to like it at all?

And among the more popular modern MMOs that people may have played (WoW, GW2, SWTOR . . . whatever else you want to name), is FFXIV noticeably like any other major game? Or is it a thing unto itself?

AngelBlack
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AngelBlack

As a nin, Smoke Screen the offtank (usually a warrior). Shadewalker the main tank. Boom now u got a tank that can go dps stance w/o having to worry about losing hate to the offtank or to other dps(since nin's initial burst will add quite a bit of enmity onto the what the main is already generating.) Helps with min/maxing raid dps. I agree though I don't really like em overall. Wanted more flashy atks for nin, plus with the way mudras are in-game, sometimes they(mudras) can disrupt the feel of having a speedy class.

"....while the latter lets you unleash your Greased Lightning for heavy
damage – and then Form Shift swiftly back to the third stack of
Lightning in short order." Form Shift doesn't grant stacks of Greased Lightning. It moves you into the next form, which is used to get the first stack faster.Quote sounds like it's saying the shift itself will grant the stacks.

Example - You use tornado kick b4 a boss jump. You can form shift to second then to the final form to use Demolish/Snap Punch and get the first stack of Lightning when the boss comes down. If you form shift past Demolish/Snap Punch, then you just go back to the first form w/o getting a Lightning stack, which would make you go the second form (Twin Snakes/True Strike) when you hit the boss. 

I was let down by all the homogenization this expansion. As I played nin and drg at 60 and went through the optimal rotations, it just felt like they're being made pseudo-monks. Timers and more positionals. I really hope they can come up with something different for Red mage and samurai in the future.

Side note: Imo Elixer Field is monks niftiest ability. 220 potency AoE off gcd ability every 30 seconds, plus it looks like a Kamehameha? Yes please :3 Monk's AoE has drastically improved.

Rahzel
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Rahzel

Wratts staticlove666 Didn't realize that was in reference specifically to ninjitsu. My mistake!

Rahzel
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Rahzel

Wratts staticlove666 They have a slashing debuff from Dancin Edge shared with Warrior's Path's Eye.

Wratts
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Wratts

Eliot_Lefebvre Wratts Yeah, except it's single target and resistable, which is functionally different than "a damage increase for the whole part" (how that's semantically different than "party damage buff" I have no idea, but you're the writer)

Eliot_Lefebvre
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Eliot_Lefebvre

Wratts Eliot_Lefebvre I didn't; I called it a damage increase for the whole party, which a universal vulnerability up on a 1m cooldown provides. (By contrast, Machinist can provide either physical or magical only with longer downtime.)

Wratts
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Wratts

Eliot_Lefebvre Wratts Ok, if you're calling the vulnerability debuff from Trick attack a party damage buff then I see the idea.  I would have just called it a debuff but w/e

Eliot_Lefebvre
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Eliot_Lefebvre

staticlove666 Dragoons have been eating stuff from long before BoD was introduced.

Eliot_Lefebvre
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Eliot_Lefebvre

Wratts Yes: why you would want to stealth mid-battle.  Trick Attack.

Eliot_Lefebvre
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Eliot_Lefebvre

chosenxeno If you're standing in front of the boss while doing damage, then yes, you'll be eating cleaves.

I see that more often from mages who aren't paying attention.

Wratts
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Wratts

staticlove666 Wratts omg.  I'm pointing out that I actually have the page open.  I don't think there's a party dmg buff

staticlove666
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staticlove666

Wratts staticlove666 you could have scrolled down on the page, it's EVERYTHING about the ninja, including the ninjitsu skills too lol.

Wratts
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Wratts

staticlove666 Wratts Yeah, more precisely 
http://ffxiv.consolegameswiki.com/wiki/Ninja#Ninjutsu_Actions

Still don't see it if you're trying to reference something

staticlove666
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staticlove666
Wratts
Guest
Wratts

What's that about ninja having a party damage buff?  As I know the mudras:
Shuriken - single target damage
Raiton - "
Katon - Fire AE
Hyoton - Ice dmg & bind
Doton - AE DOT & Heavy
Suiton - Water damage & stealth
Huton - Player speed buff

Am I missing something?

staticlove666
Guest
staticlove666

My ILVL 186 DRG is the bomb when it comes to damage and I think the reason we eat some stuff is because of losing DPS. BoD is tough for some to keep up so they stay to make sure they get the proc they want. I don't because I time my shit out. I use BoD after leg sweep but before chaos thrust to proc which ever proc's first. 

My MNK is ILVL 181 and his damage is better due to the buff to greased Lightning, BUT, I digress, I do have to build that damage where my DRG can do burst damage.

My NIN is only 45 and boring so far. I'm waiting for another skill for a 2nd combo, instead of switching between Aeolian Edge or Dancing Edge.

DRG's FTW BTW

chosenxeno
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chosenxeno

Melee is for suckers. Enjoy eating cleaves:)

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