Wisdom of Nym: The skills on the chopping block in Final Fantasy XIV
Personally, I'm happy about this. I don't have a single job without two full hotbars, one partially-full hotbar, and various side widgets. I can't fit another four abilities into anything. But the question remains about what we are losing, and how it's going to affect gameplay.
We should have a reasonably clear picture as we get closer, but what I want to do for a couple of weeks is look at the stuff that we're likely to lose. I can't speculate about what we'll gain, and I'm reluctant to draw too many conclusions about the cross-class system before it's live or detailed, but I think we can look at the game and say "yeah, this is probably going away."
The philosophy of removal
Before I start diving into the tangled mess of all the various combat abilities, I wanted to start by explaining my philosophy vis-a-vis what I speculate will be removed.
1. Abilities that do less are highest on the chopping block. If an ability does pretty much nothing useful, it's an obvious target. If it has situational usage, that makes it a bit more likely to stick around. I tend to look first and foremost at abilities which already sort of just hang around on the fringes rather than being nearly vital.
2. Level-up abilities are easier to remove than quested abilities. Barring some major structural changes, you are still going to have job and class quests at the same levels in Stormblood. Those quests need to reward something, and thus I'm more likely to say that those abilities are likely to stick around, all else being equal. That having been said, the first rule takes priority here.
3. Cross-class systems deserve consideration. This is hard to say for sure because I'm reluctant to say "we will lose this ability but gain it in cross-class form." Sure, that seems pretty clear in some cases (Provoke) but more ambiguous in others, and it's not something to universally assume. All the same, I tend to assume something that's mostly a cross-class ability anyway is likely to get yanked.
4. We should have roughly the same number of abilities on our bars. So I figure each job is losing between 4-6 abilities. We've got four job quests, but there's some wiggle room for traits, new cross-class stuff, and so forth. I'm not sure how many of the new job quests will reward traits rather than abilities, which I feel is a real possibility, but I try to assume that each job needs at least four candidates for removal.
That's a good core to work from, yes? Let's move on from there.
Rampart: There are already hints that Rampart might be getting yoinked and made into a cross-class tank skill, along with Shadowskin and perhaps Foresight. I say "hints" because it's based largely on fan translations of other translations, so it's a bit ambiguous. Regardless, Rampart isn't currently a cross-class skill, but it's general enough that it could be, so I'm including it in the list.
Provoke: Kind of the quintessential this-is-a-cross-class-skill right there, yes? Every tank needs it, and so it makes more sense to just make it available to all tanks and take it out of a Paladin's specific rotation.
Awareness: This is the poster child for an ability that has a very narrow usage but generally just takes up space. I'm sure it can be used to great effect, and it is a damage-reduction cooldown, but it's one that doesn't really prompt much in the way of interesting gameplay and one that fights aren't really designed around. Losing it would have relatively little impact.
Tempered Will: I see this as a really cool ability that, unfortunately, doesn't work very well. Tempered Will doesn't work against a lot of knockback effects where you want it to, and thus it becomes a worthless guessing game of "will it actually have an effect?" It'd make a better trait that just prevents a Paladin from getting bumped around, since then you find out from experience where it does or doesn't work.
Cover: Yes, I don't want to lean heavily on removing quest rewards, but this is a special case. Cover is an ability that makes a lot of thematic sense, but it also has virtually no practical purpose. It doesn't really work in any specific case. Again, a trait could work here to simply have Paladins absorb some damage by being near party members to get that same flavor without the current uncomfortable implementation.
Foresight: See Rampart above.
Fracture: Back in the very earliest days of the game's relaunch, Fracture had a use as a DPS cross-class skill. As it stands now, it's... well, it's a button to hit at lower levels? But it doesn't really do much of impact and it's not even great damage; a WAR dealing damage as an off-tank is going to use other combo abilities and stuff like Fel Cleave. Fracture would not be missed.
Berserk: This probably strikes people as a "wait, what?!" possibility, but hear me out. Berserk made sense when it was introduced; it gave Warrior a nice sense of contrast with Paladin. It also had the "strength with drawback" aspect to sell it; you could get a notable power boost, but when it wore off you were useless for a bit. The problem is, however, that at this point it's mostly a healer coordination check, and at this point it contributes to the insane amount of attack power Warriors can stack up. Far better to make this a trait of some sort to deliver the flavor (perhaps a chance to go Berserk on a critical hit, for example).
Mercy Stroke: Wait, everyone uses this skill, right? And it's true! Which means it may as well be a cross-class skill to begin with, yes? Warrior doesn't need it specifically.
Storm's Eye: This, more than anything, is another balance negotiation and filling out a list of five potential skills to remove. But Warrior is the only job that can apply its own damage-boost debuff, so perhaps that ought to change. (I should note that WAR should have a branching DPS combo just the same, though, so this is the weakest candidate for removal here.)
Bloodbath: Another good cross-class option, although Warrior's traits to boost it do make it rather distinct.
Shadowskin: See Rampart above.
Dark Mind: While I like the whole split between Dark Dance and Dark Mind, the reality is that they're basically the same ability with a different type of damage. This becomes quite annoying when dealing with abilities that might be subject to either rule or stuff that can't be parried but isn't magical; it makes more sense to roll them together.
Scourge: It's basically just Fracture But Dark Knight Flavored, so it can go away just as readily as Fracture.
Blood Weapon: I'm really torn on this one. Blood Weapon is actually a great ability, but when I look at it I see something which could, in fact, be cut; I just also don't know how to do so in a way that preserves enough of its functionality. I think it's a neat ability that works nicely with Dark Knight doing damage, and I think there are ways to trait it up when Grit is off, but nothing springs to mind. Even so, I feel it deserves a note.
Of course, all of this is still speculative; I have no idea how close I am to the mark. Probably not very, although we'll find out. I'll continue to speculate over the next few weeks, but for now, feel free to leave your own speculation - on these jobs or others - in the comments or via mail to email@example.com.