Wisdom of Nym: Actual mechanical issues for jobs in Final Fantasy XIV, part one
However, that doesn’t mean that the game’s jobs are devoid of mechanical issues. They’re pretty well balanced at the moment (not perfectly, but acceptably so), but each job does have certain mechanical issues that are probably going to need to wait until the next expansion to really be properly fixed up. So, while that next expansion is probably a bit more than a year away now (June 2019, I’d imagine), let’s take a look at the actual mechanical issues facing all 15 jobs.
Paladin: The big problem with the Paladin job gauge is that more than any other job, it just doesn’t work. There’s not enough stuff going on that actually makes a difference when it comes to the Oath Gauge. You have two abilities tied to it, one of which is your use of the gauge 90% of the time (and used to just be a cooldown ability), the other of which is highly situational. And much of the time, there’s just… no real use for it. It’s a power you accumulate without any real major benefit.
Obviously, it makes sense that there’s not some potent Paladin attack being unleashed with it, but especially when it comes to being an off-tank in an Alliance Raid it’s just plain not useful. There are only two abilities tied to it, and it really does smack of being a gauge simply for the purpose of giving the job a gauge of some kind.
Warrior: As with so many games, Warrior is a job that’s always kind of reliant on gear. When everyone’s gear is bad, Warriors are the most reckless tanks with the least defense to bolster that recklessness. When your gear is great, Warriors can charge forward with abandon and basically completely eschew defense in favor of relentless aggression. And none of the many changes made in Stormblood actually address this gap. They’re largely in a solid place, but that transition can be messy.
The other issue they face is really one of player perception; as a strongly modal job swapping between two types of gameplay, there’s a staggering number of people who aren’t clear on how to manage the balance between DPS stance and tank stance. That’s not really a mechanical issue, but it’s made harder by the job’s very strict ability division.
Dark Knight: Blackest Night really needs to work more like Excogitation does, where it still triggers its results in combat if it just wears off. Beyond that, though, Dark Knight has gotten a little shafted with Warrior’s rework to Shake It Off. Rather than being in the middle ground between party utility and damage between Paladin and Warrior, it’s now kind of an odd reflection of both. It doesn’t help that Blood Gauge accumulation varies so wildly while you level up, going from glacial to slow to fast and forcing a big rethink on some of your tools when you’re already at the cap.
Dragoon: The biggest problem Dragoon has had since the start is that it takes a long while to get up to speed. With its four-hit combos and the whole Life of the Dragon mechanic, it makes sense, but it also means that bad timing about unleashing its biggest attacks can really cripple your overall rotation. Mirage Dive in general feels like an extra button to hit without really needing a lot of extra thought, but far more pressing is the way that Dragoons can just wind up lagging behind due to timing.
Long build-up is part of the job’s identity, of course, but it’s so easy to lose chunks of time with bad timing or a death that you can feel kind of useless if the stars align properly.
Monk: The core rotation for Monk hasn’t really changed since the reboot. The whole concept of having a never-ending combo has always caused problems, and maintaining Greased Lightning is the same as it has ever been. Most Monk improvements since launch have just been about giving Monks new or better things to do during downtime, not actually trimming up or improving the core rotation all that much.
In fact, at this point the game is so built on “never lose Greased Lightning” as a mechanic that you almost don’t want Tornado Kick, which was meant to spend your stacks when you were about to lose it anyhow. The job has a strong identity, but Greased Lightning in particular feels as if it’s due for a rework. It’s also still doing a weak job of justifying the three different Fists stances, since at best you have another stance for two seconds before swapping back to Fire.
Ninja: It’s interesting to me at this point that Ninja has basically turned into the inverse of Red Mage, a hybrid melee/spellcaster that emphasiszes the melee side. Unfortunately, the Ninki gauge stuff that’s been added accordingly is not terribly compelling, despite being functional; you have minimal control over your Ninki gauge accumulation, the abilities have lengthy cooldowns to make the more universally relevant, and Ten Chi Jin is already awkward due to its movement restrictions. There’s also the general issue that Raiton winds up getting hit badly by clipping issues.
None of this, again, is to say that Ninja is hitting major mechanical issues. Rather, it just seems to be getting a little bit shoved about by other forces without having an easy time maintaining a distinct identity. It still works really well, but those clipping issues hurt.
Samurai: As one of the two jobs designed specifically with Stormblood, Samurai is pretty solid for play at level 70, but it does wind up having some notable TP issues across the board. Your Kenki abilities help significantly, but AoE situations in general allow Samurai to both shine and then run out of TP pretty darn quickly.
Machinist: Machinist gets to feel great for about 10 seconds every minute. Everything else is based around balancing those Wildfire moments, and because of how Wildfire is structured, being slightly wrong in your timing there basically kills your overall damage. Wildfire is ultimately working as intended, but the job’s mechanics wind up asking you to never use Flamethrower except to overheat and then have a moment of awesome in exchange for a much longer period of coasting. The spike-and-trough setup could use another pass or two.
Really, the problem here is twofold, and half it is that Wildfire is a conceptually good ability that just doesn’t tend to work out well in actual play. The other is that the heat gauge basically discourages management except in the broadest sense; you don’t want to maintain, you want to overheat at the right time. Both aspects contribute to making the job very much about picking the right window to actually do anything. It balances numerically all right, but only if you know the exact right timing on every fight.
Obviously, this isn’t all of the jobs in the game; it’s just about half. (Not exactly half, since any way I divided that up would be weird.) So next week, it’s on to the second half of the jobs. Until then, you can feel free to leave feedback down below or send it by mail to email@example.com. Remember, though, that “I don’t find this fun” is not in and of itself a mechanical issue.