The healer role is also the hardest one to test out and get a feel for without a group, which means that my impressions of the healers is also perhaps the least in-depth out of all three. This isn’t because I don’t love healers, just because there’s only so much you can glean from not playing a healer in dungeons. But I did still get a chance to play around with the relevant tools, and I think it’s safe to say that if you’re already fond of playing a healer, it’s going to be both easier and more engaging in Stormblood.
Much like melee DPS, ranged DPS is near and dear to my heart simply because one of my main jobs is ranged DPS. I play a lot of Machinist, although part of that admittedly derives from the period when no one could tell the difference between a good Machinist and a bad one. I was looking forward to Stormblood just because I wanted to see what was coming next.
The answer, in short, is that ranged DPS has probably received the biggest overhaul of all the roles in the game. Rather than having its support role kind of cobbled together based on what players should want, it now has a whole lot of abilities players actually will want to use. And all of the fun gun-or-bow action you’ve come to love regardless.
Things are changing in Stormblood, though. For one thing, there’s obviously the simple fact that caster DPS options are getting expanded to include Red Mage, although I detail that in another piece as part of this same series. The extant caster jobs have also undergone some pretty significant changes, though, so even veteran players of Summoner and Black Mage should see their jobs feel… similar, but not quite the same. And, mercifully, far less reliant on being trigger-happy and rushing through everything.
Considering that one of my main jobs in the game is a melee DPS (Ninja), I was rather interested to see how this role shook out. I was also at least a little bit anxious, as the abilities that we saw didn’t exactly light me on fire just yet. However, I’m happy to say that the overall impression I walked away with was a positive one. There are changes here, yes, but they’re good all around.
Instead of new tanks, we get a refinement of the existing tanks in the game’s second expansion. By and large, they should feel pretty familiar to players, but the subtle changes made here and there definitely up the jobs in my estimation. I already play these jobs on various characters, but I’m looking forward to the new tools they’re getting in the expansion. Even if none of them get to include a katana; I’ve moved past that now.
Beyond that, I was curious about how they were going to manage the mechanics in general. Red Mage needed to feel like a hybrid melee and caster damage dealer that didn’t exactly mirror anything in the game but still felt related to Black Mage and White Mage both, and Samurai needed to carve a distinct space for itself in the niche of melee damage. So there were question marks.
The general consensus for WildStar has been that the game is running on borrowed time for several reasons. That’s a sad conclusion, but an understandable one. And so that probably also means curtains for Carbine Studios, and… wait, the studio is hiring people? For a new team to work on a new project of some sort? They’re not just sitting around and waiting for things to come crashing down?
All right, if one of you wished for this on a monkey’s paw, you need to tell someone now before the consequences shock and horrify everyone.
The listed positions are for Concept Art, Graphics Engineering, Tools Engineering, and Combat Design, which… could mean lots of things. If not for the fact that the listings state this is part of a new team for a new project, it’d be easy to assume this was an attempt to shore up WildStar, but the fact that it is for a new project is enough to light one’s imagination on fire. What happens next? We don’t know, but we sure are excited to find out.
I’d say “all according to plan” if I remembered actually planning it this way.
As with previous installments, I’d advise you to take a look back through past articles in this series; the first one has tanks and the general philosophy, while the second column tackles melee damage and the third tackles ranged damage of all flavors. Today, we’re finishing things off with healers. That’s kind of a tangled mess with every option other than White Mage, but we’ll plot a course.
The first installment is all about tanks, while the second installment is all about melee DPS. As always, the usual disclaimer applies that this is all speculation, not absolute fact; I don’t have a clearer picture than you do about how abilities are actually being arranged. If you think I’m wrong? I might very well be wrong! All I can do is justify what I say and make my case. Let’s move on.
Look, the jobs in the game are rather extensive. And numerous.
If you didn’t catch last week’s column, I go over the general philosophy behind what abilities seem most likely to be turned into traits or outright removed right there, so that should be relevant. Worth noting before we go too far into it, of course, is that on pretty much every single job I’m trying to list more stuff than what will likely be changed. If you think that I’ve got an awful lot of candidates for removal in place, you’re right! That’s literally the point because some of them will no doubt remain unchanged.
But then there are the jobs that have the series pedigree to show up and all the reason in the world to be there… but probably won’t ever be added to the game. Today, it’s that list that I want to tackle. If you’re holding out hope for one of these to be added to the game, I don’t want to tell you it’s never going to happen, but I would advise you to acquire some slightly more realistic hopes. It doesn’t look good.
Red Mage is pretty unambiguously the worst class in Final Fantasy XI right now. The old trick of the class (enfeebling magic) is now pretty much useless, and everything else that the class could do is done better by another job. This goes doubly for melee, where the job lacks sufficient accuracy to hit things past a certain point and generally has to waste a lengthy period of time buffing itself into being somewhat useful despite its lackluster nature. So why was a melee-oriented Red Mage my first job to the level cap?
Well, it looked cool.
I never had any misunderstandings about the job’s utility; I knew I was picking the worst way to play the worst possible job, so I harbor no real ill will. There are a lot of characters that I’ve played knowing full well that I was playing to less than the full potential – Necromancer/Warrior in Guild Wars, Engineering captain in a Tactical ship in Star Trek Online, every single character build I ever made in The Secret World. But what about you, dear readers? What’s the least effective character you’ve played in an MMO? Was it intentional, and if so, why?
That stayed in my brain. Because on the one hand, the person who wrote that was completely right. Ninja does have weak AoE capability; we have three AoE skills, two of them are tied to Ninjutsu cooldowns, and the third is almost entirely worthless in terms of actually damage done per TP. (If someone is spamming Death Blossom, she is playing poorly.) But the author was also completely wrong because that’s not a problem. The only problem is if you try to play Ninja as if it did have tons of AoE capability. And buffing up that ability would make for a worse job and a worse game.
Why? Because every class needs weaknesses.