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.
Every single job has weaknesses right now. Every single one. Dark Knight has the worst damage mitigation out of all tanks and has to juggle MP obsessively. Astrologians have awful damage output. Machinists are highly random. Ninja lacks strong AoE, Black Mage is weaker on single targets, and Monks are reliant on positioning and not having to move away from the boss for long. I don’t need to keep going; you get the idea. There is no job without some weakness.
We haven’t had a whole lot of major changes made, however, because it’s debatable whether any job has any major deficiencies, which is a very different animal.
Generally, when we talk about stuff in games, weaknesses and deficiencies are lumped together under the same header, but they really aren’t. A weakness is something that a job is negatively affected by, a consequence of strength; Ninja trades AoE ability for strong single-target damage, mobility, and utility. A deficiency is something that a job needs to be able to do but cannot do.
Case in point: Do you remember when Warriors had an interrupt on a 30s cooldown? That was a deficiency. The idea was that Warriors had an interrupt off the GCD, while Paladins had one on the GCD but without any cooldown, forcing both of them to use their skills differently. In practice, however, with every physical class having an interrupt off of the GCD and with a shorter cooldown, Warrior interrupts were functionally useless. The cooldown made their interrupt deficient, suitable only for rare circumstances. So the cooldown was lowered.
Warriors still have the worst interrupt out of the three tanking jobs; Paladins don’t have a cooldown and can Pacify, while Dark Knights can get a reset for parrying. But it’s not a deficiency. Nor is it a deficiency that a Warrior can’t close distance like a Dark Knight or sport a Paladin’s passive mitigation; that’s intentional. Warriors can do more damage than either of the above and have a number of self-healing tricks that the other two lack. They have weaknesses, not deficiencies.
Deficiencies have a negative impact on your ability to do things in the game. When 2.0 first launched, Warriors were deficient and not up to the job of tanking in several bits of content, resulting in some major changes to bring them in line. Machinists and Astrologians likewise lagged when first introduced, necessitating some improvements to avoid making them incapable. The jobs are in a good place now.
That doesn’t negate weaknesses, though. On Machinist, I still have a lot of emphasis on cooldowns and luck. I have no defensive cooldowns whatsoever, unless you count my damage cuts which themselves have lengthy reset times. My health is low and I am going to do less damage than an equally geared and skilled Black Mage or Dragoon.
On the other hand, I can also stay out of melee range, get extra damage from turrets, can apply debuffs to make the rest of the party play better, can apply those damage cuts to weaken a boss right before a big attack goes out… you get the idea. My damage might be lower than others, but it’s still competitive and solid. And that’s all assuming equal skill from everyone else; I’ve had runs wherein I was rocking the top end of DPS with my gun.
The weaknesses of the job are a good thing. They allow for distinctiveness, encourage different playstyles, and mean that you’re able to choose between the jobs for something other than aesthetic purposes. Pretty much all of the new abilities added in Heavensward don’t actually change the weaknesses of the given jobs; Dreadwyrm Trance gives Summoners more interesting stuff to do on rotation, but the job still has the weakest burst damage and doesn’t have an easy time dealing with lots of quick burn. But that’s a weakness, not a deficiency, and thus it’s part of what the job is supposed to do.
Of course, some weaknesses are going to negatively impact your play. That is, also, by design. If weaknesses are invisible in actual play, they’re not really relevant. Ninja has to worry about positioning in ways that Dragoon doesn’t, but Ninja can also apply more debuffs and is less reliant upon the final hit of combos to do solid damage. The reason Ninja had more positional play added was entirely due to how necessary it was to remove Dragoon positionals; it was too easy for Dragoons to get locked out of the ability to play effectively, and with no positional requirements on either jobs the weaknesses weren’t pronounced.
So be happy that there are things your favorite job can’t do in FFXIV. I certainly am. I’m glad that no matter what I play, I have certain weaknesses and stuff that balances out my better abilities. It means that choosing between Scholar, Astrologian, and White Mage is an actual choice with different playstyles and skill caps, not just a difference in aesthetic.
And if you’re upset about your job’s AoE capabilities? What you want to do is play a Black Mage. It’s not hard, I hear that you can just get soul crystals for that job from random lalafell.
Feedback, as always, is welcome in the comments down below, or you can mail it along to firstname.lastname@example.org. Next week, I want to talk about the housing price changes and some lingering quality-of-life issues that the game is still experiencing which really ought to be addressed by now. They’re little things, but those little things add up over time, you know.