Wisdom of Nym: Final Fantasy XIV’s Shadowbringers overhaul jobs, part two

    
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Collide.

It’s a testament to how well the balancing on Final Fantasy XIV works that none of the jobs discussed this week or last week are useless. Sure, several of them aren’t in optimal meta compositions… but Machinists are, and we know that Dark Knight managed to serve as a tank in the first Ultimate Coil clear. Sure, they may not be the best in the game, but it’s pretty noteworthy that the balance issues don’t make anything non-viable.

Then again, the biggest issue with all of these jobs isn’t so much a matter of balance as it is mechanics. You can certainly play Dark Knight just fine, it does its job of tanking, and all of that. But it still has several issues… or, more accurately, it has one issue that sort of dominates everything. And it’s the sort of thing that, yes, kind of requires an expansion to address. Let’s get into it.

I hope you like seeing this animation a bunch.

Dark Knight

There are two problems that get attributed to Dark Knight in this expansion, but the first of them isn’t actually a problem but a trait. See, there’s a lot of hand-wringing over the idea that your blood gauge changes dramatically when you get The Blackest Night, and that this is somehow an issue with the game’s design… but it’s not, not really. You spend a lot of time with the gauge and the abilities triggered off of it, and when you finally get up to 70 you get a lot more control over its flow and input. That’s not a problem, that’s good design. It means you appreciate having a lot more of it to play around, but the job works fine and is fun to play before then.

No, the real problem is that Blackest Night is the job’s only real utility. This means that the job has less utility than Warrior gets with Shake it Off… and less damage to boot.

In some ways, this feels like it’s not quite the designer’s fault simply because Shake it Off was originally designed differently. Specifically, it was almost completely useless. So there was an interesting dynamic, at least from an intellectual standpoint. Paladin had the most utility and the least damage, Warrior had the most damage and the least utility, and Dark Knight sat in the middle with some utility and middle-of-the-road damage. Except that even that wasn’t really enough to make it more valuable; the job’s overall lack of utility meant that it was pretty well lapped by Warrior even without Shake it Off becoming a party-wide barrier.

This was rightly identified as something that couldn’t really be fixed without an expansion, and honestly that’s fair. Dark Knight has a very robust toolkit for a lot of things. It’s got lots of threat generation, great defensive cooldowns, and enough drain effects to make it very self-sustaining. There’s not really any wasted space in its skill lineup. The problem is, well… there’s not really any wasted space in its skill lineup, and in terms of utility Paladin can deliver a party-wide barrier, two ways to mitigate individual damage taken, and a party-wide damage reduction, plus spot healing as needed. And making it deal as much damage as Warrior would be pretty wildly unbalanced.

So that’s the core of its weird nature. It’s a fun job that’s balanced and has an interesting playstyle, but it runs afoul of the environment it exists within. Fortunately, Shadowbringers already offers something interesting by bringing in a fourth tank. Yoshida has mentioned the idea of marking two as main tanks and two as off-tanks, and really either distinction would fit Dark Knight well; it needs some adjustment and some new tricks, but it could easily become more of a damage powerhouse or more utility-based. (Imagine an AoE heal that also damaged the Dark Knight; thematically reasonable, useful when not actively tanking, and a mark over Paladin’s single-target healing.)

I don’t think this one requires quite as much of a rework. I think it needs some nudges to bring it in line, and refocusing the tank dynamic around four tanks instead of three will probably do half of the job as it is.

You didn't say no punch.

Monk

If there’s a single job that feels wholly complete at 50, it’s Monk. This is understandable when you consider that that’s essentially when Monk’s toolkit just stops dead. You’re still getting new abilities through 70, of course, but you could convincingly argue that Monk’s biggest weakness is just that. Nothing the job gets after it reaches level 50 has a whole lot of effect on the gameplay as a whole, which would probably be fine if Monk didn’t take the central weakness of Dragoon and double down on it.

There are a lot of DPS job elements that are fundamentally on a timer; Black Mage, Ninja, Dragoon, Monk, and Bard all have that element. The difference is that Ninja, Black Mage, and Bard all have more control over the timer. Ninja can re-apply Huton manually as needed between pulls, Black Mage can keep swapping elements to keep Enochian going, and Bard only really needs its songs during a fight (and it can always rotate between them).

Dragoon, meanwhile, has the constant ticking clock wherein it can’t actually maintain Blood of the Dragon without a cooldown slightly longer than the duration; it’s supposed to keep it up through ability use in combat, but if you have too long between times to hit something, down it goes and away go your eye stacks along with it. Bad enough in and of itself, but the effect only applies to Jump and eye accumulation, and you can keep it up long enough with that cooldown that you’re unlikely to lose it mid-fight.

Greased Lightning, on the other hand, absolutely needs three stacks and has no way to really be extended unless you time your hit-absorbing ability correctly… and that’s assuming that the boss leap is timed so that it lines up with some incoming damage. The idea seems to still be that you’ll just burn all those stacks for Tornado Kick, but that leaves you having to rebuild awkwardly.

Monk’s additional abilities from 50-70 don’t really add to its toolkit, and there’s an uncomfortable pressure between its mechanics. It has three stances that you aren’t really given incentive to swap between except for a handful of abilities, and the attempts to give it new tricks like Tackle Mastery mostly do unpleasant things like changing your gap closer into a vital DPS tool. And none of this is addressing the main issues with either Greased Lightning or with the Chakra system.

What you have, then, is a job that’s still waiting for another really fun toy to play with and something to do between pulls, and the solution of “just use Tornado Kick” isn’t particularly fun or satisfying. Considering how complete the job manages to be at level 50, this is partly a consequence of that, but it’s also just a matter of the job seeming to get ulled in multiple directions. It’s akin to White Mage in that regard; it lacks a compelling identity beyond its base toolkit, but it also lacks some utility even within that toolkit.

Feedback, as always, is welcome in the comments below or via mail to eliot@massivelyop.com. Next week, let’s talk a little bit about events, the rewards for same, and how much we really ought to get for any given iteration of an event.

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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Peppermint42hat

“making it deal as much damage as Warrior would be pretty wildly unbalanced.”

Guess its wildly unbalanced then. Anyone who’d check the fflogs for this tier’s savage fights would find that drk are outperforming war in more than half, if you count Ultimate and M/F separately, of the encounters.

There’s also a lot of contention over whether SiO really brings more meaningful mitigation then TBN. SiO is little more than a guarantee for rapidfire AoEs, typically misused in a way that provides no real advantage to the healers. If you’re using SiO, the healers are probably healing anyway. The only time SiO does something that regen ticks can’t take care of anyway is with rapidfire situations, which happen infrequently. On the other hand, TBN is typically on a target that continually takes damage, and if used in a consistent manner will definitely impact the actual healer burden.

It took them the whole expansion to get there, but in terms of balance I think drk is very well tuned, with war being overtuned considering how much easier the job is. The real problem is that the vast majority of drk encountered are not able to execute the job well enough to reap these benefits, and why would they try when everyone is so entirely convinced that the job is doomed to poor performance. Please don’t be part of this problem.

PS War was never supposed to have a raidwide shield.

PPS drk would probably be undisputed best dps if war hadn’t gotten a buff when they simplified IR.

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Rumm

I don’t know if I’d like the idea of there being two “main tanks” and two “off tanks”, any more than I like the disparity that already exists between the 3 jobs we have now. The most fun I’ve had in FFXIV was at the start of Stormblood when Paladin was top damage and top utility specifically because I wasn’t always relegated to the main tank spot in raids, and meant that I could bring all of that wonderful Paladin utility while still doing nice damage.

All of the tanks should do similar damage in an off-tank role, the utility of the other jobs is what needs to be brought up, so that the option to be an effective main tank AND party support exists for each one.

Also, can we finally fix Warrior health in Shadowbringers please? Having to throw 3x the amount of heals at them to fill up their healthbar doesn’t add anything to the gameplay. Beef up their defence and bring down the health to be in line with the other 2, and you just solved their ability to main tank.

PlasmaJohn
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PlasmaJohn

How the heck do you split tanking into OT and MT without causing more problems than solving lazy balancing?

Dungeons are single-tanked. If either MT or OT roles can’t handle dungeon tanking there will be hell to pay.

What if our MT is unavailable and nobody else has a leveled or geared job? If the dichotomy will let OT’s run as MT’s anyway what’s the point, other than laziness, of splitting them in the first place?

In the face of a meaningful split, does this mean 8-man Roulettes now need 1MT, 1OT, 2H, 4dps? Oh that’ll do wonders for queue times. How would that work for 24-man content?

In other games my teams would vet new tanks in the OT position until they learned the content before moving them to MT. Often we’d rotate who would MT specific boss fights. A hard split would totally gut those practices.

What if I have a strong enough dislike for both MT approved jobs? Does this mean I’m doomed to being a forever OT? What if the only tank job I like is blessed for MT yet the team already has a set MT? Guess I can’t tank anymore.

Somebody did not think this through.

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Knight Porter

It’s not a new role. They were discussing having two tanks that excel a bit more at mitigation and two that are better at damage and/or utility. They’d all still be potential tanks, but wouldn’t have to line up perfectly numerically with each-other.

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Sorrior

Welll war was also originally a self healer too. And while still a bit if one i don’t feel as much of one as we were so that likely plays a part as well sadly.