So, here’s the genesis of this particular column: Originally, my plan was to actually just talk about story beats from Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers that wind up raising questions that aren’t ever definitively answered but wherein I want a definitive answer. That column is still interesting to me and is still something I want to do, but when thinking about the topic I also realized that we’ve got our first balance patch coming out tomorrow, and it’s worth talking about the balance issues that I have actually noticed.
Some of the DPS is undertuned
One of the things that players should always be cautioned about is doing math ahead of the actual expansion release. Yes, we get tooltips from the media tour, but we also know full well that they are early tooltips that may very well not reflect the finished product. So people doing the math and theorycrafting ahead of time tend to be alarmist and wrong, usually based on wanting Job X to be good and Job Y to not be as good and so forth. It’s kind of tedious.
That having been said, well, it turns out the math predicting that Ninja was going to be suffering was right on the money. The good news is that it doesn’t seem to be alone, as Dancer and Red Mage are hanging out in the same undertuned boat.
In the case of Dancer and Ninja, it makes a bit more sense. The two are easily the most supportive DPS jobs in the game right now, with Ninja’s Trick Attack and Dancer’s entire job mechanics based around buffing the rest of the party. Unfortunately, neither job is really quite hitting that balance mark just right, and their “support” doesn’t really enhance someone else to the point that their own weaknesses are offset. And Red Mage doesn’t even have that same supportive niche to justify itself unless your party is really bad at not dying, which isn’t really a selling point.
This is, honestly, fine at this point. The numbers might have looked right on paper but aren’t borne out in play. I think that’s totally normal. I would, however, really like to see these things addressed with the first balance pass. They’re not crippling, but winding up with these jobs shouldn’t feel like you’re accepting a weaker party overall, even with their buffs to the rest of the group.
MP issues are a little more pronounced
Red Mage actually has MP issues now. That’s new. In Stormblood, you had to be actively Mana Shifting on the regular in order to ever hit any sort of MP issues, or you had to be recovering from a raise. Now, though, you probably actually need Lucid Dreaming every so often, and healers can definitely make good use of Lucid Dreaming to prop them up.
In the case of healing, the goal is almost certainly to make Piety more appealing than it was through Stormblood, wherein it was really not worth the melding space. These aren’t horrible issues, either, and they can be mitigated (as noted) with Lucid Dreaming. No, the problem comes in more with the fact that Lucid Dreaming is also your main tool to recover if, yes, you die. There’s a little bit of an issue with the pressure of wanting to save that if the worst happens and needing to rotate it pretty regularly to actually… you know, keep casting spells.
It’s not a dealbreaker. But I feel like some costs could use some tweaking here.
Tank durability is still a bit light
Is it just me, or does Paladin seem a little… squishy at the moment? Don’t get me wrong, Shelltron’s changes make it much more useful, but more than once I’ve found myself on Paladin feeling like I’ve gone from having all the cooldowns to having a real dearth of them. And it seems as if the Oath gauge doesn’t want to yield Shelltron quite as aggressively, sadly, especially during larger pulls.
I’m leery of how much this is a balance issue and how much this is an early issue. The fact that I can no longer automatically do wall-to-wall pulls in Expert runs isn’t inherently a problem, aside from the fact that dungeons are still set up to encourage that pulling style with a clear dividing line. But some of this is also a matter of still being in, well, early equipment for most players. People still do not have full Grade VIII melds tricking out their weekly tomestone gear, so they are naturally a bit more squishy.
My memory isn’t quite good enough to remember how long this feeling of squishiness persisted with the last two expansions. I don’t think it was all that long, but it does feel a bit odd, especially to feel a touch squishy as a Paladin of all the jobs in the world.
And yes, Scholars could maybe use another damage trick
Let me preface this by saying, first and foremost, that my phrasing there was intentional. My actual experience playing Scholar has made it clear that while the job no longer has its same damage output, it’s still very potent all around, has great healing potential, and is actually more fun to play in some ways. Anecdotal evidence is anecdotal, but the people I know who have been playing it a lot past the “blah, I have to Actually Heal Now” crowd have been pretty positive, especially since the problem of “but I suck at damaging things” is solved because you’re literally leveling Summoner at the same time.
However. Scholar does suffer a bit because it is currently the least damage-oriented healing job, to the point that Astrologian literally has more damaging spells. And part of why I think it suffers a bit is that Art of War is kind of the worst AoE damage spells of the healers; it has all of Holy’s weaknesses without its strength or its stun, and while Gravity isn’t great it at least can be used at range.
A buff to Art of War alone would probably be nice to make Scholar damage feel a bit less perfunctory. My thought would be that it could work like Bane for the Scholar’s one DoT, which seems pretty balanced to me; you’re not actually affecting much on single targets, but it allows Scholar to use Art of War once or twice without it being pointless.
Obviously, I don’t think it’s necessarily vital, nor am I entirely sure that my idea is actually a good one. But Scholar could use a tweak, at least, if not a straight buff.
As always, feedback is welcome down in the comments or via mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Next time? Well, Eden, obviously! What else would it be?