There are some things that I am just not qualified to comment on extensively when it comes to Final Fantasy XIV. Generally speaking, this mostly covers things like high-end progression content, which I have zero interest in beyond “well, that’s nice for the people who like that, I suppose.” In the case of patch 5.1’s job tweaks, though, there are a few that I can’t comment on much simply because these are not my main jobs for endgame content and thus are ones I’ve only played through leveling.
While I can’t say with absolute certainty that the new version of Ninja actually deals significantly more damage than its previous version, I can definitely say that slowing down the playstyle at least feels more fun. And it is a bit of a slowdown, but it’s the sort of slowdown that gives the job’s multiple competing elements space to breathe, and makes gameplay much more of a matter of prioritizing correctly and planning ahead rather than mashing things super fast.
Your Trick Attack is still significant, but the lower potency for more uptime means both that your numbers are no longer desperate for that 10% buff and that you have more chances to fit everything in. This is good, because you really want to fit Dream Within a Dream (and Assassinate), all your Bunshin charges, Kassatsu, and whatever else will fit into that window; that’s a lot going on. Those first three are your biggest individual hits and have priority, but the net result is still doing a lot of things within a controlled window. Fortunately, you actually have that window now.
The original wording made it sound as if your individual mudra would have separate charges, but in practice it’s really just two charges on Ninjutsu arranged to look otherwise. This is good, since it avoids having to do the math about spending a Ten charge for a particular assault. You want to just use the best spell available to you at any given moment, period end.
And yes, it really does feel like the game has doubled down on the job as a melee spellcaster, the inverse of Red Mage. The fact that each of your Ninjutsu hits feel particularly meaty now definitely helps; I think it’s ultimately a better setup than Ten-Chi-Jin and Kassatsu boosting Ninjutsu damage, since both of those abilities have their own functionality.
Numbers seem to be solid in terms of performance, and most of the existing issues have gone away. I don’t think the job has suddenly become the most lethal DPS in the game, but that’s fine in and of itself; what it really needed was to not feel as if it was twice as hard to play for half the effectiveness. And the redesign has largely accomplished that.
Before we really examine this in any depth, I think we have to start by acknowledging something important: Crafting has been a mess for a while now.
Most of us who have been into crafting for a while now haven’t thought about this all that much simply because, well, once you got past a certain threshold it worked all right. Sure, there were a lot of redundant abilities or ones rendered obsolete past a certain level. Yes, most crafting cycles involved taking a lot of free steps to make incremental progress. We all knew it was kind of ridiculous that even high-end recipes could be reliably made HQ without any HQ source material at roughly the same difficulty. But we all accepted it, right down to the absurdity of leveling a bunch of crafts you might not care about for the one you did.
In that respect, all of the changes were pretty much flat improvements. HQ crafting is made notably easier with HQ ingredients, or if you have a fair spread of levels above the item in question – and in that case it’s trivially easy, so you don’t need to worry about it at all. And the actual process of most crafting is… honestly, less reliant on ornate loops and more reliant upon logical actions and reaction.
This is a mixed blessing. On the one hand, yay, crafting is now approachable by people who aren’t going to sit down to read a guide explaining how to start up bizarre multi-step loops in which you game the system precisely. On the other hand, well, people who have macros and got used to those multi-step loops have to deal with a new setup, even potentially not getting an HQ on everything the first try! Kind of a change.
Ultimately, though, I think it’s a net improvement. It’s a pretty big change, and it’s going to hit some established crafters with a surprise, but it makes the overall feel of crafting more a matter of thought and planning rather than arcane knowledge that’s not really explained via the quests. I do miss some of my tricks like Comfort Zone, but not as much as I appreciate having crafts that don’t require judicious use of Comfort Zone even for simple items.
Bits and bobs
I admit I’m only a couple of weeks in, but Kai-Shirr has not shaken the image I have of him as something of a whiny prat, and the idea of rebuilding Eulmore as a tourist attraction is not really quite syncing up for me. Yes, I get where the designers were going with this, you want to keep Eulmore as Eulmore but you also have to justify its existence once you know how bad it got… but at the same time, it feels more like an excuse to keep things here at least somewhat static. Ah, well.
I really don’t like how it’s possible to roll on the 2B gear coffer even if you’ve already gotten it. Technical limitation compared to how minions are handled, maybe? It’s not hopeless, but I’d like that addressed all the same.
My grand total time with New Game+ remains resolutely at zero; having done all of this content so many times before now due to having alts, I have no urgent need to revisit any of it. That may change at some point if I really need to revisit a story beat without being able to find it, but for the moment… not so much. Oddly, I haven’t seen people really talking about it either, so I have no real sense of how much people like or dislike the feature.
Also, where the heck is an actual Fellowship search feature? The fact that they’re nearly impossible to find at the moment is curtailing their functionality somewhat. Also, it’s been a crazy month and I haven’t had the time to trawl for them. There has been, uh… stuff happening this month.
Of course, I’ll have more to talk about next week with the introduction of Ishgard restoration; until then, you can feel free to send feedback via mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, or just drop it down in the comments below.