When Final Fantasy XIV launched Shadowbringers, every job had issues, but most of them were fairly minor. That was not universally the case, to the point that four jobs were pretty obviously problems in some way. But now we’re (slowly) approaching patch 5.3, and it feels like all of these jobs have seen… well, changes. Not all of them have been the changes people wanted, and in many cases they’re more about balance than anything.
When the expansion launched, I described playing Ninja as working twice as hard as any other job to do half the damage. And it was only halfway an exaggeration.
Ninja wasn’t just annoying to play but nigh-on impossible. You had inconvenient and non-overlapping cooldown windows to manage, far too much double-weaving for length Ninjutsu sequences, and positioning issues that made it very easy to get screwed out of large parts of your damage just due to normal mechanics. That was bad enough in and of itself, but your reward for playing well was… doing terrible damage. We were neck-and-neck with Dancer.
This one hurt a lot because I’ve been playing Ninja relentlessly since it was added to the game midway through the first patch series. This was bad enough that it made me start to consider just… not playing Ninja. It wasn’t fun and it wasn’t helpful.
Fortunately, Ninja got a lot of big changes, most notably finally changing Ninjutsu to no longer be something woven between GCDs but a cooldown of its own. And the result has been outstanding. The job feels like it has leaned a bit more into being a melee/spellcasting hybrid, but damage numbers are up again and solid, and the cooldowns and playstyle feels useful instead of janky and unbalanced.
It’s still not perfect; there are still some abilities that feel more situational than they’re worth, and not all of the cooldowns line up very smoothly even with the changes. But all told, the job is now back in its proper spot by being a high-skill job that rewards good play with solid damage and utility – which is what we always wanted.
No, Summoner is still a mess, sorry. Or… well, it’s functional, but that’s not the same as solid.
I don’t mean to be anything less than fond of Summoner mains. It’s not that Summoner doesn’t work at this point. The rotation that it has is functional, and its damage numbers are solid enough. The problem is that Summoner isn’t just a high-skill job, it’s a high-skill job that feels wildly counterintuitve, and worse yet it’s a job that has an entire rotational change that happens four times through leveling. Dreadwyrm Trance completely changes how you play, then Bahamut completely changes it again, then you get another trance that changes everything, then it changes again at the level cap.
The biggest issue is just that while putting pet abilities on the GCD fixes one issue (numerical balancing), it also causes another issue wherein the job’s various abilities don’t seem to play nicely any longer. While removing double-weaving issues, it instead makes the spec a bloated mess that has four different play phases to cycle through, none of which flow particularly well into one another.
I think this one might almost require a full Machinist-style redesign in the next expansion, simply because between two separate Trances and summoning Bahamut, Summoner has just gotten overburdened with too many different things happening at once. Something has to give and be put away. And while it’s playable now, it’s… still really messy.
The biggest problem Samurai had at the start of the expansion was the fact that its big show-stopper ability was functionally almost never worth using, since you had to stand still and use Meditate for a long while to even activate it. The other problem was that in order to close off the problem of getting your best DPS by not using Iaiajutsu when your Sen gauge was full, the designers removed an ability that had a valuable secondary use for fixing uneven rotation cycles.
Tweaking the earning of Meditation stacks fixed one of these issues. Returning the old ability to allow you to consume Sen without it being something you wanted to do regularly fixed the other. But is Samurai working as intended otherwise? Well… sort of.
Samurai is in an interesting place because on the one hand it really needs the least in the way of new tricks. It’s the “selfish” melee DPS, providing no real buffs but making up for it with high damage. At the same time, no one really wants to play a job that doesn’t get any new abilities. This means that there’s a persistent sense of… adding new things without ever changing much.
Really, I think Samurai’s biggest problem right now isn’t numeric so much as having a lot of fights thus far that really do punish melee DPS; lots of things that either feature heavy movement or point-blank damage. It’s something to be addressed in the future, but it also means that right now it’s hard to tell if Samurai isn’t tuned well enough or if it’s just… a victim of circumstance.
There are kind of two lines of discontent on Astrologian. The first is that the job’s card system has been made vastly less ornate, which is true, but it also isn’t going to change and probably shouldn’t. This means that you’re no longer fishing for the same couple of cards every time (and folks, we all know that was the case). This part hasn’t changed. What has changed is a lot of Astrologian potencies and skills, usually in more helpful directions.
Of course, this also speaks to the nature of what makes the job a “problem” in that regard. It’s not that Astrologian doesn’t work, or at least, not that it doesn’t work now. It’s more about feeling that the art of fishing for one of the three cards you actually wanted was more interesting than this version, which is much more about matching the right card with the right member of your party. It also means you’ve lost party-wide buffs in exchange for more directed ones… but this was always going to happen without the need for resource recovery.
Astrologian certainly works better than it did before. Whether or not it works the way you would prefer it to work is a different story.
As always, feedback is welcome in the comments down below or via mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Next week, let’s talk a little bit about role quests, from what worked to what didn’t, and whether or not they fulfilled the purpose they were added for.