Wisdom of Nym: Speculating about the mechanics of Final Fantasy XIV’s Reaper way too early

    
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Whaling on the moon.

So! Last week, I speculated about Sage in what will almost certainly be incorrect predictions regarding the job’s mechanics and overall playstyle. Was this a good idea? Who knows! It was an idea, let’s leave it at that while also noting that I have a long history of making my predictions public. If I’m wrong, I’m wrong, but if I’m right, that means I can own that without having a need to prove it behind the scenes. I’m still proud of myself for getting Reaper right – you have no idea.

Speaking of Reaper, let’s do the same thing for that job! (See, I had a segue.) It’s the first new melee DPS added to Final Fantasy XIV since Samurai, and so it’s got some rather interesting shoes to fill, especially with the iconic example of the scythe-wielder in the game currently being Zenos… who was previously a Samurai. Irony. So how’s this job going to work? The answer is that we don’t know just yet, but that won’t stop us from speculating, will it?

First and foremost, it’s important to note from the trailer that we actually don’t see many abilities that the Reaper uses. We see what appears to be two melee strikes, the phantom being summoned to hit the target, the merging ability (which, based on reaction, appears to be an attack of some kind), and the big jumping scythe slash while merged. There may be a three-part melee combo in there, but it’s really hard to tell if that’s the case.

Based on what little we can see here, it looks like summoning the phantom is an oGCD ability (it’s taking place while the Reaper is still hitting the target). Beyond that, very little can be said with any certainty.

So let’s start speculating! The speculation I’ve seen most commonly so far is that the phantom is indeed an oGCD ability; you summon it to hit the target and build up your gauge, eventually merging with it and unleashing it in your powered-up state. But this strikes me as potentially wrong because… well, that’s Dragoon. The odds of another melee job having what is basically the same rotation as Dragoon seems unlikely to me in the extreme.

What I keep coming back to is the fact that the combo we see is a two-hit one. This is notable because, for example, in the Gunbreaker reveal we saw all three hits of the main attack combo. In Samurai’s reveal, we saw one of its three-hit combos. The fact that Reaper appears to have a two-hit combo feels significant, especially since the only other job with such a short combo chain is currently Dancer.

But that in and of itself raises another question: Where is Reaper going to fall in terms of utility vs. selfishness?

It’s not a secret that melee DPS have this scale (or every DPS does, really); on the one end you have Ninja, which provides a big boost to the group, and on the other end you have Samurai, which does nothing for the group but pours out the damage. Monk and Dragoon both occupy the middle at this point. But what if Reaper’s whole role is to actually be even more supportive than Ninja? What if this actually is our most support-heavy melee DPS?

Kerslice!

That might seem a little odd considering the thematic implications of the job to this point, but let’s consider for a moment. For starters, the job has a strong association with the Void. The whole idea is that you’re summoning a phantom to aid you as you slice away at your enemies. For another, usually when new jobs get added they tend toward an extreme at some point; it’s much easier to balance everything when either you have a new “most selfish” DPS or “most supportive” DPS, after all. And it makes more sense for this to be a supporting job than a selfish one, considering that’s Samurai’s role.

We know that the Void tends to corrupt things. What if that’s the main role that Reaper fulfills? Unlike Ninja’s singular Trick Attack, Reaper applies a variety of debuffs to the target to weaken it, both improving party damage and giving Reaper a distinct and unique toolkit. Debuffs have steadily been weaned out of most individual jobs, so it would make sense that adding them back could create a new dynamic for one specific job.

Of course, then we have the question of the phantom and the merged state. If the merged state isn’t just a cooldown, what purpose will it serve? And I have an idea there, too: What if the point is swapping back and forth on a regular basis? Deal damage with the phantom to a debuffed target; accumulate power for it. Merge with it and slowly bleed off that power, but you can also swap back and forth as needed to re-apply debuffs. It’s not something you build up and bleed off all at once.

This speculation does have some obvious holes. For one thing, it’s a little harder to make a compelling melee DPS with just a two-hit combo; in general, melee DPS features longer or more ornate combos (Dragoon has five-hit sequences, Monk has an endless chain, Samurai has two three-hit patterns and one two-hit pattern, and Ninja has a branching finisher in its three-hit sequence). This is part of why I’m speculating about debuffs or a more supportive job, but you still need to give it something interesting to do during its filler period.

Reap what you sow.

For another, swapping back and forth between stances needs to feel fluid and compelling. I think there’s a key to that when we see that the transformation in the reveal video is literally an attack; quite possibly you’ll swap in for specific combos and then swap out, since there’s no customization to the form and I suspect they want to keep you from spending long periods of time not using your glamour. Still, I’m not sure how to keep that feeling functionally unique and different.

But then again, all of this could be totally wrong. One element I haven’t touched on at all, for example, is the phantom itself. Is it really just going to be a thematic element for various animations? There would be some precedent for that; the Machinist device used for several abilities is just there as an element, after all. But so much emphasis was put on the phantom that it almost feels like it might have some pet-like elements to it…

Or, you know, all of this could be wrong. We’re going on very little information, and I don’t think I’m smarter than the design team devs, especially when they’ve been working on this for a while. Heck, several bits of my speculation here could be based on faulty information; maybe Reaper has a three-hit combo and the animation just wasn’t finished. It’s entirely possible. But I think it’s fun to speculate like this, even when we know that there’s still a lot of daylight between now and later.

Feedback, as always, is welcome in the comments down below or via mail to eliot@massivelyop.com. Next time, I think we’ve done enough speculating for now (I have more, but we’ll leave it alone for a bit) and I’d like to talk a little bit about dealing with the long lull before Endwalker arrives.

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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jinarra

Final Fantasy Fourteen? I don’t believe it exists.

meme crime critically acclaimed dismissed.png
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jinarra

(To clarify, this is bad comedy, to quote Galvatron.)

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Krenian Kandos

Hm.

While I would love them to bring it, I’d start to worry you’d have to basically ‘have’ a Reaper at all times in a group for any extreme content and above. Furthermore, you have to balance content with it in there for the devs if you have to deal with debuffs.

The issue with debuffs that I see is that there can be too many situations where fights have to be swerved towards those debuffs when kept in mind. Because of this, if you don’t have someone playing Reaper (Which yes, I can see it being potentially impossible to happen as most will flock to the new edgelord of dps to at least try it), you will still run into the later patches where people fall off of the bandwagon and some group comps won’t accept any groups without one.

I’d like to think that’s basically why they did away with the whole slash/pierce/blunt debuffs. It made it too much of a hassle for parties to wrap themselves around to set up the perfect teams. Adding classes where debuffs empower teams will make them push to try to avoid some mechanics by pushing hard dps past thresholds and will just make it a bit more annoying on a dev side to develop fights where both spectrums can do it.

You’d almost have to have a dancer’esque dps where it really is a support and that’s it and you’re losing a fair bit of dps from not having an equal dps. I suppose if you went that route, it would work.

Hadn’t been on for a while and it’s good to see you still writing on the articles, Eliot. Keep up the great work, as always.

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Sean Walsh

Maybe they could be Reaper-only debuffs that only impact the abilities used by the Reaper. For instance, you apply 3-4 debuffs on a target to start a fight, each with a 2 button combo(button 1 applies, button 2 consumes). But the idea is that in between applying and consuming, you need to perform some actions to “power up” those debuffs, and each debuff has different rules for stacking.

Not sure how fun I feel the above would be, but it has a chance and feels like a version of “debuffing” they could go with without breaking the overall game balance.

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Krenian Kandos

That ‘could’ work but would go against what Eliot was proposing as it being closer to a buffer/debuffer and giving the party buffs, similar to AST.

I don’t think I see it going into the debuffer role. I think Ninja fits it fine and took a while to get there and its niche is there. If anything, I could see it lumped in similar to what they were saying about Dragoon/Monk where they’re ‘in the middle’ that provide some buffs here and there.

Of course, with how much information we have, this is all stipulation but this is where it gets fun. The way I saw the video made me think that you build a bar up and use a summon and your powers get empowered and take chunks out of said bar until you are at a certain point where you unleash. So think of a slow build up and a full release of this power, only for each strike to eat down a bar by a certain amount depending on what you do until you’re depleted. You’d have burst windows similar to a few class while adding a flavour of a different class. It’s not quite like Dragoon where you activate and keep it up at all times with your rotation. I think it could be similar to Machinist ‘windows’ where Wildfire is up.

It’s a fun discussion but I can’t see S-E going the route of giving a pure buffer/debuffer after pruning a lot of abilities that gave this.

I’ll eat crow if that’s how they go, obviously!

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Sean Walsh

Yeah, I tend to agree with all your assumptions and expectations. Many MMOs have shown over time that the “debuff” game just isn’t fun gameplay and primarily creates massive balance problems. I have no doubt Yoshi-P and crew will deliver to us an extremely fun and exciting class. IMO – class design has only gotten better and more interesting over the expansions, and only class fantasy has kept me away from certain ones.

Thanks for the fun discussion!