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.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?
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.