Wisdom of Nym: What will Final Fantasy XIV add to its magical DPS?

    
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So... we cool, huh? We cool?

The biggest issue that Final Fantasy XIV has with its casters, as a rule, is that casters in the series all basically work like Black Mage but have to work differently in the game. That isn’t a problem for adding new abilities, of course; it’s just an interesting fact to consider when thinking about the fact that you have to come up with a new job that’s undeniably a caster but also undeniably doesn’t feel like just Black Mage all over again. And considering that usually there aren’t a whole lot of those because there’s already Black Mages…

Where was I? Oh, right, caster abilities, Endwalker, this series of columns. Look, sometimes these things are a little hard to introduce and I wind up falling back on my lifelong joy of incoherent rambling – can you blame me? The answer, of course, is yes. But let’s still see if we can speculate a bit on the new abilities that will be coming to the various caster jobs in Endwalker.

Iffy reet.

Summoner

I put this one first because, uh… the trailer already told us something very clearly that Summoner is getting, so we don’t have to speculate. We clearly see Summoner dashing forward in a wreath of flame followed by what appears to be an explosion of fire around the destination area. Worth noting are the following: The Summoner does have Ifrit out at the time of using the ability, the Summoner does not dash to Ifrit during this move, and Ifrit is still visible after the move is completed. There’s also no visible cast time for the ability, either.

Did I watch that trailer on YouTube a few times while slowed down to get a clear picture of this? Of course I did.

Now, the biggest thing Summoner needs in the expansion is probably some cleanup. This isn’t the same as the rotation not working or anything; the problem is that Summoner rapidly cycles through four different phases of play (normal, Dreadwyrm Trance, Summon Bahamut, Summon Phoenix) that all have a different rotation and set of abilities and it’s just awkward. It’s not that Summoner can’t manage to hang with its DPS; it’s that four separate phases of play are just too many.

This was never something that was going to get changed during this expansion, but hopefully it will be now. Frankly, I think it makes the most sense to consolidate and rework the “trance” phases to coincide with the alternate summons.

What the job is actually getting that we see now, of course, is some sort of movement ability. It looks at a glance like it might be ground-targeted rather than a simple gap closer, but I’m curious how this is going to fit into Summoner’s rotation. Right now, the Summoner cycle is really overstuffed, but I’m curious to see what this is meant to ultimately do. I just hope it gets a bit streamlined.

I also hope we get more Egi glamours, darn it.

Nuke.

Black Mage

What do we see Black Mage doing in the trailer? Casting another big fire spell. What are we probably going to get? More big fire spells.

I’ve wound up talking a lot about removing pain points in various ways from the jobs that I’ve discussed up until now and shoring up weaknesses, but the fact of the matter is that Black Mage doesn’t really have egregious weaknesses like that. Its rotation isn’t simplistic, but neither is it overly complex; it requires just enough work that you always feel like you’ve got something to do, there’s always something going on, but you’re never overwhelmed with managing your different states. It’s a very solid and compelling rotation, and it works in both AoE and single-target impressively.

So what else is there to do? Black Mage is, functionally, complete. Adding new abilities and new explosions to generate is about all there is left for the job to get. While that risks throwing things off a little bit, it’s honestly pretty rinse and repeat. Whatever it is needs to have a reason to exist and create interesting gameplay loops so that you’re following a solid rotation and still have a reason to cast every spell that isn’t Blizzard II, and Fire V/Blizzard V makes logical sense as an extension to improve your rotation and refresh what the job is capable of doing while still keeping the core of the job in place.

I just don’t see much new in the way of utility or major changes coming here. What else do you get for the job that’s in a good place? New practical tricks. It’s a little bit boring in the sense that the job just keeps doing what it’s good at, but it’s also a case where the job is good at this.

Oh bang.

Red Mage

By contrast, Red Mage kind of needs something new. We see it using some kind of new spellcast in the benchmark trailer, but the reality is that Red Mage has taken its fundamental solid rotation about as far as it can logically go. Its melee combo lasts for five hits and deals a ton of damage while looking stylish as heck, its core rotation works well, and the question is just how to extend that situation without making anything obsolete.

One thing that the job could definitely use is something other than Reprise, and I can think of a potential niche for new attack spells to fit into. Verwater and Verblizzard could easily serve as opposing copies that subtract one color of mana and add in the other, helping you balance things out as needed and possibly creating a reason to open off fights with a cast of those rather than with your melee combo.

There’s also space for some melee AoE options; right now it’s just one ability to spam, and while Red Mage AoE is definitely functional as it stands, it’s kind of boring and encourages a weird playstyle compared to single-target rotations. Nudging that along a little would be a good thing.

Last but not least, Red Mage could use some options for managing its MP in some capacity. Outside of Lucid Dreaming, it really has none, and while its attack rotation is priced low enough that it’s never really an issue, one of its major assets in terms of utility depletes its MP very fast. Moreover, it makes Red Mage struggle to get back on its feet after dying, while Black Mage and Summoner both have quick tools to get back up to speed.

Especially when Red Mages are often essential for getting a group back after a wipe or two or when things start going south, it’d be nice to see them get another tool to manage that.

Of course, it’s also entirely possible that they’re just going to get some upgraded spells and no substantial changes to their rotation, which was the case for Shadowbringers. And hey, as with the Black Mage, it’s not like the job doesn’t work. But it could use a couple boosts here and there.

Feedback, as always, is welcome in the comments or via mail to eliot@massivelyop.com. Next time around, I want to continue the alternating pattern between this and other topics to talk a little bit about the influx of new players, both as a greeting to new people and as a line reading for veterans.

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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Ryan Allgood

Things I’d like to see:

Summoner –

Combine Dreadwyrm Trance and Summon Bahamut phases. I know this makes it more similar to the Phoenix Trance, but I also thinks it gives more room for new stuff without losing too much.

I’d love to see something that connects to Ifrit/Garuda more. Like if the “normal” phase felt more like a Ifrit/Garuda trance.

My “never gonna happen” wish would be like…Shiva, Levi, Ramuh egis. Either just cosmetic, or even better as something you alternate with Ifrit/Garuda.

Black Mage –

Only thing I can think of is a little something to help recover when you mess up your rotation. The BLM rotation is super unforgiving of any mistakes. I honesty think it’s the hardest Job in movement heavy fights simply because a mistake is utterly crippling instead of just throwing things off a bit.

Red Mage –

I’d like to see Blizzard and Water spells. I like your idea of having them shift mana, though I think it would be best if it was on a cooldown and hard hitting so it wasn’t just a “oh I messed up” button, but was something to rotationally plan for. Or maybe have it be a proc to insert a bit more randomness? On GCD too, not off GCD.

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Danny Smith

For RDM off the top of my head based on the other examples in the series:

-Saboteur: extends the duration of debuffs/dots on a target
-Temper: The next spell is a triple-cast
-Ver Refresh: tap HP to refill MP
-Burst: Follow up Scatter in the aoe rotation or perhaps make it an alternative with one leaning white and one black with a aoe damage with a casting interrupt

Beyond that maybe some way to spend your mana gauge on some support ability not just damage since a bit of both is meant to be RDM’s deal. Like maybe at 50/50 you can cast a aoe like lost stoneskin and at 100/100 you can cast a lost cure iv analogue. Something that takes a chunk of your resources but like most none damaging RDM abilities is something that can help avoid a wipe.

Carlo Lacsina
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Carlo Lacsina

Kind of obvious. A skill that pulls the healer next to them. It’s a good way to help the healers adjust.

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David Goodman

I like where Red Mage is. I’d love to be able to get mana back faster, but i think one of the reasons it’s in the current state is BECAUSE of verraise; they don’t want us to be able to do that even better.

But jeeze I have no idea what i’d change personally. Maybe it’s because I haven’t been playing it for years like others have, and i’m still <3 months into FF14 (even though I am L80 and working on the end-game gear), but the weaknesses i'm seeing appear to be there deliberately.

Just spitballing though? maybe a "mana burn" (your white/black mana, not your MP-mana) kind of mechanic – just dump all your mana into an ability that does damage or healing based on the amount of mana consumed, that has a moderate-to-long CD so it isn't the only thing you do anymore.

E.g., build up your mana to full or near-full (or if you're capped at the start of a fight), dash in for a melee attack that detonates your mana inside the target and does DOT based on the amount burnt; then, you disengage back and resume your normal rotation while it's on CD. Perhaps verholy/verflare do additional damage if you are able to get your mana back up in time to use them while they are still affected.

Or similarly, a ranged AOE variant of the same thing. Or even an emergency AOE heal on a long CD.

I think MP management is going to stay a thing just because RDM is so useful to bring people back.

A new melee AOE ability so it isn't just spam would be nice. I'd love to see our healing ability expanded at least a little. DOTs would be OK but i'm not sure i'd want to 'weave' them into a rotation and rather they be "finishers" / high payoff attacks rather than just something you keep up 100% like everyone else's.

The 'mana-burn' thing was just a thought but could be used as a delivery mechanism for them.

I do not have black mage or summoner at all because i'm still that new, so I have nothing to say about them :)

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Ruby Lancer

Oooo, Caster time~ My fav.

Summoner does need a rework of sorts, yeah. Its got all those phases in it that just kind of cause it to feel a bit too complicated and bloated. Once you start learning it and putting it all together, it isn’t actually all -that- complicated, but the initial feeling of it being so is still there. Couple that with DoT management as well as Ruin IV stacks, and suddenly you have a lot to keep track of.

As for what they’ve shown of Summoner… Can’t really deny that they showed off a gap closer for them. Right now I’m still trying to figure out -WHY- they chose to show off such a thing as it is. For all the jokes made about Caster mobility (Black Mage especially), all of them have the tools to be fairly mobile as it is, Summoner in particular.

With all of the instant cast spells and abilities that it has, it basically just comes down to learning how best to time and use them if possible, so the gap closer isn’t for that. There would need to be a reason for Summoner to have to get into melee range as soon as possible, outside of fight mechanics, and that feels like it would step on Red Mage’s toes then (certainly more so than it already does.)

Black Mage is a fairly complete job as it is at level 80. It has mobility, it has a solid rotation, and the majority of its abilities tend to get used in some form of content. Its issues, however, are more in leveling it up to 80 as opposed to how it plays then. Its practically the poster job for people wanting a rework on when abilities are unlocked, if not just having access to all of them when synched down to lower levels.

Its just a sort of thing that has a lot of key abilities feeling like they’re loaded into the later levels when you should be getting them a bit sooner so that you’re getting a bit more time to start naturally rolling them into your rotation than later. Plus its rotation can fluctuate some as you level or get synched, as its not always a “Do what you’ve been doing, but add/subtract this ability.”

Black Mage getting another “basic nuke” ability would fit in with things, though I think most folk would prefer to get Ultima as opposed to a Fire V type thing. Not really much else to say here as it is.

Red Mage does need something else outside of its main burst as it is. That feels fine and strong, and I don’t necessarily see any need to change how it functions, short of some strange reason to have it fork down different paths. So yeah, that is just fine.

Its AoE does need some smoothing over in terms of potency numbers so it isn’t so jank (Jolt/II into Scatter/Impact on 2 mobs, VerAoE into Scatter/Impact on 3+, Enchanted Moulienet on 20/20 if 4+ otherwise just hold till nearly capped out), though I don’t think it really needs an AoE Burst phase. Another AoE mana dump -maybe-, but that could throw things even more out of whack in regards to such.

The Red Mage ability we saw in the benchmark is being touted as a DoT, though that kind of feels off to me. Could Red Mage use a DoT? Maybe. I just don’t think what they showed is one, mainly because it just feels like its animation lasts a bit too long for such. I’d be fine if I was wrong, and the animation itself does lend itself to being a DoT, but I just don’t feel it much.

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Jon Geier

Red mage with a second aoe melee attack, like the one Alisaie uses in the final shadowbringers solo instance, would be nice. It would make aoe mana spending more impactful.

But I want to see them lean into the supportive side of red mage, because as it is now the support is just a damage boost to, at best, half the party, and at worst one quarter, and help raising when everything has gone to crap. I could see something akin to a Phalanx spell, boosting defense for the party through a gcd that does no damage but grants mana. Could be a ogcd, but I like the idea of rewarding planning its use.

Lean in to the two schools and make phalanx white. Add a counterpart black spell, this could be the dot. This would build on the different aspects of white and black magic, and also lean into red mage’s position on the support/selfish spectrum.

creationguru
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creationguru

Yes I have been wanting Ultima for BLM now for years hell I would even be happy if it was the LB3 for the job.

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SmiteDoctor

Any one know how to make the grass stop flickering?

Why does this game have such a problem with Routers, I have to tether my PC to my phone to even log in?

For a game that’s probably the most successful MMO in the Western market it sure runs like a dumpster fire.