Final Fantasy XIV Endwalker media tour: Previewing the magical DPS jobs

Hands-on with the Red Mage, Black Mage, and Summoner in Endwalker

    
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Kersmash

Looking at the magical DPS jobs in the Endwalker expansion is kind of a trip. Two of them are, if I’m being honest, largely business as usual. Yes, Red Mage and Black Mage both have some important differences from their current incarnation, but Final Fantasy XIV players will find both of them to mostly be enhanced by some new abilities rather than wholly reworked. And then there’s Summoner, which feels like some total stranger just slipped into the room and is trying to convince you that you’re old friends.

It’s a touch disconcerting, if I’m being honest.

That having been said, this is probably a good thing. I’ve d before that while Black Mage and Red Mage are both in good places, Shadowbringers’ Summoner is a mess that’s got about four different gameplay phases that mesh together about as well as peanut butter and steak. So how do the jobs shake out in Endwalker? Well, that’s why we’re here and that’s the question I’m going to answer, or at least touch upon answering.

Red, red mage.

Red Mage

Here’s the summary of the Red Mage changes, very quickly: You now have a party-wide buff for mitigating damage and you also have another combo action. Thank you and good night. You’re done. It is basically the same job it was beforehand. Hooray!

No, no, I’m not just going to leave it there; that’d be kind of rude. The fact of the matter is that Red Mage is still a solid and well-designed job that only has minor tweaks to be made, so minor tweaks have been made but the job is still largely the same as it was before. The biggest change is the addition of Mana Stacks, which is a practical change that makes very little functional difference during single-target rotations. Each of your enchanted melee attacks (your main three-hit combo and your melee AoE) will now add a mana stack, and when you hit three stacks, you can unleash the Verholy/Verflare to Scorch to new ability Resolution combo.

This is relevant for AoE because it means that your AoE combo goes from spamming Scatter and then weaving in Enchanted Moulinet to including Verholy/Verflare and so on. But for single-target damage, it’s a change that’s not actually going to change much of anything.

What is different is also that your main melee combo is much cheaper now, requiring about 50 of each gauge rather than the 80 it requires now. That means you can unleash more back-to-back. You also get an upgrade to Verthunder and Veraero that’s basically just a slight potency jump.

Oh, and let’s not forget Red Mage’s barrier spell, which reduces magic damage and enhances healing while it’s on. Functionally, it’s not different from what ranged DPS has access to, but it helps solidify Red Mage’s role as being the most utility-oriented caster in the bunch. It’s going to see use during phase transitions and big ability busts, of that much you can be certain.

Still, all of these are minor tweaks. If you like Red Mage? You’re still going to like it afterwards.

Void where prohibited.

Black Mage

In some ways, Black Mage has actually changed less than Red Mage, even though its big change is arguably a more significant change. You now actually have an upgrade to Blizzard II and Fire II that make both of those spells worth casting and a vital part of your AoE rotation, whereas right now they are functionally dead weight.

The short version is that players will now be using High Blizzard II and High Fire II to alternate between Umbral Ice and Astral Fire, with Flare and Freeze both requiring the appropriate status to cast these spells. At a glance, it looks like the AoE rotation will be to cast High Fire II, then Flare, then repeat, at which point you use High Blizzard II and then Freeze to refresh your umbral souls and prepare for another round of explosions. Not super complex, but understandable.

Players will also have access to the new spell Paradox, which is non-elemental and takes effect when you swap between fire and ice at full stacks. I’m not quite sure how it’s supposed to be incorporated into your rotation, although at a glance it looks like it’s going to be usable like Fire but without the same MP cost increase for its damage. Smarter BLM theorycrafters than I will probably figure it out very quickly, though.

Beyond that, though? This is very much the same core rotation from Shadowbringers again, which works. If you like the rotation of Fire IV, Despair, Fire III, and so forth? You’ll feel right at home with this particular lineup.

Ker-summon.

Summoner

OK. This is where things get complicated because Summoner has basically changed into an entirely new job at this point. Gone are all the damage-over-time spells and many of your pets, replaced with what amounts to one pet (Carbuncle) and a number of different spells that lead to a very different rotation wholly unfamiliar to any existing player. At a glance, it might look like Summoner has more phases to cycle through at this point, but in practice it’s actually fewer. You’re doing mostly the same things when you summon either Phoenix or Bahamut, and similarly you’re doing most of the same things when you have one of the other summons influencing you.

The core works something like this once you get up to the top levels. You start by summoning Bahamut, which sort of works like a compressed form of Dreadwyrm Trance and Summon Bahamut from the current game. Once that happens, you can work your way through the three elemental summons. Each of those summons empowers you with certain elemental energies and gives you access to a few different attacks, but you need to cycle through all of them to reach the next phase. Each one also has slightly different changes, although there’s definitely more of a tendency for the spells you’re casting to have instant casts while empowered.

After you go through Titan, Garuda, and Ifrit, you’ll be able to summon Phoenix, which is only slightly different from how Firebird Trance currently works. Once that’s done, you can again summon the three elemental summons, with your next trance summon being Bahamut again. You alternate back and forth between them, hopefully picking the right times to summon Ifrit when you can deal with longer cast times, cycling back and forth between trances and elemental empowerment.

I admit that I didn’t play with Summoner as much as perhaps I should have because… well, Summoner has never been my wheelhouse and I had only so much time to try everything out. What I did play, though, felt much more straightforward than its current rotation. The more self-contained setup meant that there was a lot more emphasis on the summons themselves and cycling between all of them, with the various special abilities feeling… well, special.

This might be a bit of a bummer for people who really do like the current iteration of Summoner, and for that I can only offer my understanding. But it seems like people who find the current version to be too complicated and unfun will be far happier with this version, which definitely seems to be posed as a very mobile and unique caster experience.

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AGx-07_162

I’m glad I read this artic before I bought into the game again. I almost forgot about those combat rotations and how boring the combat system really is. Unlike most games where your abilities are fairly varied enough that you will make decisions about what to use and when depending on your enemies, distance, health, and so on, FFXIV has you doing rotations or to put it another way following the script. If they’ve designed Ability 2 to go immediately after Ability 1 then don’t you dare think you’re using Ability 2 without first using Ability 1. Only after following that order can you use Ability 3 otherwise they are all underpowered. Sure, you get a few rotations but it’s still rotation. The game still practically forces you to use abilities in a certain order. Mages get a little bit more flexibility but it sounds like this has bled into the Summoner job too which…..c’mon. Remember in FFXI where each summon was vastly different and you chose what fit the situation? Needed a haste buff? Summon Garuda and use that ability. Need an tank? Titan can do that. How about some healing? Carbuncle. They all fought well enough as well but now you’re telling me there’s a rotation for this too? To each their own. That’s all I can say.

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cursedseishi

This might be a bit of a bummer for people who really do like the current iteration of Summoner

Or for those, like myself, who loved the ‘Classic’ 2.0 Pet Class Summoner it’s still a bit of a bummer. I miss the cheesy bullcrud and weird things you could do with an on-demand tank (or two+, in groups), but I’ve accepted that simply isn’t the Job anymore.

This new version sounds… weird, though. How will it be balanced at the lower levels if we’re discarding the ‘Egi’ summons and instead treating them as temp stances? Summoner usually got theirs around the time you typically fought the ‘Big Three’ (if I recall so many years back properly), and Bahamut was a Heavensward addition. If you require Bahamut’s trance state to trigger the Garuda/Ifrit/Titan stances, that means you might end up having to wait a painfully long while just to get any meaningful play (lvl 50 if they’re sticking to when you might fight them). An issue of ‘its balanced when you’re at the end’ then.

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bakkahentai2600 .

Low levels now get a type of Dreadwrym Trance that let’s you use them called Aethercharge.

So it goes Aethercharge at level 6, Dreadwrym at 58, and then summon Demi-Bahamut at 70.

Likewise, low level is Ruby, Topaz, and Emerald Carbuncle. Then Ifrit, Titan, and Garuda Egi until level 90. Then you get the stronger ons seen in the trailer.

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Carebear

I worry for summoner.. if the cycle is “fixed” and you have to do it in order and a certain phase contributes much more DPS, then you are going to have a bad RNG moments, for example boss change phase right before or after you are into you powerfull phase (probably phoenix?)… but I am waiting to see how it is before I judge.

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bakkahentai2600 .

You choose which order to use Egi summons.

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RimaHadley

I had been playing Summoner second most often, but I’ve held off since the live letter, figuring that since I was going to need to learn a whole new job in Endwalker, practicing the old version now wouldn’t do any good. I’ll admit to having significant apprehension for the rework, but while I liked old Summoner, this sounds really fun and I’m hoping the new version will retake its place as my secondary job.

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Ruby Lancer

Elliot underselling some of the Red Mage changes as if they weren’t really all that big. Embolden ditching its pesky physical clause for party wide damage buffs, Manafication giving 50/50 mana instead of just doubling it along with 3/6 stacks of a magical damage buff, Acceleration having 2 charges…

And the Mana Stack looks like its actually a bigger deal than you’re making it out to be. Coupled with the charges on Corps-a-corps, Displacement, and Engagement, you can dash in and out to get the melee hits as you need and probably pepper in some ranged attacks while at it depending on the fight. I know there have been a lot of times where my choices have been to go in to get a few attacks off before having to back off to avoid a mechanic through a longer period of time, or to just back off and pelt with spells/Enchanted Reprise until I could go in for the melee combo if I didn’t drain too much mana on my movement as it is.

If the Red Mage melee combo got the same QoL change as the rest of the melee based jobs did in regards to not losing their melee combo on using a ranged attack, then that alone makes things nicer.

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bobfish

Summoner sounds interesting, might actually enjoy now.

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IronSalamander8 .

Red Mage is the only one here I have to any decent level (dinged 72 last night). It’s a fun balancing act and the new barrier to help out and the cheaper cost for the melee attacks means I can get more use of that mana before leaping out again. And let’s face it, leaping out of melee after burning through the white and black mana is the best part of the job!

WayTooLateTV
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WayTooLateTV

This is where I come in and say that the previous SMN rotation was literally too much for my disabled, fibromyalgia/arthritis-riddled hands and fingies to handle, so I kinda skipped over the job. I’m beyond thrilled to see the rework so that I can actually have a shot at playing it without the giant dang rotation.