It’s kind of a good thing that my life changes have involved a massive shift to my overall schedule because that was very useful for this particular set of patch notes. Seriously, Final Fantasy XIV, it’d be nice to have these job changes in the game significantly earlier. I don’t know why we don’t reliably get these any more with the preliminary notes, aside from suspicion that people were going to be very unhappy with the Paladin changes. And those… don’t strike me as all that bad!
Like, don’t get me wrong, there are definitely some real and substantial changes here that are going to alter how people engage with Paladin in gameplay. But it’s not the wholesale gutting and revision that people seem to have expected, and it seems like a real response to address the job’s existing issues and tightening the focus a bit more. So let’s start there and move on to talk about the other notable job changes in the mixture.
First and foremost, let’s note the biggest things Paladin has lost. There’s no longer two DoT effects in the Paladin rotation, for one thing. The Confiteor chain no longer restores MP but instead costs it, and it is now more accurately classified as a series of spells rather than simply being a coda to your Requiescat sequence. Atonement is now less powerful. On paper, potency has been lowered for a lot of things.
That being said… a lot of other things have changed. And a lot of those changes seem aimed at making Paladin less subject to weaving back and forth between spells and melee in distinct phases.
Let’s start with Requiescat and Confiteor. Previously, the latter was your “reward” after chaining out Holy Spirit casts in Requiescat, and it formed part of the cadence of Paladin as a whole. First you unleash all your magical attacks ending with a storm of swords, then you pop Fight or Flight and unleash your best physical attacks, then repeat. Now, however, Requiescat is the skill you use before unleashing Confiteor. Not eventually, but immediately. You have four stacks of Requiescat, they buff that combo series appreciably, and that series restores HP as you go. Unleash doom.
But wait, there’s more! Because Fight or Flight no longer buffs physical damage but all damage, which means that the intended rotation is now pretty clear against bosses: Pop Fight or Flight, hit Goring Blade (now a direct hard hit) and Circle of Scorn, pop Requiescat, unleash your full combo and weave in Expiacion, and then put in your filler to bulk things out again until that sequence comes back around. (Disclaimer: This may not be the optimal opener; it’s based on a quick reading.)
“But what about my holy magic from before?” I’m glad you asked because it has gotten way better; you now get a single-use free cast for these spells after you execute your regular combo, single-target or multi-target. So it’s effectively another four-hit/three-hit combo weaving in a spell at the end.
Oh, and Bulwark is back! Which is just nice in general. I like Bulwark, and it’s more mitigation.
The net result is that Paladin phases are a lot shorter now than they used to be, and you’re no longer cycling through slow phases in which you just spam the same ability over and over. I can’t speak for everyone, but I much prefer weaving in a Holy Spirit cast in the middle of a weapon combo rather than spamming it multiple times and then unleashing Sword Nightmare. This is more engaging and more involved.
More importantly? It isn’t the enormous change to basic mechanics that people had expected. Paladin is still the most effective tank at range and can still, in fact, use that very effectively; if you know that you’re about to need some range, you can easily hold a charge of Divine Might to move and snap off a spell during the brief window necessary. The changes align better with burst windows, but they do not fundamentally alter the nature of the job or the parts that feel core.
I’m interested in seeing the changes in action, and I feel it’s more of a tightening than a wholesale redesign. And if you feel otherwise… well, I’m sorry. It seems good to me, but I’m still sad if you are less happy with the job after the changes. Hopefully you can learn to enjoy them just the same.
Oh, thank goodness for small favors. Dismantle is still a pretty low-impact ability, and it mostly gives Machinist two ways to buff a party’s defense instead of just one, but it’s an iconic ability that’s nice to have back, and it grants the job some extra much-needed utility. Supportive DPS may be the lifestyle of the ranged physical jobs, but that means you can’t be totally selfish after all.
Standardizing charges for overheating and Wildfire are also both extremely welcome. In a mechanical sense this isn’t an enormous change and probably comes closer to just a straight buff, but it also means that it’s less a matter of “spam this as fast as you can,” and that’s welcome for players on slower connections. Bit of a bummer for folks who melded their gear to absurdly prioritize Skill Speed, though.
I’ve never really felt like Phlegma took too long to recharge as it was, but making it faster is nice. It does mean more times that Sages need to run up to the boss, but that was already kind of a thing, and you have to create some selection pressure for otherwise melee-affecting abilities. Same for Assize, although that has more use as a quick heal.
The addition of a new button specifically to turn off tank stance is something I’m not really hype about, but I understand the decision, especially for people who put tank stance in the realm of a frequently-touched hotkey. (I don’t do that for specifically that reason, so I have to intend to use it when it goes off.) Also the Warrior changes are… well, they’re fine. Much smaller in scale than the Paladin revisions, but it does add a bit more momentum to the job and feels like a consolation prize for that tank who just never times Shake It Off properly.
We see you. It’s all right. The healing can begin now. Literally.
Dancer’s support options being expanded are also nice, and I’m fond of the slight nudge for Dragoon to be better able to handle burst windows. They’re minor shifts that should improve overall quality of life and don’t majorly change power, so that’s good.
On a whole, I think these changes have worked out pretty well. I think it’s inevitable that we’re going to see these things more frequently as the game gets more and more filled with jobs; it’s hard enough to get things balanced well with 10 jobs, much less 18, and when we hit 20 that’ll expand the list even further and alter the balance profile anew. But it’s clear that this is treated as an ongoing project, and it’s not something addressed by just buffing one or two sets of numbers and hoping that fixes everything.
Anyhow. Next week, let’s get into actual patch content, hmm?