Wisdom of Nym: What we learned about Final Fantasy XIV’s Viper, Pictomancer, and job updates from the live letter

He seems happy.

We do not yet know as much as you think about how the Final Fantasy XIV jobs are going to look in Dawntrail. I do not say this because somehow the four and a half hours spent with a tired Naoki Yoshida explaining how the job changes will work lacked information, but because there’s only so much that can be explained in four and a half hours without tooltips and a job guide. And yeah, I’m a bit sad that we didn’t get full job guides uploaded immediately onto the main site, but… like… there is a media tour happening? We’ll get more information?

However, we do have a fair amount of information to digest already, and I have spent the past few days doing just that. So let’s talk a little about what we saw in the action trailer and also what we heard, some of which overlaps and some of which does not, as well as a cursory reminder to keep your predictions about job balance in your head at the moment. We are currently short of any idea how job balance will feel by one whole expansion.

First and foremost, I have to say that while this timing is different from prior media tour events, I kind of like how the developers arranged things this time around. It’s nice that players have some idea of what the jobs will look like and it gives everyone more space to speculate. Which is especially good when you consider that the explanation we got for Viper in particular was… a complete forking mess.

I don’t think that’s a result of Naoki Yoshida not trying hard to make as much sense as possible while describing the job, but more that it feels like Viper has a few different concepts pinging around and it’s hard to understand them without having access to tooltips, the job itself, and an idea of the overall flow. We know from what we’ve seen that Viper clearly is not just swapping between paired blades and bladestaff form like Reaper merging with the avatar; these are attack states that ebb and flow, like you are expected to fork to other combos to maintain buffs and debuffs pretty consistently.

So in broad strokes, it seems like it’s closer to Samurai in terms of how it moves together, although the mechanics are obviously different. But the explanation isn’t great. It does appear that it has an unusually strong ability to operate at range, and I think it’s going to take a bit more before the job makes full sense, but it does look cool.

Pictomancer, by contrast, felt more straightforward. Rather than having a build-and-spend for your main pictures, it looks like those are much more based around fixed types you queue up before fights or try to weave in during combat when you can. I’m curious about how the job’s buffing mechanics will work, as the idea that this is a support-focused job was brought up but not really given more exploration. Also I find it interesting that it uses the full spectrum of damage spells more than any other job, given that it’s the least “color mage” archetype in the group.


Beyond that, my healer speculation feels like it was right on the money. There’s definitely a trend toward making AoE more interesting on healing jobs, and I literally got my entire Sage wishlist. Astrologian changes kind of drowned out everything else, and in my experience most of the people who heavily play Astrologian seem happy about this change. The RNG elements of drawing cards was unique, but it didn’t actually make things more fun; it made it more frustrating to fish for the cards you wanted, same as it ever was.

It’s hard to be sure what exactly is happening with Machinist at this point. Clearly there’s a whole lot of gun nonsense, but aside from looking cool we don’t yet know if that’s going to facilitate big damage numbers or if it’s going to more be about damage plus utility. My hope is the latter, but we just don’t know enough yet, and it wasn’t heavily discussed yet.

The other big tempest in a teacup seems to be centered around the fact that a number of abilities like Goring Blade are being restricted to activating only during specific damage burst phases. I can understand why this might come across as a not-great change because it smacks just a little bit of simplification because it… kinda is.

But the sticking point to me is that Goring Blade has always had the cooldown set up so that you’re only supposed to use it during your Fight or Flight phase. This is not a change to cooldowns; it is removing your ability to make an objectively incorrect choice, and it’s being done so that you have fewer buttons that you have to hit separately. Same as compressing combo actions.

Think it through: If Paladin now has its main melee combo on one button instead of three and Goring Blade as an automatic shift after you hit Fight or Flight, then – based on this game’s history – that doesn’t mean you’re going to have three empty spots on your hotbar. That means they’re adding three new buttons you’ll want to hit, and this is the only way to make sure you still have enough room.

But where are the Transformers?

I had predicted/wished for more summons, and we… technically got that? Solar Bahamut is technically a new summon. This is not what I meant, obviously. That having been said, I guess we’re still not really going to reckon with the outsized importance of Titan, Ifrit, and Garuda this expansion. Oh well.

So where was I very decisively wrong? Not just “jury still out” speculation like weaker tank mitigation, but just out-and-out incorrect? Well, Gunbreaker is not getting a single-target equivalent to Double Down (it’s getting a Lionheart combo, which is different), and it looks like Black Mage isn’t really getting another balance spell but another gauge to fill up with Fire IV casts. Fair points all around. There’s a lot we just don’t know beyond generalities, and we’re still unclear on how things like Scholar’s angelic transformation are going to work.

As a whole, though, it definitely looks like the game is continuing with its larger trend over the past several expansions wherein jobs undergo incremental but wide-ranging changes, like how Ninja is joining the other melee jobs in not having a single job-defining buff to rule over its rotation. That makes me happy, although I am definitely looking forward to learning more information as we get closer to the expansion release.

Feedback, as always, is welcome in the comments down below or via mail to eliot@massivelyop.com. Next week, I feel like doing something a little weird, so I will by looking at the potential series jobs based not on past jobs… but past characters, inspired by the upcoming addition of our delightful aforementioned Pictomancer. (Also I fully endorse Pictomancers asking for comms by saying “subscribe to my Patreon.”)

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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