Final Fantasy XIV Dawntrail media tour: Ranged, magical, and healing job abilities in Dawntrail


To start things off, I am going to basically restate what I did in my last column about Final Fantasy XIV’s existing jobs heading into Dawntrail: If you already like your job, the good news is it will feel largely similar. If you don’t, the bad news is that it will feel largely similar. This is not a bad thing or a sign you don’t get new toys along the way, just that these new toys will mostly feel like evolutions of what you are already doing, not wildly different ways of playing the game top-to-bottom.

You do find exceptions in places, of course; for example, Astrologian obviously is going to feel different because of a new approach to cards (again). But it is all going to feel broadly familiar just the same. So here are the observations I had on dealing with the other batch of jobs that I did not cover in the previous article, once again broken up roughly by role and in no particular order beyond that.


Red Mage

I had a chat with a friend around the time of the Job Action trailer wherein they expressed some concern simply because, well… we really did not need anything to lengthen the Red Mage burn phase further, and it looked as if that could be what was happening. The good news is that it is not accurate. Rather than get major new tricks to lengthen the melee-to-spell-combo phase, you get a new big attack that goes along with hitting Manafication, another one of the abilities that has been changed to just turn on your next phase stage.

There’s also a new trigger when you use Acceleration that seems as if it’s at least halfway meant to incentivize using the ability in AoE situations, which also mirrors something I said about new triggers in that regard. Add in some extra melee AoE attacks for visual flair and the job will still play broadly the same – but feel a bit spicier.

He's my pet.


So you now have a third “special” summon instead of alternating between Bahamut and Phoenix. It feels… pretty much the same, although it definitely dials into the supportive and healing aspects of Phoenix and tilts Summoner more into a supportive direction. We didn’t see or hear anything that hinted at other major changes for egi glamours or the like, unfortunately, so this is going to be largely the same Summoner experience from Endwalker with a new pet a third of the time.

sir that is my emotional support explosion

Black Mage

Sharpcast is gone, long live Sharpcast. The big new “explosion” spell comes from spamming Fire IV or Flare, and the other major change is that Thunder is now specifically a proc when you swap phases from Astral to Umbral or vice-versa. This will smooth things out a bit and feel more natural without changing much in the way of base mechanics, and while the loss of Sharpcast will be felt a little in terms of precise timing, I imagine the experience will be broadly similar.

Pretty sure seeing this attack coming for you means nothing but good things.


Oops, I forgot to play this one. Sorry.

Yeah, no, I just had to make the joke. Not much interesting is happening with Bard, though, aside from abilities getting further upgraded forms and the same basic mechanics. The removal of damage from the songs you’ll be singing won’t majorly change your mechanics, although I could swear I noticed that Iron Jaws got reworked to be a more base mechanic for the job and maintaining debuffs. For the most part, though, it feels like just the same Bard, just a bit smoother.



You get follow-up attacks after steps. That’s the big thing, at least to my eyes. Now, I don’t consider this a bad change; I feel like the most interesting part is doing your steps and then maintaining, and the less time you spend cycling through the same weaponskills, the better. These triggers help ameliorate that feeling. But it’s still basic Endwalker Dancer, which I think is a pretty good thing to begin with.



Every Machinist wants to know about getting to summon all the guns, and it turns out that this is one of those use-the-button triggers from hitting Barrel Stabilizer (which has also been reworked to let you immediately overheat instead of adding to the gauge). Gauss Round and Ricochet have also gotten upgraded forms that seem to work identically but have different animations, so there’s no longer a feeling that one is for AoE and one isn’t, but it’s all familiar mechanics with some added animation and potency. I am sadly denied more utility for the job, although as you’ll see in my dungeon write-up there may be more reason for that.

Yes, you get more glowy shit. You play White Mage. You live for that.

White Mage

My favorite part of the ability changes in this expansion – my absolute favorite part – is that White Mage gets a new Glare upgrade, but only while Presence of Mind is activated. That’s right. They time-gated Glare spam. All of the WHM mains in the audience just developed an eye twitch that will not go away until 8.0!

Joking aside, this is actually a good thing; all of the healers have gotten some extra damage tools that feel nice to use and make both AoE and single-target gameplay a bit less mindless, which is a good thing. White Mage also gets a new upgrade to Medica, so that should help when regen-stacking on the tank during mass pulls. Minor QoL changes, but good ones.



If you played Sage, you probably thought Sage was already the most interesting healer in terms of AoE pulls for damage… but I’m not going to weep over the idea that we now get even more to do during AoE pulls, with a new damage ability (that doesn’t appear to trigger Kardion!) and a new AoE DoT to apply. Beyond that, we did get a short-term ability to apply what amounts to AoE Kardion, which means I got 100% of what I wanted from Sage abilities. I am not sorry.



So Astrologian has always been a problem for the designers because it has a mechanic that can be the worst of all possible worlds. People like having different cards doing different things, but the fact is that only some of those effects are going to be of maximum utility, and you have to have something to do with the cards you don’t want… which is all compounded if everything is random. Removing the randomness, then, is probably the best option in the mix. You get unique effects on the cards, but you don’t have to hope to get lucky, just time your deployment for said cards smartly. If you’re not on board for that… well, I’m sorry, but it does seem to work well in this build.

Beyond that you get the same sort of minor tweaks most of the jobs have gotten, but the boost to turn cards from random chance into specific buffs is the real game-changer. They’re good cards, and you’ll have a reason to use them; you just won’t have to guess about whether or not they’ll be useful.

What's that bush? I'm not touching it.


I know that I’m supposed to have an opinion about Scholar’s angel transformation, but I really don’t beyond it being another limited buff to Scholar’s healing throughput. I do appreciate that you now have an AoE dot (again) to encourage you to use Chain Strategem on trash pulls, something I have noted as a recurring theme. People have been quick to label Scholar as a lost cause, and yet tricks like Expedience keep showing that every time, this is way better than you thought, so… I mean, do the math.

As part of the event, Square-Enix paid for both my travel to California and my lodging. We had a mocktail bar at the event with special themed drinks, to boot. The Dawntrail one was definitely the best of breed.
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