With the arrival of Stormblood to Final Fantasy XIV, we’re also going to be seeing a “combat refresh” – a rebalancing of skills for every class in the game, with apparent special attention being paid to the existing tank and healer classes.
According to the information I’ve seen, the team is shooting for classes to have a similar number of skills available to them even though we’re seeing a level cap raise from 60 to 70. This is meant to ease the complexity of certain jobs while also removing useless skills. And boy howdy, are there some useless skills.
So for this entry, I’d like to talk about what I’d like to see from this new combat refresh and what skills I’d like to see edited or culled entirely.
Now I should mention that my experience in Final Fantasy XIV is primarily with the Dark Knight and the Machinist classes, so I’m going to focus primarily there. This post also kind of assumes a basic working knowledge of how the game is played and how those classes operate. I’ll try my best to keep things as general and as easy to follow as possible, though.
Starting with the Dark Knight, I can immediately think of a couple of skills that can be cut out completely: Living Dead and Sole Survivor.
Living Dead is meant to be the “oh shit button”. It essentially makes you impossible to kill, but you have to be topped up on health before the effect ends or else you die. Personally, if things are that bad where this skill is needed, the fight is probably going to be a wipe anyway. It has never been on my hotbar and it never will. DRKs need a better panic button.
Sole Survivor is a kind of situational thing too, but I typically don’t really find a lot of use for this one either. Most of the skills and rotations I use to keep me pretty full up on mana, which is the primary source of most DRK abilities, and many healers are generally good at keeping me in a comfortable threshold of health. I’ve only really ever thought to use this ability just before a boss is about to die as a sort of way to top myself up, but even that doesn’t seem useful. This one, in my opinion, can go away.
I’d also love to see the Dark Arts ability have a bit more impact.Dark Arts is meant to offer a unique additional effect to certain skills, and right now they seem to be a bit too lackluster for something that costs over 1000 mana. I’ve only ever used it in order to heal up after using the Abyssal Drain skill or if I really wanna rip someone apart with a particularly nasty Carve and Spit.
As far as resistances go, I think the Dark Knight is in a pretty good place otherwise. They have skills to help them mitigate magic damage and can offer some okay DPS in an off-tank role. It would be nice to see those tweaked a bit as well, but I’m not holding my breath.
Now let’s move on to the Machinst, shall we?
“Less is more” definitely needs to apply to this class. Right now, Machinists are tied to two absolute, be-all-end-all abilities that nerf yourself if they’re not in use: Gauss Barrel and your Turrets.
While the Gauss Barrel, in theory, makes sense – a toggle that makes your attacks hit harder and opens up the use of some other abilities – in practice it makes things obnoxious. Having to stand still and charge up your abilities removes any sense of identity that a gunner should probably have, and the damage buff is so negligible that it feels like it’s pitifully outclassed by much more focused jobs like Dragoon or Monk.
Turrets are a neat little addition, and the fact that they don’t have stupid pet AI and are dependent on player placement is a nice touch, but putting them down gets tiresome when you’re in fights where packs of enemies are on the move. If anything, I’d like Gauss Barrel removed completely and turret damage buffed to make up the shortfall.
Why kill Gauss Barrel? Again, identity. Giving Machinists and Bards a skill that forces them to root in place in order to work the same mechanically as caster classes dilute class identity. If that means somewhat lower DPS then so be it, though I would love to see MCHs get a buff here. Somehow I don’t see it happening, but one can at least hope.
As far as complexity, I kind of like that about the class. I will admit that the setup for effective use of Wildfire is cumbersome and could be more impactful, but I’d like to see some of the Machinist’s micromanagement kept intact.
So where does that leave the other classes? I can’t really say for sure, but I recall reading somewhere that the Paladin was called out by name as something that needs a lot of adjustment, and healers overall seem to be a focus as well. I can’t speak to either of those examples at a high level, but I can imagine that Paladins have lost their way from 50 to 60, and any healing class that requires an RNG element is frustrating as hell.
Though Fanfest has come and gone without any real details about this hottest of topics, it’s my fervent hope that we’ll get a better handle on where things are going soon. Jobs in Final Fantasy have always been a distinct and defining feature of the series, and having that sort of clear identity in XIV would be incredibly welcome.
Until they give us information or, at the absolute latest a bunch of patch notes, it’s going to be a looooooong four months…