Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood is out in a few short weeks, and with E3 about to get in the way and attempt to consume my soul, now feels like the best time to have a look at the MMO expansion and see what it’s got to offer. I’ll be doing a more general look at what’s new shortly, but I figured that the first thing we should check out should be the new Jobs.
(For the uninitiated, Jobs are basically Final Fantasy XIV‘s equivalent of “classes.” It’s more complicated than that because classes are actually also a thing, but for the sake of ease of understanding, just think of these as new classes. Seriously.)
Both of the new Jobs are DPS, which is probably going to annoy a few people, but hey: one’s melee and the other is (mostly) ranged, so there’s at least some diversity there. Both of these will start at level 50 and only demand that you have another Job at the required level – which, if you’re picking up Stormblood, you presumably will.
We’ll start with the Red Mage, both because it looks to be the flashier of the two and because it’s the one that’s a lot more renowned in Final Fantasy history.
Traditionally, Red Mages are a kind of jack-of-all-trades, capable of using both white and black magic, while also having some melee fighting capabilities and without being as squishy as other mages. The downside is that they’re much less effective at everything than classes that are dedicated to these things: in earlier Final Fantasy games they’re incapable of learning the most powerful spells, and are obviously less effective in close-quarters than a dedicated fighter.
For Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood, though, making a hybrid WHM/BLM would probably not be tremendously useful, so the Red Mage is really a ranged damage-dealer with their own spells, rather than relying on those of others.
Their main quirk is Chainspell (or Dualcast), a rather nifty little tool which essentially removes the casting time from your next spell. Let’s say you want to cast something with a lengthy cast time, like Veraero. Rather than waiting out the lengthy cast time, you can instead cast something simple like Jolt to proc Dualcast, and then instantly cast Veraero. Basically: cast one spell which has a cast time, and the next spell has no cast time, as long as you don’t take any other action in the meantime.
That’s neat, but it’s also the tip of the iceberg. Certain spells have a chance to proc “Ready” status for other spells, which can only be cast when that’s up. There are combos between the spells. There’s a whole Black Mana/White Mana mechanic, with certain abilities having different effects or gaining power based on the level of each of those, and your general DPS appears to go up if they’re kept around the same level. Balance, it seems, is key, and I suspect there’s a good amount of depth to be found in figuring out optimal rotations, balancing out the mana types, and continually lowering your cast times.
Of course, other abilities also factor into this, making the Red Mage a rather flashy DPS option. The Red Mage’s primary weapon is actually a rapier, and the abilities tied to that allow them to rush in, deal damage, and then leap away to a safe distance once more.
So: a combo-focused caster with the ability to rapidly reposition. Flashy and fun, from the looks of it.
The other new Job in Stormblood is the Samurai, who are inevitably going to be super-popular because OH MY GOD KATANAS SO COOL.
If you read that Red Mage description with a glazed look in your eyes, don’t worry: the Samurai seems much simpler, as long as you don’t get confused by the fact that all of the abilities are Japanese words.
The Samurai has two little neat quirks: Sen, and Kenki. Kenki is a gauge that builds up as you strike, and can be expended for powerful buffs and attacks – like Hissatsu: Kaiten, which costs 20 Kenki but increases the potency of your next weapon skill by 150%. Which is frankly ridiculous.
Sen are three… we’ll use the word “tokens” for simplicity’s sake. These are acquired via specific combo branches, so Samurai will want to rotate through all branches of their attacks to grab all three Sen, and then unleash Iaijutsu, an attack which changes based on how many Sen you have.
If you have one Sen, for instance, then you’ll perform Higanbana, an attack that also deals damage over time. Two Sen, and you perform Tenka Goken, a more powerful area-of-effect attack that also inflicts damage over time. Three Sen lets you unleash Midare Setsugekka, a single-target ability which inflicts a frankly terrifying amount of damage. Especially if you’ve, say, used Hissatsu: Kaiten first.
So yeah, I wasn’t kidding about the Japanese words being that part of this which might confuse the hell out of you. But that aside, Samurai doesn’t seem to be quite so complex (and I will probably live to regret these words). You’ll perform your various combo branches to build up your Sen and your Kenki and inflict damage, and then expend both to unleash some dizzyingly strong attacks. This might be a bit trickier at first when you’re still figuring out your rotations and which attacks chain into which others, but I can’t see it being much more complicated than Dragoon.
And In General…
From what I know, while you’ll need Stormblood to learn these Jobs, you won’t need to have progressed to the expansion areas. If you’re still in A Realm Reborn‘s story and haven’t moved into Heavensward, you can still get your Red Mage on as long as you have a Job at level 50.
Most of the other Jobs have also had a rework of sorts, of various different types. Most now have an on-screen gauge showing off buffs and metrics you’d normally need to keep an eye on (Dark Knights will have a “Blood Gauge”; Bards will have “music bars” showing song duration, etc.) but I’m not really ready to shout about these a lot without seeing them first hand.
That said, there should be a fair few changes to the Jobs in Stormblood (and, by extension, in 4.0). One of the goals with this expansion and patch was to remove a lot of the bloat that was happening as a result of having so many skills, especially with some being either direct upgrades or incredibly niche. Other changes are afoot, too, with cross-class skills being replaced with role skills instead. Nonetheless, this should still be the Final Fantasy XIV you remember – just, y’know, a little different.