Boy, did I choose a good time to come back to Final Fantasy XIV. My Job of choice in the game is, as you might have guessed from the title, the Dragoon. I’ve loved the Dragoon Job since I was a kid playing the earlier Final Fantasy games and I’ve played the Job given any opportunity since. Heck, I even ran a whole party of Lancers in Final Fantasy Tactics once. It turns out that Dragoon was pretty awesome in Heavensward, so I was excited for the changes coming to the Job in Stormblood, assuming that Dragoon would come out even better. Maybe a bit more streamlined, but just as good. I was wrong.
Shortly after the launch of Stormblood, it became apparent that Dragoon was in a terrible position, both in terms of its DPS potential and its fun factor. The changes made to the Job did indeed streamline Dragoon, but it’s damage dropped, intentionally in part because Square Enix appears to be positioning the Job as a “support” DPS (a’la Bard), but also due to some frustrating changes to the Job’s mechanics. The results were a Job that spends a whole lot of time building up to a “big” attack (Nastrond) for little payoff. To make matters worse, Dragoon’s effectiveness in combat is so tightly tied to its Blood of the Dragon/Life of the Dragon mechanic, that it’s punished heavily in most boss fights featuring any sort of extensive phase transitions. Dragoon isn’t unique in this regard, other Jobs can also suffer due to phase transitions, but this Job in particular can be set back considerably if the player is unable to maintain the mechanic.
For the uninitiated, through the course of the Dragoon’s rotation, your aim is to increase Eye of the Dragon stacks while maintaining the Blood of the Dragon buff. For each execution of Mirage Dive under the Dive Ready effect (granted by either Jump or Spineshatter Dive), you’ll be granted a single Eye stack. Once you’ve hit four stacks, you can use the ability Geirskogul to initiate Life of the Dragon, transforming Geirskogul into a stronger ability called Nastrond, which can be used as long as the Life of the Dragon buff is active. The issue with Dragoon is that it’s extremely easy to lose Eye of the Dragon stacks due to phase transitions causing Blood of the Dragon to drop off entirely, starting you over from the beginning of the process.
Today, we’re going to look at the recently deployed patch 4.05, which includes some changes for the Dragoon Job, and offer our take on whether these changes are enough to sort the Job out.
- This ability had its cooldown cut in half. It’s a nice quality-of-life change, but it’s not super impactful. Elusive Jump does reduce enmity (hate) and the lowered cooldown positions the Dragoon as probably the most mobile Job in the game, but this isn’t a game changer.
Blood of the Dragon
- The duration increase of five seconds from 15 to 20 seconds should give some leeway when dealing with the aforementioned phase transitions, but it’s not enough.
- The combo effect for Sonic Thrust now extends Blood of the Dragon by 10 seconds (up to 30 seconds max). This is an incredibly welcome change. Most Dragoons didn’t even bother trying to maintain Blood of the Dragon while AOE-ing since it wasn’t practical, so this is one change that makes a significant difference for the Job.
- Dragon Sight had its range doubled to 12 yalms. I still feel this is an absolutely stupid ability, but it should help some. If you’re unfamiliar, Dragoon’s basically need to tether themselves to a teammate in order to reach their damage potential. Maintaining the tether increases the Dragoon’s damage by 10%, so losing it for any reason would be frustrating. I still feel this should be an aura that tags whoever is closest. I’m not a huge fan of chasing some other dude around the fight to make sure I can maintain my damage potential. I really hope the ability is just reworked entirely at some point.
- This trait received a potency buff of 70 points, increasing the bonus potency offered to Wheeling Thrust and Fang and Claw from 30 to 100. Extra DPS? Sure. I’ll take it.
- The animation lock on Mirage Dive has been shortened in 4.05. This is a simple, but appreciated quality-of-life change.
All in all, 4.05 includes some welcome changes, but the elephant in the room remains. My hope is that Square Enix will implement some more significant mechanic changes in 4.1 once they’ve had more time to analyze the issue. Ironically, they don’t need to look far for some great solutions to the Dragoon's issues. Dragoon in PvP is great. One of the key differences in PvP is that the Jump and Spineshatter Dive abilities both grant Eye of the Dragon stacks and this is something I’d like to see added on the PvE side as well. That, or just don’t make Blood of the Dragon tick down during phase transitions.
I’d like to see some other tweaks as well. For one, tying Geirskogul to activating Life of the Dragon isn’t such a hot idea due to its long cooldown. Either lower the cooldown on the ability or simply make it so pressing Blood of the Dragon again is what triggers the switch to Life of the Dragon when the player has enough stacks. Nastrond needs a potency buff, too. I don’t really see why Dragoons spend all this time building up to this one move if it doesn’t pack a wallop. A 90 second build up for a 320 potency attack isn’t super exciting.
What's your take on Dragoon in 4.05? What else (if anything) would you like to see changed? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!