We’ve heard for a long time that big changes are coming to FFXIV when Stormblood finally launches — and now, just weeks away from early access, we have an idea of what we’re going to see, thanks to this month’s Letter from the Producer.
These aren’t little changes, either. Cast times for Bards? A thing of the past. Cleric stance? Totally different. Cross-class abilities? A thing of the past. These are probably the biggest changes to the battle system since A Realm Reborn came out in 2013; they certainly far eclipse what changed with Heavensward.
You can watch the archived livestream here — it was translated as it was broadcast, so you don’t need to worry about it being in Japanese this time — but if you’re in an area where you don’t have sound, or you just don’t have time for a three hour broadcast, we’ve got you covered.
A job for everyone
Every job is changing in a substantial way. Everybody’s getting new abilities and losing a few along the way. The good news is that very few of these changes look like nerfs or straight-up losses. In fact, it seems everybody’s getting some new toys to play with that’ll make them more useful. We’re also getting job specific user interfaces:
These UI items reflect job specific abilities; you can see that Dragoon has an eye that’ll make it clearer when Blood of the Dragon is active, for example, while Summoner seems to show the charge for Dreadwyrm Trance and how many stacks of Aetherflow you have available.
Here’s a very quick run-through of how jobs are changing:
- Black Mage: Ice and Fire stances — and the cooldowns associated with keeping your stacks — are much clearer thanks to the new UI. Enochian is no longer required to cast Fire IV and do the ‘full rotation’; it’s a damage cooldown now. You can swiftcast three spells in a row to make up for losing Swiftcast as a unique ability, and you can also jump back to your ley lines with an ability, meaning no more massive DPS losses when AOE forces you out of your special place.
- Paladin: Shields can now block magic attacks, vastly increasing their tanking ability. Paladins seem to have an AOE GCD, which looks like it’ll replace Flash past a certain level, addressing a long-standing problem where Flash was pretty ineffective compared to what DRK and WAR had available. Paladins also have an ability that protects people in a cone behind them, making them a literal shield for the party. It also boosts your block rate to 100%!
- Warrior: Rage stacks are no longer a thing; your ‘inner beast’ is tied to a bar that goes up to 100 instead. Five Fell Cleaves in a row is now possible. And yes — WAR does get a gap closer, as appeared to the case in the benchmark.
- Bard and Machinist: Both ranged DPS classes can now move and shoot, as was the case before they get their level 52 abilities in Heavensward. It’s highly likely their DPS will drop as a result to compensate, but they are much, much more mobile now, even if they retain a couple of abilities with cast times. Both classes will retain their support abilities, but it doesn’t look like they’re tied to MP anymore.
- Summoner: This screenshot speaks for itself, I think. (Bahamut summon get!)
- Ninja: No real solid details were shown for Ninja, but chaining Mudras now appears to be part of the class. So if like me your favourite part of playing NIN is mashing buttons, congratulations!
I’ve missed a couple of jobs because the significance of some of the changes you could see on the stream aren’t immediately obvious or weren’t explained. However, SE released a video with every job giving an exhibition of their new abilities. It’s awesome, and well worth watching, particularly if you’re still undecided about what to play in the expansion. There’s even some previews of Samurai and Red Mage:
Cross-class skills are dead and gone
Moving on from changes to individual jobs, remember cross-class skills? They’re gone. This means you’re not forced to, say, level up Gladiator / Paladin for Provoke. Instead, groups of jobs (such as tanks) will have a pool of abilities shared between them, which will include everything that’s basically essential to playing your class. I’m kinda sad — cross-class abilities introduce people to jobs they wouldn’t otherwise play — but at the same time, you’re now never going to run into situations where your tank doesn’t have provoke for some inexplicable reason.
There are new abilities that jobs will share as well as old ones, including an AoE provoke (which may or may not be on a separate cooldown to the standard one), and Rescue, a healer ability that will allow you to pull party members towards you, such as when you need to stack. Some abilities that you couldn’t cross-class at all before, such as Goad, will be shared between jobs now, too.
It has thrown up some interesting issues. Casters and ranged DPS share a different pool of abilities, which means Summoners and Black Mages will lose access to Raging Strikes, a Bard skill that’s essential to both classes as they are right now. But the people balancing the game have a better understanding of these changes and the impact they’ll have than practically anyone, and I doubt they’re just going to take tools away without offering some sort of replacement, so don’t fret — watch this space.
Some of the more obscure elements behind FFXIV are being reworked or removed entirely, with stats being streamlined. Parry, Accuracy and Piety are all on the chopping block; you now have a 100% chance to hit enemies of the same level as you, and Raid enemies are apparently ‘not much higher’ than basic enemies. Strength will have a greater effect on tank damage again, but Vitality will still be a tank’s main stat and accessories will be job restricted going forward, meaning no return to the days of tanks running DPS accessories.
Finally, as I suggested in a previous column when it emerged Cleric Stance was being reworked, healers no longer need to enter a stance in order to do meaningful damage. Previously, Cleric Stance would switch intelligence and mind (your damage and healing stats) meaning being in stance would enable you to hurt people but not heal them; in Stormblood, both healing and damage will come from your mind stat. Now there’s no excuse not to do damage in combat, because it’s essentially risk-free. Come on. Just throw the odd Aero in. It won’t hurt you.
Anyway, that’s pretty much everything — there’s some more info on the stream itself about changes to PVP, a closer look at stat changes and level-skipping potions towards the end, so it’s worth watching if those things interest you. I’m tapping out for now, though, before this column becomes 3,000 words long. I’ll be back next week, but in the meantime, I’m curious to know what people think of the changes. Has this changed what you’re going to play in the expansion? Let us know in the comments below.