Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood Preview

Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood Preview – A couple weeks ago, we here at Gamer Escape had a chance to sit down with a build of Final Fantasy XIV’s upcoming Stormblood expansion to check out the new additions coming to the game.

We had a chance to explore the new far-eastern city of Kugane, battle in The Peaks region of Gyr Abania, dive under the water of The Ruby Sea, and take on the challenges of the Shisui of the Violet Tides dungeon.

In addition to roaming around some of the new areas, we also had a chance to jump onto various Job classes to try out the new actions that they’ll be given in Stormblood.

Areas

Kugane

I started my hands-on time in Kugane, walking around and taking in the sights and sounds of this far-eastern city.

One of the more noticeable changes with Kugane is that the city itself isn’t divided into two separate zones like the other city-states. Instead, Kugane is a single zone, not quite the total size of other city-states, but maybe closer to 1.5 or 1.75 times the size. The aesthetic of the city is very heavy on far-eastern design, complete with pagoda-style buildings, gardens and even a hot spring. While the city was void of any other players while we explored, I found myself impressed with the number of NPCs walking the streets of Kugane. You can get a small taste of what it’s like in the video above.

While walking around town, I also came across Garlean and Thavnairian Consulates (pictured below).

The Peaks

After I was done exploring Kugane, I teleported out to Ala Gannha in The Peaks. While we were able to jump onto a mount in this area, we weren’t yet able to fly so we spent our time more on battle than exploration (more on that later). We did manage to get some cool screenshots though!

Ala Gannha is located at the top of the zone in the center. Opening up our map, which wasn’t fully compete, we could see that if we went west, there was an entrance for Rhalgr’s Reach, the first player hub of sorts that was announced and revealed in the first trailer for Stormblood.

The Ruby Sea

The last, and probably largest zone we explored during our time was The Ruby Sea. We were equipped with aether currents in this zone so that meant that we could fly around and explore a bit more. Of course, the first thing I did was try to go to the top of the “Jenga Tower” that we’ve been seeing in some of the preview images.

Fact: You cannot fly to the top of the tower (see the first image below).

Fact: I was also never able to see the top of the tower. It’s tall.

In addition to the tower, there’s also a a volcanic island in the area. This mountain, which seems to have horns at its peak, is a nod to the Momotaro/Peach Boy legend. There are sharks on the shore of the mountain, and various lava-based enemies as you go further in-land. I also found a new hunt target on the shore so if you were wondering if we would be seeing new hunts in Stormblood, the answer is yes!

The Ruby Sea is also an area that allows swimming and diving- features which are new to Stormblood. We took our Syldra mount, and aimed into the water. A smooth transition takes place when diving into the water. The screen fills with water and bubbles as the game loads you into the water below, sometimes taking a few seconds to load. While diving, you can look up at the waters surface, sometimes seeing things such as boats, or NPCs in the water. There are also bubbles underwater, similar to what we saw in the full Stormblood trailer. These bubbles house small outposts, full of various NPCs like the new Koga Beast Tribe. (I really hope there is a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reference somewhere with these guys).

Diving underwater for the first time is a great feeling, but I found that, for myself, it didn’t take long for that feeling to die down. Effectively, diving is just like flying, only you can dismount under the water if you so wish. The underwater space, while filled with some schools of fish, coral etc felt lack luster to me. It’s simply a space to navigate through when going to one of these small bubble outposts. We know that players will be able to gather underwater once the expansion lands so I’m hoping that makes diving feel a bit more exciting than it did in the time I spent with it.

Dungeon

Shisui of the Violet Tides is a level 64 dungeon in Stormblood. You may also remember it as the underwater temple from the Stormblood trailer.

The dungeon environment was beautiful, part seafloor, part far-eastern architecture. As we made our way through the dungeon a few things stuck out to me- using geysers to navigate up ledges, and jumping from a ledge into a shallow body of water, swimming to shore in order to keep progressing. During one of the boss fights, there were chests around the arena. Making contact with one of these would give you the status “old”, preventing you from being charmed by the boss.

You can see more of the dungeon in the video and screenshots above.

Battle
During our hands-on time we had the opportunity to switch to any class we wanted in order to check out the new actions that Jobs will be getting, as well as to see the adjustments being made to existing actions.

The biggest change across the board is that cross class abilities have now been replaced with role actions. Role actions are split up into five different categories: Tank, Healer, Melee DPS, Ranged DPS and Caster. Depending on what Job you use, you’ll have access to ten different role actions. Out of these ten however, you can only equip five at any given time. When considering your party set-ups before entering instances, taking a minute to talk about who wants to equip which role action is something that could possibly become the new norm in Stormblood.

Some roles will have actions that you might expect. Melee DPS for example get Goad, Invigorate, and Bloodbath. On the opposite side of that however you have something like Palisade for Ranged DPS, that will reduce the physical damage taken by a party member for a short period of time- an action that gives the role a type of responsibility they haven’t yet had in the game.

Of course, Ranged DPS are also seeing one of the more notable changes where they’ll no longer have a casting timer required for their attacks as they did in Heavensward.

The other important change coming to the battle system are the new Job Gauges- a new UI element that will help you track the progress of the jobs’ most important timers and stances. The reasoning for the implementation of these gauges is so that players wouldn’t have to spend their time during battle staring at the tiny number next to a buff icon. While the Job Gauges are certainly easier to read than the small buff icons, I worry about the screen clutter caused from these gauges. On the bright side, their size can be scaled up or down and Yoshida stated during the last Live Letter that they’re working on more simplified gauges for the future.

Role Analysis

Overall, a lot of things are changing, and while some jobs are impacted less than others, there is still a lot of in-depth discussion to be had when it comes to combat. We’ve left it brief here in our hands-on, but we also have write ups for each of the roles where we talk about the new abilities, how things have changed, and what players should be checking out.

Go NEXT PAGE to see the all the new Role Actions & Jobs images, videos and details

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Role Actions

Now that there are three casters it didn’t make much sense for Black Mage to keep Swiftcast to themselves so that is a no-brainer for a cross role ability. But, surprisingly Caster DPS received some of the more surprising and unique options in Stormblood. Addle is an old ability with a new name. It is a 120-second cooldown that lowers the Intelligence and Mind of an enemy by 15% for 10 seconds. So… Virus. But unlike Virus, it does not apply an immunity to its’ effect, so it could potentially be cast back to back by each caster in a party, which is pretty great. Next at level 12 is the new ability Break. Break is a spell with 50 potency that adds a 40% heavy for 20 seconds. Weirdly, Break has a normal cast time, but costs no MP, and the duration is pretty long. The next shared ability is also a new spell, and an interesting one at that. At level 16 casters get Drain, a spell with 80 potency that absorbs 100% of that damage dealt as HP. 80 potency is pretty low, but since it has no cooldown, it can potentially be cast over and over again.

Next up is Diversion at level 20, which is the replacement for Quelling Strikes’ enmity reduction. It has a 120-second cooldown and lasts for 12 seconds, and just like Quelling Strikes it only effects the abilities cast after using it, and does not reduce your current enmity. The next ability, Lucid Dreaming, is quite dreamy indeed. This is an ability with a 120 second cooldown that reduces your current enmity by half, but the more important part is the 21 second duration, 80 potency refresh effect that it has. Casters, regenerating their own MP? Madness! This is a pretty amazing inclusion and really highlights the spreading of utility to more roles. At level 32, Casters receive the ubiquitous Swiftcast, completely unchanged from how it works now, awesome.

Perhaps the most interesting new ability is Mana Shift. This is an ability, gained at level 36, that transfers 20% of the caster’s MP to another party member. The possibilities here are pretty amazing. From helping the healers out to getting around Dark Knights refresh restriction during Darkside usage, to helping to fuel Paladin’s new shiny abilities. Black Mages in particular could end up using this ability very often as they functionally have infinite MP. The next new ability at level 40 is an old one, Apocatastasis. Now each caster has access to the 150 second cooldown that reduces a party members magic vulnerability by 20% for 10 seconds. More mitigation in more hands is always a great thing.

At level 44 casters have the option to use a powered up new version of Surecast. It retains the ability to cast one spell without interruption, however now it also nullifies sleep, stun, knockback and draw-in effects for up to 10 seconds. Wow, welcome to ignoring all of that annoying crap every 30 seconds. Lastly casters get a new ability called Erase. This 90 second cooldown removes a single DoT from a party member other than the caster. This is a strange ability to say the least. Sure, it can definitely help in some situations, but it will depend on what effects it can nullify.

This is a great collection of old and new utility abilities. Swiftcast, Surecast, and Lucid Dreaming will probably be the usual suspects I love the idea of Mana Shift, it is just enough to help in emergency situations and 20% won’t cripple any of the casting Jobs, least of all Black Mage. Break is very situational but we’ve needed heavy effects for kiting before! Erase… Well, maybe it’ll be useful, but if so, that fight is going to be annoying.

Go Next to see Red Mage in action

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Red Mage

Red Mage, the traditional Final Fantasy “jack of all trades, master of none”, comes to FFXIV with familiar style and grace, but a new-found speed. At first level RDM gains a trait called Dualcast. This allows them to cast any spell with a cast time instantly after previously casting a spell with a cast time allowing them to cram two spells in one normal GCD time period. The results of which are a very fun and rhythmic flow, and some interesting rotational complexity.

Red Mage has access to both black and white magic in the form of familiar spells with a new prefix ‘Ver’. Veraero and Verthunder are twin 5 second cast time 300 potency attacks that raise white and black mana respectively, by 11. 5 Seconds is a heck of a long time to be casting, but here is where we find the first interaction of dualcast on the rotation. Jolt and Jolt II are 2 second cast spells that raise black and white mana by 3. By casting a quick Jolt, then casting Veraero or Verthunder you will cast both spells within a GCD, using Jolt in this way seems to be the intended coupling. Two other spells Verstone and Verfire, both 2 second casts and both raising their respective mana by 9 are only available when you proc Verstone/Verfire ready after casting Veraero/Verthunder. This is how we find the normal rotation for RDM, cycling through a fast cast spell to a longer one that is instantly cast.

Red Mage is all about balance. Their Job Gauge tracks how much Black or White mana you have gained from casting the respective types of magic. The trick here is that this gauge directly powers your melee abilities, and until you have enough of both, you are stuck with lesser versions of each. The three melee weaponskills; Riposte, Zwerchhau, and Redoublement combine for a potency of 510, however if you have at least 80 of both mana you will instead do the “Enchanted” version of each weaponskill, which combine for (tent) 930 potency, nearly doubling the power. Because your melee abilities are fueled by mana you will need to build using your spell rotation before laying down the hurt.

The last portion of the rotation concerns RDM’s two nukes Verflare and Verholy. They can only be used after casting Enchanted Redoublement. Their place in the main rotation is as the end cap after building mana and striking in melee range, you will burst with one of these two 550 potency spells. Once you do, however, you will be imbalanced as whichever you used will add 21 to its’ type of mana. With your rotation reset, you will have to deal with that imbalance as you start again.

Red Mage brings some group synergy with Embolden a 20% magic damage self-buff with a 10% physical damage buff to all those around the RDM though, both of these effects decay by a fifth every 4 seconds. At first, it seems weird that RDM can only buff half of its’ own damage, however the tooltips for each melee skill say that they deal “Unaspected” damage and are likely treated as magic! Red Mage also brings utility in the fact that it can cure with the same potency as Summoner’s Physic with Vercure and even raise with Verraise.

It seems like Red Mage will be an easy swap in for Summoner in statics that had one. The only suspect area of its’ kit is the AoE which traditionally is the purview of the caster slot. They have Scatter, a fast casting 100 potency spell that gains 3 black and white mana normally, and is enhanced to 8 of both due to a proc called Enhanced Scatter. Moulinet is their AoE weaponskill that deals 60 potency unless you have more than 30 of both mana, in which case it is upgraded to Enchanted Moulinet, the potency of which, we are not sure of yet. Lastly, they gain a 300 potency off-GCD spell called Contre Sixte, although it has a hefty 45 second cooldown. All this together will definitely put Red Mage ahead of most Melee in AoE damage, but it may fall slightly short versus the other Caster options. We’ll have to see the numbers in practice. Though if things pan out, we’ll be able to remove that “Master of None” part of their description.

Go Next to see Black Mage in action

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Black Mage

Black Mage, like its fellow caster Summoner, was left out in the colds of Coerthas for Heavensward. The prevalent meta composition eschewed casters for Ranged DPS with more synergistic group buffs. Black Mage also had a huge jump in complexity with the introduction of Enochian. With all of the movement and invulnerability phases in harder content, a giant rift was created between average Black mages, and those that could manage it all. In order to fix this, Stormblood adds some mobility options, including an awesome cooldown, and a fun teleportation spell, while further emphasizing the Black Mage’s deepening mastery of the darker side of magic.

Let’s talk about that Job UI first. Black Mage has the busiest UI however it will be easy for long time Black Mages to understand after watching it in action. First off, there are Red and Blue pips for your stacks of Astral Fire and Umbral Ice around the center ring. On the right side is a graphic that ticks down according to your Enochian timer, which I will explain later. And at the bottom are your current Umbral Hearts. Umbral Hearts are obtained by casting Blizzard IV. These hearts reduce the cost of your next spell that is affected by Astral Fire to their normal MP cost. This gives you so many more casts of Fire IV in the long run, as they all are reduced to their base cost of 1200 MP. Flare also benefits from Umbral Hearts. A trait after level 60 allows you to use all of your remaining hearts to decrease Flare’s cost by 2/3rds so it will only take a third of your remaining mana when you cast it.

The developers mentioned that they wanted to change Enochian to help bridge the gap between skilled and lesser skilled players. So what happened? Enochian is now a 5% magic damage buff that is maintained by keeping either Astral Fire, or Umbral Ice up. In fact, you can only initiate Enochian while already under those effects. This means that as long as you don’t drop either buff you will always have Enochian’s buff. Now, for those with more skill, keeping Enochian up for 30 seconds grants a buff called Polyglot which allows you to cast a new spell. Foul is an AoE spell shown in the Job Ability trailer, that delivers a 650-potency attack to one enemy and then 10% less for each other enemy affected until it drops to 325 potency to everything after the fifth target.

Black Mage also receives new cooldowns and more new spells. The first of which is Between the Lines, a spell like Aetherial Manipulation that teleports the caster to their ley lines on a 3 second cooldown. This will have a skilled Black Mage zipping around, Aetherial Manipulating to their party members for mechanics and quickly returning to ley lines for continued exploding.

Next, Black Mage gets an AoE DoT in the form of Thunder IV, which replaces Thunder II which has been made an AoE as well. Thunder IV is 50 potency, and leaves a 30 potency DoT on every enemy hit for 18 seconds and yes, it does proc thundercloud. Up next is the 90 second cooldown Triplecast which makes the next three casts have no cast time as long as you cast all three within its’ duration of 15 seconds. This is perhaps the most exciting new ability as it will help immensely with movement. Being able to continue up to 3 casts of your rotation while navigating hazards will be invaluable. Lastly, I want to mention that Manawall and Manaward have been combined into the new Manaward spell. Manaward now negates damage up to 30% of the caster’s maximum HP. Black Mages have had their kit streamlined and the developers have answered most of the player’s concerns. Go forth and explode!

Go Next to see Summoner in action

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Summoner & Bahamut

 

Even though it was a victim of the Caster purge from the prevalent meta compositions in Heavensward, Summoner was still pretty utilized in the speed-running community. Their DoTs and awesome AoE burst gave them the advantage on a few floors of Alexander. Right now, Summoner is in a pretty good spot. So, what could they gain in Stormblood? Well, there is the problem of the egi. The dev team has said that adding new ones would probably result in them being under, or over utilized, as it is hard to give options without a clear winner. So, they got creative. Summoners can look forward to a consolidation of DoTs, a new party buff, and the apparent answer to our egi problems in a big, big way.

Summoners, like all Jobs, now have a couple of unique Job UI elements. First is the on-screen representation of their Aetherflow stacks, which when used double as a representation of your Aethertrail stacks as well. Once you enter Dreadwyrm Trance, a timer appears on screen, and stays through to a second use of Dreadwyrm Trance after which, it starts to glow. The reason for this is Summoner’s new second phase of channeling Bahamut.

After each trance, the Summoner gains a stack of Bahamut Aether. Once they gain two stacks of Bahamut Aether, the Summoner is able to use the new Summon Bahamut ability. This replaces your current pet with Demi-Bahamut for 20 seconds. During this time, Demi-Bahamut executes an action named Shockwave each time the Summoner uses an action. The second new ability that is available only while Demi-Bahamut is summoned is Enkindle Bahamut. As most Summoners know, Enkindle orders your current pet to use its’ unique and usually high potency attack. Demi-Bahamut uses Ahk Morn, that’s right, the real deal although on a 13 second cooldown. This is the big-ticket change, and is pretty awesome, but it is a small part of the new Summoner.

It was said in the Live letter that now most multi-tiered abilities that do the same thing will be condensed into one high level spell eventually. As Summoners main DoTs were Bio, Miasma and Bio II, you can probably sense what is coming. Now Summoners have two DoTs, Bio III and Miasma III. With this change, Fester has also been adjusted by lowering its potency to 200 with both DoTs applied. Tri-Disaster now inflicts a target with the highest available Bio and Miasma, and boosts the potency of all Ruin spells for 15 seconds. Also of note is that entering Dreadwyrm Trance resets the cooldown of Tri-Disaster which reinforces it’s use upon entering the trance. Now, I know the developers just collapsed most of the other spells, but Ruin I, II, and III while similar have different uses so they will all be used at max level, and there’s more!

 

Ruin IV has been added as a new spell. This spell can only be cast as a result of a 15% proc after your pet uses a spell or weaponskill. This Ruin Mastery proc also reduces the recast of your normal pets enkindle by 10 seconds each time it occurs thanks to the level 68 trait, Enhanced Enkindle.

Speaking of the less awesome non-Bahamut pets, there have been a few adjustments. One is a new Summoner spell called Aetherpact which orders your pet to use Devotion on a 90 second cooldown. Devotion, the pet ability, increases the potency of all attack and healing magic for all party members within a 30-yalm radius by 5%. It also reduces the damage taken by those affected by 5%. What’s this? A party buff for a caster?! Awesome. It doesn’t replace Foe’s Requiem, but it is a nice extra to make Summoners more desirable. The most impactful change for pets is the removal of Contagion. Garuda now has the ability, (Needs tooltip) which buffs the Summoner’s damage on the target by 5% for 15 seconds. Will this finally give more merit to choosing Ifrit over Garuda? Does the loss of Contagion mean anything now that Tri-Disaster will always be available for every Dreadwyrm Trance, and the DoTs last at least 24 seconds now? Summoner is one of the most changed Jobs, and there are still a lot of questions, but screw it, we get Bahamut!

Go Next to see Ranged DPS Role Action and Jobs in action

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Role Actions

Consolidating the Ranged DPS role based skills made a lot of sense. Both of them have to bring the same invaluable utility, but they were doing it in different ways. So, something had to be done, but what? First off ranged DPS gain Second Wind at level 8. which is basically unaltered from the current version other than a small potency buff to 500. All of the Graze abilities from Machinist have been shared with Bard here: Head Graze your silence, Arm Graze a stun, Leg Graze which inflicts a 40% heavy, and Foot Graze a bind, are all available. None of these abilities deal any damage, which to me, shows a move away from using these abilities as rotation filler and may show an emphasis on using CC abilities in a more targeted manner.

Peloton is the genericized version of Swfitsong, now available to Machinist, gained at level 20. This is pretty great, but I do lament the loss of Job specific flavor here, but that’s a small complaint. Thankfully Invigorate has been added to the shared abilities for the ranged jobs at level 24, restoring 400 TP every two-minutes.

The first of the really interesting shared abilities is Tactician at level 32. This ability is the replacement for both the Rook Turret’s Promotion effect and Bard’s Army’s Paeon, and gives every nearby party member a 30 second TP restoration effect. One interesting side effect of this new ability is that once the effect is applied, the party can wander away from each other and not lose it. This is a sneaky buff to the use of both Tactician and Refresh when having to deal with heavy movement/teleportation during fights, and for dungeon content. The Aforementioned Refresh is your MP restoring effect with the same duration gained at level 36. Both skills have a cooldown of 180 seconds, but they do not share this cooldown, which is another great change. Now you can restore both TP and MP at any time with the press of a button! The last shared ability Palisade is a new type of utility. This reduces a party member’s incoming physical damage by 20% for 10 seconds on a 150-second cooldown. With all of the other cooldowns and damage reduction that other Jobs are getting in Stormblood it seems like there will be more of a focus on sharing the responsibility of covering party members with mitigation in order to survive. It makes sense then, that Ranged DPS get this, a physical version of the Caster DPS ability Apocatastasis.

Both of our Ranged DPS jobs have been reworked in huge ways, all of which would have been practically impossible without adding these shared abilities. The important TP/MP restoration abilities had to stay, but having two separate paths to the same buff wasn’t ideal, so shifting them into these consolidated effects relieved some of the balance issues. It would seem like homogenizing the support options would remove quite a bit of the flavor of these Jobs. Though, as we have seen, this just let the designers bring more fun and interesting abilities to both jobs.

Go Next to see Bard in action

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BRD – You might want to sit down

So…  Where to begin? Bard is in a great spot right now, because of the amazing utility that it brings while keeping some of the highest DPS in the game. The rub is, it had to be completely changed to do so. The inclusion of The Wanderer’s Minuet was controversial. All of a sudden Bards had to stand still and cast, which means they had to deal with all of the downsides of being a caster, while also having to have good party awareness to pick the right song timings, and even cleanse the Warrior every once in a while. Good news ARR Bards, you can move again! Bad news, you’ve got some learning to do.

The biggest change is to the mechanics of songs. Army’s Peon, Mage’s Ballad and The Wanderer’s Minuet have been completely reworked. They’re all now stance-like and have a 2% critical hit rate buff and last 30 seconds with an 80 second cooldown. In addition, they react to your DoTs renamed as Caustic Bite and Stormbite, in different ways. Army’s Paeon grants stacks of Repertoire upon each DoT crit that increase the Bard’s damage dealt, weaponskill cast time, recast time, and auto-attack delay by 4% which stacks up to 16%. Mage’s Ballad now has the traditional Bloodletter and Rain of Death procs on DoT crit. The Wanderer’s Minuet functions like the others but upon a DoT crit, you proc the ability to use Pitch Perfect, a new off-GCD attack that delivers an attack that has variable potency depending on the number of stacks you had when you unleash it. It goes from 100 potency at one stack all the way up to 420 potency at three stacks. Because of the duration of each song, and the recast of 80 seconds, it seems as though Bard’s will be rotating songs throughout a fight in a set order. The last piece of the song puzzle is a new trait that immediately triggers the special effects (gaining stacks, or Bloodletter procs) of any song if you cast Empyreal Arrow during it. Because Empyreal Arrow has a 15 second cooldown it will be optimal to trigger this twice during any song while keeping your stacks from capping out.

These songs also interact with another new ability called Troubadour. This is the “flute skill” that has sparked a lot of conversation. When you use Troubadour, you trigger a party survivability buff depending on your current song, for the entire duration of said song. Mage’s Ballad adds a 15% Maximum HP buff to all allies, Army’s Paeon reduces the party’s physical vulnerability by 10%, and Wanderer’s Minuet reduces Magic Vulnerability by the same amount. As Troubadour is on a very long 3-minute cooldown it seems that Bard’s will have to think about the optimal time and optimal effect for a certain phase of a fight. Battle voice returns as a 3-minute cooldown that increases the direct hit rate of all party members under the effect of your songs by 15% for 20 seconds.  Which seems very strong, but will we have to see where direct hit ends up in the hierarchy of secondary stats. “What about Foes?”, you ask? Well Foe Requiem is now a 3% enemy damage dealt debuff that drains MP as it used to. I weep for the Bard-Caster synergy.

Bard is all about songs, however they did receive a couple new abilities. The first is a new name for an old effect. Nature’s Minne is a single target Mantra. This ability increases the HP recovery via healing magic by 20% for 15 seconds on a 45 second cooldown. An interesting bit of utility, to be sure, and will most likely be a tank’s best friend… Or maybe that one person in your static that ends up with weakness all the time! Lastly, they get Refulgent Arrow. This is an off-GCD weaponskill with a potency of 300 that procs while under the effect of Straighter Shot. This is probably a replacement for Bloodletter due to the fact that it now only procs under the effect of Mage’s Ballad. Because of MP and TP regen being moved to the role based action set as Refresh and Tactician, Bard had to change. Now more Bard-like than ever before, the focus is on finding the optimal rotation of songs for a fight and keeping all of their effects straight in your head!

Go Next to see Machinist in action

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MCH – So hot right now

 

Machinist had a great “rags to riches” story in Heavensward. From the laughingstock of the DPS jobs to an almost auto include for the prevalent meta. Machinist is inexorably tied to Bard, as they both share so much of the same mechanics including the cast time for their spells, and TP/MP regen. So, when you hear that Bards won’t need to stand still to cast in Stormblood, rest assured that Machinist got the same treatment. But they didn’t stop there! Machinist, has undergone a transformation, and now has a very interesting “Heat” management mechanic. How does it work?

The new Machinist Job UI has three elements. A representation of your current Ammunition which maxes out at three charges now, an indicator for your turret’s status, and the Heat Gauge. The Heat Gauge is a 0 – 100 indicator of your current level of heat. This is because Gauss Barrel has been changed into an off-GCD that increases damage dealt by 5% and causes each weaponskill cast to gain heat. If you ever reach 100 heat you will gain the Overheated debuff and your damage will be reduced by 20% for 10 seconds. After which Gauss barrel is deactivated and put on a 10 second cooldown.

To manage said heat, Machinist has received a couple of new abilities. The first of which is Cooldown, a new weaponskill that reduces your heat gauge by 25. It seems like you will want to use it to stay in the 50 – 99 range as it is 230 potency in that range, but 150 if you are lower than that. Barrel Stabilizer is a new ability that sets your Heat Gauge to 50 on a 120-second cooldown. Of note, is the stipulation that you have to be in combat to use it, and that it cannot be used while you are Overheated. As of writing, we do not have access to the tooltip for the new Flamethrower moves shown off in the trailer, but we did see it increase heat per tick, so I am sure that it will also be a quick way to build heat up to the 50 heat threshold. Your current level of heat affects your abilities in myriad ways, so lets’ go over what we know.

The bread and butter of the Machinist, their shot weaponskills, have been changed. Slug and Clean shot still gain more potency depending on the previous shot procced or not, and Ammunition still buffs that proc chance to 100%, but it now also adds a 25-potency buff to each shot. Machinists receive a trait at level 64 that replaces your Split Shot, Slug Shot, and Clean Shot with “Heated” variations of themselves if you are over 50 heat. Each of these receive a 30-potency bump over their non-heated counterparts. In addition, Heated Split Shot, and Heated Slug Shot are buffed further by ammunition. If you cast all three while heated and with ammunition, that three weaponskill combo will deliver a whopping 895 potency. Keep in mind though, that Clean and Heated Clean shot do not receive any buffs from being performed with ammunition, so make sure to use your last stack of ammo on Slug Shot/Heated Slug shot. Wildfire has also seen a change, most likely because of the increase in overall potency. Wildfire is now a 90 second cooldown that explodes for 25% of the damage done while it was active, which is a duration of 10 seconds. Sure, it is a bit of a nerf, but with the change in potency, it will still hit like a rocket boosted truck.

Conspicuously missing from the Job Ability trailer were the Machinist’s little buddies, the Rook and Bishop turret. Fret not, they aren’t going anywhere, unless you command them to. Your turrets can be commanded to go into overdrive which causes them to deliver a high potency attack and then be withdrawn from battle for 30 seconds. Rook Overdrive will deal a single target 400-potency attack, while the Bishop turret will deal a 300-potency AoE. This is not to be confused with Hypercharge, which still exists much the same as in Heavensward. The vulnerability bestowed by the turrets has been decreased to 5%, however. Machinist is a Job transformed. We’ll need to see how it pans out against the other DPS, but with its’ great utility and according to these potency amounts, I wouldn’t bet against this new toolkit.

Go Next to see Melee DPS Role Actions & Jobs in action

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Role Actions

The shared role abilities chosen for the melee Jobs are a mix of “Awesome!” and… “Whaaa?”. The first is good old Second Wind which you will be able to pick at level 8. It has been boosted a bit to 500 potency, with the same cooldown. Arm’s Length is the ability you will receive at level 12. This creates a barrier around you that inflicts a 30% slow on any enemy that attacks you, for 15 seconds. Because of the PvP changes, this ability is probably not available in PvP which means it is intended for PvE use. What could we do with it? Well, there are a couple of times where Melee has to tank an add (A12S, I am looking at you) so if this works, it could help in those rare situations. At level 16 all Melee roles receive their stun in Leg Sweep. The interesting change for this ability is that it now deals no damage and has a 40 second cooldown, with presumably no traits to shorten it. This should make sure that it is not just off-GCD fodder to deal more damage, and may point to a need for more precise CC timing in PvE content.

Diversion is next at level 20. The ability is basically Quelling Strikes, reduce enmity generation for 15 seconds on a 120-second cooldown, useful! TP regen is now standard thanks to the inclusion of Invigorate at level 24. 400 TP every 120 seconds, this will be on your bars 99% of the time for sure.

Moving on to level 32, all melee receive Bloodbath. The cooldown has remained the same at 90 seconds, however the duration has been boosted to 20 seconds from 15. Also, probably because the tooltips aren’t quite final yet, it does not specify how much physical damage is converted to HP, however the rate of conversion is currently 25%. Rejoice Melee, for the TP shall flow from the Heavens! Everyone gets Goad! Goad, if you needed a reminder, is a 3-minute cooldown that refreshes the TP of the target party member over 30 seconds, and was previously a Ninja-exclusive ability. This is a great boon for double melee compositions that didn’t include Ninja. At level 40 all melee have access to some party utility in Feint. Previously a Dragoon cross class skill that saw limited use, except for as a filler, Feint is now a 15% Strength and Dexterity debuff for 10 seconds. It seems that the effect of Virus (enhanced by super virus) has been split and Melee now can help mitigate physical damage. Best of all, feint does not leave the immunity that Virus does on the target, meaning you can chain this effect for as along you have melee to use it.

Next, at level 44 is Crutch. This is an ability that removes bind and heavy from a target party member other than yourself. But… Why? If this ability is for only available in PvE, I have a hard time thinking of why you would bring this to any fight we’ve seen so far. Lastly, at level 48 is True North, an ability that nullifies all positional requirements for your weaponskills for 15 seconds on a 150-second cooldown. While definitely situational, this is a welcome addition for those moments where you have to move away from the flank/rear of a boss.

Using the encounters that we have seen so far; Invigorate, Diversion, Feint, Goad, and Leg Sweep seems like the best base loadout, though adding most of the others when survivability is need makes a lot of sense. It is mainly Crutch that seems… suspect. It is awesome that these utility cooldowns have been consolidated and shared, and I think it is very telling that none of them directly add any DPS. This really lets the designers focus on each Job’s unique style of damage without having to replicate functionality that would just be a re-skin.

Go Next to see Samurai in action

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SAM – You’ll need to study the blade

 

Samurai is here! As shown in the live letter stream and Job trailer, Samurai is a stylish DPS with a unique battle flow. What wasn’t shown is that they hit like a 10-ton truck, have very interesting optimization options and are the most selfish Job we’ve had so far.

Samurai has two unique resources. The first, Sen, are three tokens used to power a weaponskill called Iaijutsu. Depending on the number of Sen you have, casting Iaijutsu will use a different skill. 1 allows you to use Higanbana, a 60 second, 35 potency DoT with an immediate 240 potency hit. 2 Sen casts Tenka Goken a circular AoE with 360 potency but scaling akin to flare or holy. 3 Sen allows you to use Midare Setsugekka – a 720 potency attack that makes Fell cleave seem like angrily bashing someone with a pool noodle.

The second resource is your Kenki (Keniki) gauge. This is charged by most weaponskills and powers a sub set of moves all beginning with Hissatsu (certain kill). These consist of things like your gap closer, Hissatsu: Gyoten and, the disengage Hissatsu: Yaten that both deal 100 potency and cost 10 Kenki. Hissatsu: Kyuten is an off-GCD AoE at a potency of 150 and a cost of 25 Kenki that you will be weaving into the AoE rotation. Hissatsu: Shinten, is an off-GCD 300 potency attack that costs 25 Kenki but has a really short recast of 1 second probably meant to be weaved in to your rotation as a way to keep from capping Kenki. Hissatsu: Kaiten is a buff that increases the potency of your next weaponskill by an astonishing 150%. Yeah, you read that right. This would increase the potency of Midare Setsugekka to over 1000, and should boost the damage of your DoT, Higanbana as well. This ability costs 20 Kenki, and has a 5 second recast so you can bet that any time you plan on using either of those Sen attacks, you will be using this. Finally, we have Hissatsu: Gurren an AoE attack that costs 50 kenki, but for that you will be using the highest potency attack in the game at a hilarious 800 potency.  It does scale with enemies hit however, 800 to the first, 600 to the second and only 400 to all others hit.

Samurai build Sen and Kenki by rotating through a series of weapon skills that start with Hakaze a rote 150 potency skill that branches into three combos, each building Kenki per hit and ending in an ability that gains one unique Sen. Because of this, you will need to perform each branch to gain all three Sen, gaining and spending Kenki along the way to utilize the Hissatsu skills mentioned earlier. Even Samurai’s AoE abilities build Kenki, and Sen, though there is one less branch to traverse as you are meant to use the 2 Sen spender Tenka Goken. Kenki, while usually generated by using the weaponskills in your combos, can also be generated during downtime by using Meditation, a once a minute ability that regenerates Kenki while not attacking. Ageha, an off-GCD 250 potency attack also has an interesting bonus for the Samurai. If you deal the killing blow to an enemy with this ability, it will generate 20 Kenki instead of its’ normal 10 which will probably be a boon in quick pulls or short AoE phases. Lastly, there is an ability that converts Sen to Kenki at 20 Kenki per Sen called Hagakure which can be used every 40 seconds. Balancing both resources while using every GCD to its’ full potential will be the mark of a good Samurai.

Samurai has a bit of utility in a damage reduction cooldown called Third Eye that dampens damage from one attack by 20% every 15 seconds. Even that branches into two abilities, one which allows you to heal yourself for 500 potency in Merciful Eyes or you could lash out with a 200 potency off-GCD strike at the cost of 25 Kenki. That’s about it… Notice something missing? Samurai has no party utility at all outside of the slashing debuff that it shares with Ninja and Warrior. Hopefully the raw damage that it deals will ensure Samurai a slot in your party. But, heck, even Monk had Mantra and Dragon kick…

Go Next to see Monk in action

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MNK – Synergy and other buzz words

Other than Paladin, Monk is the Job that most people were expecting to see grand changes to help it find a place in the meta going forward. While capable of great damage on its’ own, the lack of contribution to the party ended up in Monk never quite seeing its’ full potential. Thankfully Monk gains that sorely needed party synergy along with more mobility, interesting self-preservation, and a couple of new rotational questions.

The three new “Riddle” Abilities are related to the three elemental fists monks already have. Riddle of Wind seems to be a mobility increase with a slight buff to damage of shoulder tackle as it allows for a second tackle after casting the first. Riddle of Earth gives them a reactive 10% incoming damage decrease, and gives shoulder tackle a knockback. Riddle of Fire however, is the main rotation changer. Under riddle of fire, you receive a 20% Damage increase, but a 30% speed reduction for 20 seconds. This seems to be something you’d want to pop while at max grease stacks and under as many buffs as you can to maximize the damage while mitigating that speed decrease (which would be a net -15%). Where this is going to fit into the delicate Perfect Balance open is a  question I’ll leave to the professional Monks.

In addition, they receive both utility and a new self-buff in the ability Brotherhood, which gives all party members a 5% increase to damage dealt, while giving them a chance, upon using a weapon skill, to add a stack of Chakra to the MNK. Chakra that will be utilized alongside their new trait that gives the MNK a 30% chance to gain a stack of chakra on landing a crit with a weaponskill. This is going to enforce the usage of Forbidden Chakra as an intermittent 230 potency oGCD BOOM. All of this is to say… WTF Tornado Kick? Tornado Kick is still too much of a trade-off to be useful in anything but the “Meh, my stacks would run out anyway” situation. Though, with the addition of Riddle of Earth, once every minute you can extend Greased Lighting to refresh the duration back to 16 seconds so… Why was Tornado Kick’s cooldown lowered to 10 seconds? Will it turn out that Tornado kick could be used more often somehow? We’ll have to see it in practice!

Go Next to see Dragoon in action

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DRG – Anything Estinien can do, I can do better

 

Dragoon was almost an auto-include for most raid groups in Heavensward. Their strong damage, piercing debuff and critical hit buff ensured that they were never unwelcome. They had their problems though, as maintaining their premier mechanic Blood of The Dragon, created a cavernous rift between good Dragoons, and mediocre ones.  The abilities gained in Stormblood are here to bridge that gap a little. They also continue the theme of the Dragoon embracing more and more of the Dragon’s power.

Dragoon retains its’ central mechanic of Blood of the Dragon, which is the focus of its’ Job UI, the Dragon Gauge. When Blood of the Dragon is active the UI shows a meter representing your time left on the buff which is pretty straightforward, but directly above that is a dragon’s eye which opens further as you perform a new action. After the Dragoon uses Jump or Spineshatter Dive they trigger a buff called Dive Ready, which enables the use of Mirage Dive. This is the ability shown in the live letter that looked like a dragon diving onto the enemy. It is an off-GCD with 200 potency that adds an eye to your Dragon Gauge. Once you gain four eyes, using Geirskogul will activate the new mode, Life of the Dragon. While this status is active, Geirskogul is changed to a new ability called Nastrond, which is a 320-potency attack with the same range and shape as Geirskogul on a 10 second cooldown. Once in Life of the Dragon, the timer resets to 15 seconds and you have that long to possibly get in two Nastrond uses.

Other than that new mode, Dragoon also receives a new party buff, well a party member buff. Dragon Sight is a new two-minute cooldown that grants a 10% damage buff to the Dragoon, and a 5% damage bonus to your target as long as you stay within 6 yalms of each other, that’s right, you are tethered together, best friends!

It has a 15 second duration and it does not end when you are out of range, it always lasts for 15 seconds, but the damage buff is only active when you are together within range. Dragoon has a new AoE weaponskill that combos from Doom Spike called Sonic Thrust, which is a 170-potency attack for 120 TP.

As an ease of use change, Geirskogul does not decrease your current timer for Blood of the Dragon anymore, ensuring that Blood of the Dragon is easier to maintain, especially with the changes to Wheeling Thrust and Fang and Claw.  You can now combo Wheeling Thrust into Fang and Claw, or vice versa. This is how the Dragoon in the Job ability trailer boosted their Blood of the Dragon timer by 20 after their combo which will make it much easier to maintain the buff through the phases leading up to the use of Life of the Dragon, even when the boss is doing its’ best to stymie you. All of these changes put Dragoon is an amazing spot. More utility, more damage, and a much easier time maintaining your buffs mean that a wide swath of players will see huge DPS increases. The question is, how high is the skill ceiling? When you switch to Life of the Dragon, can you retain all of the remaining timer on Blood of the Dragon? In the trailer, the Dragoon has below 15 seconds and it increases to 15 when triggered. Is that a minimum or a maximum? Time will tell.

Go Next to see Ninja in action

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NIN – Like one of my Japanese Animes!

Ninja has seen some awesome changes over the course of Heavensward. Some ease of use, and some created fun rotational wrinkles. However, some like Dancing Edge and its’ slashing debuff, proved to be a thorn in its’ side, a mandatory button-press and a huge DPS loss if not present. With Stormblood, the time is right to condense some of the annoying and underutilized abilities and focus on what make a Ninja unique. To that end, Ninja has gained a new mudra enhancing cooldown, some new mobility buffs, and the ability to summon a giant frog. Believe it!

*Although the tool tip mentions the slashing debuff in relation to PvP, recent footage from the Live Letter showed this debuff proc in field areas.

First on the chopping block was Dancing Edge. Now, Shadow Fang also applies the Slashing Debuff and your one DoT. It is your only DoT as Mutilate is also out of here. Next up was the poisons, gone are the days of forgetting to put them on during a level synced instance! In their place are a couple of traits that give you the same percentage damage buff. This does mean that Jugulate will now always silence an enemy, and Mug loses the ability to drain HP. Ninja also loses Sneak Attack, as its’ usage was probably deemed to be to niche. Most of these changes are for the better, just pruning abilities and combining effects where it makes sense. This is all offset by the new features in Stormblood.

The major new addition that was shown during the Job Action trailer is Ninja’s Ninki Gauge that powers all of Ninja’s new abilities. A Ninja gains Ninki by landing auto-attacks and can gain 30 by using Mug, thanks to a new trait. Which adds even more importance to keeping Huton active.  The first of which is Hellfrog Medium, an instant cast ability which is a 400-potency AoE centered on your target that costs 80 Ninki. Depending on how Ninki generation works, this could be a great boon for the otherwise lack luster Ninja AoE. The second new ability is Bhavacakra, a 550-potency off-GCD attack that also costs 80 Ninki, with a 50 second cooldown. Bhavacakra gives Ninja much needed burst when compared with all of the new attacks the other Jobs are receiving.  The only problem is that as it uses the Ninki gauge, you can’t use it with this next ability.

Ten-Chi-Jin is the “Mudra leylines” ability shown in the Job ability trailer. It is an off-GCD with a 100 second cooldown that eliminates the consumption of mudras for Ninjutsu, while resetting the Ninjutsu cooldown. In better terms, it allows you to cast multiple mudra ninjutsu without having to wait on the cooldown. You can, for instance use Ten, cast a ninjutsu to activate Fuuma Shuriken, then use Chi, activate that to do Raiton (As you have now press Ten->Chi) and then finish it by using Jin, and casting Ninjutsu to use Suiton (Ten->Chi->Jin). Phew… It sounds complicated when you write it, but most ninja player will immediately understand it. This is a great boon as casting in that order would be 780 potency and set you up to use Trick attack immediately after. One question to think about is its’ interaction with Kassatsu, the ability to remove your ninjutsu cooldown and cause the next jutsu cast to be a crit. Does this expire on the first cast? Can it be held for that Raiton? We’ll just have to experiment. Ten-Chi-Jin seems like a great utilization of the ninja fantasy, casting jutsu at blistering speeds and with a multitude of different effects.

Go Next to see Tanks Role Actions & Jobs in action

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Role Actions

The shared role abilities for Tanks are a great collection of mitigation, enmity tools and utility. Just like healers, the only problem might be that you’d want all 10 of them. The first one is Rampart gained at level 8, which is basically unchanged from the version in game now. This includes that Enhanced Rampart trait that makes it a 90 second cooldown with 20 second duration that reduces all damage taken by 20%. At level 12 is the shared stun, Low Blow, which means Paladin gets an off-GCD stun, hooray! Next is a pretty great early game change. Provoke is now shared at level 16 eliminating the annoying start tanks have in those first instances, and ensuring that all Tanks have this tool without having to double back and get it.

At level 20 all Tanks get access to Convalescence minus the Enhanced Convalescence trait. This leaves it as a 120 second cooldown that increases HP recovery by 20% for 20 seconds. Anticipation is a new ability at level 24 that increases your parry rate by 30% for 20 seconds every 60 seconds. At level 32 Tanks get a shared party mitigation buff previously unique to Dark Knight. Reprisal is a 60 second cooldown that lowers the targets damage done by 10% for 5 seconds. Now that is much shorter than it is right now, but as a tradeoff, it can now be used without being triggered by a parry.

Next is the ability Awareness at level 36. Yup, it is Awareness! Including the Enhance Awareness trait so that it becomes a 120 second cooldown 25 second you-can’t-crit-me ability. At level 40 Tanks get Interject an off-GCD silence with a 30 second cooldown. So far, the abilities have been very predictable, but the last two are much more interesting.

Ultimatum is a 90 second cooldown that Provokes all enemies within 5 yalms.  AoE provoke is here! Now sure, it probably isn’t an automatic pick, but this is a great idea. Lastly, at level 48, all Tanks get access to Shirk, a 120 second cooldown that diverts 25% of your enmity to another party member. Other than trolling your DPS, this is an interesting tool for tank swaps and also could be used during an opener to ensure that the main tank gets a healthy lead on enmity.

There’s nothing earth-shattering here, but that is to be expected. All of the tanks have their own distinct flavor, especially with the new abilities from Stormblood. Provoke, Rampart, Reprisal, Convalescence, Anticipation and Awareness will probably be on your bars most of the time. Shirk is interesting and a welcome new wrinkle, but most groups don’t need it right now. Low Blow and Interject will be there when you need their crowd control. Ultimatum has some use for sure, but unless we’ll have some AoE tank swaps (please no) it won’t be needed in normal circumstances. Most of the changes here were to ensure that Tanks have the tools they need at all levels, and while not exciting in a bombastic sense, it is good to know that any tank you see won’t forget to pick up Provoke. Equipping it though…

Go Next to see Paladin in action

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PLD – Requiescat in pace?

 

Paladin, the oft maligned master of mitigation, finds new life in Stormblood. During the live letter, it was mentioned that Paladin will be able to block magic, which will bring Paladin back to the main tank fold for heavy magic damage fights like A12 and super charge the mitigation of some of its’ cooldowns like Sheltron.

Rotationally, PLD receives some needed potency buffs for abilities like Goring Blade, and Royal Authority. PLD seems to be embracing the Magic-crusader archetype with the new abilities Requiescat and Holy Spirit. Requiescat is a 350-potency nuke that only deals its’ max damage at max MP. In addition, using the ability buffs all of your other magic damage and healing for 12s every minute. This should create a MP burn/conserve rotation for paladin damage in which you get as many casts of the other new ability, Holy Spirit as you can. Holy Spirit is a casted nuke with a potency of 430 or around 506 with the Requiescat buff, which is similar to the potency of fell cleave. On top of those Paladin gains something that was sorely missed, a spamable AoE sword strike called Total Eclipse.

On the defense side, PLD gains possibly the flashiest skill in the game with “Passage of Arms” and Oath Gauge spenders in Intervention and Sheltron. Passage of Arms is a channeled 15% damage reduction for your party, and a 100% block rate buff for the caster with a cooldown of two minutes. Besides the obvious “Teraflare/Boss LB” mitigation use, this could be a nice ability to help during multi-hit tank busters to block each hit.  Intervention is a cover-like ability that reduces the damage taken by a party member, with an interesting wrinkle in that it gains a bonus if you are currently under the effects of Rampart or Sentinel which gives it a potential max of 25% damage reduction to another party member.

Sheltron has been changed from a long cooldown mitigation tool, to a low cooldown (5 Second) Oath spender which will most likely be an emergency MP regen tool as well as its’ tried and true mitigation usage. Hopefully the addition of some great offensive options and the continued focus on damage mitigation brings Paladin back into the spotlight. If not… At least Passage of Arms is really, really shiny.

Go Next to see Dark Night in action

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DRK – The Complex Tank?

The live letter and Job ability trailer sort of left Dark Knight without much explanation. In Heavensward, Dark Knight has been a stellar tank as of late, and really rewards good MP management with great mitigation and damage. Stormblood adds a couple new tools including a giant sledgehammer.

Dark Knight gains a new feature in the Blood Gauge. Much like the other jobs with new Gauges, this powers some of the best new abilities. You gain Blood (for the Blood Gauge!) from a few weaponskills and abilities including Souleater, Blood Price and Blood Weapon, which gives 3 points each time you use an auto-attack or weaponskill. Using the gauge on top of managing MP and toggling Grit/Darkside and Dark Arts will be the mark of a great DRK. But, what does the gauge power?

On the offensive side, you have a new cooldown version of Delirium, a new AoE, Quietus and, the aforementioned sledgehammer in Bloodspiller. Delirium costs 50 Blood Gauge but extends the time of Blood Weapon by 8 seconds. Quietus is a AoE boosted by Dark Arts to 210 potency, but also costs 50 points from your gauge. Bloodspiller costs the same amount but, is a single target weaponskill that has a staggering 650 potency while in grit (520 without) and being boosted by Dark Arts.

Defensively, your level 70 ability is The Blackest Night, which seems to be the shielding ability shown in the Job Ability trailer. Unfortunately, we do not have the tooltip for it. Otherwise, as with all tanks, Dark Knight can pick up most of the awesome defensive abilities available in the shared role options like Rampart, Reprisal, Convalescence and Anticipation. Dark Knight is in a great spot as Heavensward draws to a close. Enhancing their damage, while giving them a useful shielding ability  just ensures that they’ll be a great option going into Omega, with what we know.

Go Next to see Warrior in action

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WAR – SIX FELL CLEAVES? End segment.

Are you still reading? Fine. Warrior is in a great spot right now. They have the combination of high DPS, good utility in their slashing debuff and damage dealt debuff, and stellar mitigation. What could you possibly add? Or, more accurately, what did you lose for “Moar Fell Cleaves”? Surprisingly a small drop in utility, a little more emphasis on smart stance dancing, and a shiny new UI element.

Warrior trades in its’ Wrath stack mechanic for a Beast Gauge. Basically, most abilities that generated a stack now generate an amount of your new Gauge, and skills like Fell Cleave, Unchained, Steel Cyclone and Inner Beast now cost 50 points from this gauge. The biggest change is that swapping stances reduces the current amount of the gauge by half. This probably will incentivize players to spend most of their gauge before swapping stances, unless there is an emergency. But hey… If Fell Cleave costs 50, how could you possibly do six of them? Warriors new ability, Inner Release halves the consumption of the Beast Gauge for 20 seconds enabling you to stuff double the amount of bestial goodness in that time. Coupled with Infuriate’s ability to gain 50 points of your Gauge, that 20 seconds is going to be filled with Fell Cleaves. Especially since there is a trait which reduces the recast of Infuriate by 5 seconds on each Fell cleave cast.

In other changes, Maim and Storm’s Eye’s buffs have been swapped and the damage buff from Maim has been increased from 16 seconds to 24. Berserk, loses the pacification penalty so say goodbye to everyone’s favorite berserk macro.  The new triple-punch damage skill Upheaval adds an oGCD burst of 300 potency seemingly made to fit with Berserk because of its’ 30 second cooldown. The gap closer that we all marveled at during the benchmark is Onslaught a 100 potency, 15 second cooldown attack that costs 20 of your Beast Gauge.

Oh yeah… Warrior is a tank, isn’t it? I guess we can talk about the changes to some defensive abilities and utility. Storm’s path loses its’ damage dealt debuff which is a big deal, it is replaced with HP drain and boosted Beast Gauge generation. Now, that is welcome since Warrior loses the ability to have Bloodbath, since that is now a Melee Role ability. The damage dealt debuff has been made available to all Tanks in the form of Reprisal so at least it is still selectable. All of the defensive cooldowns that previously added stacks such as Vengeance and Raw Intuition do not increase your Beast Gauge which is also a bummer. Though, Warrior gains the ability Shake it Off which shrugs off most detrimental effects on a 60 second cooldown. While Warrior received some really awesome new pieces, they have lost a little bit of utility. The fact that they gained no new defensive abilities seems to say much about how awesome they already were, and with the shared role abilities, they’ll be able to pick from the best abilities anyway. I don’t see Warrior losing anything from this shake up.

Go Next to see Healers Role Actions and Jobs in action

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Role Actions

Healers win this one. There were so many annoyances and missing abilities in the current cross class lineup for healers. I mean, how many times have we heard of healers without Swiftcast alone? Those days are over! Right out of the gate, we seem huge improvements. At level 8 healers receive the reworked Cleric Stance. Now the ability itself is pretty uninspiring, a 90 second cooldown that buffs attack magic potency by 5% for 15 seconds. But the removal of the main stat switch and the weird delay that accompanied it are great. At level 16 all healers receive Protect, great, no introduction needed there.

Another shared role ability pilfered from White Mage is Esuna now gained by all healers at level 20. This is another great change, especially for those poor Scholars out there that otherwise had to wait until the mid-thirties for their equivalent. The next ability Lucid Dreaming is a 120 second cooldown that reduces enmity by half and adds an 80-potency refresh effect for 21 seconds. Shroud of Saints, is that you? Yet another ability that White Mage had is now shared between all healers. Thankfully at level 32 all healers get their hands on Swiftcast, which was an invaluable tool that could be completely missed.

Next, Eye for an Eye is now given to all healers at level 36 complete with the 120 second countdown that was previously the effect of an extra trait. Eagle eyed viewers of the Live Letter noticed that White Mage didn’t have the icon for Divine Seal and they were right. Largesse is a 90 second cooldown, gained at level 40, that has very similar effects. It increases healing magic potency by 20% for 20 seconds. This will be very interesting for Scholar and Astrologian and their healing potency based shields.

At level 44 healers have the option to use a powered up new version of Surecast. It retains the ability to cast one spell without interruption, however now it also nullifies sleep, stun, knockback and draw-in effects for up to 10 seconds. Wow, welcome to ignoring all of that annoying crap every 30 seconds. Lastly at level 48 healers gain access to Rescue a 150 second cooldown ability that annoys anyone you cast it on. Scratch that, apparently the tooltip says that it instantly draws a target party member to the caster. Now, of course, there are some great uses of this ability, but if it is off cooldown and it seems like it won’t wipe the group, I am sure some poor DPS is going to suddenly be very annoyed.

The only problem with these abilities is that most of them are incredibly useful. Lucid Dreaming, Swiftcast, Protect, Largesse are basically required. Though there is a possibility that healers will now coordinate which one will bring Protect and Esuna. Surecast is suddenly useful, and Cleric Stance is a bit underwhelming, but it is a DPS increase. Really only Break and Rescue are questionable and highly situational.

Go Next to see White Mage in action

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WHM – Flower Power

 

White Mage has recently found its’ spot in the meta usurped by the buff-slinging Astrologian. As a “Pure Healer” White Mage is invaluable during the progression phase of raiding, but as players learn to make less mistakes, and push higher damage, Astrologian and its’ buffs start to give more of a benefit, while not losing much in the way of healing throughput. Stormblood – Doesn’t fix this at all… But hey, you get a barrier type spell, an interesting stack mechanic, an awesome cooldown, bigger rocks, and some pretty flowers!

Enough with the flowers, what the heck do they do!? There is a 20% chance upon casting Cure or Cure II that you will gain a lily. Each lily gives you a stacking recast time reduction to the next spell you cast of those in this list: Asylum, Assize, Divine Benison, or Tetragrammaton. The recast reduction is 4% for one lily, 10% for two and 20% for three. So, for example, building up three lilies and using Tetragrammaton would reduce the cooldown (recast timer) of it by 20%, from 60 seconds to 48. This would basically add one extra Tetragrammaton per 5 minutes. Another trait related to this system is added at level 68, which grants a 20% chance that Asylum or Assize’s recast time is reduced by a flat 5 seconds each time a Cure or Cure II deals critical healing. It seems that the intention is for White Mage to have these tools available more often over the fight and allow them to heal while dealing with mechanics or doing damage.

A new ability among those listed is called Divine Benison. This is a 60 second cooldown that creates a barrier around a target that absorbs 15% of their current max HP in damage. Divine Benison uses all of your current lilies; however, it doesn’t scale per lily consumed, it just receives the aforementioned recast time reduction. Unrelated to the lily system is a new ability with an all new mechanic called Plenary Indulgence, and this is an interesting one. As you heal party members with Cure and Cure II (sensing a pattern here?) there is a 20% chance that they will gain stacks of Confession. These stacks last for 30 seconds and power Plenary Indulgence. Once used, this ability will cast an AoE heal centered on that target up to 30 yalms, which is the same size as Cure III, on a 15 second cooldown. The potency of the heal depends on that player’s Confession stacks, 1 Confession is a 400-potency heal, 2 is a 500-potency heal and 3 is a whopping 600-potency heal, which is 50 higher than Cure III. This is a very interesting “Stored-heal” kind of mechanic that could see some great emergency heal usage all while the White Mage uses no additional MP. On the damage side, the only new spell that White Mage receives in Stormblood is Stone IV. Though, it will feel like you are throwing boulders at your enemies with its’ 260 potency, the same as Fire IV.

White Mage does lose Shroud of Saints to the role based action list, however at level 62 they will receive one of the most versatile cooldowns yet. Thin Air is a 120-second cooldown ability that reduces the MP costs of all spells cast to zero for 12 seconds. Yup, every cast, absolutely free. The usage of this are quite amazing. From Holy spam, to emergency healing, to a flurry of raises, or just fishing for lilies. Popping Presence of Mind and Thin Air is going to turn the White Mage into a conduit of Holy power. White Mage was probably the least explained Job in the Live Letters, but one with the most additional features. Lilies, new Confession stacks and infinite (for 12 seconds…) MP, but I can’t help but feel disappointed that White Mage received no DPS synergy. With Scholar gaining a 20% crit buff, and Astrologian being Astrologian, is there room for the Pure Healer? I hope so.

Go Next to see Scholar in action

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SCH – Set it and forget it!

Scholar has long been thought of as a preventative or preemptive healer. They are the premiere “Off-Healer” in the current meta. Their job is dampening incoming damage, helping out in emergencies and putting out as much DPS as they can otherwise. Thankfully, Stormblood adds more tools to reinforce that role and add some party DPS synergy.

Excogitation is a new Aetherflow spender with a 60 second cooldown, but, is a preemptive heal that once placed on a party member triggers a 650 potency heal once they fall below 50% health. This is an amazing tool in the right hands and better yet, the tooltip does not specify if the effect has a duration. If that is true, Scholars can essentially turn a lustrate that they’d have to pay attention to, into a instantly triggered heal bomb while they deal with something else. Scholar also receives a new pet ability called Aetherpact, which triggers your fairy to use “Fey Union” that new fairy to party member tether skill seen in the live letter. It seems as though as you spend Aetherflow stacks you gain power on your new Job UI’s Faerie Gauge. Casting Aetherpact costs 10 power to initiate and Fey Union drains 10 power per tick as it heals the party member that you have designated. While Fey Union is active, your pet will do nothing but heal that target. The potency of this heal is not currently known, but considering the cost of increasing the gauge it must at least be 300 which is a very powerful regen.

Scholars will also gain two new damage abilities, Broil II and Chain Strategem. Broil II is boosted Broil with a potency of 230, but the same MP cost, which is great. Chain Stratagem is the “libra” like animation that was shown during the Job Action trailer. It is a 90 second cooldown that increases the rate at which a target is critically hit by a generous 20% for 15 seconds. Did you just hear that? as if millions of White Mages suddenly cried out in terror. While not as incredible as an Astrologian’s Balance card, this debuff will certainly help to reserve Scholar a spot in the meta, and DPS player’s hearts.

Go Next to see Astrologist in action

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AST – Oh my God, it’s full of stars.

Astrologian has had a bumpy history throughout Heavensward. It took a long while, and quite a few buffs to get them here, but now they are ubiquitous thanks to their unique buffs. Stormblood brings a Job UI to help them sort out all of their card effects, a couple of new healing and DPS options, a new type of card, and a cool down that would get them kicked out of every casino in Vegas.

The second flashiest new ability in Stormblood belongs to AST. Earthly Star is an AoE spell that you set down and press again to use its’ effect. When you trigger this trap card it deals 150 potency of damage to any enemies in range while healing allies for 675, which is just a tad higher than Benefic II. However, if you leave the AoE alone for 10 seconds it will gain the Giant Dominance effect. When you use Earthly Star under that effect the damage jumps to 200 and the heal tops out at a whopping 900 potency which is heads and shoulders above any heal currently in the game. This adds a preemptive heal for all of those “Reduce the party to 1 health” type of moments. This isn’t quite a “Oh S#!^&” button, but will reward those who know exactly when the party needs it.

Astrologian also receives two new cards and a new ability to draw them in Minor Arcana. Minor Arcana can transform your drawn card randomly into either the Lord or Lady of Crowns. The Lord of Crowns was shown in the benchmark trailer and is a card that is used to attack a single target with a potency of 300. The Lady of Crowns is a 500 potency heal to an ally. The best part of either card is that once you use minor arcana, that card sticks with you and will not be overwritten by your normal draw process. In this way, you can keep an ace up your sleeve.

The last ability that AST gets is a mulligan in the way of Sleeve Draw. Sleeve draw executes a Draw, Royal Road, Spread and Minor Arcana, and fills your Job UI with each card, 0-100 real quick. Of course, you can then decide to redraw/royal road/minor arcana from there, but it essentially lets you stack the deck every two minutes. I look forward to hearing my static’s Astrologian curse about how many Boles this ability gifts them.

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