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- FINAL FANTASY XIV: Heavensward
One of the first things I did when Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward dropped last friday was try out its three new jobs. That led to me not only leveling Dark Knight to 54, but for the past few days I've been pushing Astrologian toward 60.
During that time I've been paying attention to not only how these jobs are performing in my groups, but also what members of the community are saying about them. The consensus is that they're three of the weakest jobs in the game. Let's go over why.
Machinist: The Worst DPS in the Game
The Machinist is in the worst spot of any job in the game right now. It's intended to be a DPS (damage per second) job with a healthy amount of support. Unfortunately, its DPS output is the lowest in the game, with players wearing item level 180 gear reporting that it's somewhere around 300 to 400 less DPS than Dragoon and Monk, and noticeably lower than the comparatively support-oriented Bard.
To make matters worse, the utility it provides isn't nearly enough to make up for its low damage output. Two of its skill slots are dedicated to single target slow/snare, and two are for applying a -5% damage debuff to a single foe for 10 seconds. So, you could say that its best utility lies in Promotion, an ability that turns its turret into a World of Warcraft Shaman-like totem that provides MP or TP regeneration around it. Sadly, even this ability is underwhelming as it has a lower regeneration rate than a Bard's equivalent songs.
There are other issues that plague the job, too. For one, its RNG (random number generation) dependent combo has been regarded to by many as a pain, as it's common to be stuck on the first combo weapon skill while waiting for Reload and Quick Reload to come back up. Also, there have been complaints that Grenado Shot, the Machinist's primary means of dealing AoE (area of effect) damage has way too small of a splash damage area to be competitive with other jobs.
Lastly, there's the whole issue about Machinist's skills being the least visually impressive of what FFXIV has to offer, and there being very few oGCD (off global cooldown) skills. These two elements of the play experience result in it playing slow and feeling unsatisfying to many.
Dark Knight: Stuck Between a Paladin and Warrior
One of the biggest issues facing the Dark Knight are its defensive cooldowns. Dark Dance just isn't all that great, and somehow even worse than the Dragoon's Keen Flurry. Also, Shadow Wall is definitively worse than the Paladin's Sentinel and the Warrior's Vengeance. It would be nice if Convalescence (cross class skill) would affect Souleater to increase self-healing, but as of right now it doesn't.
Some of the skills and traits actually work against each other. Parry is an important part of damage mitigation with the Dark Knight, unlocking the ability to reduce an enemy's damage by 10% with Reprisal every 30 seconds, but Enhanced Dark Dance tosses evasion on Dark Dance when popped. As a result, the Dark Knight may evade an attack that could have been a parry, triggering Reprisal.
One of its three combo finishers is called Delirium, and unlike the equivalent for Paladin and Warrior it conflicts with an intelligence debuff of another job: the Monk's Dragon Kick. The Paladin's Rage of Halone 10% strength reduction is simply a whole lot better in most situations.
It's important to remember that compared to the Paladin, the Dark Knight doesn't have a shield to provide blocks for damage mitigation. Meanwhile, it doesn't have the huge health bar and strong healing potential of Warrior. As a result, it sits somewhere between the two jobs not being as good of a main tank as the Paladin, or off-tank as the Warrior.
Astrologian: A Story of Low Potency
Astrologian's heals have a lower potency than than its White Mage and Scholar counterparts. To make up for this, its healing spells have a lower mana cost. So, the Astrologian is objectively the worst healer of the three at healing through high damage scenarios.
To make matters worse, the Astrologian is missing powerful healing cooldowns. The White Mage can employ Benediction or Tetragrammaton to quickly heal a tank who is near death, or pop Divine Seal to improve efficiency. The Scholar can pop Sacred Soil every 30 seconds and combine it with its shield-based heals, Indomitability, and Lustrate to get out of a bad situation. The Astrologian has several underwhelming cooldowns, the worst offenders being Lightspeed and Collective Unconscious. You could say its best cooldowns are Essential Dignity and Synastry, both of which are outperformed by what the other two jobs offer.
Astrologian's card system is its saving grace.
As of right now, Astrologian's Nocturnal Sect shields conflict with Scholar shields, meaning that if you're grouped with a single Scholar you need to be playing in Diurnal Sect. Diurnal Sect is quite strong and should be the go-to for most players, but there's no getting around the feeling that the Sect system would be a whole lot more interesting if you could change stances mid-combat.
Thankfully, what it lacks in healing throughput it makes up for partially with its card system. It's not only fun to do, but provides impactful buffs on the battlefield. Nonetheless, Astrologian is in the best shape of the three new jobs, but it's still the worst healer in the game.
I've absolutely loved playing as the Astrologian and Dark Knight during the past seven days—I wish I could say the same about Machinist. However, there's no getting around the fact that they are outperformed by other jobs in the game. I happen to believe that the development team at Square Enix intentionally balanced the new jobs to be on the lower end of the spectrum to quell a surge of popularity. Whatever the case may be, I fully expect balance patches to come that will remedy the issues. The question is how long it'll take before these jobs are competitive in the endgame environment.