Playing an Underpowered Class Is One of the Worst Feelings in Gaming

Choosing a main for an MMO is an important decision. Most recently, I was in a position to decide which class I would play as during the early months of Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood, a game I had been waiting months to play.

After strenuous deliberation, I decided to main Machinist, a ranged class that uses a gun and a variety of gadgets to deal damage from afar. It was a decision predicated on my preference for high skill cap classes, and those that are usually less popular.

It all seemed fun and games until I approached the level cap of 70. I started to notice that not only was I doing a lot less damage than other DPS, but I was working much harder for these lesser results.

As it turns out, the Machinist is by far the least competitive DPS class in FFXIV right now. It brings the least damage to a group,is cumbersome to play, and has less utility than its main competitor, the Bard.


My vanilla Warlock was extremely well geared, but ranked poorly against other DPS classes.

This wasn’t the first time I mained an underpowered class. I was a Dark Knight during the Rise of Zilart years of Final Fantasy XI, and a Warlock throughout my hardcore progression raiding years in vanilla World of Warcraft. You could say that I’m used to playing at a disadvantage, and having to fight extra hard to compete. Yet, it doesn’t get any easier to stomach with time.

Unlike many other MMOs, there are no “damage charts”, or at least not in the traditional sense, in FFXIV. Therefore, playing an underpowered class isn’t necessarily as bad as it could be. It does impact your abilities to get groups, especially in the current era where more than 60% of players main DPS—thanks Red Mage and Samurai.

Being underpowered isn’t just a DPS thing, either. In the current meta of FFXIV, there’s little reason to take a Warrior or a Scholar along for challenging content. That leaves tens of thousands of players that are currently battling with the idea that they might have made a mistake when choosing a main.

It’s also not an MMO exclusive concept. I remember the days of Barbarian being garbage in Diablo 3, and Sorcerer being a worthless pick in Dark Souls. It almost seems like you need to do half an hour of research before committing to a class, because there’s always that chance that you’re going to gravitate from the one choice that is regretful.

This leaves players in a tough position. Hitting level cap in MMOs requires a lot of time. In the case of Stormblood, it takes the average player 18 to 24 hours to go from 60 to 70. That’s more time than many single-player games last, and in many cases players invest this time only to find out that they aren’t desirable for groups.


Now that I’m a Paladin, I get groups instantly and wreck anything I come across.

At this point I’ve rerolled, and since have leveled both Paladin and Ninja to 70. Both are incredibly powerful, in-demand, and in my opinion more enjoyable to play.

This came with a great cost: I had to spend nearly every evening the past couple weeks grinding in FFXIV, to a point where I neglected my social life and person health. But I knew that if I wanted to properly cover Stormblood‘s launch, and get into great groups with the intention of writing guides for content, I had to make the jump.

As for my Machinist, I’ll consider going back if upcoming patches make a big difference. However, I’ve been playing FFXIV since Beta, and I’ve watched how slowly Square Enix makes class changes. I’m expecting some minor adjustments in two weeks when Deltascape Savage releases, but not to the effect needed to make Machinist and Warrior in particular good choices. We’ll see soon enough.

Have you ever played an underpowered class in an MMO or any other genre?  Let us know what it was like in the comments below.