A couple weeks ago we had the opportunity to get our hands-on with Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood!
In this article, we’ll examine the changes and additions coming to Melee DPS!
Make sure to also check out our other role analysis articles:
Please note, all tooltips shown are from a development build and are subject to change before final release.
Credit for the tooltips go to: Avalonstar, Reseph, Mr Happy, Mizzteq and Gamer Escape
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.
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…
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!
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.
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.