FFXIV Stormblood Role Analysis: Ranged DPS
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 Ranged 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
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.
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!
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.