Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker Hands-On with Reaper

We recently had a chance to play a preview build of Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker as part of the North American Media Tour. During our hands-on time, we had a chance to play with many of the updates coming to each Job. For those that we weren’t able to personally get hands-on with, we still had an opportunity to look at the changes that will be coming when Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker releases on November 23.

You can see all of the Reaper changes, along with our thoughts below. Additionally, you can view the upcoming changes on our wiki by clicking on the Endwalker tab on the Reaper Job page.

You can also find more coverage of the Endwalker Media Tour here.

This article is based on play of an in-development build of Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker, and content in the final version is subject to change.

It is finally time to learn the true meaning of Edge. As Reaper is brand new, we’re going to delve a little deeper than usual. But as an overview, Reaper is not too complex. Your basic melee combo and some cooldowns help you gain Soul Gauge- The red one. You then use that to do abilities that generally give you stacks of a buff called Soul Reaver. With those ‘edge-tokens’ you can use a few positional Weaponskills that gain power for your other gauge, the blue one- the Shroud Gauge. Once you have enough of that one, you can trigger your Avatar mode- the Enshrouded status. In that mode you let fly with some Machinist like 1.5 sec GCDs and cycle through two more resources with a powerful and thematic capstone to end the phase. If that sounds like fun, Let the gloom consume you, and join me in trying to figure out how the heck this all works.

First and foremost, there is a normal Weaponskill combo in Slice, Waxing Slice, and Infernal Slice. No positionals here, and this is not interrupted by the majority of your other attacks so that’s pretty great too. They also gain 10 Soul Gauge each. Of course, there is also an AoE combo that also gains 10 Soul Gauge though it is only two- Spinning Scythe and Nightmare Scythe. Lastly there are two instant Weaponskills Soul Slice and Soul Scythe that have 2 shared charges. Soul Slice is single target, Soul Scythe is AoE and they both give 50 Soul Gauge when used. These will be integral to the flow of gaining and spending Soul Gauge in longer fights and also be burst in and of themselves.

Before we get into spending those soul-bucks We’ll talk about your self-buff, sort of kinda, Shadow of Death. This is a single target Weaponskill with the potency of your combo starter, Slice. It leaves behind the Death’s Design debuff on an enemy. That debuff increases the damage that enemy takes from your attacks by 10% for 30 seconds. On top of that, if the enemy dies with it active, you will gain 10 Soul Gauge. I love the theme of this one, weakening your enemy to your attacks and reaping their soul afterwards- I mean, you had to have this right? Anyway there is also an AoE version of this in Whorl of Death, which I can’t wait to see give back a full gauge after every wall to wall pull in a dungeon.

Now that we have the enemy debuffed and some Soul Gauge built up, let’s use it. There aren’t very many abilities to think about in this category, but they do immediately give you another resource but we’ll take it one step at a time. Blood Stalk is a single target OGCD that has moderate potency, and requires 50 Soul Gauge to use. When used you’ll gain a stack of Soul Reaver, that other resource. Grim Swathe is an AoE version of Blood Stalk and as such it also costs 50 Soul Gauge and gains a stack of Soul Reaver. Lastly in this category we have Gluttony, an AoE OGCD with a 60 second cooldown, high potency and a low damage falloff of 25% for AoE. It also costs 50 Soul Gauge, but it will grant you 2 stacks of Soul Reaver. That name fits pretty well. Now you’ll notice two other Soul Gauge spenders that gain Soul Reaver, Unveiled Gibbet and Unveiled Gallows. Those have an interaction with some of the abilities that spend Soul Reaver which will be next.

The next few abilities spend Soul Reaver and gain power for your Shroud Gauge, and brace yourself, we’re going to see some positionals. But don’t worry, they are the easiest to hit for any Job. First let’s get your AoE Soul Reaver spender called Guillotine out of the way. It is an AoE… It costs a Soul Reaver stack and it gives you 10 Shroud Gauge- Moving on. Gibbet is a single target Weaponskill with moderate potency that is increased if you are at the Flank position. As mentioned before, using it spends a stack of Soul Reaver but has a potentially confusing effect. The first is that it gains 10 Soul Gauge, and the second is a self-buff called Enhanced Gallows that lasts a long time, 60 seconds. Hold on, we’ll come back to that. Gallows is another Weaponskill that is a mirror copy of Gibbet except for that it is a Rear positional, and that it grants Enhanced Gibbet. These two effects both buff the skill in their name by something like 20% so you’ll want to make sure to hit the right one.

See what’s going on here? Once you have a Soul Reaver stack, you’ll use Gallows or Gibbet for a big hit, then you’ll gain a buff for the other in this pair. This creates a kind of Tick-Tock back and forth over however long it takes to gain the 50 Soul Gauge to use these skills. If you are thinking: “How am I going which one is next, I always die to Angra Mainyu in World of Darkness?!” The team has you covered with a nifty little mechanic. You’ll see that Enhanced Gibbet and Enhanced Gallows also morph Blood Stalk into Unveiled Gibbet or Unveiled Gallows respectively. So, when you go to spend your newly acquired 50 Soul Gauge but you remembered something from a funny Miqote video and forgot which “Enhanced” buff you have… The button you have to press to get the Soul Reaver stack tells you. As if you have Enhanced Gibbet, you’d see that Blood Stalk is currently morphed into Unveiled Gibbet before you had to make that decision. I just think that’s neat.

We’re cooking now. You are building Soul Gauge, spending it on Gibbet/Gallows/Guillotine and your Shroud Gauge is now at 50 and buttons are lighting up- What do? It is time to reject humanity and return to E D G E. Enshroud is an OGCD that spends 50 Shroud Gauge to activate the mode in which you have merged with your Avatar and you look way too cool. This interacts with that other part of the Job Gauge, the one with the 5 circles that is now counting down at you. Those are Lemure Shroud, used to power some of the abilities you’ll be using soon. Those are Void Reaping, Cross Reaping, and Grim Reaping. The last one, Grim Reaping is your AoE Lemure Shroud spender that is used by pressing what was Guillotine which shows you the pattern here. Void and Cross Reaping replace Gibbet and Gallows respectively and they are single target Weaponskills with a 1.5 second GCD and no positional requirements. Yup, no time to think about that positional nonsense, I am the avatar of gloom. And they both grant you a buff that enhances the potency of the other, just like Gibbet/Gallows.

As you use those abilities, you will gain Void Shroud stacks. That is shown on your Lemure Shroud gauge by changing one blue Lemure Shroud indicator into a purple Void Shroud indicator. So, spend blue, get purple. With 2 Void Shroud you can use either Lemure’s Slice or Lemure’s Scythe. Lemure’s Scythe is a cone AoE OGCD with low potency and a recast of 1 second. Lemure’s Slice is the same, but single target.Now we can see the way this phase goes. For a single target, It looks like you’ll cycle through Void Reaping and Cross Reaping, losing Lemure Shroud, but gaining Void Shroud. Then you’ll spend 2 Void Shroud once you have it, to use Lemure’s Slice, repeating once. Why once? That is because your Capstone ability Communio requires one stack of Lemure Shroud, which you would still have. Communio is that amazing looking dark magic spell gained at level 90. This is an AoE spell with a 1.3 second, Iaijutsu-like cast time and the highest potency of any ability for Reaper. It also has moderate AoE falloff, affecting secondary enemies at 60% less potency. OK, we got to the big boom and now we repeat! But there are a couple of other abilities to talk about if you want to continue this delve into darkness.

 Arcane Circle is “spoopy-Brotherhood”. Oh, is that not enough of an explanation? Fine, This is an OGCD with a 120 second cooldown that gives a 3% damage buff for you and the party, and two other effects. The first, Circle of Sacrifice, gives each Weaponskill or Spell used by your party a chance to give you a stack of yet another resource- Immortal Sacrifice. Ok, never mind, that one can stay. These stacks are used on Plentiful Harvest, a line-AoE that increases in potency with each stack that is consumed by casting it. It cannot be cast during the effect of Arcane Circle because… Well that would be broken. This ability also immediately gives you 50 Shroud Gauge so you’ll be able to use Enshroud. So every 120 seconds, you get this instant entry into your burst.

Now we get into the weird nonsense that had to have their own section, we’re almost done. Arcane Crest is an OGCD with a 30 second cooldown that grants you a buff called Crest of Time Borrowed, a barrier that nullifies damage equal to 10% of your HP for 5 seconds. If that barrier is completely spent, you will then give a regen effect to all party members within 15 yalms. That’s cool and thematic, and it is always nice to help your healers because you are probably going to die while figuring this Job out. The cool teleport and portal skills shown in the Job trailer are Hell’s Ingress, Hell’s Egress, and Regress. Ingress goes forward, Egress goes back, Regress goes directly to your portal if you still have it available and Larbord means left. Got it? Cool. Both Hell’s Ingress and Egress will make a Spell called Harpe an instant cast. This spell is normally a 1.3 second cast with pretty good potency, so this is sort of like Enpi on Samurai. Move out, get a buff for a nice chunk of damage because you are out of melee range.

Lastly there are Soulsow and Harvest Moon. Yup, the name is still the same and I am happy. Soulsow is strange but OK. Outside of combat, it is an instant cast spell that then changes into Harvest Moon an instant cast AoE spell with a whole lot of potency and 50% damage falloff. In combat, Soulsow has a long cast time, so it could be used as your Meditation or Anatman (not that one) during downtime so that you can wreck the boss as soon as it comes back. It’ll also be real fun in dungeons for sure.

Why do I do this every expansion… Phew, we’re done. I really like the cadence of Reaper and the Tick-Tock positionals of Gibbet and Gallows are very fun. Though it does have to think about a lot of resources, the general flow should be fun and fast paced with a lot of optimization headroom. I can’t wait to see how openers and little tips and tricks change my understanding as we all finally give in and become the Edgelord of Darkness.