Final Fantasy XIV: Dawntrail Hands-On with Pictomancer

6 Jun 2024
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Last month we had a chance to play a preview build of Final Fantasy XIV: Dawntrail as part of the North American Media Tour. During our hands-on time, we were able to experience many of the Job changes that are in the works. For the Jobs that we weren’t able to personally get hands-on with, we still had an opportunity to look into the changes that will be coming when Final Fantasy XIV: Dawntrail arrives on July 2 for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series, Mac, Windows, and Steam.

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

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

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


Future Pictomancer mains- How ya doin? I know you want to know how it works so I’ll keep the introduction short and sweet. What we have here is a moderately difficult Caster with some fun, bombastic effects, and a solid amount of party utility. We’ll see how it all shakes out, but I think there will be quite a few converts to this Job.

Pictomancer enters the scene at a strange time for the Caster role. When the job was announced, we found out that they will not be able to raise, they will have more cast time than a Summoner (but hey, so does Samurai), however will have some amount of utility that would presumably keep it from dealing a Black Mage amount of damage. So, what are these utility differences? Well, we’ll start with their self-shield oGCD Tempera Coat. This is a barrier equaling 20% of your HP that lasts for 10 seconds with a long cooldown of 2 Minutes. It is a standard self-mitigation very similar to Summoner’s, that is until level 88. At that level Pictomancer gets Tempera Grassa, an oGCD that only works while under the previous shield. This consumes your shield to give you and party members a 10% HP shield instead. That’s interesting enough, but when that barrier is completely used up, the recast timer of Tempera Coat will be reduced by 60 seconds if you just used the single target version, or 30 seconds if you deployed it to your party. This functionally makes Tempera coat a 60 or 90 second cooldown. That’s a nifty new wrinkle in cooldown design. Maybe we’ll see more of it one day. Yoshi-P showed off Pictomancer’s gap closer- Smudge, a 15 yalm forward dash that also increases your movement speed for 5 seconds. We don’t get an exact value for that movement speed increase, but it is nice to see that this is a 20 second cooldown.

We’ll start with Pictomancer’s Aetherhue combo, this is their basic Palette Gauge builder. It begins with Fire in Red, a fire spell with a 1.5 second cast time that grants the Aetherhues effect. That sounds like it’ll be complicated, but mostly this just allows you to do the next step of the combo. That step is Aero in Green, which is the same as Fire in Red with a little bit of a potency boost. This pattern continues for Water in Blue, the third and last part of the Aetherhue combo. And yeah, you guessed it- this does a little more damage than the previous step. This finisher is what grants you 25 points (paints?!) for your Palette Gauge and a White Paint charge.

These are not able to be used until level 80 when you gain access to Holy in White, an instant cast, targeted AoE spell that deals around the same damage as Water in Blue. That’s the general flow, but if you spend 50 of your Palette Gauge with the Subtractive Palette ability, this combo morphs into its inverted form. You’ll get 3 stacks of Subtractive Palette, the status that morphs the original spells we talked about and another buff, Monochrome Tones that will convert the next White Paint into a Black Paint. Blizzard in Cyan, Stone in Yellow, and Thunder in Magenta are your three shifted spells each doing much more damage than the normal combo. This is capped with Comet in Black which is a similarly upgraded Holy in White.

Those patterns translate one for one into your AoE spell combo. Each of those Aetherhue combo spells have an AoE version, denoted by the “II” in their name. Fire in Red is Fire II in Red, Blizzard to Blizzard II and so on. There is an interesting system that we’ve glossed overpowering this though. As mentioned before, each Aetherhue spell grants an Aetherhues I, II, or III status. These statuses are the same for AoE spells and single target which allows you to cast the single target Fire in Red, then the AoE Aero II in Green, and finish with either the single target or AoE finisher. This means you can easily weave in and out of handing sudden AoE situations like when adds spawn in the middle of your combo.

This leads us to the meat of the Job, Pictomancer’s Motif system. Your motifs are shown in the Canvas section of the Job gauge. Each is gained by casting a spell that is instant outside of combat but has a long cast time in combat that you’ll need to plan around. These are painted by using the Creature Motif spell which changes into the next creature part that you can paint. Once you create that creature motif, you’ll be able to use the Living Muse ability which will have changed into an ability named after the creature part to bring to life. For example, the Pom Motif once painted will be rendered by Pom Muse. Each Muse spell is a targeted AoE oGCD with 3 charges, on a 40 second timer. So, we’ve depicted the Pom, cast Pom Muse, and are ready to move on.

Next up is casting Wing Motif to enable the Winged Muse oGCD and that adds a Depiction of Wings to the Creature Canvas. Once you have both depictions, a Pom and Wings, you’ll be able to use that moogle beam we’ve seen in most Pictomancer sneak peeks- Mog of the Ages. This is a giant AoE that does more damage than the Muse spells and I can’t stress this enough- is a freaking moogle laser beam. Moving on, the next Motif is the Claw Motif, which leads to Clawed Muse and adds Claws to the Canvas. Once you have that, you move through the final part of the cycle, Fang Motif and Fanged Muse which adds Fangs, but also completes the depiction of Madeen. What is Madeen? Well, she is an Eidolon (think Summon or Primal) from Final Fantasy IX, and I won’t go too much further into spoilers than that. Maybe we’ll get some Job lore to find out why we feel the urge to doodle them to murder our enemies. With that depiction, Mog of Ages morphs into Retribution of the Madeen which is a silly name, but another giant, high potency nuke, and the end of this Creature rotation. You’ll start right back at Pom Motif.

The second Motif and Muse system is all about the power of bonking things with a hammer. The Weapon Motif spell becomes Hammer Motif upon setting it on your bars. This is a similar cast to the Creature Motifs and will need to be planned for. Though, instead of one Muse ability following the cast, Striking Muse which has two charges on a 60 second timer, gives you three stacks of HAMMER TIME. I felt the need for caps there, sorry. These stacks are used by the three instant spells, Hammer Stamp, Hammer Brush, and Hammer Polish. Each spell deals more damage than the previous one in the sequence, but they are also all critical direct hits, which looks like a whole lot of fun. Theoretically you’d try to use these charges under buffs, but you can always keep a one handy for extended movement alongside any White Paint charges.

The Landscape Motif system is the last to be introduced at level 70. As we’ve been discussing, you’ll cast the Starry Sky Motif spell to be ready to render that landscape. Starry Muse is the trigger this time, a spell with a two-minute cooldown that has an incredibly long tooltip. So, we’ll break it down. First, Starry Muse gives you and your party members within range a 5% damage buff for 20 seconds. Next, it grants you the Subtractive Spectrum buff, which allows you to use Subtractive Palette without using any of your Gauge. Then we get into the Inspiration and Hyperphantasia buffs. Under the effects of Inspiration in your landscape’s area, the cast time of your Aetherhue spells is reduced by 25% along with a spell called Star Prism which we’ll get to.  Hyperphantasia is buff with five stacks, used each time you cast a spell that is affected by this buff. This is a roundabout way to say that once you cast five spells that are accelerated by Inspiration, the effect will end.

We’re most of the way through the tooltip now. Once you use all your stacks of Hyperphantasia, you’ll get the Rainbow Bright buff, which is used to cast Rainbow Drop instantly and with a reduced recast time afterwards. Finally at the bottom of this tooltip we get to the Starstruck effect which allows you to cast that Star Prism spell mentioned earlier. Ok… So, what that all that mean and what are those other spells? Star Prism is an instant targeted AoE spell with massive damage in a small radius. It also heals all party members near the target by a moderate amount. So, putting that together, every two minutes when you paint your Landscape you’ll get a buff to swap to subtractive palette, hit ‘em with your Cyan-Yellow-Magenta combo, a Comet in Black and then Star Prism all with reduced cast and recast times. If you do that, you’ll have the Rainbow Bright buff for an instant Rainbow Drip spell. This spell is a large, line AoE that deals a good amount of damage and gives you a White Paint, but normally takes nearly four seconds to cast and has an almost six second recast time. This is why you’ll probably only cast it under the effects of Rainbow Bright, or cheekily in the opener since you have time to cast and double weave, maybe.

That’s it, we’re done. That’s how it all works, and it looks like fun to me. I think the Aetherhue system is great and thematic, the motifs while having an absolutely unhinged series of tooltips- are easy to use. Once you get your hands on it, I think you’ll get how it all works. We’ll just have to wait and see how it does damage-wise to get where it fits in to the Caster role’s current three-body problem.

Pictomancer’s Attire