Ragar takes another look at old FF games for classes he'd like to see in FFXIV
Hello and welcome to the nineteenth edition of the Eorzea Examiner, ZAM’s column on Square Enix’s Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. For this week’s column, we’ll be looking at new combat jobs. The Final Fantasy series has a plethora of class and job options from previous games that have yet to show up in the world of Eorzea. Many of those jobs will likely show up in one form or another as patches and expansions are released further down the road. Of course, these jobs will need some tweaking from their original designs to fit with the holy trinity of tank, healer and DPS; you may have been able to take down Chaos with four White Mages in the first FF game, but that’s not going to fly here.
Not All Tanks Are Into Heavy Metal
Before we pick a class to add, let’s think of what role we want to add to the game. Let’s start with what’s already in the game. If you want to heal, you can either play as a White Mage or a Scholar. For those players that prefer tanking, your only options are the axe-wielding Warrior or the shield-bearing Paladin. DPS have a few more options available to them: Bard, Black Mage, Dragoon, Monk and Summoner. In our previous columns, we talked about adding the Thief/Ninja (which is actually scheduled for patch 2.4 now), Engineer and Dark Knight on the DPS side as well as Dancer for the healers out there. That’s all well and good if you’re into dealing damage or healing, but what about the tanks and their lonely two career paths? How do we go about giving the tanks out there another option and making it unique?
Let’s start with what the Warrior and Paladin have in common, melee combat and heavy armor. Melee is impossible to avoid as a tank; most mobs have some form of physical attack that requires being in your face and since part of your role is holding something still for the DPS to beat on it, that means letting them stand next to you on occasion. Warriors and Paladins are all about melee combat though – once that initial Tomahawk or Shield Lob is out on the pull, you’re either doing melee damage or you’re not building threat. So is it possible to make this non-melee tank? Two other MMOs have already pulled it off. Star Wars: The Old Republic offers the Powertech (or Vanguard if you went Republic), which was built around short to mid-range attacks, giving the tank all the tools he needed while stationary, while also giving him some attacks to use when repositioning, grabbing adds or moving out of the fire. Another good example of this would be my current main class in WildStar, the Engineer. With his trusty rifle he can gather up mobs and tank them in melee with the best of the Warriors and Stalkers, but he can also contribute damage while avoiding telegraphs, interrupt those casters that are on the other side of the fire, or build threat on those mobs that just refuse to play nice and group up in the AoE damage.
Now that we’ve shown that it’s possible to make tanks that aren’t stuck in melee, let’s see what we can do about that heavy armor. There’s a reason that most MMOs tend to default to heavy armor for their tank classes – aside from the aesthetics, it just makes sense that a guy who specializes in getting clawed by dragons and the like would want as much armor between him and the monsters as possible. There are examples of tanks with lighter armor from other games, though. Going with the obvious example, there’s the leather-wearing Druids and Monks from World of Warcraft; both of these classes explain their durability through superior agility to dodge blows as well as supernatural means (e.g. transforming into a bear, blocking pain and healing with Chi, etc.). Going back to WildStar, the Stalker tanks with medium armor and nanotech-infused abilities. Tera offered the dual-wielding Warrior, built as a high-threat avoidance tank who would rather roll away from a blow than absorb it. There’s plenty more examples from other MMOs, so the concept is valid, but how do we make ours unique? How do we combine lighter armor with ranged attacks for our tanking class? Most importantly, how do we tie this class in to the lore of FFXIV? There are a few different routes we could go with this idea, but the one I’ve got in mind is a bit more uncommon: Magitek Knight.
Tanking Through the Power of Magic and Bullets
The idea of adding guns to FFXIV isn’t exactly a new idea – the Coral Tower in Limsa Lominsa has a sign indicating it as the future home of some pistol-based class and the leader of Limsa Lominsa uses pistols as their signature weapon. In addition, we’ve been dealing with the Garlean Empire which makes use of gunblades and various other firearms melded with melee weapons. We all expect that we’ll see a pistol-wielding class in the near future, but the idea most players have in mind is probably closer to Final Fantasy XI’s Corsair, which is a DPS class. In all likelihood when we see the Corsair show up in FFXIV, a DPS class is exactly what we’ll get and they’ll more than likely have some form of DPS job available to specialize as a damage dealer. The Magitek Knight I’m envisioning would be a second job path to provide the Corsair with multiple roles, similar to the Pugilist’s Dancer and the Marauder’s Dark Knight we came up with months ago.
Now how exactly does the Magitek Knight tank with pistols, let alone the non-heavy armor we discussed earlier? Simple – we just add a bit of magic into the mix. The original Corsair class from FFXI was a mostly physical class with luck-based mechanics, but not much in the way of magic. If we mix in some magic, say from adding 15 levels of Conjurer as a job requirement, then the class can meld their prowess with pistols with the power of the elements. This pairing of sidearm and sorcery gives us plenty to play with for creating our new ranged tank job.
So how does adding magic let our pistol tank survive tanking a dragon? If you look at the Conjurer class, besides the various healing abilities, they have skills to prevent that damage in the first place – Protect increases their defenses and Stoneskin can absorb incoming damage. Since our Magitek Knight is wearing lighter armor to allow for mobility, magical protection sounds like a great match. The Magitek Knight could have a self-buff, similar to the Paladin’s Shield Oath and Warrior’s Defiance, that provide base damage reduction, increased threat generation and other various bonuses that tanks love. The damage reduction will need to be scaled due to the much lower base armor of the cloth/leather the MK is wearing, but that’s fairly simple. If the developers wanted to keep things simple and prevent adding a bunch of tank-focused cloth gear, this could also be handled with the self-buff. The Conjurer’s Cleric Stance shows it’s already possible to swap stats on a character, so something similar could be done to boost Vitality. Avoidance stats are a bit trickier, but a Trait for the MK could handle that with something like “Increases Dodge by X% of DEX” and “Increases Parry by Y% of INT”. Doing all of this, we can relatively easily bring this pistol-wielding tank on par stat-wise with his plate wearing counterpart.
That just leaves us with figuring out how the Magitek Knight would play. Our pistol tank may be able to take a hit now, but what makes him different from the Paladin and the Warrior? Let’s start with how those classes work. Both existing tanks are built off various combo chains of abilities and survival cooldowns. Paladins stick pretty close to this base model, but mix in a few more priority attacks to keep on cooldown in between combos. Warriors add in Wrath stacks as a resource to manage during combat. The stacks are built while attacking your target and provide a stacking buff to healing from spells and critical hit rate for the Warrior, but these stacks can be spent on finishing moves for a large AoE attack, a single target hit that also heals the tank or to buff the tank temporarily and remove the damage penalty from Defiance. This adds some element of resource management to the Warrior, which is close to what I’m looking for, but I think we can go a bit further with the Magitek Knight.
Given that our ranged tank concept is drawing power from the Conjurer class, let’s look at the main elements that class uses, earth and wind. Two distinct elements, two different resources we can play with. If we look at the other ranged DPS classes already in-game, none of them use the combo-based gameplay that Warrior and Paladin use, so we’ll assume Corsair would follow the same model. We will however be borrowing from the Warrior’s Defiance power and causing the base Corsair attacks to build up charges. Some of their attacks might build up wind around the MK (e.g. attacks with bonus enmity, AoE attacks), while others would attune them to the stone and earth (e.g. attacks that buff the MK’s defenses or weaken their targets). By themselves these attacks are already potent, but how you balance them is how things can get interesting. If you’re familiar with the Shaman from Warhammer Online, the Moonkin from WoW and to a lesser extent FFXIV’s own Thaumaturge, you’ve probably got an idea what I’m planning.
Let’s say you’ve been focusing building up threat with wind-based attacks and you’ve got a bunch of charges built up. If you keep casting those kinds of abilities, you might get some small bonus based on the number of stacks you have stored. Of course now the boss is getting ready to unleash a nasty attack; you could switch and use your attack that debuffs his damage, but what about your wind stack? By switching elements like this, you could have that attack get supercharged as the elements try to balance themselves. This could be as simple as making the debuff last longer, reducing his damage even further or it could even be something as unique as granting the tank an absorb to take the brunt of the blow. On the opposite side, a MK with a full earth stack could unleash a heavy AoE for add spawns or a mocking blow that grants a +threat buff to the tank. Now rather than simply going 1-2-3-4-1-2-3 and popping cooldowns when they come up, the MK needs to plan ahead and decide if sacrificing smaller stacked buffs is worth temporary larger gains from swapping elements.
When it comes to adding a ranged tank to FFXIV, I acknowledge that the vast majority of the time you’re going to be in the monster’s face. The desire for one stems partly from thinking pistols are fun, but more from just wanting different options for my chosen role in the holy trinity. I’ve loved playing heavy armor tanks in FFXIV as well as most other MMOs, but I’ve also enjoyed my time as a Brewmaster Monk in WoW and as an Illuminati agent in The Secret World, tanking eldritch horrors in jeans and a t-shirt. My time as a Powertech in SW:TOR was far more enjoyable than running around as a Sith Warrior and I love my Chua Engineer in WildStar, so I’ve had ranged tanking on my mind lately. Could we have mixed the two into something other than the Magitek Knight we came up with today? Of course, there are plenty of options from the blade-wielding Rune Knight to something that’s more of a straight caster tank like some of the old WoW Warlock tanks in Ahn’Qiraj. I just think mixing in Magitek helps bring in a bit more of that lore tie-in with the game… that and pistols are awesome.
That’s it for this edition of the Eorzea Examiner. What kind of classes and jobs would you like to see added to FFXIV? Do you have any suggestions for improving our concept for the Magitek Knight? A better concept for their unique mechanic? Perhaps an idea for a better ranged tank? Tell us in the comments below. If you've got any requests for column topics, add those as well. Until next time, see you in Eorzea.
Michael “Ragar” Branham